Just six months ago I Kon Mari’d our home, following the advice of bestselling declutter author, Marie Kondo, and picked up each item from ceiling to floor and closet to drawer, asking it if it gave me joy and pitching it if the answer was no.
My items talked back to me; my friends who also Kon Mari’d said their items didn’t talk. The pity. I learned from my conversations. A coat told me she was tired of being sequestered in a dark closet and wanted to see sunlight again and to be of use to somebody. The idea of seeing sunlight again became a theme. I started feeling badly for all the items that pleaded for some natural light in their lives. I even heard whining: “If you don’t appreciate me enough to wear me, please free me up to live a more enlightened life.”
The same with pots and pans and with pictures on the wall. I was almost afraid to sleep knowing a mutiny was brewing in my drawers and behind the doors. It helped too that I carry a latent amount of guilt for not measuring up from time to time, so these unhappy items weighed on my mind. If I could treat inert objects like this so shabbily, why…I didn’t want to even think about it.
My husband watched the move-it-on piles grow. When I told him I had a load ready to drop off at our favorite thrift store—Pass It On in Alsip, IL—he hurried to get a valet cart from our lobby to shag the items out to our building’s garage.
I helped, of course. And, along the way, as we encountered friends and door staff in the hallway, elevator, and lobby, my husband laughingly told them all: “Lois has gone through the house and is getting rid of everything that doesn’t give her joy.” Then as they looked at him as though he (or me) had gone berserk, he added, “I’m glad I made the cut; I’m not on my way out yet.”
And now, planning our move from downtown Chicago to Sioux Falls, I thought my recent Kon Mari expedition would have adequately purged my house. Not. I have just spent four hundred hours in the last two weeks purging more and more. I didn’t even ask if my items gave me joy; instead, I gently explained to them, “I must whittle down some more, so I hope you won’t be offended.”
In my mind I was thinking, “If you haven’t given me heaps of joy yet, what assurance do I have that you ever will after I’ve packed you away in a cardboard box to be unpacked who knows when?”
Oh, it was painful. As piles landed on the bed and kitchen bar, many items wanted to stay. I heard them beg and weep silently, shaking in their places to get my attention. I guess they figured they’d made the first cut and were either happy or resigned to their lowly position in my life. So I gently kept up my explanation: “You don’t know it yet, but it will be healthier for you to go to new owners.” I thought it might be easier for them to accept a health-related rationale. After all, it seems we’re all a bit nuts now with our FitBits and low carbs and carpeting worn thin from jogging in place.
So, for a second time, my husband loaded up and delivered over ten boxes and bags to Pass It On. And a third time is germinating in a bag in my closet.
Seriously, though, we both are looking forward to move near our youngest grandchildren (five and six). Due to our careers and a nearly two-thousand-mile distance, we missed out on the everyday lives of our three young-adult grandchildren (and now are so thankful for their visits, phone calls, and texts), and feel blessed to do a little active grandparenting in the remaining years of our lives.