It was a hideous pinky-purple with sponge-painted stars.
The walls were plastered with quotes cut out from magazines that were haphazardly pasted out of context next to hundreds of photographs of friends and posters of punk bands and wakeboarding. There were at least 200 of those glow-in-the-dark-star and moon stickers on the ceiling, enough candles to assume wizardry was a common occurrence, and it was jam packed with books, and Nintendo games, snowboard and skateboard gear, cassette tapes and CD’s, art supplies and handwritten notes to and from friends.
My 14 year-old bedroom was smothered in the things that I loved at the time.
My tastes have certainly changed since then, however it has been many years since my home has been a true reflection of my self. I still own pretty well all of the mismatched and thrift store furniture I bought in University, and every single book I have ever bought or been gifted (totaling upwards of 250 books). But, it wasn’t until I came across Marie Kondo’s newly published book “The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up”, that I began to finally redefine my living space and really, my life.
I first came across the book at the Pemberton And District Public Library as I was shelving our Newest Additions to the collection. Marie Kondo’s book is small, simple, easy to follow and realistic. While I found it difficult to get on board with her recommendation to thank your socks, and bow to your shoes for their years of service, her method of taking every item away and only putting back the things that spark joy, really resonated with me. It is a simple enough concept, but I think that so many of us are used to the method of de-cluttering where we look at our closet and pull out the items that we feel can part with, which is a pretty negative and unproductive experience. So, this is exactly where I began my KonMarie experience: My closet(s).
I am embarrassed to admit the amount of clothing I owned prior to this book. I had two full sized closets jam packed with tops, dresses and sweaters, two 50L Rubbermaid bins overflowing with shorts, skirts, pants, and shirts, and a small dresser with socks, underwear and bras…and a closet full of coats…and a bin full of scarves…and I had already been doing seasonal purging as well…OKAY. You got me. I was a clothes hoarder. It’s true (oh, the shame!) The worst part was that so many of the clothes I had been holding on to didn’t even fit me anymore! I would convince myself that one day I would be a size 4 again-and that could be next MONTH for all I know- and god forbid if I had gotten rid of that perfectly mint dress or pants or coat. It would be a disaster (clearly). But, every time that I looked into my closet I was reminded that I was no where near that size anymore and I was left feeling horrible about myself. I pulled everything from my closets and laid them on our bed making a cotton, wool, Polyester Mountain and silk moat for my dog to swim through as he watched on in a very confused manner. I began hanging up only the items that “sparked joy” as per Marie Kondo’s instructions. I very quickly filled up 5 extra large boxes full of clothing and left myself half of a closet of clothes – all of which fit and that I actually wear. Can you imagine looking into your closet right now and only seeing clothes that you like and that actually fit you? It’s pretty amazing. I was so proud of myself that I nearly ran down the street high fiving everyone (and their dogs) that I passed. Getting ready for work in the morning is much easier now that I don’t have to sift through hoards of clothing, I don’t have mountains of laundry to do anymore and best of all: I no longer have my size 4 dresses silently judging me for eating croissants in bed.
Man, did I ever feel liberated.
The most difficult de-cluttering job I have tackled thus far has been my book collection. I am one of those insane people who will walk out of a bookstore with 20 books simply because they are titles I know that I want to one day read. My bookstore addiction in conjunction with growing up without cable and having never gotten rid of a book in my life had left me with an impressively large collection. I had always dreamed of having a home that had been practically built just to house my book collection (complete with a rolling shelf ladder like in Disney’s Beauty And The Beast, of course). Having my books near has been a comfort; like a bunch of old friends and memories just waiting to be revisited. I’ve always had them. So, when it came time for me to consider my books and whether I should get rid of any, I stalled for months. “Well, Marie Kondo does say that if it sparks joy to keep them, right?” is what I would say to my partner. But, the more that I thought about it, the more I recognized that I didn’t need to own all of these books (I guess that I don’t need to own 4 separate copies of Pride and Prejudice, 3 copies of A Tale Of Two Cities (which I still haven’t even read), a collection of Choose Your Own Adventures, #21-#28 of the Animorphs series (which I hadn’t read since they were published in 1992), and my University text books that are collecting dust in the corner). I said goodbye to a lot of my books, thanked them for all that they gave me, and tucked them in boxes to be sold or given away. In the end, I was surprised at how liberated and light I felt. I was no longer holding 100’s of books hostage. They were free, and I am now the proud owner of a solid collection of books that I will actually re-read and reference when needed, and about 8 feet of free wall space!
Our home still doesn’t quite reflect who we are today, and (much to my protest) we still have that awful clunky 1970’s coffee table that transforms into a Risk game board from University, but de-cluttering and minimizing the amount of “stuff” we have has been an enlightening process. Most of the items in our house were simply there to fill a space, and not because we truly loved them. We’re now slowly working towards a well-balanced, minimalistic space. I’ve been surprised to find that cutting down on the clutter in our house has not only given us a lot of clarity as to what we want our home to look like, but also our life: simple. Each item in our home should be something that we truly, absolutely love. When I pick up each of our possessions and evaluate whether it evokes feelings of joy, I find that our home is slowly being filled with tangible evidence of who we are, what makes us happy, what our goals are and ultimately that all helps to keep me on track and propel me forward in life. A home that is balanced and that helps to promote harmony allows room for life, and helps us to remember that there are far more important things to spend our time and money on than “stuff” to fill a shelf.
With the exception of glow-in-the-dark star stickers that are impossible to remove without a crowbar…
We should bring those back.