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How Marie Kondo Helped Me Let Go of My Past

11th September 2015

Marie Kondo

I’m one of those dreadful bloggers who only shares the good stuff. It’s not for want of painting a rose-tinted view of my life, but because that’s how I am. I’m a glass half-full person, and I hate sympathy or pity. So I’ve always kept my problems – or dirty laundry – to myself!

Throughout my 30s a lot of bad stuff happened. Looking back I think my relentless collecting was a way of coping. It took my mind off things, and when you’re having a rough time it’s nice to treat yourself. For this reason, a lot of my decluttering has been about re-evaluating my life and letting go. I can’t even begin to describe how therapeutic the process has been. And I would recommend it to anyone.

Having said that I had reached an obstacle in the form of my vintage treasures and photographs. Both of which were boxed and taking up space in my cupboard. I couldn’t seem to reduce or edit my trinkets, despite going through them on numerous occasions. And I hadn’t even found the courage to open the box of photographs.

I was aware of a book by Marie Kondo called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, and I recall reading a post by Tiff of Dottie Angel about the strength it had given her. Tiff, like me, had a passion for collecting vintage and I felt confident that if this book had helped her it could help me too. And so I read it.

Marie Kondo

‘To put your things in order means to put your past in order, too. It’s like resetting your life and settling your accounts so that you can take the next step forward.’

The book outlines a process of tackling items by type, in a specific order and over a maximum of six months. Marie teaches you to only keep the items that ‘spark joy’ and to discard the rest. A process she calls the ‘KonMari Method.’ The thing that made her technique so unique is you don’t decide what to remove, instead you decide what to keep. I loved this idea, and I imagined it was like going into a shop full of my possessions and choosing what to take home!

So on the rainy bank holiday I tipped my box of photographs onto the living room floor and sorted through them. It was tough, and I’ll admit I cried as I edited the photographs down. But I also laughed and reminisced and enjoyed revisiting the fun times: an 18 year old holiday with my girlfriends to Corfu, the 3 times I’ve been a bridesmaid, my numerous cats, my teenage bedrooms and so many bad hairstyles. I now have four tiny albums of joy. The people and moments I want to remember, having let go of the rest.

Next came the collectables; my unloved vintage trinkets, held in a series of boxes cluttering up my cupboard. The collection had taken almost twenty years to curate, and consisted of rare items from all over Britain. By applying the ‘spark joy’ technique to each individual item, I realised I didn’t love them as much as I thought. In fact, I was simply holding on to the love I had for them. I kept my absolute favourites and the remainder is in my office waiting to be donated or sold. After years of living with these things, I can’t wait to let them go.

I’ve always been a hoarder, and I’m extremely sentimental about stuff, but Marie helped me to see my belongings in a different way. You don’t have to keep things because you loved them, or because you feel they hold a memory which will be lost if given away. It’s actually more respectful and kind to you and your belongings to let them go. And it enables someone else to enjoy them. With Marie’s help, I’ve reached a point of calm. There are no longer boxes of unloved things in my cupboards or skeletons in my closet. Everything in my home serves a purpose or fills me with joy.

Marie Kondo

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18 Comments

  • Reply Eva 11th September 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Thanks for sharing your personal feelings, you are very generous. I would like take a look to this book.
    Have a lovely weekend ! x

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 11th September 2015 at 1:07 pm

      Hi Eva, Thank you for your kind comment. I hope you have a great weekend! 🙂

  • Reply Sara 12th September 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Yes! The sparking joy made so much sense to me – despite how utterly batty she can seem in some other parts of the book!
    It’s nice to hear other people still have these clutter obstacles to face. I always look at your pictures and think, ‘she’s SO much more minimal than me – I need to try harder’ so this has reassured me a bit! x

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 13th September 2015 at 12:22 pm

      Thank you Sara. I loved all Marie’s tips, especially emptying her handbag at the end of the day. I’m not sure I have time for that level of commitment! It has taken years to get this far, but it was worth the (sometimes emotional) journey. Have a great day. 🙂

  • Reply Claire (@Kurea_San) 13th September 2015 at 5:51 pm

    Well done! I can only imagine how hard it was to let go of some many things you’ve collected over the years. Sounds like you’re now feeling very refreshed!
    Claire xx

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 13th September 2015 at 8:05 pm

      Thank you Claire. It’s good to clear out the past every now and then! 🙂 I hope you had a great weekend.

