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.
‘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.