It has been a fascinating week or so with the arrival and then departure of our Molly. Molly is a student of minimalism and she took time out of her busy life to advise me of her journey. I was introduced to the work of Marie Kondo from Japan. Many of you will have heard of her work. However, there are many myths floating about her and I wasn’t interested in those so I read her book. The combination of Molly’s careful lessons and Marie’s book have transformed how I feel about ‘things’. Firstly, although Marie does talk about getting rid her message is actually more focused on valuing what we have. To value what we have we have to first know what we have. Marie’s methods are systematic and thorough and if you stick to her plan very closely you will be transformed. If, however, you deviate and start sorting or processing prematurely her message will be lost. Rarely do I come across a guru that I am convinced by but little Marie is a force of nature. Her whole philosophy is based on a belief that you tidy just once and all in one go. Meaning that you work through your possessions in the order defined by her in a manner defined by her and you keep going until your whole house is tidy. Very quickly it became joyful instead of being a chore. The real myth is ‘the best way is to do a little everyday or room by room’. That just means you tidy your whole life and are never done. I am not completely done but I am getting close. Marie asks you to hold or look at each possession and ask yourself ‘does it spark joy?’ If it does keep it, if it doesn’t pass it on. Of course being a strong environmentalist the passing on needs very careful considering. Our island charity shops are closed so Molly departed with a car load of things to drop into the charity shops in Inverness. That only touched the surface.
Marie Kondo is not a minimalist and that is important. However, Molly is so I took some of that from her. I am embracing living a much more simple life so this is part of my journey. For me, possessions have been holding me back as, in reality, few things spark joy. Encounters with the natural world spark joy, people I love spark joy and beyond that I don’t feel the joy that others sometimes experience with things. Of course there is some sentimental things and Marie Kondo advises getting to them last on the list. So I have my photos and a few letters to go through but I understand I can now take my time with those in the knowledge that the rest of the clutter has either gone or has found its place in my home. I am also motivated by gifting things to people that I know will value them so there has been a fair bit of that going on. Giving gifts outside of birthdays and Christmas is always so rewarding as faces light up with unexpected joy.
I realised that many of my things were causing me ‘silent stress’ and now they are gone my living spaces are calm, uncluttered and organised. My house is tidy so my mind is tidy and I have, arguably, never been more focused. At this time I still need most of my craft materials and equipment as I have effectively come out or retirement to support the family in this uncertain time. But there is a deadline to that and after that I will be gifting more things and keeping the tools I need to create what I love to create. That is driven by the slow agenda. I love slow creative processes and I am no longer interested in quick makes. I am also committed to making that treads very lightly on our planet. So knowing what motivates you creatively helps you to filter through tools and materials.
When you focus on the Marie Kondo methods of, for example, folding your clothes and you combine that will a capsule wardrobe the end result is not only tidy drawers and wardrobes but I now only have 34 pieces of clothing (excluding underwear and PJs). When you bring all your clothes into one place you can clearly see repeats and you may even find some items with tags still on them. If you are unsure about a piece of clothing place it on a hanger facing away from you. If you have not turned that hanger round in 6 months you are unlikely to, ever.
Assess what you really need to make yourself happier. Do this by assessing what makes you unhappy in the current situation with regards to your home. For some people that might be a storage issue but for many it is because our spaces are cluttered. Clutter is detrimental to most people’s mental health and sense of being so if you decide the Marie Kondo plan is not for you you still need a plan.
The most important thing to take away from Marie Kondo is the concept of intention. I am a huge fan of intention in the rest of my life but it was neglected when tidying. Now my tidying has been almost completed I can review just how much thought and, ultimately, intention went into every decision. Intention is a useful slowing down tool as it requires careful consideration.
The whole experience has been life affirming and transformational in equal measure and I am not sure we can ask for more. 🙏❤️