Do you like getting rid of stuff or do you like saving things?
I thrive on throwing things out. Give me a trash bag and I will make stuff disappear. No, don’t worry, I won’t just throw away perfectly good items (those I will make sure to give to someone who needs/wants it). I am talking about items that we keep for no apparent reason. Like that stack of magazines you already read, the book you will never read, and the report you wanted to read but haven’t found the time to since 2015. How about that sweater you own and don’t even like? Or the shampoo you never finish because it smells weird?
I am far from being a minimalist, believe me. I try, but every time I try, I do remember that I have 5 children, boruch Hashem, and a husband. There is only so much I can throw out without getting into trouble. Like, the 7.000 pieces of Lego in my living room, which would fit very nicely in one giant garbage bag. (Legos, by the way, are a whole other topic. Does anyone ever break up a set and rebuild it? Let me know please because I am about to tackle the Lego monster. Next week. Maybe.)
Back to the minimalism, or lack of thereof.
“Stuff”–and specifically “too much stuff”, pulls me down. It makes me “heavy” and unfocused. It kills my creativity and freedom. I end up spending my days putting my stuff away. How about I don’t spend all that time putting stuff away? How about I get rid of the stuff I don’t need? I want less stuff and more time.
I was complaining about this one day to my friend Leah Schapira and she introduced me to the amazing book called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo. That, my friends, was a life changing moment.
I read the book and got to work.
Now, I can’t say that I followed everything Marie says to the T, but the concept truly works. I “Marie Kondoed” (yes, it’s a verb now) most of my house and I realized just how liberating it is to get rid of the stuff that weighs me down.
I recommend you read the book (buy it here). It is short and to the point. In the next few weeks, most of us will be going through all the closets in our homes, so there’s no better time to declutter than now.
These are the 6 main points that I learned from Marie:
• You don’t need gadgets/boxes/containers to organize. It is not about storing your stuff. It’s about making do with less stuff. (I actually ended up with dozens of empty containers.)
• There is no need to keep items out of guilt.
You know that dress in your closet, the one with the blue polka dots (let’s just say) you splurged on but never ever wear because you don’t like the way you look in it? You keep hoping you will lose a few pounds and then love it but let’s face it, it just doesn’t “spark any joy.” It never did and never will.
Marie is very into “sparking joy.”
She believes that every item we own should give us joy. She writes “The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: ‘Does this spark joy?’ If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge.”
The first time I read this sentence in her book I will admit that I literally laughed out loud. I remember, because my son was in the room with me and wanted to know what comic book I was reading. Now, after having held countless articles of clothing (and whatnot) in my hands I can say that I truly believe Marie taught me how to fill my home with more joy. The method works.
Everywhere I look there are items that bring me joy. This is so very soothing and beautiful. I literally got rid of anything I wasn’t crazy about, no matter how expensive it might have been.
Which brings me to my point:
How do we get rid of the dress with the blue polka dots we splurged on? Isn’t it a sin to give it away? After all, you paid a fortune for it. Hard earned money.
Short answer: NO!
Every item you own or owned at one point in your life has a purpose. For some items, their purpose was perhaps to teach you a lesson. The lesson here was that polka dots don’t suit you. Or, like Marie writes, on the topic of unread books: “There’s no need to finish reading books that you only got halfway through. Their purpose was to be read halfway.”
Now, what you actually do is, you hold the dress, and you tell it (yes, you talk to the dress) (yes, I did it) (no, it is not crazy) (ok, maybe just a bit) “Thank you dress with blue polka dots, for teaching me a valuable lesson. Thank you for teaching me that this style/color/shape does not suit me.” And at this point, I give the dress away. Without any guilt.
Walking into your closet and looking at the dress with the blue polka dots made you sad, every single day. It reminded you of how much money you spent and how you didn’t wear it at all.
Walking into your closet from today and on will only…spark joy.
• Put your items back in their place only after you are finished purging.
This tip is crucial. If you start refilling your closet or drawer before you are completely done purging, you will be inevitably tempted to keep more items than you actually want.
•Pieces that give you joy even if they don’t make sense are ok. Repurpose those items.
A pretty box that reminds you of your childhood? Use it to store your passport and important documents. An empty bottle of perfume that reminds you of a certain era in your life? Display it until you will feel ready to let go.
•Choose what you want to keep first, not what you want to discard. This will give you immense happiness.
It is like you are reconnecting to all your belonging. Just imagine a closet full of clothes you actually love, clothes that make you feel happy. How fantastic is that? It cuts down your “what shall I wear today” decision time in half, I will tell you that much.
6) Learn the Kon Mari method of folding clothes. It works. I was really skeptical at first, but believe me when I say that my shells have never stayed this organized for this long. Total game changer.
Now I can easily find and pull out what I need without moving or ruining another folded item.
Here’s a nice tutorial by Marie herself on how to fold t-shirts. I think the way she connects to all her t-shirts is adorable. I cannot say I do the same. But I do get a nicely folded t-shirt nonetheless.
If you enjoyed this post, read about my labeling obsession here.