The Summer of Letting Go

This summer has been an amazing journey of growth and discovery. Much of it I’m not quite ready to share with the whole internet. (no offense)

One part of this incredible last few months has been the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying UpThis little book by Marie Kondo dares a radical claim: that if you follow her method of tidying, you’ll never have to tidy again. Pretty wild, huh? The book is centered around the question “what sparks joy?”, and before she even has you come near touching any of your things, she invites you to dream about what you want your life to be like.

Now, I don’t know about you. But I have a lot of stuff. Like A LOT. Some things I keep because I really like them, some because they’re useful, and some (read: A LOT) because they are meaningful to me in some way or attached to a certain time in my life/person/memory. Sound familiar? Perhaps you’re better at throwing things away, but maybe we have this thing in common, and it feels too harsh to just throw things away (or donate or recycle).

Enter Marie Kondo, and her way of tidying, the “KonMari method”. What I love about this book is that she starts with dreaming, with imagining a life filled with joy, and a space that is what you want it to be (whatever that means to you). I paused in my listening (I’m listening to the book on Audible.com, which, p.s., they’ll give you a free book if you sign up for a trial) to journal about what I wanted, and was almost surprised by what came up. I realized that I’ve been trying to imagine my space like all the beautiful apartments and houses the design-savvy Facebook people I follow post pictures of – you know the ones with the minimalist white backgrounds, colorful statement pieces, where everything is aesthetic and simple and in its perfect place.

I love to look at these photos. They are beautiful and inspiring, and turns out, not at all what I actually want with my space. I want my space to be stress-free, and the things that I have to tell the story of where I’ve been, and the people that are important to me. (that’s the shortened version of 4 pages of dreaming)

And so I began. The first category is clothes. To start, you are instructed to get EVERY single item of clothing you own and put it in one place. I’m going to post a picture a little ways down, but HOLY SHIT, I had a lot of clothes. Then, you take each item in your hands, and ask, “does this spark joy”. If it does, yay! You put it in the keep pile. And if it doesn’t, you thank it, and let it go. For me, I had many items that held special meaning to me because of the people who gave them to me, or I wore them a lot during an important season of life, or they were connected to a special place (like camp). For most of these, when I asked the question, the answer was “no”. So I remembered why this piece of clothing was so meaningful, honored the place it played in shaping who I am, and let it go. Other items I realized helped me discover what’s NOT my style, and I thanked them for that, too. And let them go.

The process was…spiritual. And incredibly meaningful. It felt like I wasn’t just tossing clothes (and all the memories and people attached to them) in the garbage, but the simple ritual of remembering and thanking helped me honor each item, while giving me the courage to let go. It was beautiful.

And now, the coolest thing is – everyday when I get dressed, ALL of my options bring me joy. Everything I will wear or could possibly wear, brings me joy. I mean, who wouldn’t want that?

Now I’m going to post pictures of my clothes, before and after, which feels like a vulnerable thing to do on the internet. I’m not posting these to show “WOW, look how much shit I got rid of”, but to share with you a little part of my process of creating a space that brings me joy.

Without further ado, the pictures:

Before 1

Wowza. Covered the whole bed, plus bench, plus that dresser up there on the left!

Before 2

So you can see how packed it was.

After

After. Nothing up on the dresser, and slightly less packed together. A good day’s work in finding joy.

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One thought on “The Summer of Letting Go

  1. When I moved this spring, I had to downsize. Smaller space. Less storage. Right at that time, someone shared this method with me. My clothing “before” picture looked like yours, but now all my clothes (except for a few jackets in the hall closet) fit into a four-drawer dresser, including the stuff I used to hang.

    The attachments I had to items really surprised me:

    I spent a lot of money on this.
    So and so gifted it.
    It represents part of my life.
    Other people compliment me when I wear it.

    But the hardest part was embracing “joy” as the determinant. It sounded so frivolous to my WASP ears.

    In the end (beyond clothing), I created the space that was necessary for my dream. I have to do laundry a little more often, but I haven’t missed anything and when my space has gone from stifling to giving.

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