If you have ever moved, I’m pretty sure you will recognize this. It’s this feeling when you suddenly become hyper-aware of the insane amount of stuff you have accumulated in your house, and the realization that you have to move it in order to move on.
Half a year ago my husband, our teenagers and I decided to embark on a family adventure and move to Spain. We found lovely people who wanted to look after our house in Sweden and therefore a lot of our belongings had to be moved somewhere. Renting a storage space was not an option so there we were, with too much stuff and too little space.
And then a book came into my life at exactly the right moment. Love when that happens! I had heard about the author Marie Kondo, a japanese woman who had written this huge bestseller The life-changing magic of tidying up but I never got round to reading it. But now, like magic, the book re-appeared and this time I started reading about the KonMari method™ which is all about organizing and decluttering your house.
What followed after reading the book can best be described as a whirlwind that swept through every corner of my house. The whirlwind being me, with my husband bravely offering himself as participant (talk about true love!). As support, I wrote down some quotes from the book that I repeatedly came back to:
When you think about an item you can’t throw away, think about its’ purpose in your life. (…) Letting go is even more important than adding.
Thinking about purpose proved quite efficient in eliminating items from the house, but…books. I absolutely, completely and utterly love books and have done so since I was little. Over the years I had gathered hundreds of them around me and they were obviously taking up quite a lot of space. But once I started to honestly think about their purpose in my life I came to the realization that I was keeping most of my books around because I thought they defined me somehow, for memory and nice decorating.
So I decided to challenge myself and do something pretty crazy (for a book-lover). I took 95% of my books, sorted them by language and gave them all away to people who showed interest. This truly was a pretty significant thing in my life, to let go of things that I really love.
Letting go is scary and sometimes during the tidying process I could feel a panic about the amount of stuff I was getting rid of. What would happen to me when so many of my things were disappearing? But holding on to things even though they had finished serving their purpose in my life just didn’t feel right anymore.
After about two months we finalized the tidying process and the result was pretty amazing. We ended up selling, giving away, throwing away and even burning (!) more than half of our belongings. And what happened to me? I felt lighter both physically and mentally and I still do today. I realized that my things do not define me and that I am perfectly happy with a lot less stuff in my life. So far here in Spain I haven’t missed a thing even though I came here with basically my clothes, some photos and of course: my Kindle….
Final note: if you ever feel like doing the same thing, I will hereby share my best tip. Burn some stuff (preferably things that do not spark joy for you) and drink champagne while you’re doing it. Strangely liberating!
Photo: Trisha Barua – unsplash.com