  • Reply Victoria 14th September 2015 at 1:23 pm

    I’ve been tempted to pick up this book but think it might be a little hardcore for my needs, especially as I get older I’m finding I hoard less and know what I do and don’t like. Only recently I’ve ditched the huge dining table that dominated my lounge as it sat unused for anything other than dumping things on and instead I’ve created a much more spacious and pleasing place.

    It’s funny after reading your post I went and grabbed my box of photographs from pre-digital age as I wanted to hunt out my old Disney snaps to show my niece and nephew. Whilst doing that I went through all the photos and dumped any that were no longer relevant to me, whether containing friends I’m not longer associated with or the dark and blurry ones that served no purpose. As always with these things it’s very therapeutic.

    Victoria x
    FlorenceandMary.com

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 15th September 2015 at 10:37 am

      Thanks Victoria. Well done on ditching the dining table, the extra space sounds great. Letting go of old photos really is therapeutic and I bet your niece and nephew will love seeing the Disney snaps!

  • Reply Kathryn 15th September 2015 at 10:11 pm

    This is fascinating and that book sounds well worth a read. I am so glad to hear that you are in such a good and better place now too, my lovely friend! xx

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 16th September 2015 at 9:55 am

      Thank you so much lovely! I can thoroughly recommend the book, it’s a good read.

  • Reply Dorrie 18th September 2015 at 7:32 pm

    I totally get what you mean about buying stuff as a treat to get you through hard times. I’ve been doing that most of my life. I’m about half way through this book now and it’s really good. It’s made me realise that I should’ve cleared stuff out by category and not location. It makes perfect sense. It’s inspiring me to keep going and I’ve given myself until Wednesday to go through my clothes, shoes and bags. The bags will be hard.

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 18th September 2015 at 8:18 pm

      Thank you Dorrie and well done. I’d love to know how you get on, it’s really worth the effort.

      Have a great weekend!

  • Reply Kimberly Robinson 21st September 2015 at 7:39 pm

    We have begun this process this week and although I am following the order of things laid out in the book I stumbled upon what I know is an emotional landmine in the bottom of my closet; a box of old journals. I’m trying to decide whether disposing of all of them is good, and a relentless move in a forward direction, or if there is any reason to save them. I already know that many of them are too painful to read. I’m neither famous nor extraordinarily wise and have no children so nobody is going to be looking for insight into my genius via my 18 year old musings. I suppose I’ve answered my own question.

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 22nd September 2015 at 5:21 pm

      Thank you Kimberly for your sensitive comment, it sounds like your’ve reached your decision. While letting go of my sentimental items I often thought of the quote ‘don’t look back, you’re not going that way.’ Good luck with your declutter.

  • Reply Jo 23rd September 2015 at 1:32 am

    Fantastic post, Natasha. I may even bookmark for future reference! I’ve really admired how you’ve approached your decluttering/lifestyle change over the last year. Although I generally have a declutter every year I definitely feel I am needing a bigger clear out than usual this year as there are people and things I want to move on from. I know it’ll feel good to let go.

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 24th September 2015 at 8:31 pm

      Thanks so much Jo. I’ll be sticking to yearly declutters so it doesn’t build up again!

  • Reply jennifer hertzum 1st May 2016 at 2:32 pm

    I read Kondo’s book and as someone has said some parts are a little odd! However it was a lightbulb moment and it has helped me enormously, the spark of joy being the key. I have taken it slowly, most of the house is done, and am now about to embark on the photos! It has taken a while, after moving, to gather them all together but now its done and the most painful part will commence. Strength to you all it is worth it!

    • Candy Pop
      Reply Candy Pop 1st May 2016 at 2:52 pm

      Hi Jennifer. Thank you for your kind comment. I loved the book and Marie Kondo’s inspiring words helped me with the final declutter. Good luck with editing your photographs.

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