Thursday, November 5, 2015

Sparking Joy by Scrapping Stuff

Current Weight: 301 lbs
Total Loss: 48 lbs
Avg. Loss/Week: 1.7 lbs
- Body Weight %age: 14%

I have always used my birthday as a time of reflection and each year I ask myself two questions:
1) Am I happier than I was last year?
2) What can make life even better this year? 
As I type this on my third anniversary married to the best man I ever met, puppy snoozing on my lap (a puppy!—my five-year-old self would be so proud), and hot tea steeping beside me it's hard to think of much that would make things better.

Additionally, this is the first year I've contemplated the state of my health with something other than disappointment and regret. For anyone who knows what I'm talking about, I want to encourage you that even just changing my status from "pending" to "under construction" makes a world of difference. As I trim the excess that exists within my own body, I started thinking about other areas that could use a little editing. Stuff, for example.

I enjoy stuff, just like my mom. This is a loaded week as it contains another anniversary; Sunday will mark year two of mom going home to heaven. When Mom died, she left behind an prolific number of belongings. When we liquidated my childhood home last January it amounted to tens of hours of work and a month of sore limbs transporting things out of the house. Mom put thought and care into her purchases and had a reason for keeping everything. It brought Mom a lot of peace of mind in her last months to sort through her things together. From a pragmatic standpoint, it wasn't a very productive exercise; we could go through a whole stack of boxes and only have a shoe box full of giveaways she agreed to. But that wasn't the point anyway, it was about the quality time we spent distilling stories rather than paring down belongings that mattered most.

When I unpacked those same boxes a little over a year later, I would touch her things and hear her voice in my mind telling me what they meant to her. With much effort and some pain I had to carefully tuck the memory of us sorting together away, sometimes even saying out loud to no one at all "I know Mom, but you're not here" as I carefully packed giveaway boxes and bags with a few items that felt empty without their owner.

As this process continues, I vacillate between a compulsion to purge or hoard her things. My ultimate goals are to honor her memory and have no regrets. To help me with this conundrum, I purchased a book with some birthday money from my coworkers The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. It's a Firespring tradition that everyone from our department brings in the birthday girl's/boy's favorite treats but this year I asked my team to forgo the goodies in light of recent life changes. They surprised me by chipping in for a gift card for Target! I work with the best people.

Anyway, the message of this book is to keep only things that "spark joy" in your life. Further, the author instructs to let go of easy things first (clothes, paperwork, kitchen stuff) before ever considering taking on emotional items. This has proven a really helpful tip already as I was having trouble seeing past the immediate issue at hand of needing to go through her stuff but I'm glad I started where the book instructed: clothes!

As an amateur blogger, I regret to tell you that I neglected taking a before picture of my closet but I DID record my first video for the blog of my ridiculous collection of tops, check it:
I was being sarcastic about the workout gear. But not about the sweaters.

My closet now has an awkward amount of open space so I decorated my closet shelves a little so they weren't so empty and I wouldn't be tempted to clutter them again. I included bottles of my mom's perfume, one of her teacups as a jewelry holder, and pictures of my hubby and my engagement photos. I can honestly say I feel happy when I enter our closet now!

I may have gotten a little carried away with the sparkle effect...

All told, here's what I got rid of from my clothes/accessories:
TOPS: 58
PANTS: 10 pairs

That's 141 of too big, too-small, never-fit-right, always-hated-that-color, hand-me-down, tags-still-on items that failed to spark joy. One week later, I can go to my closet and know that everything in it is something I love which makes picking outfits a lot easier. I have a tidy pile of items that still don't fit but I'll get there eventually.

I somewhat dread the process of going through more emotional items down the line but especially during this tender week of missing mom so profoundly. Even in the emotionally neutral category of clothing I ran across one of Mom's scarves I'd kept. I held it to my nose and breathed in as deeply as I could but the scent of her perfume had left it. It was pretty but it only made me sad so I let it go. There will be lots of moments like this to come but for now I'll take things one step at a time. Moving on to papers/books this week and I'll keep you posted on what comes of it!

I'd love to hear any stories/ideas you might have from your own experiences: comment below, email me at, or share on my Facebook page!

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic post. Bittersweet. I am proud of you and I know your mother would be too. I feel lighter just looking at your closet. Good work.