“…when you put your house in order, you put your put your affairs and your past in order too. As a result, you can see quite clearly what you need in life and what you don’t, and what you should and shouldn’t do.” –Marie Kondo, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
“The number of shoes I have is obscene,” I recently said to Brian, as we were both in the closet starting to get ready for the day. A litany of self-justification began:
“I get most of my shoes for the price of a big mac, and I never eat Big Macs.” (I have a great second hand store where I find beautiful, hardly-worn brand name shoes.)
But when I am honest with myself I also have to admit that having a closet full of shoes is just one example of the burden of abundance. It doesn’t take long for my shoes to get in a scramble, an unorganized mess that requires time if I’m going to restore order.
Key word in that title: decluttering. “Putting things away creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved,” Marie writes, and then reminds us how quickly our things get too hard to manage, because we have too much!
“This is why tidying must start with discarding,” she says.
Her approach invites us to tell ourselves the truth about the things in our lives. Many of those things—the piles of unread magazines, the extra spices that have lost their zing, more clothes than we could wear in several months, more books than we’ll read in our lifetimes…you get my gist—create a burden versus joy.
Marie suggests getting rid of everything that we don’t love.
Like you, I have a very busy life with multiple roles and priorities. Too much stuff makes my life more difficult.
I’ll never forget when we were looking for a new place to live several years ago. The last of our large family had left and we were downsizing. When I walked into the pristine townhome we would move into, my eyes filled with tears…tears of gratitude. I whispered to myself, “My life is going to be so much easier.”
My sister, Brenda, had her own experience with forced decluttering years ago: her house burnt down! Before that she had been in a constant struggle with all the stuff that accumulates when one is raising children.
I will never forget what she said after her family moved into a new house: “It’s so easy to clean a clean house!”
She had been freed!
Many of us seem to feel a need to ‘spring clean.’ There’s something about moving out of the darkness of winter and into the light. We also want our houses airy and refreshed. I took a day last week, and bagged up lots of shoes, excess clothes, and books I’ll never read. I tackled stacks of defunct papers with the pleasing sensation of shredding!
I filled the back of our little pick-up truck with large garbage bags filled with the excess of our lives and happily delivered it to Goodwill. I took a breath of relief after the last bag left my possession. It felt like an act of good will towards myself.
Marie reminds us that, “the sooner we confront our possessions the better. If you are going to put you house in order, do it now.”
Spring-cleaning not only clears the house, it unburdens our souls. As we declutter and discard it’s as if we give our very souls an opening to direct us to what we need to release emotionally. Just as the closet space is cramped, maybe our heart is heavy with resentment; maybe our thoughts have taken a negative downward spiral; perhaps our happiness has flat-lined.
The very act of examining our possessions can lead to an inward inventory. We can release ourselves from emotional burdens by letting go. We can see more clearly our illusions and replace them with the frank and honest truth. We can admit the toll our negative attitudes and criticisms toward self and others are taking and replace them with a desire to notice what is working.
We are free to create more peace, joy, empowerment, and love. Decluttering opens space for us to pursue our passions and discover our missions. When we are free of excess we can more easily live purposely, deliberately choosing what really matters.
As Marie reminds us, ‘Life truly begins after you have put your house in order.’