I held the dress in my hand awaiting a sensation.
I felt like a medium trying to channel a dead person by caressing an item of their clothing. Suddenly a memory sparked. It was my 19th birthday, I was with my boyfriend and I was wearing the dress.
We were dancing to the song; You Spin Me Round by the band Dead or Alive. I was deliriously happy, intoxicated by both alcohol and life.
The memory caused joy to spark out of my every cell. That’s a keeper, I said to myself and laid the dress reverently on the bed. The frock was years old and a size eight, really I don’t know why I’ve kept it for so long but there’s a part of me that can’t let it go.
Then I realised it wasn’t really sparking joy. I will never physically be able to wear this dress again, I am 30 years older and a few stones heavier!
It became clear that the reason I had kept it was because of the emotions attached to it.
I’d worn it on a fabulous evening, filled with great memories and to me the dress represented those emotions I’d felt then. Those memories can be recalled at any time in my mind, I don’t need a piece of material to channel that precious 19th birthday night. I thanked the dress for serving its purpose and put it in a bin bag.
Next I lifted a bright orange, pleated smock top with huge rhinestones around the neck, this in no way sparked joy, just a mild feeling of shame that I had actually parted with money to own it! What was I thinking?
I stuffed it into the black bag before anyone else might see it.
I am in the process of spring cleaning. There’s something about the lengthening days and better weather that ignites an almost biological need to clear and clean.
But I’m not using just any old method of decluttering, I’m practising the art of ‘KonMari’. This is a life-changing decluttering system created by professional tidiness consultant, Marie Kondo.
She has been hitting the headlines as the bestselling author of books The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, and its follow up Spark Joy.
Many claim her decluttering method has changed their lives.
Her theory is, that when clearing things out, you must only keep items that spark joy within you.
This is different from the usual decluttering advice of getting rid of things you haven’t used/worn in six months. Kondo believes we should only be around the things that make us happy.
When you think of your environment in that way, it makes perfect sense to unload things that don’t create happy vibes.
Looking at my accumulated items of a lifetime, I can say with great certainty that I own many things I would never miss.
Kondo believes that all things have a purpose and that when we discard items we should respectfully thank them for serving that purpose.
According to her, even an unread book’s purpose was to teach you that you didn’t need to read it. I have teetering piles of unread books around my home.
They take up valuable space and sometimes have the effect of making me feel hemmed in. It has been an expensive lesson I have taught myself in realising I don’t have to read this many books, but I understand what Kondo means and I’m rounding them up and heading them out to a charity shop.
Many people contact Marie after using her method and tell her their ability to stop hoarding has given them back the control they felt they lacked when their homes were messy with belongings.
As a result of decluttering in this way, some people claim they’ve gone on to lose weight, leave an unhappy relationship or get a promotion!
The experience of meditating on one’s belongings and finding they don’t bring happiness and have served their purpose has proved liberating for many. Kondo’s books have altogether sold over two million copies.
As I move around my home on a festival of tidying, I quietly evaluate each item’s emotional meaning to me.
Many items spark no joy at all. It’s satisfying seeing space opening up as I clear things out. I begin to feel more in control of my environment.
I can safely say, that when it comes to the KonMari life-decluttering method I am now, as her followers call themselves, a ‘konvert’.