My head is throbbing and I think it’s from over-purging! I am emotionally and physically exhausted. As I sit here I stop and stand before you in my polka dot red and white onesie with my right-hand lifted, I confess to you that I am an organized hoarder! Yes, Kenya the one who organizes Swap Parties and purges with the changes of seasons! It’s true. I hold on tight to many THINGS. The picture below is an example of how organized I am, but if you look closer you will see things neatly tucked away in little boxes and the hope chest that is screaming for air!
Here’s the story behind this discovery. Four weeks ago I was scrolling through the Audible books I downloaded four months prior and ran across The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. I originally downloaded the book because it was a New York Times best seller and I love tidying and organizing. I finished the book in two days and found myself with a floor full of clothes. The book is an introduction to the KonMari Method, which emphasizes only keeping things that bring you joy and you tackle decluttering by category. The timeliness of this rediscovery on Audible was more than timely; it soon became my prep for the Winter Solstice and New Year.
Clothes – In the spirit of self-compassion and self-care I went all in to clear my space both mentally and physically. The total process took about four weeks. I went into seclusion, hiding from the holiday parties, happy hours and gatherings. My home consumed me. The first category being clothes, of course. Marie advises to take out everything in each category, even the clothes packed away for the season. So, I did as I was advised, and before I knew it I had a mount of clothes. If it didn’t bring me joy I let it go. I even gave away precious pieces from Japan and Africa. As a result, all seasons of clothing are in my closet, making packing for vacations easier! Yipee! Thank you Marie…. (because it’s all about vacay prep).
Shoes – Shoes were next; 15 pairs gone! Then the bags…oh well ……there were only a few that did not bring me joy. I am a bag lady; I am keeping my collection of travel backpacks! Thank you. However, I did give away three tote bags and several purses!
Sewing and Art Supplies – The hardest part was sorting through sewing and craft supplies. It was during this category that I began to feel a little weak and distressed. When opening up the cabinets and bins I realized ever since I started my current job four years ago I have done very little creatively; pouring everything into my job and neglecting my creative spirit. My stomach ached. Flipping through the pages of my art portfolio and letters from my mom of our business that will never be. But….I let go very tenderly. Then I had the revelation that if I could give, sell or donate these items to people who would appreciate them the process would bring more joy. So, I had seven piles of art supplies and did the following:
- Sold the African fabric
- Sold two bins of burlap fabric at a highly discounted price
- Gave sewing supplies to a friend for her sewing business
- Gave art/craft supplies to a co-worker’s daughter
- Sold a blanket I made to a nice gentleman
- Sent my African bead collection to my favorite jeweler
- Whatever was left donated to Goodwill
Books – After completing the art supplies I pulled out all books, journals and magazines! Since I am NOT an avid reader, (I prefer story-time by audible) this wasn’t too difficult! Bye bye books…..I got rid of about 130. This is where they went:
- Donated 53 to my local library
- Gave my African American studies professor from college about 50
- Then donated the rest to the Goodwill
Paper – I only had three files of paper and several binders of research papers, which I thought was pretty good. Right?! Not quite! Half of the stuff I REALLY did not need. Why did I have papers from undergrad?!!!!!! After sorting through files and binders I had 60 lbs of paper that needed to be shredded. That does not include non-confidential papers that filled up one garbage bag. I am now down to 1 1/2 drawers of files and three binders.
Kitchen – The kitchen was next. Cleaned out the fridge and tossed a few thangs! Tackled the cabinets, which made me a little nervous! The spices and teas were taking over. A month ago I returned from Sri Lanka and Turkey with teas, spices and other edible delights, so my cabinets were flooding over. Don’t judge! It was so bad, one would have to open the cabinets ever so slowly so cacao or cinnamon wouldn’t thump you in the eye. I tossed out all kinds of old teas and expired sauces. Then with great excited I headed to Ikea and the Container Store for new spice, tea and rice jars. Of course I used the money from my recently sold items! Thanks Mausiki, Brooke and Lawton!
Collectibles – Next on the list…. art work and collectibles. I had Black dolls collected from around the world, antique handmade doilies, paintings, statues, and all kinds of sitabouts (dust collectors) that I purchased and were given to me by friends and family. I had bins and a hope chest so full it was probably screaming for oxygen. In following the KonMari method I only kept the items that brought me joy. Where did these items go? I handpicked a few friends and set aside special items for them. For example, I had some African beads purchased from Ghana in 1997 when I was studying abroad. Since they no longer brought me joy I reached out to one my favorite jewelers and sent him an early Christmas gift! He told me I’ll be getting a treat soon. My intention was not to get anything in return, but I will gladly accept new adornments.
Cards/Love Letters and Journals- I saved this category for last! The KonMari Method recommends saving sentimental items for last. I had letters and cards dating back to 1996 from classmates. I was ready to toss ALL my old love letters, BUT someone told me to save a few. They shared, as a single person, having old love letters gives us something to go back to and reminds us that there were moments in time when someone loved us deeply and passionately. And during the times when we feel unlovable the letters take us back to those happy moments. I confess to saving a few. BUT, my cousin and I burned some old letters and photos in an effort to truly let go. See the photos below of our burning ceremony! Another friend shared that every Saturday morning she goes into her box of letters and pulls out a letter from her mom who passed many years ago and she reads one of her letters. It’s as if her mother is still speaking to her. I LOVE that ritual. I got rid of over a 100 cards and letters. Moving forward, I will keep less and hold onto those that only bring me deep joy!
Journals. Since 1994 I have documented every aspect of my life in written form. There were journals, scrapbooks and photo albums all tucked away in two beautiful cases. As I flipped through them the words seemed so familiar and reminded me that I have some of the same struggles today that I had 20 freakin’ years ago. What the hell?! I found more letters and love letters from my famous ex fiance who is now a big time Hollywood film cinematographer. I forgot all about those letters! Nonetheless I reduced the pile of journals, albums and letters that will go through the second burning ceremony with my cousin. Here’s to letting go and change…………
I also gave away my CD collection to my friend’s daughter. I kept only my autographed Eric Roberson CDs and my Stevie Wonder box collection. I wrote Eric Roberson a nice note thanking him for his soulful music!
Overall the tidying process in my small 820 square foot condo took about four weeks! It was an absolute detox of my personal space. This is why I confess to be a hoarder. Why do I have so much stuff, I had to ask myself?! However, I have been living in my space for over ten years. Do I get a pass? When my mentees came over to sort through the things I put aside for them they kindly asked (mind you, they have been to my home many times), “Did you have all this in storage, where did it come from?” Of course it wasn’t in storage, everything was strategically compartmentalized and packed away in nice bins and storage containers. And that’s when I realized, the way I organize my home is how I organize my emotions. That was my Ah Ha Moment….. I compartmentalize my mental and physical spaces. And it hit me, that’s what this whole process was about…. letting go, departmentalizing and making room for change. I get it now………
Please note, the post tidying pictures will be posted in a future blog! Looking forward to sharing!