At the beginning of Lent, I told you about my Lenten challenge. I was going to get rid of 40 bags in 40 days. This was not only a housecleaning project, but a spiritual one. The intent was to get rid of things that were no longer serving. By getting rid of the material, I hoped to let go of the non-material. The purge has continued at my house and I do not mean that horror movie that I refuse to watch. These are a few things that have helped me in this process.
First, before taking on this challenge, my husband and I talked about and agreed to do it together. Both of us have an excess of stuff in our house and he needs to make his own decisions about his stuff. It has been extraordinarily helpful for him to be right there alongside me getting rid of things that are no longer serving him. He also helps me carry out the trash and take items to be donated which is practical help.
Second, we did a large painting project to the interior of our house including the master bedroom closet. This meant that all of the contents of the closet were all over the rest of the bedrooms in the upstairs of our house. We had stuff piled on the bed in the guest room, in the hallway and piled on the floor in the office. The visual of all of that stuff was a great motivator to realize that we had way too much stuff in that closet. Instead of simply putting everything back in the closet, we took our time to go through the items, and purge. Our closet is much more organized now.
Third, I read portions of the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. A caveat is that I borrowed this book from the library so I did not add another book to my bookshelf. This book was much buzzed about a year or two ago on women’s talk shows and other media. I was told that there were tricks in there for storing your clothes. One of her tips is to fold your t-shirts in a manner that your can line them up vertically rather than in a stack. Then when you open your drawer you can see all of your selections rather than just the ones on top. Some of her philosophy for organizing seems a bit hokey. For items that are not purely utilitarian, she tells you that you should hold each object and determine if it gives you joy. It sounds silly but when I have been on the fence about whether to keep or dispose of something, I have thought about whether it gives me joy. The other thing she advises is if you are disposing an object to thank it for what it gave you, and say goodbye. I have done that and it does make me feel less guilty about getting rid of it. It served its purpose and now it is time for it to move on.
Finally, we have donated a lot of items. While I do not want to have an attitude of snobbery, I have tried to think often of the people my donated items may help. We have not donated items that are worn out or broken. For the items that still have life in them, I hope they will clothe someone and keep them warm, help someone dress for an interview, or even just allow someone to wear a nice item that they otherwise might not have been able to afford. We also try and donate to an organization such as Goodwill that employs people who have limitations that could make it difficult for them to find a job.
The process continues over at our house. As of the weekend, I think we were up to 22 bags, an extension ladder and a broken magazine basket. I am not sure we are going to hit the 40 bag mark by Easter next weekend unless we are absolute maniacs this weekend. However, we have started the process and plan to continue it past Easter. By disposing of material things, not only do I have a clean closet but most importantly I have realized that we are blessed with overabundance. Even after purging, I still have too many pairs of shoes, too many hoodies and too many books. It is making me more conscientious about spending our money on items that we do not need. I would like this evolve into less excess stuff in our life and open our lives to an excess of experience and joy. –June
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. -William Morris