This week the name “Marie Kondo” kept popping up in my world.
I’m behind the ball on this one, because I don’t keep up with most pop culture things. I guess she has a TV show. I haven’t seen it, but for some reason I saw her name, and it stood out to me. So I looked her up and bought her book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up : The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.
Amazon shipped it to me the next day. Yesterday! And I got to work.
Life context: This was a struggle bus week. I’ve been feeling deeply insecure. About everything. I feel like my writing has dropped off hopelessly. My goals from the beginning of the year have dropped off. I have had big inspirations and desires come to my awareness this year but haven’t put a plan together and hence feel myself uncomfortably stuck in between my desires and my reality. Options keep coming up for me, and I keep hesitating. It’s almost too much for me. Like, the floodgates opened a little wider for me this week. I’ve been working on opening myself up energetically and intuitively, and maybe increased sensitivity and volatility just comes with the territory. Damn though, I’d like to be more grounded. I’d like to be more stable. I wish I could f***ing communicate what I’m going through when I’m in that kind of place.
I kept finding myself in conversations this week where people would be like ‘How are you?’ and I would attempt an honest answer over a fluffy answer, but then… it really seemed that the more I said the worse it got. Has that ever happened to you? A lot of the time talking things out really helps me, but this week it made everything worse. It was like Life was telling me: You have to sort this one out on your own, bucko.
OK Life. I can take the hint. And I do appreciate that message. There’s a balance between sharing and working things out on our own. I don’t want to burden people with my emotional struggle. Sometimes when I’m literally in the middle of something, it’s too soon for me to talk about it. Particularly if I’m seeking conversation out, in hopes that it will help me. It’s just a form of seeking external solutions instead of internal solutions. For those of you on the spiritual path with me… it’s the internal solutions we really want! To reconnect with that strong, eternal part of you, when things feel chaotic. And yeah, sometimes it’s just really difficult. That was my week. An internal shitstorm surrounded by nothing out of the ordinary; me, seesawing back and forth in my own self-created, anxious mess, feeling absolutely everything.
But… in the middle of it, Marie Kondo came into my life. And it felt like an answer of sorts. So I followed my gut and bought her book. Boom. On my doorstep yesterday. Thank you, Amazon Overlords.
Marie Kondo has a method of organizing a house, that she calls the KonMari method. It’s rooted in the idea that we can and should curate our space to contain only items that truly make us happy, or “spark joy”. This immediately resonated with me, because I have started noticing and caring about the fact that I pick up on different feelings based on what is around me – some of those feelings are pleasant, and some aren’t! It’s good to become aware of how things make you feel.. because then you really can take ownership, in that higher awareness, of what you allow into your space. This is, in fact, a sort of boundary-setting ritual. Because the method itself is a process to help you get rid of things. Specifically, all those things that have outworn their purpose in your life, and no longer truly spark joy for you.
As I was reading, I sensed that this was something that would help me. I saw that some of what I had been experiencing this week could be called ‘mental clutter’. And so it is probably high time for a ‘decluttering’ process. Not to mention it’s ‘Spring Cleaning’ season.
Along with my acknowledgment that this was a good idea, came an awareness of a fear inside of me. I realized that this would be my first big cleanup of the new year, my first re-evaluation of my living space since the breakup three months ago. And I felt a piece of me resisting that. After all, reorganizing your space and getting rid of things is such a symbolic practice, one that we engage in to help ourselves move from the old to the new. What parts of me are going to be lost in this process, I asked? Will more of Mathew leave? Do I want that? Am I ready for that? Can’t I just hold onto the way things are a little longer?
They do say that breakups are hard, but I guess I’m still only a beginner to this process. Parts of today were maybe just as hard as the first days. I had a lot of sadness come up. I did a lot of crying. It actually wasn’t very dramatic, in terms of the amount of stuff I decided to discard. But I did go through all of my clothing and accessories – I pulled them all onto my bed and floor, and I went through them one-by-one, taking each item in my hands and just feeling into it. I would ask these questions, more or less, to everything: Do you spark joy in me? What do you represent to me? What purpose have you served or are you serving?
I wanted it to be easy; I hoped I would immediately know upon touching something whether it truly belonged with me or not. Alas, I found it to be a challenge – a fruitful and worthwhile one, mind you, but a challenge nonetheless. One of the biggest roadblocks was my rational mind, butting in with logical thoughts about all of my things, making it difficult for me to sense into my intuition and feelings. The other big challenge was just… I handled a lot of sentimental things today, many of which are full of memories from my relationship with Mathew.
The first thing that I cried over was a tie-dye t-shirt that I made, a relic from a day spent tie-dying in California with Mathew and my brother Enzo. It was our first summer together, and Mathew came out to meet my family and see my home. It was a sunny day, full of laughter. I held that shirt in my hands today and wept, my chest cracking and aching.
The next piece that was most difficult for me to visit was a pair of pants that Mathew’s mom gave to me, that same summer, right before we went to Bonnaroo. Actually a lot of pieces of clothing that I love were gifts from Iris; I’m not sure why that was the one that set me off, but it did. Another flood of memories came to me while I held those pants, of times I spent with Mathew’s family. They always treated me with an amazing amount of love and generosity; did I return the love enough? Did I take them for granted? Did I deserve them? These were some of the thoughts and feelings running through my heart while I cried. All I could do was let it come. And a part of me knew… oh, this is what needed to happen today. This is what you really needed.
And over the course of the day, it got easier. I truly didn’t need to get rid of much, but I did need to spend time with all of my things. How many of those items have I been subconsciously avoiding, knowing they’d trigger that kind of emotion in me? Now that I’ve faced it, and spent some time with all of my clothing… each piece I decided to keep feels fresher now, full of my own loving, intentional energy. Every piece that I touched today, whether I kept it or not, I thanked. I took time to appreciate. Holistically, that created in me a deep feeling of appreciation for who I am, the collection of things I have come to own, and for the sentiment that gets carried along with them, rooted in my own life experience. Sometimes I go read through old journals; this was a bit like that, except more rooted in the present moment. Like taking an inventory of who I am right now, what feels good to me, and what is ready to be let go of.
Putting everything away after you have chosen what to discard and what to keep is, of course, an important part of the process as well. This was the fun part for me. I’ve never been so intentional or meticulous about putting things away neatly before. Marie Kondo has this bit in her book about how to properly fold things, and how valuable the time we spend doing that can be… it’s part of taking care of our clothing. It’s an opportunity for appreciation and caring, an opportunity to exchange energy, to keep our clothing alive and vibrant. And I actually folded my socks and underwear! I would have thought that was crazy before, but now I get it.
I woke up this morning in my confused headspace, not sure how my day was going to go. Over the course of the day, a sizeable chunk of my room was dismantled and put back together again. Now it feels lighter and fresher. And somehow or another, in the process of cleaning and feeling, the storm calmed down. Internally, I regained my composure and peace. Externally, things that were in the air and stressing me out fell right into place. Putting my things in order… helped me put my other things in order. It was pretty amazing. Pretty magical.
…And this was only Part 1! Clothing, shoes, and accessories. I think it was the most important part for me, but I’ll probably go through all the categories, since this has already proved to be deeply beneficial for me. Also, it’s something to write about, which makes me happy.