Initially, when I first starting reading the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo’s “sparking joy” method didn’t appeal to me.

It seemed kooky to have to touch each inanimate item and thank it for its service before tossing it into a donation box or placed in a prominent spot in your home.

De-clutter, organizing, donating items, Konmari, Marie Kondo, tidying up, sorting, mental health, happy home

Probably the most dramatic image that moved me when I watched Kondo in action was her asking clients to put ALL of their clothing or items such as books into one big pile.

Maybe I just wasn’t “getting it”?  It was only when I watched some of the episodes of her Netflix show, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo on Netflix that I understood the importance of the spiritual approach she uses.

Addressing each object and calling out its purpose and importance helped me to understand what they mean to me.  If you can’t understand why you have that ugly scarf you got stuck with at that gift exchange party a long time ago, then maybe it is time to release it!

These mountains of collected items paint a bleak picture of our consumerism and “everything is disposable” mentality.

It made me think about how much we own and if we truly need all this stuff to be happy and productive in life?

When my husband and I lived on our 42-foot sailboat, we pared all of our goods down to only the essentials.  When we returned 4 1/2 years later from our travels, we had only a minimal wardrobe and some treasured mementos from our travels.  Of course, one of them included our son, Marlin.  He was born in the South Pacific and was certainly the best “souvenir” we ever collected from our various travels!

I knew it was time – and I was at a point in my life when I needed to get back to those simple, basic possessions again!

De-clutter, organizing, donating items, Konmari, Marie Kondo, tidying up, sorting, mental health, happy home

My husband and I made a cross country move two years ago and I thought I did a pretty good job of downsizing, selling a couple of rooms of furniture and donating decorative and useful items that I didn’t use.

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize how much stuff my husband kept!

We arrived in our new, much smaller home with enough boxes of office supplies to open a small store and a garage full of tools, bikes and gardening items which we have no need or space for!  Living with others who hold different connections to their things can make reducing clutter even more challenging.

In the past, I have practiced the four-box method: one box for trash, one for saleable items, one for donations, and one for keeps.  It has served me well, although sometimes I think I could pare down further.

Personally, I think it would help to add rules.  For example, I know that if I haven’t worn or used an item in the past year, out it goes!

And guilt?  I have learned to not feel guilty refusing a relative who wants to “give” me a family heirloom.  I simply tell them I do not have the room for it.  Something that stayed with me happened when I carted a huge box of stuff to three different homes.  It was full of bits and pieces from both my husband’s and my families.

De-clutter, organizing, donating items, Konmari, Marie Kondo, tidying up, sorting, mental health, happy home

In the end, how you decide to make your home to be your sanctuary is up to you.

My recent experience using the Konmari method became a hybrid approach to tidying up.  At first, I followed Kondo’s instructions to the letter.  I piled all of my clothing onto my bed and began the process of touching each item and deciding what sparked joy.  Items that were scratchy, too long, dated, etc., all went into donation bags.

I happily filled several bags thinking about a closet that wasn’t packed tightly like a tin of sardines.  Then I began to sort and fold all my items using her origami-like technique.

When I had finished, the bed was covered in neat little rectangles.  I ended up with my dresser drawers holding twice as many items as before. It truly has been a pleasant experience to access all my items easily in their assigned drawers!

I didn’t do my hanging items as I had limited time that day, but that is my next assignment.  I know you are supposed to do the whole closet, but let’s be realistic.  Breaking down the job into segments is what works for me and as I see the progress moving forward, it is encouraging me to keep going one section at a time.

De-clutter, organizing, donating items, Konmari, Marie Kondo, tidying up, sorting, mental health, happy home
De-clutter, organizing, donating items, Konmari, Marie Kondo, tidying up, sorting, mental health, happy home

The important thing is I see improvement and I am excited to continue organizing my life in every sense of the word.  In the end, I’ve found what works for me in the de-cluttering process.

Whether it’s a combination of methods broken into different chunks of time or a marathon of books I use to find the optimal method for me, I’ve learned so much about who I am.

Just start.  It gets easier and the end result really clears both your abode and your mindset.  Happy Spring Cleaning!

Denise Benson

Author Denise Benson

Denise Benson is a photographer, creative writer and traveler. Discovering new ideas, people, places and cultures is a lifelong passion, which Denise enjoys sharing with her readers using her unique perspective as a photographic storyteller. An avid sailor, she and her husband Brian have sailed 10,000 blue water miles exploring the South Pacific. Along with sailing, she enjoys travel, food & wine, books and nature related activities, including napping on the fore-deck of her boat, Moonstone.

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