Tidying Up: Good feelings and sobering thoughts

October 21, 2015 | Leave your thoughts

I have a very small wardrobe (closet) – I am referring to the cupboard that holds my clothes – so every year on Anzac Day (25 April) and the October long weekend I switch between summer and winter clothes. (BTW: These dates refer to the school uniform change dates in high school) As I have just entered a new phase of getting a little more order and structure into my often out of control work/life balance (as symbolised by this new teacup), I knew that the switch over would be a little more involved this time.

I did a little online research as how to cull my wardrobe and collected  6 thoughts which I wrote into my sketchbook before I started. Writing them down really helped and I started throwing lots of clothes into a bag – more ruthless than I normally would be! However, there were a few things that were hard to part with. I couldn’t sketch them all, but three were worth recording – a dress that I hardly wore and no longer fit into, and two skirts (over 10 years old) that I have worn out! Both were my favourite skirts to wear at home, the denim skirt wore through on Saturday during the day (wow! I didn’t see that coming) and the floral skirt had been held together with iron-on interfacing for months (tragic!) Both were ‘fat clothes’ that I wore 8 years ago before I lost the 20-odd kilos and had been adjusted so I could keep wearing them. Sketching these really helped me say goodbye!

I then started on my books – Oh! talk about tough! I had to call it quits before achieving a lot because lifting all those books is hard work and I just have to take it slowly at the moment (wrists, shoulders, lower back need a break!) But it was also mentally draining!

I was surprised how much more spacious it feels just to gain a little space on the top of my bookcases and that feels GREAT – and very inspiring to keep going. So I did this sketch to celebrate this fact.

But it was also very sobering. I couldn’t help thinking about all the money I have wasted over the years on books I didn’t really need. I was an avid reader (and still am when I get a chance) and have read many of the books in my collection – architecture, art, graphic design, photography, Christian books (many are on long term loan from my parents library!) and only a few classic novels – but still, I have too many books. I have expanded my knowledge enormously and self-taught myself on many subjects (architectural history, graphic design, photography… art!) but still, I have too many books!

Discarding expensive items just makes me think of money I have spent unwisely…. and it is really good to be reminded of this so I can be more careful from now on! I also thought that I could have spent the money to help people less fortunate than I am. So many people can’t afford to feed themselves and I am crowding my life with books.

When I posted the opening sketch online at the time, someone asked me if I was doing the KonMari method. I had bought the ebook months ago but hadn’t read it, so I started to read it on Saturday evening. Marie Kondo has a lot of good ideas and in a way I was following some of her principles in the way I was approaching my task. Her most important criteria is ‘does it spark joy?’ and while I can see the merit in this approach, it conflicts a little with my own thoughts at the time.

As a Christian I strive to live by this principle…

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
– Matthew 6:19-20

So I was thinking that I have been too attached to my books and then on Sunday morning before church, the next verse in Psalm 119 I was due to read was this:

My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.
– Psalm 119:25 

The words that I wrote down on my page (on the page below), from one of my desert island books by Charles Bridges really hit the spot. I love the imagery of the dust on the road obscuring the vision of the horizon.

Yes, I know we all, by nature, love our stuff but are our possessions the most important thing in life? Sometimes we act like they are! Why do we spend so much time accumulating new stuff all the time? And why is it that when we ask ourselves the question ‘Do I really NEED this….?’ do we rarely give an honest answer to ourselves. (Even asking the question is rare these days isn’t it?)

Anyway… I am very guilty of this myself. And yes! I do have a lot of art supplies too!  A big part of my collection of art stuff is testing so I know what is available to advise others and help when I teach… but still, an ‘art supply detox’ would not go astray!

And oh! as for the skirt in this sketch. I found an old ‘fat skirt’ that I used to love, that I have taken in around the waist and is now a new home skirt. It is great to be able to re-use items especially those that you like.

Looks like I am starting another discussion… but am interested in hearing:

– Have you read/implemented the KonMari method – do you keep things that are practical but not joyful? I have skimmed enough of the book to know that she acknowledges this, but interested to hear how hard or easy it was to implement!
– Do you have other criteria for sorting and discarding? Any advice for helping me be ruthless will be much appreciated!
– AND most importantly for readers in Australia (Sydney) what do you do with unwanted items? I need suggestions!
To me, throwing out stuff, or the hassle of finding a new home for them is the biggest hurdle for me to get in and do a big cull. At the moment I was just bagging my clothes and the books I discarded were put in the recycling bin as they were dated and of little value to others.

Getting myself sorted and much more organised is a big priority in my life at the moment, so thanks in advance for any ideas!


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