We’ve been aspiring minimalists for years, but we haven’t quite gotten there. We ebb and flow with giving away or selling things we don’t need. We also ebb and flow with buying things we didn’t need in the first place.
Earlier this year, like so many, we got inspired by Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” (2011) and the Netflix show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.”
With another of Kondo’s books “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up” (2012) in hand, we dove into her process of only keeping what brings you joy. I spent weeks going through clothes and then books. It felt like a lot, especially when you follow her precise way to fold your clothes. We lost momentum before getting through our whole house, but we went much deeper with clearing this time.
About a month ago, I got the itch to begin decluttering again.
Decluttering is like getting a new haircut. It’s a wonderful way to make a change on an impulse, and it feels so satisfying.
This time I tackled our disastrous shed.
Did any of the shed junk bring me joy? I got a resounding “no” from the fabric pots I purchased for a failed tomato-growing experiment.
What brought me the most joy was saying goodbye to the stuff that had sat there for way too long, ignored but taking up physical and energetic space.
I’ve noticed that clutter and unneeded stuff sucks my energy. After a big purge of stuff, I feel energized and empowered, like I can conquer anything.
Even so, it’s been tough to let go of the stuff we own. We get attached and feel guilty getting rid of even things we acquired for free. For this dilemma I’ve found this practice of Kondo’s helpful: Hold an item to see if brings you joy and, if not, thank it before discarding it.
It sounds hokey, but the “thank you” part feels like closure to me. And it elicits less guilt.
While I didn’t thank all of the discarded stuff from our shed, I felt instantly better and lighter after I put the pile on the curb with a “free” sign. As things disappeared over the next few days, it was almost like all of that stuff had never existed.
We’re now on the cusp of rearranging rooms in our house. I have to admit, I’m looking forward to clearing each room, letting go of more less-than-joyful stuff, and enjoying the new-found energy that will come with the change.
While I suspect we’ll repeat the cycle of buying and clearing for the rest of our lives, I hope I remember to keep joy in mind as I choose what takes up space — and energy — in our home.
Joanna Zaremba is a mom and wife, a nature lover, a writer, a photographer, and a movement and mindfulness teacher. She has lived in the Cheyenne Cañon neighborhood for seven years. She can be reached at email@example.com.