I moved eight months ago. I wanted a shamanic house clearing but my desired practictioner remained elusive so I resorted to saging every corner of my new house, a process which I have since repeated. Frequently.
Let’s face it: I am a serial sager.
I’m also the self-proclaimed Queen of Decluttering… or so I thought. Turns out that no amount of smudging is going to unpack bags loitering in random corners, nor release energy tied up in general excess. So move over me and enter Marie Kondo, whose popularity as Japan’s decluttering expert is currently surging far outside her native land.
Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying is certainly not a title I would have been drawn to without repeated recommendation. Anyway, what could she possibly teach me?
As it turns out, A LOT.
I’m not a serial hoarder but I’m certainly no minimalist – at least not yet. And whilst I did a fairly good job getting rid of stuff in the moving process, there were still plenty of things I clung on to even though I knew they weren’t exactly serving me.
Kondo’s philosophy is deceptively simple:
Her main method for deciding what stays and what goes boils down to physically holding each item while asking the question
“Does this spark joy?”
If the answer is no, it goes. If the answer is yes, it stays.
This is an uncompromising process relying on intuition and bodily response alone. Logic has no voting right.
Kondo suggests starting with your wardrobe, as clothes have low replacement value as compared to, say, your grandmother’s wedding china.
As a clothing aficionado, that turned out to be a HARD place to begin. I arrogantly began by congratulating myself on my swift disposal technique, when in reality I was only chucking what should never have moved with me in the first place. As someone prone to monetizing my decluttering efforts, I also fell prey to setting aside numerous items with perceived cash value, shuddering at Kondo’s suggestion of shoving every unwanted piece into a black bin bag.
After two days of hapless sorting, I re-arranged my pristinely folded clothes into drawers and cupboards (Kondo advocates very specific ways of folding and storing items) and soon had to face the ugly truth: there was still too much stuff.
And frankly, the growing mound of sale items zapped my energy at the very thought of spending days on eBay.
I am slightly embarrassed to admit that it quite literally cost me a sleepless night or two to get to grips with the fact that the only way forward was to indeed ditch everything. It was hard. The process brought up a whole host of value and self judgements, such as
“OMG, how can I have acquired so many things?”
“How wasteful to throw these beautiful things away without at least trying to make some money.”
and a plethora of other unhelpful emotions. Even the hard-fought acknowledgment that these very things were actually holding me hostage simply fuelled the fire.
What eased the pressure in the end was a return to Kondo’s suggestion to thank each discarded item for having served me, and to let it go into the void of the black bin bag with love and gratitude. Including clothes I liked rather than loved.
(Disclaimer: They will of course be going to charity shops so ultimately benefiting others in one materialistic form or another.)
I am proud to say that the sum total of my clothes now fits into one wardrobe and four drawers. That’s everything – including underwear, outerwear, sleepwear, footwear. All seasons and all occasions.
And the energy freed up in just this one area of my home is already AMAZING. There is room for breath and flow and it is a joy to walk into, and sleep in, a welcoming peaceful space.
It may just turn out I am performing my own shamanic house clearing by simply ditching that which does not spark joy.
Not the sage, though.
Images: Amazon.co.uk, author’s own