I just finished reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. This book makes sense. It’s easy to follow and the concept is easy to understand.
However, it’s not necessarily easy to put into action for someone who was born in the 50’s. We baby boomers were taught to not waste a THING! It was ingrained in us from an early age. Maybe it had something to do with how our parents were raised, post-war, but I can still hear their words:
“Clean up your plate. There are children starving in the world.”
“Your “school clothes” are for school. You don’t wear them on weekends.”
“Hang that towel up after you bath. It’s not dirty and laundry day is Saturday.”
“You only need one winter coat and one spring coat. How many coats can you wear at one time anyway?”
“We’re not wasting gas to drive you to school. It’s only a mile or so.”
or, my favorite….
”We’ll just go out to the money tree in the back and buy you that new bike…..sure.”
If any of these sound familiar to you, you know what I’m talking about.
This could also explain our habit of keeping empty margarine containers and mismatched coffee cups and washing Ziploc bags to re-use. Or keeping assorted pens, paper clips and elastic bands in our overflowing “junk drawer” where also lives several notepads from various businesses, flashlights that don’t work and the extra buttons that come with new shirts. (Don’t even get me started on the “free” greeting cards and address labels I get in the mail).
We hang on to the jeans we wore 10 years ago that we can’t possibly fit into ever again (even if we do lose that extra 15 pounds!) because there’s not a thing wrong with them. They’re practically like new (albeit hopelessly out-of-style). We simply can’t bear to part with that little black dress or those black dress pants because we might need them for a wedding…..or a funeral. Who wears black to either anymore? I have an array of colorful scarves – and I don’t wear scarves! (I thought I should because they look so good on everyone else…)
We now live in the age of excess where everything is disposable, we buy gadgets glorified by advertising, can wash clothes every day and have closets overflowing with clothes we’ll never wear. That’s a hard place for boomers to live. Even though we can generally afford these things (because we’ve worked hard all our lives) we still have guilt nibbling at us that we’re being extravagant. And if we do buy all those things, we can’t seem to get rid of the old stuff and our homes become hopelessly cluttered and disorganized. As Kondo’s book explains this cluttered feeling spills over into every area of our lives making us feel heavy and overwhelmed. Tidying up properly allows us to feel a renewed sense of lightness and joy.
I’m approaching my spring cleaning this year with bits from the book and a little of my own wisdom…..I’m pretending our kids have to clean out our house because we’ve died. Ya, I know it seems morbid but it sure gives you a different perspective and urgency to get it cleaned before they have to go through your stuff because I know exactly where it would go!
So, as I hold each item to feel if it gives me joy (from the book) I also ask myself if our kids would have any connection to the item. If the answer pops up as a quick “hell no!” I don’t hesitate to toss it or bag it up to be donated. So far, I’ve only tackled our closets but, already, I feel lighter and can’t wait to dig into those junk drawers and storage cupboards I haven’t opened since we moved here 8 years ago. I already know I’m going to find 16 different screwdrivers, an assortment of old watches and lots of Christmas ornaments (I don’t even put up a tree anymore).
Maybe it’s my age, but I’m realizing that if my possessions don’t hold a deep meaning for me and bring me happiness then someone else should have the opportunity to enjoy them. The new trend towards minimalism really appeals to me and I have little desire anymore to shop simply for the sake of something to do. I don’t need anything. And to feel less encumbered by material crap sure feels like freedom to me.
Less “stuff”, more joy.
Now that’s a trend I can get behind.