I’ve been fighting the battle against clutter for years, and I always lose. I can’t help it… I like Stuff. I love stuff!
The problem is… Living in my smallish townhouse, much of my “stuff”, has turned into clutter. And the clutter has been getting in the way of living my life, the way I want to live it.
My house is always a mess, and yet, I’m always organizing and cleaning. There isn’t time for anything else, and it’s very stressful.
I’m not a big YouTube person. I follow a handful of people who I truly get inspiration from, and a few others who I just find entertaining. One of the gals, that I follow faithfully, is Sophia of My Great Challenge.
I found Sophia’s YouTube channel a few years back when I was perusing Christmas Home Tours. (I like to find new ideas and see how everyone else decorates.) I loved the way she decorated for the holidays, and I loved the “realness” of her channel.
Her home was real, she was real, her dog hair and dust bunnies were real. In other words… Her channel, and her honest depiction of real life, made me feel like a normal human being. She’s definitely not the typical “Stepford Wife” blogger/vlogger. Thank God!
Once I realized she was a hidey-hoarder, (like me) and always struggling to get her house and her act together, I was absolutely hooked. I finally found a comrade in arms. It didn’t hurt that we’re the same age, and she hails from North Jersey, where I grew up and lived until my son was 3. She lives in the next town over from family members, and I can totally relate to her.
At the beginning of April, Sophia posted a video “30 Bags in 30 Days/De-clutter Challenge.” (You can watch the entire series of her videos here.) She couldn’t have started the series at a better time. I had been in a funk for days, tripping over stuff and struggling to keep my house clean. I was cranky all the time. I even complained to my poor husband, that we needed a BIGGER storage unit. Just the hint of that made him really angry. “No, Karen, we need less stuff, not a bigger storage unit.”
I instantly decided to take the challenge along with Sophia.
I went thru my house like a Bull in a China Shop. I was angry, and sad, and depressed. This was the umpteenth time that I’ve attempted to de-clutter. This time I was gonna succeed. This was it. For real!
Every day I picked an area and went at it. One bag a day? Pssh… It was more like 3 to 4 bags a day. The neighbor asked my husband if we were moving.
As Sophia cleaned up her house, I cleaned up mine. Her videos were an awesome inspiration. We were in this together!
Towards the middle of April, I was all but finished, except to go thru paperwork and filing. Or, so I thought…
I discovered an article on the Konmari Method of de-cluttering, and the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of De-cluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo.
I read the book, and a lightbulb went off. It hypnotized me, and psycho-analyzed me. I actually don’t even know what the book did to me, but it completely changed my thought process. I was convinced to start the task of de-cluttering all over again, following the methods outlined in the book.
I thought I was crazy, and a glutton for punishment. I had just de-cluttered my entire house. Or did I?
The second time around was a lot harder than the first. The book made me see, that even though I had just rid myself of a lot of belongings, I also did a lot of shit-shuffling. I was holding onto things, because I was living in the past… Or so said the book.
The Konmari method forces you to hold and touch every single item in your house and ask, “Does this Spark Joy?” I realized that no, a lot of things I’m holding onto, didn’t spark joy. I was keeping stuff out of guilt, or obligation, or some other sicko reason. Some stuff that I was keeping actually made me depressed, and feel bad about myself. So why was I keeping it in the first place? Crazy, right?
Some stuff was so hard to go through, that I just sat there for hours staring at stuff. Or I would work for five minutes, and then get so stressed and upset, that I had to take a break, or a nap for a few hours. Insane? Yep, total insanity. However, I’m sure many of you can relate. Pictures and Memorabilia was the worst.
As I was working my way through the Konmari method, I kept watching Sophia struggle through her own clutter. She was having a hard time, too. I was thankful to not be alone. I was mad. She was mad. I was embarrassed. She was embarrassed. I was throwing away things, I just bought a few weeks earlier. What the hell? What was wrong with me? Why did I buy all this crap to begin with? I’ve got issues. Big issues. Sigh…
I watched Sophia struggle to throw things away. I would shout at my computer screen, “Just get rid of it Sophia! You’re keeping way too much stuff!” Then I’d laugh, and reflect upon the volume and quality of things that I was keeping. I was no better than Sophia. Once I realized it, and saw Sophia go through the process, it was easier for ME to get rid of stuff.
Easier… But not easy. If you’re a minimalist and/or not sentimental, you just wouldn’t understand. I almost feel like each one of my belongings has a soul. And throwing things out, or donating things are like killing them, or betraying them. I was talking to my aunt about that, and she said that she often, subconsciously of course, assigns human attributes to things as well. I guess I come by it honestly… At least from my Dad’s side of the family.
To make a long story short, I finally finished my huge de-clutter, a month and a half after I started.
I’m happy to report that my house has never been cleaner and more organized. I feel lighter. I’m happy. I truly believe that this was the last and final time. Afterall, the book promised that this was it. A once in a lifetime event. No rebounding for me. (I’m optimistic.)
Truthfully… When a catalog comes in the mail, I feel sick and immediately trash it. When I get an email regarding a sale, I delete it. I no longer have a desire to shop. I made a trip to Kohls with my husband, and I didn’t even have the desire to look at anything.
Every single item in my home has a place to live. Everything has its own spot. It’s made cleaning up a breeze. That book, was indeed, truly magical.
Am I cured? Am I finally winning the battle against clutter? Time will tell.
What’s next for me? Life! Wish me luck!
Sophia made some breakthroughs, and is done with her de-cluttering too! It was so nice to have someone to share the experience with. I couldn’t have done it without her. If you ever read this, Thanks for the inspiration, Sophia! Go check out her channel! My Great Challenge.
It’s been at least a month since I wrote this post, and I’m happy to report that I’m still clutter free. My house is still organized and it’s never been cleaner. I still have no desire to go “shit shopping.” When I see something cute, or something I like, I don’t even get that spark anymore. That’s definitely a good thing.
Now that I’m clutter free, I have the time and energy to think about other things. Just like the book promised. Sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes it isn’t. It’s all part of the journey, I suppose. But, the future’s looking brighter… I’m winning the battle against clutter!