In many ways, I am a true Marie Kondo disciple. For those who don’t know the Konmari queen, Kondo is an organizing guru. She developed a way of folding things so that you can fit more in a drawer and still know exactly what is there (which I admittedly don’t use because I am a shelf girl). She is also famous for the phrase “Spark Joy”….this is where I come in.

I am always on a quest to minimalism: my daily goal is to get rid of at least one item. Yesterday it was a pair of socks with a big hole in the toe and non existent elastic so they kept sliding down. I also tossed a broken butter dish (there’s a mystery to this- the butter dish fell out of the butter holder while the fridge was shut. I heard this loud crash- I assume it had something to do with the book I trashed the other day- the book was about a smart fridge that tried to help out it’s human owner…)

But anyway…

I like to purge belongings that are broken, I no longer need, and don’t spark joy…

What does spark joy mean?

When I look at something, it no longer makes me happy. It might have a purpose, it might be in great shape, but it is no longer something that I want in my house.

This happened recently with some dinnerware that I had. It was time to replace my everyday dishes (don’t worry- a nesting post is on the way) because half of them were chipped/cracked/just plain old. I had serving pieces that coordinated with these dishes…

I’ve had those serving pieces for ten years…

I used to love them…

Now…

Not so much…

When I lined them up on the dining room table for a trip to the thrift store, my Husband exclaimed:

“Do we need to get rid of them? They are perfectly good pieces.”

And he was right (yes- I admitted my Husband was correct about something- mark this day down).

I simply responded that they didn’t spark joy anymore…

Which earned me more than one confused look…

I explained to him that sometimes you have to let things go, even if they are still in good shape. (he needs to remember that when he is having a not so good day)

Part of me feels bad when I shed something in perfectly good condition. I rationalize by thinking that I am donating the pieces. Someone who can’t afford to pay retail/full price for something new can pick up these pieces for a few dollars. The organization that I’ve donated to will receive some money.

I want to live in a home where everything I see, touch, hear, smell and taste are a joy to me. I want to surround myself with things that I love, or are so practical they serve a greater purpose in my life. (I don’t love my broom, but I love a swept floor, so you get the idea)

I look at the shelf about me: I see some journals and books that I use every day, my diffuser with some lovely lemon oil, a little tea set, a mug that chipped but I still use as a vase, a museum postcard that my daughter gave me, and a little ceramic cat… When I write, these things are in my eye view. They make me calm and happy and make me feel like I can take on the world….

They spark joy…

I want to surround myself with things that spark joy…

Life is about the little things. I’ve realized this as pandemic has gone on and on…

These little things are what is getting me up in the morning, getting me through the day, the week, the month, the year…

I’m not going to push you to go full minimize. But I am going to ask you to look around and see if there is anything in your home that doesn’t have any meaning to you…ask yourself why you are holding onto it. Ask yourself if you are better off letting it go…

62 thoughts on “Spark Joy

  1. I had gone through a major purge a couple of years ago. One that took forever as I sort of went a room at a time, but I was overjoyed when it was all done. I still have a few places I probably need to work on, but I’m mostly happy with it. The need to see joy and beauty is my biggest reason for doing photography (and pretty much any other art project I’ve ever taken on). The new craft room is going to showcase more of these than I’ve been able to display before, which I’m just giddy about.

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  2. I have been getting rid of things I had for years, most were things my folks had and even a thing or two of grandfolks. Just ordinary items. For years I had kept them because I felt I had to because they sparked joy in my mother. Then one day I was looking at a painting on the wall that had been my mothers. It meant absolutely nothing to me other than it had been my mothers and it sparked no joy. I ended up replacing it with a picture that meant something to us, it sparked joy for us! So on that day I felt liberated and have now given to relatives many items of family only importance that Sparked Joy in them and did not spark joy in me. I have now given myself permission to get rid of boxes and boxes of stuff that were never really mine and even though I have a twinge of guilt because it was stuff my mother said to never get rid of because it “might be worth something someday”. I love your idea of no longer sparking joy Because I think this is a huge reason why I get rid of stuff and either no longer spark joy for me or never did! Incidentally my moms been gone since 1985 so it was time!!! I have kept a few things that are of sentimental value to me and spark joy! Love that term!!!!

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    1. My mother used that collectors item thing on me too. She thought everything she bought would one day be worth so much more. I held too long to that dictum myself. And all it did was give me a pit in my stomach

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      1. It really is a heavy weight to bear! My brother is the same way. When I ask him if he wants something before I get rid of it he tells me “you can’t get rid of that. It was moms” so then I say “well do you want it” and when he says no…I’m like touché!! Great post btw…really got me thinking!!

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      2. I know my sister is going to be like this. To my sister everything is a memory. But if everything is a memory, and you hold on to it, how do you move forward and create new memories…or just enjoy the present

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  3. It’s so hard choosing what to get rid of. I get into silent arguments with things. One minute I am planning to get rid of them and the next they are telling me why they might spark joy one day. Even worse is when I throw them out and then forget I did it. Months later I am wondering around looking for them and thinking sadly about the joy they would have sparked. It’s a never ending problem. Made even worse by coming home from the charity shop with more things than I dropped off there.

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    1. My house it’s the opposite. I am ruthless about getting rid of stuff. My daughters birthday is mid November and we celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah. When my daughter made out her list of what she wanted I made her donate a like amount of stuff. I have a one in, one out rule.

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  4. I have been going through a major purge during the past month. We decided to list our house of 28 years for sale. The tears, the emotions, the memories…. But I get a spark of joy on every trip with a full car to Angel View, our resale nonprofit store.

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  5. It is the little things, but I am also at a point where if I want to donate/get rid of something I have to ask myself if I am going to replace it. If it is just because I want something different then that isn’t good enough, not unless I can find it second hand or have decided that it is too far gone to even donate.

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  6. Love keeping things light. I do this in my new classroom also. The old teacher seemed to keep everything, not me. Although they might ask for it when in return in January but I gave it to the higher good of all and with less crude, I work better.

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  7. One thing I have learned over time is: don’t bother to save (most) things for your kids. They will have their own things by the time you pass on or downsize dramatically, and they really won’t want your things!

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  8. Excellent post, LA. I started doing this kind of decluttering and purging about 2 years ago. It is amazing the lightness you feel when you release those things that are being held onto for no real reason. 🙂

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  9. I don’t like keeping a lot of stuff. I scanned all our photos year ago, and could easily get rid of the photo albums now, but there would an outcry from hubby, and at least one of the two adult children. So we have two boxes of photo albums in the closet. Awhile ago I went through my clothes and got rid of stuff. Every so often I clean out closets and drawers. Really I think we all have too much stuff! It would spark great joy for me to be able to donate much of hubby’s stuff lol (shhhh…), but he is sentimental and likes to keep e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Sigh. I don’t think I have a sentimental bone in me. Years ago I also scanned the kids artwork from school, and then threw most of that out. Sometimes I look at photos of houses in areas we are considering moving to when hubby retires. I am sometimes AMAZED at the size of the walk-in closets in some of these homes! They are the size of a bedroom! Really folks, there are only seven days in a week, how many clothes do you need?

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    1. I know! I love the idea of a large closet, but not for cramming more stuff, but to be able to organize so beautifully and efficiently !! How many memories does one really need…

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  10. “Ask yourself if you are better off letting it go…” Some people are reading this looking at their spouses who are sparking all kinds of stuff during Covid that isn’t joy..

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