spark Joy?


Almost exactly 3  years ago I wrote about the book “The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up.” I got through a lot of the author’s de-cluttering steps, hitting a wall when I got to the “papers” stage. This past year, I tried it again, rereading her original book and also reading her sequel. Again, I was really gung-ho when I finished both books and de-cluttered my clothes but haven’t really moved on from there.

In the three years since I started this process I have experienced regret, and it sucks. I mostly regret getting rid of certain books. In fact, I actually bought back two books I previously gave away to the Friends Of The Library book sale, and I am actively keeping an eye out for another book that I regret giving away. I have had this same kind of regret over clothes, and I have repurchased certain items that I decided that I needed to have again. And the items weren’t cheap!

So this is the problem I am having with the KonMari method. Regret.

I think the problem for me is that this method is based on asking yourself the question, “Does this spark joy?” when you decide whether or not to get rid of an item. Joy is a very tenuous emotion and it’s hard to even know what joy is. And I think this is especially hard for someone like me, who is ultra sensitive and experiences a wide range of emotions in any give day. I think I am only very recently understanding what joy really is.

I think deciding what to keep and what to discard on something as tenuous and hard to pin down as joy is a fallacy. I think it’s better to use the rational mind when de-cluttering. Though, I am still trying to figure out how to do this. I want to tackle the clutter in my home, but I need to find a way to do it that works for me.

Have you undergone this process? What has worked for you? Do you know of any alternatives to the KonMari method?

On To Books and papers


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I mentioned last week that I was decluttering my house as per the instructions in The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up. Having moved on from clothes I decided to tackle my books. This wasn’t quite as hard as I imagined because I honestly don’t have a lot of books.
Books are the one thing that I pretty regularly get rid of. Still, I pulled all of my books off of the shelf and piled them in the middle of my floor. Then I picked up each one and asked, “Does this spark joy?” I was surprised with the answers that sprang into my head. I ended up getting rid of quite a few and now I am down to three shelves of books. This is kind of insane. 3 shelves. That’s it. And hopefully (if I don’t add to it) this number will dwindle as I read and get rid of some of the ones that I kept.

Most of the books that I own are reference and nonfiction books that I feel I will use again and again. Every once in awhile I will purchase fiction if it is something that I can’t find in the library.

It’s interesting to see what is left on the shelf after going through this selection process. The books that are on my shelf are books that give me joy – so maybe these are the things I should really focus on in my life? I kept books that contained short fiction, short stories, flash fiction, etc. Lots of books of poetry and how to write poetry. I kept all of my books about photography. I kept all of my books about Buddhism, but plan to get rid of them as I read through them. I got rid of a ton of knitting books. I kept the few that I return to over and over again for patterns.

Now it is time to move on to papers. To prepare for this I bought a shredder.


I plan to get rid of every scrap of paper in my house with the exception of those things that I need to attend to. Honestly, there is no reason in this day and age to keep things like bank and credit card statements (and i am wondering if there really every was a reason to keep this stuff). I spent all day Sunday shredding and filled up two garbage bags worth of papers. As I was tackling this task I found shoe boxes stuffed with records from years past. The one I happened to pull off the shelf was from 2006! Why the f#$k am I keeping this stuff?!?

It’s interesting what this process is doing to me. I already feel lighter. And I am noticing this tendency I have to use shopping as a way to fill the void. I find that I buy stuff and it makes me happy momentarily but then whatever I buy ends up being just another thing in my house. I want to change that. I want to be surrounding by things that truly make me happy.

“Does this spark joy?”


The book, “The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up” by  Marie Kondo was recommended to me by a few friends. They have claimed that it has, indeed, changed their lives. I have been talking forever about decluttering my house and paring down but haven’t seemed to get a handle on it. So I thought I’d give this book a try.

I haven’t even finished it yet and I wanted to start right away on the decluttering part. She suggests doing it all at once, but first starting with clothes, then books, then papers, etc. The last items to get rid of are sentimental items. The criteria that you use in determining what to keep and what to let go of is holding the item in your hand and asking, “Does this spark joy?” That’s it. If it isn’t some thing that sparks joy then you get rid of it. I love this idea.. I love the idea of only possessing items that make us happy.

So I started this weekend on my clothes. I piled everything I own in a pile on the living room floor. It took about an hour to gather everything together. You get EVERYTHING. Everything from coats to socks and underwear, to bags. This is so you can see how much you actually have. Now I am not a packrat by any definition of the word. I am pretty OK with getting rid of stuff, but this is what my pile looked like when I was ready to sort through it all.

Actually, this is about half of the pile.


So I began. I picked up each article of clothing  and asked “Does this spark joy?.” It was surprising what I decided to keep and what I decided to get rid of. I ended up discarding about 5 garbage bags and two boxes of clothes

It was hard to get rid of some things. And, admittedly, I did keep a few things out of guilt and not joy. I kept some sweaters that I knitted that I don’t really like but “I spent so much time on them so I should keep them.” That kind of thing. I am thinking that I need to take one more pass through everything. Guilt is a terrible reason to hold on to something. One of the really great things that she mentions that helped me let go of some things is that maybe the item has outlived it’s purpose, and if so, you can “thank it” for what it has done for you (or even the person who gave it to you) and send it on it’s way. I just thought this was beautiful. This philosophy really helped me as I went through the process. So in the case of my sweaters I can be happy that the sweater brought me joy when I was knitting it. That was it’s purpose.

When I was done sorting through everything it was time to put everything away. There is a special way of putting things away. There are hundreds of videos on Youtube that will show you how to fold clothes the Konmari way. The idea, essentially, is to fold everything into a square that you can then stand up in the drawer so that when you open your drawer you can actually see every item in the drawer. Brilliant!

I also had to hang up my work clothes. I was shocked when I realized how many hangers i had in my closet.

Why do I have so many hangers?!?

These were all mostly empty and taking up space!! So I got rid of a ton of hangers as well.

So now my clothes are organized and I already feel a million times lighter.

Now to move on to books. This is going to be much harder, I’m afraid!