Decluttering: Life-changing Magic?

Life-changing…? For the better I hope. But magic and tidying don’t sit convincingly together.

I wonder if I have got more than I bargained for. Is my life truly going to be changed, over and above buying a house, moving again and leaving Parwich?

As you know, we are downsizing, seriously in everything apart from our own girth. And to emphasise the need, the house we have fallen in love with is a very tiny little cottage, very charming but very petite.

Decluttering Magic NeededIn anticipation of severe downsizing all I hoped to do, is ruthlessly to sort, clear, declutter our possessions… A very down to earth, practical time-consuming and ultimately, boring task…

We had talked a lot but done very little about it when, out of the blue arrived from Am-you-know-who a book from darling daughter Ruthie, called ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying’ by Marie Kondo. I actually only noted the magic word ‘Tidying’ and if it hadn’t been so obviously true that help is needed I might have been hurt.

And because it was from Ruthie, and because starting to read the book rather than actually getting on with the purely practical process of tidying was rather appealing, I started reading.

The Life-Changing Magic of TidyingThe author, Marie Kondo, actually talks a lots of sense although her tidiness obsession must be hard to live with – her family must have been very long-suffering when – even as a young child – she continually binned their possessions or nagged them to do so themselves.

However, her obsession and long experience of decluttering has paid off. She is full of very wise advice. Sort into categories. Tackle the easiest category first, which she reckons to be clothes, and divide these into subcategories. Gather all of one sub category together – tops, dresses, suits, whatever. So far so good.

Then pick each item up, one by one, and ask yourself ‘Does it Spark Joy?

This sounds uncomfortably weird, but I discovered that it really works. Some things one only keeps out of habit, or ‘just in case’, or because someone gave it to you, or it might fit one day. One doesn’t feel happy about it but burdened by negative emotions. The answer is simple: if an article does’t ‘spark joy’, then bin it. She stresses, only keep what makes you feel better, rather than negative, burdened. Having applied the process to our shoes, I can only agree that we both felt unreasonably pleased with ourselves.First Five Bags Today

I have yet to finish the book, but I have now reached a stage that feels even closer to being weird.

Once you’ve sorted through the category, put everything away, folding clothes in vertical piles, so looking at the contents of a drawer is like looking at a row of books on a shelf.

So far so good. That makes sense, to be able to see what is there, rather than rummaging through and disrupting neat horizontal piles. She is very keen on the actual folding process, and stresses that it is important because touching something transfers energy and love to it. Running one’s hand over a drawer full of clothes is a form of communication, which keeps the articles vibrant.

This may be a step too far. I have yet to be convinced but before I am too critical, I ought to a) finish the book and b) finish the sorting process. She reckons it will take six months. As we hope to move within a couple of months, this adds to the pressure; hopefully an extra bit of magic might speed the process in a special case.

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Marion Fuller-Sessions

Retired and downsized, and sadly now widowed, but keeping in touch with family and friends and friends far and wide via my blog

13 thoughts on “Decluttering: Life-changing Magic?”

  1. Oh Marion I am so impressed! I long to declutter, and love the idea of getting rid of everything that does not ‘spark joy.’ Does this include people?!

    1. Pippa, I wondered, but I think she sticks to inanimate objects. At lest if you give something to a charity shop or the recycling, with luck it’s the last you see of it!

      Seriously though, I’ve always dreamt of decluttering but got no further than the dreams. Now we really have to, to fit comfortably into our new house, there’s a real incentive. (Long way to go yet, but we’ve made a start..!)

      1. Yes, incentives can be a wonderful thing! I do love a good clearing out, somehow it seems to make such a huge impact on my sense of wellbeing and mental clarity. It really does seem to free up space and energy in unexpected ways. When do you move Marion?

        1. Pips, that is what Marie Kondo says – that decluttering is ‘life-changing magic’. What we don’t know is how long this sense of well-being lasts… Hopefully until the clutter starts building up again, one doesn’t want to be in a permanent state of needing a decluttering fix!

        2. Pippa, I just realised i didn’t answer your question about when we hope to move. The answer is, we don’t know, but we hope by the end of Feb, all being well. Our solicitor is well on with things but awaiting various vital bits from the sellers’ solicitor. We haven’t even exchanged yet, so nothing is certain. It will be a relief to (hopefully!) have it all settled. Meanwhile, we have de-cluttering time… which is a bonus.

          1. Hi Marion, I have only just seen your email! It somehow got lost in my masses of emails. Now there is an area of my life that definitely needs decluttering! Wishing you a stress free and happy move. Lots of love Pippa

          2. Thank you Pippa. Nick has found someone who can bring order to one’s paperwork/office but I haven’t dared go that far yet. And lots of love to you all, too. You’ll have to come and see us in our new house, when we eventually get there and if I haven’t decluttered everything away!

          3. We would love to visit once you’re all settled in your Zen like minimalistic new home Marion!

  2. The artist Michael Landy created a performance piece (Break Down) where he crushed and destroyed all his possessions. They were placed on a convey belt that ended with them being crushed. It was very memorable to see..

    1. Tim, imagine the sudden sense of panic as the last thing on the conveyor belt disappears, and you realise after all that we do need some things, whether we like it or not!! Crushed is very final. Our first batch of the second round of decluttering went off today, to the Air Ambulance. Not crushed, but still pretty final! I must say it feels good.
      (By the way, hope your fingers are okay – not too frostbitten.)

  3. Marion, our thoughts on your de-cluttering range from guilt about broken resolutions over the years to do just the same, to amazement at your single-minded approach to it. As you have intimated, “needs must”. Making time is always the problem. Life is so short and there are so many things you want to do. I did a virus scan just before Christmas on the computer I am using to write these comments. It took about 18 hours and I was astonished to find It had scanned nearly a million files. How often have I told myself I must de-clutter this computer? It is enormously time consuming and do I really want to spend the time examining all these files to decide which to bin and which to keep? With a house and its contents it is memories of a lifetime’s precious shared experiences you do not want to bin without careful consideration and this necessarily takes time. But, it is better to tackle it together rather than leave it to the widowed partner or one’s family. Brilliant the acid test “does it spark joy?”

    1. Mike, hi, how right you are! The computer? I hadn’t thought of that… Fortunately that clutter is very concentrated, almost invisible. The spark joy test won’t work there, nor on the filing cabinet, another horror story. We are finding it all difficult (and we’re still at the easy stage of categories) but the thought of our children having to sort everything because we can’t bear to is a strong incentive – also of course ‘the needs must’ pressure of serious downsizing. And it does feel very satisfying, liberating even.

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