Months ago–maybe even over a year–I put The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up on hold at the library. I was something like 312th in line; at some point, we butted up against our hold limit, and I removed it from the list to put a hold on something else more pressing. So when I found it at the library recently (on the shelf!), I snagged it. On the way out I did a quick pass through the new book display and discovered her latest, Spark Joy. I walked out that morning looking forward to a new round of reading and maybe a new way of thinking.
I enjoyed both books. Some things I admittedly thought were a little quirky…the idea of folding every item of clothing we own I found a little ridiculous. Our closets seem to be serving us just fine, thank you–and maybe that’s why I thought it was a strange idea. If we were struggling for storage or having trouble with making our space work, the folding concept might have really appealed to me.
Other things I felt strangely vindicated by: keeping things that “spark joy” has apparently been a guiding force in my decluttering for years; I just hadn’t put words to it. It was nice not only to have a phrase for what was leading me but also to have a reason for keeping the odd things I couldn’t quite bear to get rid of. I’ve always theorized that if you get rid of enough stuff that doesn’t matter, you’re allowed to keep those things that do, even if it’s a little “weird,” to use my son’s favorite term.
The most important discovery for me, though, came from her book Spark Joy. “No matter how much stuff you may own, the amount is always finite.” The amount is always finite. I almost have to use the word “epiphany” here….the realization that there was An End. There would be a point where every room in the house has been gone through, has been evaluated, and has been decluttered. That idea lit a spark under me (sorry, that was completely unintentional) and I dove into the basement storage area with renewed energy. Because after all, it’s a finite amount of stuff!!
Basement storage, for our needs, is really very specific. We need a place for seasonal decorations, a place for tools, and a place for those icky “you can’t get rid of these tax records for at least seven to ten years.” That’s it. The unfortunate truth was that the room was turning into storage for “we might use this someday” (Exhibit A: an inflatable wading pool I used when the bigs were about 6 and 4, around seven years ago) and “I’m too lazy to carry this trash upstairs” (Exhibit B: that bag there…and there….and there….). I went in inspired, and succeeded in creating a storage room that was actually a functional storage room. The east wall consists of bins for seasonal storage, the northeast corner a workbench with tools, and the north wall ends in a small bookcase that holds two file boxes. Yes, there is still a bit to weed on the tool bench, but the room is so clear that the bigs set up a table against the west wall and brought down some Legos. (My son refers to this as “baby-free space.” Even though the “baby” is three now.)
I weeded through our seasonal stuff and managed to narrow things down to one bin per season, except for winter. Christmas means that pretty much all the other bins down there are “winter,” and I succeeded in scaling back enough to ditch one entire bin from Christmas storage. In all, I’m down five bins of “stuff…” Amazing how things fit pleasantly when you’re not overcrowding your space. 😉
I now need to grab hold of that “the amount is always finite” idea and apply it to our laundry room closet. Again. But I will celebrate any victory I can!