I slept very well last night, for the first time in a few nights because yesterday I finished the discarding stage of the konmari method. I do still have many decisions to make but really, from now on, I will just be listening to my stuff and to the house and they will let me know what to do. I did it. I made a decision about every single thing I own, in less than three weeks time with the rest of life happening concurrently!
I finished sorting my journals and every single photo in the house over the past few days. These final steps of sorting and discarding have been the most intense and emotional but not in the way I expected. As I started the process of working my way through the journals and sketchbooks, the hard evidence, the remnants of my becoming, what I felt most was compassion for the young girl I found in those books. I could barely recognize myself there and for that, I am so glad.
What I was writing and thinking all those years was not happy, it was not hopeful, it was not contented. I wrote much and often about confusion, pain, frustration, anger, drama, hurt feelings, disconnect, discontent and worst of all, I often felt duplicitous. It was a relief to know that I can just say goodbye to those times and finally find forgiveness in my heart for others and especially for myself. The letting go was easy but facing that old pain wasn't fun.
I have moved these boxes of journals from my childhood home in Charlotte to several homes in Georgia, to Durham for a year, to a storage facility, to an apartment in Richmond, to a duplex in Richmond, to another house in Richmond and finally to the home we live in now.
I am literally shaking my head thinking of it. Why have I been holding on so tightly to the past?
I started keeping a regular journal at around age 12 and continued until I was 27 or so. This was around the time that I moved to Richmond and it was one of the most difficult times of my life but also, in hindsight, a turning point. The challenges I faced during that year caused me to reevaluate my decisions about the direction I wanted to take in my life and I probably became so happy in my day to day life that there was no need to write much about my innermost thoughts. I was having too much fun living.
In this process, I did also find many moments of joy and I did find beautiful moments to keep. I decided to just sort of pick up whatever book i wanted and flip through them casually. There was not enough time to actually read everything anyhow but I also couldn't just toss them indiscriminately. This is an integral part of the konmari method, to face each of your things and to make a decision about each one, to literally feel their weight. To just throw things away is to deny the role that they played in your life. So, I decided to keep the good or profound memories and not even read or try to remember to others. I cut or tore them from the pages when I found them, folded them up and put them into a memory jar that will live somewhere that I can visit and reminisce at random.
I can add to the jar and take things out of the jar at any time and so, in a way, I just edited the story of my own life. I only held on to the good stuff and I even decided to keep some of the hard stuff that I learned along the way, but I consider it good, because here I am now.
Some of the things I found and decided to keep and use:
- Lists about the future. I started making these in college and it is so fun to read my hopes and dreams of the future, that I am living in now. Many of these have manifest in my life and Oprah would probably say that I used "the secret".
-I also made collages, a lot. If you knew me back then, you probably made a collage with me at some point. Now, I just use pinterest. I held on to most of those, as well. Oprah would probably call these my "vision boards". It is uncanny how my life now does resemble these collages so I can't deny the power of visualization. I will continue to make these lists of dreams and collect images of what I see for myself down the road.
- Sketches and drawings. Finding my old creations made me realize that there is a lot of continuity in my own making. I thought that boats were a newish thing for me but I found evidence of boats in my drawings as far back as high school, when I was not hanging out anywhere near boats. Was I manifesting my wishes for the future through drawing too or did I just think that I liked boats? Either way, they stayed.
- My grandparents handwriting. I miss them so much and so the few cards and letters I still had, I held on to. I have thought about getting a tattoo of handwriting and I'm planning on using Henry's signature as a tattoo design once he starts writing.
- My senior year of college, for my senior project, I collected hand prints and signatures from my closest friends. At the time, this was a strange departure from my art making but now I see that I was reacting to the impending graduation and the inevitable goodbyes that happened shortly thereafter. I am going to revisit this now and use the blank pages of the book I started then as the guestbook for my home. I have been wanting some sort of guestbook for as long as I can remember. I once saw an MTV cribs years ago from the red hot chili peppers guy who played guitar for a while and he had a photo booth that his visitors would use and leave their pictures in an album. This started to be the thing for weddings, which I love. My pals, Bonnie and Ben, have/had a collection of wine corks with dates and the names of who drank the bottle together written on them and this is also a beautiful way to collect memories of special moments. So, now, I will continue my collection of handprints and signatures.
- Yearbooks. I have a lot of yearbooks. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with them but I do l think they are so fun to look at. I even like to look at other people's yearbooks. When I was in middle school, I looked forward to trips to the orthodontist because they had yearbooks from all the schools in our county in the waiting room. Now the kids have social media but back then, we had the orthodontist's yearbooks. So, the yearbook are going somewhere else that is interactive.
- Handmade gifts and original art are staying.
- My marriage certificate was buried in a random binder of old teaching materials from my time at VCU. Thank goodness I was not just throwing things away without looking!
- Photos that made me happy and had good memories stayed. They are going digital soon to be turned into photo books. That will be my February project. I am not into the winter anyway so I can do this instead of my usual binge TV show watching on netflix.
The next steps are to store things and to create order in the home. Every single item should have its own place to live so this will be a cool process of figuring out where everything goes. I literally have an entire blank room. I also have empty shelves, drawers, sheds and an attic that feels like a ghost town.
My husband, although he has very little stuff, still has some things hanging around. I did not touch any of his things. This is a journey for each individual and he told me yesterday that he will go through his stuff soon (now that he can find it).
I am so grateful for this process. I just feel like these weeks have been filled with such gratitude for my life, for the love in my life, for the people in my life. I have been inspired with so many ideas about what comes next and reminded of little thoughts that haven't ever quite gone away. Now I have the space to think about them more and make a plan of action. What konmari has given me is the ability to follow through and that is huge for me.
One more thing, the others that have begun this process alongside of my own have been so uplifting to me. I love this little online community of folks who have started the konmari magic in their own homes.
It feels good, right?