Lent is a season honored by many Christian denominations. It starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter. It’s a time to focus on simple living, prayer, reflection and fasting. The season of Lent is also the perfect time to begin de-cluttering your home and making room for all that spring has to offer.
This year, I’ve begun the process of de-cluttering my home following the principles developed and taught by Marie Kondo. A resident of Japan, Marie is a cleaning consultant who promises that if you follow her KonMari Method, you’ll never have to de-clutter again. I was introduced to Marie and her simplifying methods through her best-selling book: The life-changing magic of tidying up.
“When you’ve finished putting your house in order, your life will change dramatically. Once you have experienced what it’s like to have a truly ordered house, you’ll feel your whole world brighten. Never again will you revert to clutter.” That’s a pretty big affirmation for such a tiny book of just over 200 pages, but Kondo insists that none of her clients have had a relapse and she apparently has a waiting list that’s several months long.
We all know that to change any habit, we must first change the way we think; and that, Marie says, is where many go wrong. She feels the reason many don’t every feel fully free of clutter is because they tidy little by little. She proposes that tidying be a special event, completed once and for all and within a single period of time. She believes the visible results are the key in changing your mindset.
Yet to see a house that lacks sufficient storage, she believes the real problem is that we have far more than we really need or even want. Her process is fairly simple. You begin by discarding all at once, intensely and completely; keep only the things that spark joy in your heart and store items only after you finish discarding. She estimates the whole process takes about six month’s time.
Instead of discarding by room or location, discard by category. You can subcategorize to increase efficiency but you must follow the correct order. Clothing comes first, then books, then papers. Papers are your check books, bank and credit card statements, warranties, pay slips and the like.
Miscellaneous is next and that consists of ten separate sub-categories. Those are: 1. Cds, DVDs; 2. Skin care products; 3. Makeup; 4. Accessories; 5. Valuables (passports, credit cards, etc.); 6. Electrical equipment and appliances, cords or anything vaguely electrical; 7. Household equipment (stationary, office supplies, sewing kits, etc.); 8. Expendable household supplies (medicine, detergents, tissues, etc.); 9. Kitchen goods and food supplies; 10. Other (spare change, figurines, etc.).
The final discarding category is your sentimental items. It’s purposefully left last because by this point you will have developed a stronger intuitive sense as these are always the hardest to part with. Before choosing what to keep, gather up everything that falls into the same category at one time. Take all items out and lay them in one spot. Then, pick up each item and ask yourself if it brings you joy.
When you are deciding whether to keep an item you should feel a thrill of joy when you touch it. If not, you should get rid of it. Touching is very important – you cannot decide by giving items a cursory glance. Try not to get distracted by thoughts of being wasteful. If you find something difficult to part with, consider why you have it in the first place. For example, maybe you bought that dress because you thought it would look great but when you brought it home you never wore it again. Marie suggests that the role of that dress was to give you a thrill when you bought it and so it has already fulfilled its purpose in your life.
“You’ll be surprised at how many of the things you possess have already fulfilled their role. By acknowledging their contribution and letting them go with gratitude, you will be able to truly put the things you own and your life in order. In the end, all that will remain are the things that you really treasure.”
If something has sentimental value because it was given to you as a gift, keep in mind that “presents are not things but a means for conveying someone’s feelings. Just thank it for the joy it gave you when you first received it.” Doing this reframes your thinking and makes it easier to part with.
As you asked yourself what to discard, Marie recommends that you ask your house where it should be stored. She says that you don’t need fancy and expensive storage containers. Plain old drawers and boxes work just as well but be sure to designate a place for each item you own.
Throughout the book Marie gives handy advice on how to part with and how to store everything in your house. One thing is clear – she has a deep respect for the energy within your home and she honors all items. I believe that’s what sets her plan apart from any other de-cluttering program. “When we take our clothes in our hands and fold them neatly, we are, I believe transmitting energy, which has a positive effect on our clothes.” She believes that we are in essence, showing our gratitude and respect for the item. Folded into simple smooth rectangles, clothing in drawers should be stored standing up rather than laid flat. That way, when you pull open the drawer you’ll see the edge of every item in the drawer.
Giving things away that you no longer want, to others who can use them is a great idea, but be sure that you are not forcing items onto family members or friends because you can’t bring yourself to discard or donate them.
An underlying key within the pages of this book is that in the end, your home will become sacred and graced with only the things that speak to your heart. It will then become a source of power that provides you with strong energy and lasting comfort.
Detoxing your home is similar to detoxing your body. Both restore balance and help you gain clarity in all aspects of your life. Are you happy surrounded by your stuff or do you feel drained? Have you run out of storage space in your home? Or worse, do you rent storage space to hold onto “things of value”? How many times have you cleared the clutter only to find yourself doing it again months later? If you don’t feel uplifted in your living environment, maybe it’s time to join with me and using the principles in this book, tidy up your home, once and for all.
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Tammy Batcha is a life-long resident of the Shenandoah Valley. A long-time commuter, she seeks to reconnect to her community. With a background of more than twenty years in publishing, she is founder of The Goodness and Grace Company. A board certified, health and wellness coach, she continues to study integrative nutritional theory while guiding others on a path to wellness.