Thank you for all the thoughtful comments and suggestions on my previous (and first!) minimalist post; special thanks to the anonymous reader who recommended I read 'The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up' by the Japanese guru of decluttering Marie Kondo. Soon after my post, I saw another blogger mention she was reading it, and the universe converged in my finally ordering it from Amazon (by the way, I did try to be a minimalist and get it from my local library, but I would have to wait for another 500 people to read it before me ;).
If you've previously heard anything about this book at all, it's probably Marie's quirky catch phrase of 'discarding everything that doesn't spark joy'. To her, that the single criterion what should use in deciding what to keep - because the focus of the book is on things that you choose to keep, not the things you toss. She does elaborate on how exactly one is supposed to arrive at that decision (decluterring the entire living space in one fell swoop, the order of categories of things, emptying all the storage first and spreading things on the floor, taking each piece in one's hands, making the instintive decision quickly, expressing gratitude to your things, sorting them into piles of keepers and trash/donations), but essentially, that's all there is to her method. She also gives practical advice on storage solutions, which are extremely simple, examples of mistakes one could be tempted to make, and lastly, how decluttering your home will 'dramatically transform your life' for the better.
I know what you're thinking right now: 'So, did the book help you declutter and organize your apartment before the move?'. Definitely. I would say I had had a strong need to downsize even before reading her book, and it was the final push I needed to finally make some decisions about our belongings. I methodically went through my clothing, toiletries, books, papers, some sentimental items. Among my drawers, cabinets and files I found completely worn out socks, stained camisoles, clothes both too large and too small, supplements that expired in 2009, expired beauty products, damaged towels and sheets, broken cups, a fondue set we were given at our wedding and haven't used even once (Mr is allergic to cheese), novels I had no intention of reading again, Sephora invoices from online orders made in 2011, a work orientation file from 2008, empty manufacturer's boxes for broken phones that we long stopped using. You guys, I'm a pretty tidy and organized person, and generally know where everything is in my home, and how it's found its way there - but I was baffled. And a bit embarassed. And massively happy to throw those things away.
One area that I struggled the most with was gifts. I own a large amount of clothing and accessories that were generously given to me by family members and friends. Unfortunately, I don't wear the great majority of them, because they're either not my size or my style, or the friends have since turned to frenemies, and their gifts have very bad juju attached to them. Buuut... they were gifts! Someone spent their hard-earned money on them! What if I get rid of something, and the gift giver later asks if I'm still enjoying the present? Here's the quote from the book that resonated with me the most: 'The true purpose of a present is to be received. Presents are not "things" but a means of conveying someone's feelings. When viewed from this perspective, you don't need to feel guilty for parting with a gift. Just thank it for the joy it gave you when you first received it.'
I would say that overall, I tossed at least five garbage bags worth of stuff, and donated another five to Salvation Army. While I could attempt to recuperate the cost of some of my items by selling them to a consignment store or on eBay, I have neither time nor the energy to do that - and I realize it would be a very long process, which I can't have, as we're moving this week. Now, our belongings are still not at the point where they could be even remotely considered minimalist, but I'm okay with that. For now, it's enough for me to know that I am using, and ENJOYING, the things I've decided to keep.
One important point of the book that I have a bit of a problem with is how the followers of the Konmari Method never rebound, never go back to cluttering their lives and homes with extraneous stuff again. Even though I can now see a lot more clearly what I own and love (thanks to having less and the vertical folding method), I still feel the desire to shop for just a few more things to 'complete' my wardrobe. I have since been reading more books about minimalist/ simple living, and they touch on that problem in more detail; I'm thinking of devoting a separate post to that issue, and the solutions that have been keeping me from shopping for more. Let me know it that's something you'd be interested in; or maybe a tour of the closet, once we settle into our new apartment? I'm full of ideas!
Have you read 'The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up'? Have you already applied the Konmari Method to your belongings? Please share your experiences in the comments!