My year of trying something new for 30 days is coming to an end. Here is a recap of the final months.
I had designated August as the month when I would read for an hour a day. I love to read but I was seldom allowing myself the luxury of just sitting down with a good book. When I chose August for this goal I figured it would be a breeze because we were going on vacation.
We rented a house and spent a fabulous week with extended family on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. However, we filled the days with everything but reading. It was perfect…but I hadn’t read for an hour a day.
So September was designated as my reading month. But…this didn’t transpire either.
In October, Hannah had been reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo and suggested that I read it, too. Having just failed at two months’ attempts to read an hour a day, I opted for the audio version and was soon completely enthralled. I listened to it while driving, folding laundry, painting the garage, etc. Marie Kondo’s underlying philosophy is that if an item doesn’t “spark joy in your heart” you should not keep it. Of course, she goes into much more detail and has a systematic way of decluttering and organizing but this basic mantra has truly been life-changing for me.
As Kondo suggests, I started with my clothes. Using the gauge of touching each piece of clothing and asking if it “sparks joy in my heart”, I had quickly filled at least eleven bags of clothes to donate. Mike became a fan of this strategy, too. It made me laugh to hear him say, “This sweater isn’t sparking joy in my heart” as he added another item to our donation bags.
It felt liberating to have purged our closets and drawers of perfectly good but unwanted items. Dropping off our bags of clothes at our favorite local thrift shop was satisfying knowing that at the very least our donation would benefit a worthy cause and perhaps some of our items would spark joy in someone else’s heart.
Beyond the bonus of having significantly fewer items in our drawers, Kondo provides specific suggestions for how to store belongings in a manner that will make it easy to maintain a tidy environment. The simple change of folding and storing items vertically instead of in stacks in a drawer has been a completely unexpected bonus in keeping things organized. I can easily find what I’m looking for and it’s always easy to put things away. Maybe everyone else is already using this method but I am so pleased to have been enlightened.
The next task was organizing books. Kondo discusses a strategy for parting with books. We had been saving shelves of books that we decided we really didn’t need anymore. In one afternoon I had been able to part with a huge number of books.
There was room on our bookshelves and the books that were left were ones that we had specifically chosen to keep.
We were able to donate a shopping cart of books to a local grocery store that sells them and then donates the proceeds to a different charity each month. Once again, this felt like a win-win arrangement.
To be sure, this will be a long process as I continue to tackle all of the other areas she addresses. Because her method was developed for Japanese clients she doesn’t specifically talk about some of the more American areas that I will also be approaching such as our garage, cellar, attic and barn. But I am confident that I now have the skills to apply her strategies to all of these areas as I organize the items which “spark joy in my heart”.
Since learning about this method I’ve been pleasantly intrigued to find how pervasive this philosophy has become in my daily life. My November “Try Something New” was to complete my Christmas shopping by November 30th. In the past I have found myself easily whipped up into the madness of shopping. I was an easy target for stores’ attempts to lure shoppers into buying impulse items. But this year, I had a specific plan and time line. I’m happy to report that I did very well with this new experience.
The added bonus was that I was armed with my new, life-changing mantra. I easily resisted items that would have previously found their way into my shopping bag. I didn’t want to bring items into my home that weren’t truly going to “spark joy in my heart” and I certainly didn’t want to burden others with this type of item.
December’s “Try Something New for 30 Days” was inspired by a piece I heard on NPR. They reported on research that discovered that people with heart disease who wrote down what they were grateful for had tangible beneficial changes to their heart. Thankfully, I don’t have heart disease and I have a multitude of things for which I am grateful. But I began writing two or three things that I am grateful for in my journal each night.
Often during the day I’d make a mental note of something I’d want to add. To be honest, there were a few nights when my list had a bit of a snarky slant (e.g. “I’m grateful that I have finished my work -even though it’s midnight!”). But I found it comforting to frame it in a positive way and I now have a lovely record of what was making me feel grateful each day.
This year of “Trying Something New for 30 Days” has been exciting, fun, enlightening, inspirational, heartwarming, and satisfying. As 2016 begins, I look forward to another year of “Trying Something New for 30 Days”. Perhaps you’d like to give it a whirl, as well. I can guarantee that it will be a fabulous way to embrace this new year.