As I embark on my second week of re-reorganizing my sewing room, boxing up my stash of fabrics by colour in clear bins and lamenting why did I buy so many beads and skeins of yarn, I’m beginning to see my cutting board under all of the detritus of PHD – projects half done. I’ve been ruthlessly tossing them out. No more – oh, if I use this skirt pattern piece I can re-cut (insert whatever garment doesn’t fit). It’s somewhat to get rid of ‘stuff’ liberating but oh, if I think of my discards in terms of dollars going into the garbage, I have a moment’s hesitation. But my resolve hasn’t weakened too much.
Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo has written a book taking “tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again’. Perhaps, says I, if you never buy more stuff that turns into clutter or half finished projects that lie forgotten for years in a closet.
Her ‘revolutionary step-by-step KonMari Method’ is meant to be a lifestyle change. The ‘international bestseller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire, gives ‘detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t).
On another website, I came across an article called ‘Move Forward in Your Life by Throwing out 50 Things’. According to the author of that book, the number 50 was arbitrary which makes sense, because life is arbitrary, as is my mood, the weather, what I feel like cooking, etc.
In the introduction to her book Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life (Springboard Press, 2009), Gail Blanke writes: “Our lives are so filled with the debris of the past—from dried-up tubes of Krazy Glue to old grudges—that it’s a wonder we can get up in the morning.” Although Blanke, an executive coach and motivational speaker, urges her clients to begin by attacking the clutter in their homes and offices, the end goal is to eliminate all the baggage—physical and emotional—that holds people back, weighs them down, and keeps them from living their best life.
Blanke outlines her “Rules of Disengagement”:
1. If it—the thing, the belief or conviction, the memory, the job, even the person—weighs you down, clogs you up, or just plain makes you feel bad about yourself, throw it out, give it away, sell it, let it go, move on.
2. If it just sits there, taking up room and contributing nothing positive to your life, throw it out, give it away, sell it, let it go, move on. If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward. Throwing out what’s negative helps you rediscover what’s positive.
3. Don’t make the decision—whether to toss it or keep it—a hard one. If you have to weigh the pros and cons for too long or agonize about the right thing to do, throw it out.
4. Don’t be afraid. This is your life we’re talking about. The only one you’ve got for sure. You don’t have the time, energy, or room for physical or psychic waste.
She calls the bumph clogging up our lives and our surroundings (old keys, mismatched socks, photocopies, clothing, books), ‘life plaque’. Keeping them around reminds us of what we are not, or of unfortunate decisions we made, and hold us back from reaching our full potential.
I can buy that. We’ve all had people in our lives who have dragged us down emotionally. The best thing to do is jettison them. There are clothes in our closets that, when we put them on, make us feel fat or look unattractive, shoes that hurt our feet or look clumsy. I stare at the stacks of books I’ve bought and read – why keep them? Let someone else enjoy the journey.
Marie and Gail – bless you for monetizing tasks I have to do more of. It’s energizing to get confirmation I’m on the right track.
Cleaning out will free up my creativity. I’ve been putting off working on The Fifth Man, my second novel draft. Damn, but I’m motivated now! Sure I’m contributing to landfill. Better that than to leave stuff lurking around the house seeping guilt. Purge, ho!