By Megan Wirts
It fills up our kitchen counters, our desks, rooms and our minds. Clutter isn’t just stuff, it’s all the things that are weighing us down. It can be anything, an overflowing makeup bag (did I really need 25 blushes?), piles of paper on the kitchen table, overthinking thoughts about last night's conversation, past experiences, or anger that you have held onto. All of those things clutter up your mind and your coffee table, causing you to not think about all the happy and good things in your life or see the beautiful hardwood floors underneath all that stuff.
Instead you are left feeling stressed, anxious and like you are living in chaos. Clutter takes up way too much of our time, attention and lives. Time we could be playing Uno with our kids or making dinner with our spouse. For many of us, the clutter is overwhelming and we try our best to shove it in closets, hide it in decorative baskets or we push it deep down into our guts until it eventually turns into a bleeding ulcer. Either way, we don’t want to deal with it.
Unless you live in a bubble, you have probably heard about the Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo where she helps people transform their homes and lives with her KonMari method of tidying up. I’m not surprised that the show and her tidying up method have struck a chord with so many people. Clutter is a common cause of chaos. Personally, I am a sucker for an organization show and I immediately jumped in head first. I binge watched the entire season in one day. The next day I joined every KonMari Facebook group I could and then I ordered her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Then my kids had a snow day and I saw it as the perfect opportunity to put them to work and start the process.
Right away, I did it wrong according to the KonMari method. What can I say? I’m a rule breaker. Also, don’t tell people in KonMari Facebook groups that you didn’t start with clothing or they will all lose their tidy little minds. Some people take the process VERY seriously. Instead of clothes, I started with my kitchen. *gasp* I know. I started there because I had both of my kids here to help me with the heavy lifting and climbing. I have terrible balance and can barely lift a gallon of milk. I had to use them while I had them. Lucky for me both of my small people are now taller than me and can reach all the things I can’t. I knew it would happen eventually, but I can’t stop myself from calling them my small people.
We took the entire kitchen apart, grouped things into categories and then I held each item one by one and asked myself if it “sparked joy”. I really did! It felt silly at first and it took FOREVER! Most things were just expired, broken or didn’t have a matching lid, so that’s why they didn’t spark the joy. Some things really truly sparked joy for me, like my beautiful blue KitchenAid mixer that is the absolute light of my life. Some things didn’t spark joy, but because we need to eat off of plates and not the floor, and it’s not in the budget to replace them with some real joy sparkers, I have to keep my plates.
We did it though! In one day, my kids and I tidied up my kitchen and it is incredibly clean and organized. Except I keep forgetting where I moved my canned goods and I have hit my head on the super handy rack to organize the lids to my pans because I forget it’s there, until I hit my head on it again.
After we tidied up the kitchen, I read the book, ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’. Before, when I just watched the Netflix show, I was inspired to clean up and organize. After reading the book, I was struck by how profound tidying up truly is when I finally started the clothes category. I piled everything I owned into a mountain on top of my bed and began the joy sparking process. Through this process I realized it was time that I let go of some clothing that once brought me joy and then hung in various closets for over 20 years. Every time I would see those dresses I would be flooded with memories, some happy, some sad and heartbreaking. I thought I needed to keep them forever because of how expensive they were when I bought them or because the occasion was an important or special time in my life, but they never brought me joy again. Not until that day when I felt joy letting them go and letting go of the past that I so desperately needed to let go of.
Decluttering is the physical act of letting go. Letting go emotionally, that’s an entirely different story. Decluttering the anger or hurt you have held onto for years might take more time, but it does feel freaking amazing to throw that ugly pink bridesmaid dress that you wore in your ex-best friends wedding 17 years ago, in the trash where it belongs. The first step is to throw the stuff away. The next step is to reorganize. The reorganizing takes more time and patience.
After I got through the clothes section, my husband happened to have an entire week off of work (he was not quite as thrilled with the timing as I was) and we tackled the rest of the tidying up together. We went through our books and papers. Then we got to what Marie Kondo calls “komono” or miscellaneous stuff and then finally sentimental things. We tore the house apart and then put it back together again only with much less clutter. We looked through old photos, emails we wrote each other when we first started dating, reminisced about when the small people were both very small and came out of this happier, refreshed and knowing how to fold our undergarments into tiny little rectangles.
There really isn’t any magic to it, unless you count learning how to fold a fitted sheet, but the real magic to the process is how you feel when your home is filled with things that truly fill you with joy. It seems simple because it is. Surround yourself with joy and feel joy. Plus you should be able to find it all, if you can remember where you put it, because it’s organized.
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