Sometimes the hardest thing to do in life, is simply to let go. The picture above is a dead plant that has been sitting in my kitchen for a few days. Lukey gave the plant to Lilly for Valentine's day last year. We've watered it, sometimes too much, sometimes not enough, but we've kept it alive and beautiful for a long time. And then, she decided it might like some fresh air, so she sat it out on our back deck. Sadly, the temperature got really cold, and without anyone even realizing it, our beloved house plant was dead.
Rather than throwing it away, she brought it back in and sat it between our paper towel holder and our beta fish. It's ugly. It no longer serves a purpose, but she couldn't bear to accept that it had died and just let it go. So she left it there for us to look at. It made me realize, she like me, has a natural tendency to hold on to things, even if they no longer serve a purpose. We're afraid to let go of things attached to sweet memories.
I honestly have always had the hardest time letting go of things. To be honest, sometimes I still do. I've held on to all kinds of things for all kinds of reasons.
Someone made it for me.
Someone bought it for me.
Someone gave it to me as a gift.
I might need it someday.
I might fix it someday.
I might wear it again someday.
My kids might like it someday.
I paid a lot of money for it.
I don't want to disappoint someone if they realize I gave it away.
Maybe I'll reread it. Or my kids will eventually will want to read it.
My list of excuses to keep things could go on for days.
And then I read this book....
and like every other book I've read, it didn't totally cure me of my "hoarding" tendency, but holy moly, she really taught me to LET STUFF GO!!! the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo.
I'm either the Goodwill's new favorite patron, or they hate seeing my van pull up! I have taken load after load after load of stuff. I've also given a ton of things away, mostly kids clothes to friends who could use them. I give things to a local church, and a few things I've even consigned.
The best part of the book for me was that she got in my head and taught me how and why to let go.
She says if you don't "Love" it, let it go. EVEN IF, some super special person in your life gave it to you. EVEN IF you paid a lot of money for it, but have no intentions of wearing it or using it again.
The best outcome from the book for me was this, I now have more empty space in our house. (Almost) every closet has empty room. Some of our drawers have empty space. When I get rid of all the junk I don't need, I can easily find what I do need. It eliminates the frustration of pushing and shoving things and digging and digging for what we do need. Laundry isn't so awful when you can easily put it away. Cramming things into drawers and closets gives me a headache.
The less you have, the less you have to clean. The less you have to organize. The less you have to dig through to find what you need.
Less stuff makes your house grow! Taking out unnecessary furniture and toys and tubs of things that you no longer need gives you room to be creative. To invite in people. Since I've read her book, I can easily have guest for dinner at the last minute or host a bible study at the last minute. We can use our space to be a blessing to others.
I like to give my people a challenge, "Bring me (X) number of clothes that you are willing to donate to the Goodwill to help out people in need. Before holidays I'll have them give me (X) number of toys that they are ready to part with. Usually they have an easier time letting go than I do, and its honestly because we've bought it with our money. I have to tell myself, You've had your time with this, now let someone else enjoy it. I try to imagine someone else being so happy with the gift!
Okay....this is too long, but let me encourage you....you came into this world naked and you can't take a single thing out with you! How can you be a blessing to others and freely and happily give things away? Don't give any of your kid's or spouse's things away without permission. I'm going to admit, I have given away some of Mike's and the kids clothes without asking them, but no one has ever noticed or cared! Your people might care, so don't go and get yourself in trouble and say I told you to do it! This cleaning out should bring peace to your home, not war! And don't start in their closets or with their things. Do your own first. Your family will notice and want the same space in their own room and closets.
You will be amazed at how much easier life is with less stuff.
I had been wanting to write a blog like the one you're reading for years. She promised, if you took her advice and got rid of all of your unneeded or unwanted stuff, you'd have more time for yourself and hobbies and people. And here I am, writing today. It is true. If you aren't buried in stuff, you can start to do the things that you really want to do.
You will have so much more JOY with less STUFF to weigh you down!
I have to admit, there is still plenty of room for improvement at my own house. I have tons of things I still need to let go of, but for the most part, our house is clutter free and much easier to manage. (The basement will always be in need of help!) It is a zillion times less stressful to be here without all of the stuff. Cleaning out has been a lot of work, but a gift to my entire family.
Sidenote: I think most public libraries should have the book to check out. You can also listen to it on the Overdrive App. If you live close to me, you can borrow mine. I bet you have a book loving friend who owns it. If you are like me and truly don't know how to get rid of things, she is SO good at TEACHING you!