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Hello, my name is Sandy.

The joy of throwing stuff out

an organised dresser top, holding bags, hats, scarves and socks

For the last 3 days, I have been on a discard bender. I've not done much, yet four heavy bags of clothes have already been sent for donation. Seriously, how did all this stuff get here? I hope I don't wake up one morning and wonder how I accumulated so many years.

My good mate @Elle_Emmm recommended a book - The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo - which, on the surface, suggests decluttering based on categories, rather than rooms or areas, but is, deep down, about connecting with your personal values and the kind of life you want to live.

The criteria is simple, "Does it spark joy?" When tidying-up using the KonMari method, if you do not feel joy upon handling an object you own, it's time to thank it for its service, and send it on its way.

a cubby hole of tops, rectangle-folded and arranged side-by-side instead of in a pile

Throughout my childhood, there was always such bad energy and obligation associated with domestic activity. Chores were utilitarian, routine, process, the thing you do to get it out of the way. The thing worth shouting at people for. This changed a little once I moved into my own place, but it's hard to shake off one's conditioning.

So I am touched by this book. I feel it speaks to a quiet part of my self that, over the years, became obscured beneath piles of obligation and chore. Whether something in your life makes you feel joy is a simple, but pressing question. It forces you to look past the distraction of shoulds and oughts, and listen to your heart.

Mum used to say I was terrible at tidying up cos I wander too much when I come across sentimental items. This book tells me it's perfectly fine to wander, and say, how bout you wander along this way and fully appreciate those feelings of yours.

socks rolled like sushi

While cleaning, I realised I have trouble letting go of things I once loved. I hope getting practice in mastering this habit for owned stuff will help me master it for life stuff in general.

Some epiphanies are less la-di-da. I have some nice clothes I'm really not into - they're only there in case I need to go to a party. But I don't even like parties. What if I just say no to parties and free up that space for clothes I do like? :)

thinned-out wardrobe, day 3

The photos in this post are of my work in progress. I started on a rack with 2 hanging shelves, bursting with clothes like a jaffle pie with gravy. I'm down to one hanging shelf now, fewer t-shirts and pants, and only a handful of undies and socks cos it's fun to live on the edge.

This morning was a whirlwind of bags, hats, scarves and shoes. It's amazing how many things you don't mind throwing out when your head's unanxious. I think I could have been the cleaning diva Mum always wanted me to be, had we taken a more soulful approach to our home and possessions. I have kept some ugly and unusable things, for no reason other than they bring me joy.

my cat is helping me clean

It is surprising at times, this approach to decluttering. You learn about yourself as you go. That makes it a lot of fun.

Organised clutter

scissors, cardboard and cute stationery

My home is full of clutter. My life is full of clutter.

Since reading The Joy of Minimalism, I've been wondering how to clean up. Every thought is haunted; every desire tinged with guilt. I can see this becoming a manic obsession if I'm not careful, so I want to take it slowly and consider my reasons for keeping or throwing things away.

We have a lot of stuff. Not knick-knacks, but things made useless by quantity. We don't need so many pint glasses, for example, we're not a fucking pub. Yet, somehow, I feel the need to stockpile all this old paper and cardboard.

paper, yarn and scraps

It's a 10-year habit, from when I made my first zine, keeping paper to use as backgrounds and textures in photocopied art. The excitement of artistic recycling has stuck, even though I'm not into zines any more. When I look at junk, I don't see clutter - I see supplies.

I don't like the idea of just throwing stuff out. I don't want to be a mindless conduit between factory and rubbish tip; I want to make stuff count before it hits the bin. Among my clutter piles supplies are tools and decorations that can give scrap paper a second life. I've used plastic shopping bags to pad out stuffing in sewing and amigurumi projects. And sometimes I recycle pretty junk mail into colourful envelopes to penpals.

washi tape, glue, awl, paste brush, card stencils, clips, and string

But this is where I struggle. How do you reconcile minimalism with a crafting lifestyle? How can you have less stuff, and still have enough to make things with, without having to buy new materials all the time?

This isn't a build-up to some clever insight. I really don't know the answer. I've no way to tell if slowing down the 'hand to bin' process actually has an impact on the environment because we're a small household, but spending time working with clean household trash does help me appreciate how much comes in, and how little we need.

more piles of paper

According to the book, the core value of minimalism is an attitude favouring purpose and quality. My parents raised me with a sense of saving, and I can see how for all its usefulness, being untemperedly frugal can make life harder than it needs to be.

Like with clothes. I bought 3 tops for work at $7 each and thought I was so clever. But after just a couple months, the elastic began to go. Compare this with a top I bought for $40, which now years later still looks nice enough to garner compliments.

Then there's the cheaper dental fillings that don't last, which diminish my teeth whenever they get replaced. The bargain call-out mechanic whose fix-up came so close to costing thousands in car damage. The annual patch-up sanctioned by the strata, which must by now be nearing the original quote for a proper replacement.

I get that timing matters, and there's no once-and-for-all solution, but at some point, saving is no longer saving - it's wishful thinking. Spending more for quality saves the things for which there are no substitues: your time, your peace of mind.

a toppled Jenga tower

Anyway, that's clutter for the noticeable, physical stuff. My email is a mess too. My twitter, reddit and feedly cast a net so wide, I sometimes avoid logging on because I feel so overwhelmed.

That's probably a good example of being owned by one's belongings. Clearing out the virtual stuff will probably take more effort than the physical stuff. There's always starting over completely, but uuunnnggghhh, my FOMO~

So, baby steps. Yes.

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