Sparking ‘Joy’

“No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important.” – Marie Kondō

I knew that if Emily Gilmore found a way to spark ‘joy’ in her life after the passing of Richard that I should take note. Gilmore Girls, “A Year in the Life,” was the first time I heard of Marie Kondo and her, now infamous (Amy Sherman-Palladino is always ahead of the crowd), Konmari method of tidying up. At first I found the method intriguing and a quotable scene in Gilmore Girls; however, now I believe Marie Kondo really does know what’s going on.

A few weeks ago I started watching the Netflix original series, Tidying up with Marie Kondo, and started the process of ‘tidying up’ for myself. A long and painful process to say the least. Long because you find yourself staying up all night to see your progress and painful because going through the things you have accumulated over the course of your entire life is hard. For those of you who may not know the process, the basic premise is that you go through all of your belongings and hold each one in your hand, asking yourself, “Does this spark joy?” If it doesn’t, you get rid of it. If it does, you organize it in your house. Neatly.

Her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, outlines 5 categories of items to tidy up:

  1. Clothes
  2. Books
  3. Papers
  4. Komono (Misc. items aka kitchen, bathroom, garage)
  5. Sentimental (the hardest category of all)

Clothes, papers, and miscellaneous were the easiest for me. I like clothes, but I can let them go if I need to. I had a lot of papers because I had saved almost everything from high school, college, and all of my jobs, so that was definitely a huge undertaking. However, it was the books and sentimental category that was the hardest for me.

No more than 30 books!! That is the number Marie recommends to have in your house. That, alone, is the number of coffee table books I own. Books have always been my best friends and constant companions. I have shelves overflowing with books and they are all my friends. They all give me joy and I like them around. Do as I say and not as I do in the Marie Kondo category of books. Although, I did get rid of some books, it wasn’t many.

I have a lot of sentimental items. I mean a lot. I have held on to their things: my grandfather’s globes, my great-grandfather shoe repair kit, all of the cards and letters from my aunts, uncles, and cousins. Why? The main reason was because I have always felt that my kids won’t know who their family is if I don’t keep everything.

I don’t need to hold on to to everything my ancestors left behind for my kids to know them. I kept a few important things and threw away the rest. have found that when I hold most of my memorabilia in my hand it doesn’t spark joy. I had an amazing childhood and I had a lot of family, but as Marie says, “we cannot live in the past.” I’m sorry Nathaniel for throwing away your valentine from the third grade. The same goes for my awards and trophies and pen pal letters: they didn’t all give me joy.

I am still in the organizing stage of what I have decided to keep. Hello container store! This is challenging in a different way. Now that you know what you want to keep, how do you want to keep it? Marie recommends a lot of little containers for storing things neatly and it really does work.

Have you tried the KonMari method? What surprised you in your quest to spark ‘joy?’ I’d love to hear your stories. Until next time, dear reader, don’t forget that it is okay to throw away your great-grandfather’s book about boats. It probably didn’t give him joy either.

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