I went to an event last week and one of the speakers gave a talk on the importance of detox and de-cluttering. Before the talk, I didn’t think I would learn anything new. Don’t we all know that there are things which we need to get rid of? I practise Bikram yoga. I eat well most of the time. I choose my circle of friends carefully and they are awesome. Do I really need to detox more out of my life? Fifteen minutes into the talk and I started changing my view.
Over the past few years, I have gotten much better at removing connections which are no longer healthy for me. This was never easy for me to begin with but like anything, with practice, it gets easier over time. In fact, I feel like I have gotten maybe too good at this. I have changed and I now respect my time so much more. I no longer make an effort with friends who don’t make any effort with me. I have given up on the ‘permanent drains’ and kept the ‘radiators’. Of course, everyone goes through good times and bad times. When I refer to ‘permanent drains’, I am talking about those who only ever see the bad side of everything, all the time. I have given up my Whatspp pen pals who live less than 10 miles from me and never want to meet and catch up properly. I have learned that some people have their seasons and people change, so do I. People, like things, sometimes appear to serve their purpose, teach us some lessons and they disappear out of our lives. The really important ones stay.
During the talk, the speaker talked about not just people, but things have energy too. They may have served their purpose too. That includes clothes, books, photos, etc. She recommended a book during the talk. When I asked to take a photo of the cover so I can go and buy it, she lent it to me. I guess this is the right time for me to read it. The book is “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” by Marie Kondo. The author has spent most of her life understanding the concept of mess and de-cluttering. She believes that by filling your home with only things that you love, you are building the life that you truly want. She is now a consultant visiting people’s homes and offices in Japan to teach them about de-cluttering so that they will never have too much mess again.
This book is an easy read. When I first started it, I wondered whether I really needed to learn how to de-clutter and tidy. Surely this is common sense. However I soon learned that it isn’t. The book talks about de-cluttering through categories and that we must pick up each item, feel to see if the item brings me joy and whether I love it to decide whether to keep it or dispose of/recycle it. “What if I might need it one day?” “I just haven’t had the occasion to wear it again yet.” “My Grandma gave it to me and I can’t just get rid of it.” So much of that went through my mind. I know there are lots of things that I don’t need at my home but de-cluttering using this method will take me forever!
Following this principle, I tried this out and realised how much of an emotional detox this was. This felt harder than Bikram yoga. I thought I had already gotten rid of things that I no longer wanted in my life but no, it wasn’t enough. I had too much stuff at home that I don’t love. They have served their purpose and it’s now time for them to go. I have spent so much effort making sure I picked the right wallpapers and bathroom taps to make my home my sanctuary which I love. Yet, I have filled it with so many things that I don’t even like.
The first step is to tackle clothes. I absolutely adore the wardrobes I had made when I moved in, yet I had so many clothes that don’t bring me joy sitting inside. Whilst filling 8 black bin bags full of clothes from my wardrobe and drawers that I don’t love, I felt so sad. I kept asking myself why I feel so emotionally attached to things that I don’t even like or wear. I carried on and got better and faster at it. Once I had finished and re-organised my wardrobe and drawers (which only took me 2.5 hours), I am in love with them, inside and out. It might be sad to admit this but I keep opening my wardrobe doors to look at how beautiful the layout is and the contents are. It feels like my clothes can breathe and everything is well-organised. I felt lighter immediately. Everything feels lighter. The bags, shoes and hats were easy to de-clutter.
The next thing was books. Books are really hard for me to get rid of as I have books on my bookshelf which brought me great memories. Some things like recipe books were easy for me to get rid of, as I have given up on recipes which require an extensive list of ingredients which I may never use again. Have you heard of that Michael McIntyre joke about the spices in the cupboard? Yes, that one.
Some of my books have fantastic story lines and others bring me fond memories of where I read them. Apparently, if I won’t read them again then I should get rid of them. That in itself almost breaks my heart. What about the last Hunger Games book that I walked 2 hours in the rain in Miami to buy in hardback, because I needed to know the ending of the story? I practised at Bikram Yoga South Beach in ridiculous humidity that morning, had sushi, went for a long walk in the rain really hoping I will be able to buy the book, bought it and sat in my apartment listening to the rain and reading it. It was a beautiful day. A year later, I read Life of Pi as my second book in India and that was perfect timing. How can I possibly give these books up? (OK, I have no idea why I own 2 copies of Eat Pray Love.) In the end, I decided to keep ones that I truly love as there aren’t that many of them.
I am a lot less attached to paperwork so I only keep those that I only really need to. The stack of coffee shop loyalty cards where I may never visit again are now on their way to recycling heaven.
My home feels lighter. My home feels fresher. I feel lighter too.
What do you have in your home? Are you surrounded by things that no longer serve you? Perhaps they deserve better. Perhaps it’s time to thank them for serving their purpose. Perhaps it’s time to let them go.
I would love to hear your comments on this.