Happy New Year!
I hope you had a fantastic holiday, filled with good company, laughter, and above all love. 2017 ended in a whirlwind for us. We moved into our first home just before Christmas. Somehow we managed to clean, paint, move, and throw a Christmas eve party! I would describe the experience as wonderful chaos.
Since moving we’ve been going through our things, deciding what to keep, what to let go of, and where to put what.
Just before the holidays, a copy of Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up” found its way to me. Does this ever happen to you? The book you need at the time just happens to land in your lap?
Well, with the move, this seemed like the ideal book to be reading.
As someone who is a little on the messy side (to the perpetual chagrin of my very orderly and patient husband), I was both overwhelmed and excited by the prospect of changing habits that had been bothering me for a while.
I also loved Marie Kondo’s central guiding principle, that she poses as a question: Does this spark joy?
So, we had our first marathon cleaning spree on Sunday evening. She says to start with clothing and she’s thought of everything. All you have to do is follow her method.
We started with discarding. Which can also be thought of deciding what you want to keep. We held each item, and asked ourselves, “Does this spark joy?”
It was such a neat experience! An exercise in self-awareness to physically hold each piece of clothing we had, and ask ourselves quite an existential question. The things I kept brought a smile to my face. The things that didn’t bring me joy anymore (in some cases, they never had!), I did as Marie Kondo suggested, and thanked them for their service, then placed them in the donation bag.
It took some time to learn how to fold the clothing according to her method. Marie also has a way she likes clothes ordered in closets.
Three hours later, we were finished.
I stood back and took in all of our hard work. The clothing looked like these perfect little parcels in the drawers, and to me, they were the most impressive change that took place in terms of organization. Every shirt and stocking and sock and piece of underwear had been neatly folded and had its place. It was, in a word, amazing. I have NEVER thought that while peering at my drawers before. But then, I’ve never peered at my drawers before.
The energy in the bedroom had changed. I felt a hum and lightness around me. For a second, I thought it might have been caused by the tiredness of the task itself. So, I asked Daniel.
He felt it, too.
We were both skeptical at the beginning of the process. But by the end, we felt it.
The magic, invisible, yet shimmering around us.
We’ve committed to tackling one category per weekend until we’re done. I’ll keep you posted!
Now, the interesting thing is, this idea of only being surrounded by things that spark joy has crept into other aspects of my life.
I’ve found myself applying it to relationships. I’ve been asking myself, “Does this spark joy?”
It’s been a profound experience, in certain cases. The simple yet existential question gave me reason to pause, examine, and be honest with myself about the actual state of my relationships, not the story I tell myself about them.
I realized that sometimes I hang onto relationships that no longer spark joy. I’m not naïve—I’ve been with my partner for nearly thirteen years. I know that relationships have their rough patches. A relationship cannot spark joy continuously. But it’s that spark, that light, which binds people together. It’s that spark that lights the way through the rough patches.
I realized that certain relationships, over all, didn’t spark joy. And they never had. I had been surviving on the intermittent good patches, while being in denial of the predominant rough patches. I had to ask myself, why was I hanging onto something that didn’t spark joy? What was the point? What was I getting from it, other than suffering?
The New Year seems like a good time to do some tidying up, not just in our drawers and closets, but the deeper places where we build up emotional clutter.
The process continues, but from here I can say, I feel lighter, brighter, dare I say, more filled with joy.
I just took a deep breath.
Happy New Year again, friends!
If you have a chance to pick up the book, I recommend it!
Until next time,
A :) xo