April’s Challenge: Getting Started


Really? A month dedicated to “tidying up”? Who have I become? I’ve always been good at getting rid of clothes and stuff, I hold very little sentimental attachment to most items, with the exception of books, music, pictures, hand-made awards from our annual outrigger “Mock Race”, a shell I found while on a small beach in New Zealand (for example), and my old journals I’ve kept on and off since I was 16. While I don’t plan on reading these journals, I simply can’t let them go. Luckily all of these things make me happy, while the stacks of unopened mail, and other general “stuff” does not.

My guides for this month’s challenge are two books by the same author: the humbly titled, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and the new book I just started reading, Spark Joy, by Marie Kondo. Spark Joy contains pictures explaining how to fold, how to organize, and how to go through the process of turning cluttered chaos into joy. However, if you’re not doing a crazy challenge and writing about it on the Internet, I would think you only need one of the two books.

The steps are simple, begin by picturing the environment you want to live in, what makes you happy, what will spark joy in you. What do you want to surround yourself with in order to invoke that feeling of happiness and joy? How do you go through your house in order to create those feelings? Now let’s get started:

  1. Throw all items that are the same category (e.g. all shirts, all shoes, etc.) onto the floor in the middle of the room. (Start with clothes, then books, then papers, and so on).
  2. Touch each item and see if it sparks joy in you when you touch it.
  3. If it does, keep it.
  4. If it doesn’t, get rid of it. If you have problems getting rid of it, show gratitude towards the item for the purpose it held in your life (e.g. the miles you walked in those shoes, the dance you danced at your good friend’s wedding when the lights sparkled overhead and the cheesy DJ with the out-dated goatee played the song you’ve always loved by Frank Sinatra, the suit you wore to interview for the job you got but realized you didn’t want, etc.).
  5. Find a place for the stuff you decided to keep. There are lessons and tips in how to fold, in how to display, and how to organize.

People think I’m crazy when I tell them this process, but I swear it works. The looks I get, the ones that say, “Okay Santa Cruz, go take your feelings of joy and gratitude for objects, and your recycled bags, your Prius, and go hug that tree over there. While you’re there, thank it for the shade it provides, the oxygen it provides, and don’t forget your magic Crystals you can use to clear your Chakras.”

But I swear, there is something infinitely pleasing to hold a sweater I’ve only used to walk the lines between “suit” and “business casual”, that made me feel old and like I was hiding, and know it was okay to give it away. It served its purpose and now I don’t want to wear it again. This process worked brilliantly for me last year, and with only some minor attention in the areas I covered last year (clothes, shoes, sweaters, jackets), I can tackle the rest.

Despite the insistence in starting with clothes, then moving on to paper, I’m rebelling and going out of order this time, instead with the extra room that is filled with crap that I need but don’t want, papers I need to shred, and unfinished and possibly at this point, uninspired projects.

Last time when I did this I donated 10 garbage bags of clothes, shoes, and general household stuff. I don’t anticipate as much to give away this time, but I have a feeling that a few items that “sparked joy” last year will be donated this year, but we’ll see as I go through the process!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *