THE UPSIDE DOWNSIDE OF TIDYING UP | An exercise in decluttering, minimalism and the pursuit of simplicity :: and my 3 favourite resources to help you get started
THE UPSIDE: there is an undeniable sense of relief and lightness that comes with throwing out old or unnecessary “stuff” and tidying up your environment. Feelings of elation and freedom, and the bonus, good-will sense that over time you’ll be reducing your footprint on the earth if you commit to consuming less.
THE DOWNSIDE: the angst you have to go through in order to get ruthless and let go. The pangs of guilt… and the sneezing! (from all the dust you’ll uncover).
We’ve all got out “stuff” right? Whether its physical or emotional, or heaven forbid, both – we’re probably all carrying around a little more than we need to and a bunch of stuff that, when we’re really honest with ourselves, doesn’t truly make us happy; let alone inspire us. And we live with it until every so often we have a big Spring clean, or your partner or your mum throws it out for you. Or, if you’re like me, you have an Epic Easter Tidy Up!
I’ve been gradually going through my belongings and decluttering for a while now. It started with a market stall about 8 months ago and has been progressing. The wardrobe was my main focus initially, as it was the one area where I felt I’d accumulated more than I needed, used, or even liked anymore. That’s the startling thing actually – how much stuff I had that I didn’t really even like. Not anymore anyway. And that’s been one of my biggest takeaways for me from this exercise:
Great once, doesn’t mean great now.
And that is where I was able to give myself permission, with reckless abandon, to throw stuff out! I sold a bit at the markets and it was satisfying to see others excitedly trying on things that no longer fit me, served a purpose or made me happy. It was even more satisfying to drop the remains off to a charity store and simply give stuff away.
Cut to, over Easter I decided to go to the next level with my decluttering. I felt the need to purge. I was certain there were things still lurking around that I didn’t need. And, as that energy was growing inside me, I remembered the linen cupboard, and the TV cabinet drawers, the 5 boxes of “storage” in the garage… the freezer… the glovebox in my car… you get the idea. Everything was up for grabs. Everything needed to be looked at and assessed with a few key questions in mind: namely, stay or go?
Is this ‘item’ coming with me on the journey?
… and courtesy of Marie Kondo, does this ‘item’ SPARK JOY?
Oh my, does “spark joy” lead to some serious clearing!
If you haven’t encountered the term before, I’d encourage you to take a look at the KonMari method. It essentially asks you to evaluate everything in your life with that question of sparking joy in mind. A little confronting at times, since I realised I was holding on to various things – from old jackets to perfumes to script notes for plays I was in 10 years ago to … the list goes on.
For extra inspiration, I consulted The Minimalists' documentary. Their primary message being about adding value to your life, which struck me as another way of asking if something brought joy to your life. It's a fairly consistent theme amongst those talking around this topic.
I’m not getting too puritanical about it though – an old trick of mine for when I'd discover something new. You know the all or nothing approach to things? I’m just trying to apply this thinking, with a light touch, to help free up physical and mental headspace, and any emotional ‘eliminating’ or baggage-clearing that happens along the way is a welcome bonus.
Time to focus on what’s really important and meaningful, and what genuinely lights me up.
Here are 3 excellent resources I highly recommend for inspiration if you’re also feeling the need to lighten your load.
1. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo: the KonMari Method
2. Minimalism Documentary: featuring The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, and others.
3. Project 33: be more with less, by Courtney Carver
Ps. Project 33 was the most testing concept for me; a notion of reducing your clothing to a “capsule wardrobe”. That’s right – 33 items, only. Including SHOES! I’m certainly no expert on this one, but I did give it a shot – well, I counted all the items in my wardrobe anyway. The one saving grace was that underwear, gym wear and lounge-wear are not included. I downgraded a few things to “loungewear” just so I could keep them. And I allowed myself 120 items of clothing. And even that was pretty brutal, I’m not going to lie – but honestly, a month or so later, I can hardly even remember what I threw out and I’m definitely not missing anything!
Pps. Sadly, my CD collection got the chop. In this digital age, and with 2 Spotify subscriptions in our household, I just couldn't justify it. As nostalgic - and EPIC - as it was to part with them, the truth is I can't remember the last time I played a CD. I took photos of some of the artwork though. I used to spend hours pouring over album covers and lyrics...
I’d love to hear your stories about decluttering – if you get inspired and start a tidy-up, please let me know. It’ll keep me striving for less :)