Tuesday, August 15, 2017

You might need a rake

For years I have always had a "discard" box for items I don't want anymore.  If I see an item laying around the house that I don't want any more it goes in the box.  When the box fills up I truck it off to a thrift store and a new box starts.  Every year or so I do a whole house sweep, filling up many boxes, enough for us to have a good sized yard sale.  For the most part of the beginning of 2016 I did a whole house sweep with a yard sale happening that May.  I thought I should be on the clutter clear for some time after that.  But oh no.  I have been spending time over the last year doing some painting and decorating in my house finally after living here for 6 years....along with more "toss boxes" filling up on the way.  We are now planning another big yard sale in the coming months.  The fam and I like having yard sales but we shouldn't have so much stuff that we need to have one nearly every year.  

Our house isn't really cluttered...to the untrained eye.  I am just really good at stashing things behind closed doors, drawers, under beds, even under the couch.  I can 'tetris' items into a plastic storage bin to the millimeter and then tetris the storage containers in stacks to the ceiling in my laundry/storage room.  I think I have mentioned on here before that I have 12+ storage containers of vintage christmas stuff along with 5 christmas trees.  I have 10 storage containers of Halloween stuff. Along with all of these containers are several more with old baby stuff of PB's and stuff of mine from grade school, high school and college.  Lots of stuff.  But as I said it's all stacked neatly and out of general sight.  When I am doing my clutter clean sweep I don't do much with the laundry room.  I go room by room in the rest of the house looking for stuff to get rid of to reduce the amount in each space.  This is why I can never get the clutter under control. 

 I happened to discover a few wonderful books at the library several months ago that have opened my eyes to the error of my ways: "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" and "Spark Joy" by Marie Kondo and "Clutter Busting" by Brooks Palmer.  Marie Kondo's books are national best sellers and she is known world wide for her KonMari Method of tidying.  I have become enthralled with her and her teachings.  She promises that if you tidy as she recommends you will never have to do it again.  (Tidying is not cleaning, FYI.  Tidying is where every item you own has a place.)  The essence of her method comes down to two factors.  When you are going through your items, keep only the items that spark joy and discard the others.  Also tidy by category (clothes, books, misc, papers, sentimental items) not by room.  All items in each category have to be brought together in one pile. Everything has to be removed from it's regular hidey hole.  Each item has to be handled and checked for joy.  All this time I have been rummaging through my closet and only seeing the things that for sure I can let go.  I never checked all the items for joy. 

 Brooks Palmer's approach considers the emotional  attachments to items and decluttering.  He doesn't do it by category but he has you do a similar joy check on each item.  He suggests that every item be truly and deeply considered if it's place in your life is still valid.  Is it an item that you would buy today or does it serve your life today?  Does it have emotional baggage connected to it (like old photos, documents, letters, gifts) ? Even if it was expensive but it's not bettering your present life it should be let go.  Another interesting thing Marie Kondo mentions in her books is that as you are going through all of your possessions you are working on honing your sensitivity to what brings you joy, and not just in the items but in your life.  Brooks Palmer speaks about how clutter isn't just items, it can even be people.  If they are not a positive force in your life then they are clutter, you should let them go too.  

Just from reading these books I have started to experience a change in how I see things.  I have noticed myself not going to thrift stores as much and when I do I don't buy items just because they happen to be vintage.  I ask myself if I really like the item and where would it go in my house (not in a storage container!).  It's a very peaceful feeling to walk away empty handed and not have to bring something home that is just mediocre.  I have "people clutter" also with the relationship being they 'take' far more than they 'give'.  After years of aggravation, the solution on how to handle that relationship floated into my mind one night as I was drifting off to sleep.   I think this happened from understanding how to hone what brings me joy and really questioning what is clutter in my life.

 I am about to embark on my own tidying marathon. It's going to be a mix of KonMari and Brooks Palmer's technique.  I'll do clothes then books.  When I get to misc. I will probably go by location but still category ( ex: In the kitchen I'll do all the glasses together, plates together...etc) Then do papers together.  Sentimental items are going to be hard to grasp.  I have sentimental items that could be clothes, books, misc, and papers.  Maybe as I am going through the earlier categories, if I realize something is more than just a dress, I could set it aside for the later Sentimental category joy check.  All the time while going through each category I will be incorporating the concepts of Brooks Palmer by asking questions of myself such as" Is this an item that resonates with me now or is keeping me living in the past? Is it holding me back from moving forward?"

So again, as I have been saying for the past year and a half, posting on here is going to be null to sporadic.  I certainly look forward to when I can start posting with regularity again because this blog does bring me joy.