I could pick any of those and accept the concept of a new beginning, but this year I am choosing January 17th as my new year's day. It marks the beginning of a change in focus for Herban Sprawl, and I thought it was appropriate to begin this on my birthday. It's an auspicious year for me, so why not go for change in a big way?
The change has to do with feeling bored with the blog. What, I wondered, would spark a little enthusiasm for writing again? This is an election year and to be honest, I just do NOT want to go there. My opinions are pretty much what they are and who cares what I think unless it translates at the polls? So, what would keep my interest all year?
I decided it had to do with the big shift that began last spring after reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. By now, most everyone with an interest in getting their homes de-cluttered and looking lovely has read that book. I have been chipping away at this business of clearing out the things that no longer spark joy since spring and the entire process got derailed by an event that accomplished nothing more than eating up my time and making me even crankier than usual. My planned yard sale did not take place because I had to stop my project and attend to something that was important enough to command my complete attention. Then my father-in-law passed away, and that kind of thing is time consuming, like it or not.
I am pleased to say the outcome was positive for me, but the notion that it ate time still got my knickers in a knot. The holiday season has come and gone and my guest room still looks like the storeroom at the Goodwill. In fact, a friend wanted to come stay with us and I had to say no. I am too embarrassed to even post a picture of it. It is really and truly THAT BAD. As I told her, you cannot move in there without a hard hat, steel toed boots and a liability waiver!
And then, today I opened a gift from my niece that made me laugh out loud. It is the second volume of Marie Kondo's method, Spark Joy.
My niece lives in a small home - a classic Chicago bungalow in a classic Chicago bungalow neighborhood. Space, with two adults and two growing children, is at a premium and she does an annual garage sale, usually along with some neighbors. She is, hopefully, the generation that will skip our family's penchant toward packrattiness. She also knows that I have a lot of stuff crammed into this small home and so when I said I'd had it. It was time for a massive purge, she was very encouraging. When I said I'd read the first book, she was my loudest and best cheerleader, even setting the date for my fall yard sale.
Sadly, that came and went due to needing to finish the tidying up process. And let's be honest. The holidays are no time to be doing that, except for it being the ideal time to cull the Christmas stuff. (Check that off the list!) So, instead I focused on cleaning because the house really needed that before I started decorating. And that brings us to now. I had no sooner settled upon the preliminary topic for the blog (before it moves outside to the garden) when here came this new book. My niece is not going to let me backslide! (Thank you, Sweetie! Auntie is exceedingly appreciative!)
So, where are we in this grand plan? I've done the clothes for me, but not the clothes of the Big Kitty, except for his half of a closet that we share. I am respectful of his privacy and do not open his drawers. Okay, okay. I don't open them because they make me mad. They are a damned mess and it kills me that he never has drawer space because he puts stuff in them that doesn't belong there. Top drawer: junk. Second drawer: underwear + junk. Third drawer: tee shirts + junk. And no, he does not get rid of clothes that he no longer wears.
I also tackled the books in the den, but I still need to do the books that are in the living room and down in my office. So that part isn't complete.
Where Marie Kondo suggests filling trash bags and just getting rid of things, I am planning a yard sale. One woman's discards are another's treasures and hopefully there is a little cash to be made from that. There are also items more appropriate for Craig's List or eBay due to the dollar value. I can't see letting things that were very expensive go for yard sale prices. So, the unloading will be a well-planned and executed process as well.
I wasn't supposed to start reading this book, according to KonMari, because I hadn't finished the purge part. I've cheated. I want to know where she intends for me to go and I want to plan the continuation of the purge accordingly.
And here is the trick: it's not a matter of getting rid of so much as it is to keep only that which sparks joy. Of course, one needs to keep the mundane because it is necessary. My snow shovel certainly doesn't spark joy, but it is a valuable and necessary part of our household. Therefore, I shall keep it and thank it for its service to the greater good. ("Thank you for helping us to keep the walk and steps safe for our mailman.")
It's harder than it sounds, and I'm still not sure I know what I'm doing, but if the guest room is any indication, there are a lot of things that no longer sparked joy. Yes, some of them are things I truly love, but my current body doesn't fit in the things that I could wear when I was 50, and I've had to accept that, thank those items and let them go. And, there are some books that I hate to part with, but I've had to face facts: I'm never going to read them even though I think I want to.
The part where KonMari and I have a parting of the ways, however, has to do with the fact that I sincerely doubt she ever throws a dinner party for eight or ten. And when I do, I want the flexibility of making pots de creme au chocolat in the little pots and not Pyrex ramekins, ya know? I didn't go and collect those exquisite little things for nothing, and even though I may not use them a lot, when I need them, I need them! So things that she would discard in the first book, I'm finding she backtracks on a bit in the second. This is more like it.
If she saw the amount of art supplies in my studio, she'd wonder why I need all that. Well, again, some things are unique tools with specific uses. When you need it, you need it. Some of them are things that can be bought now, but not of the quality of my old stuff. Then again, I could replace a few things, I suppose, but they are still serviceable, and I'm not given to tossing just because they are no longer aesthetically pleasing if they still do the job. There are better uses for my money. So, yeah, I'm going to hang onto that rusty old pliers I swiped from my dad. There is some history there and nothing that a little naval jelly can't fix.
Stay tuned, my friends. I'll keep you posted on how things are going. And, Ellen, I promise I'll get that guest room comfortable and welcoming no later than April!