George Eliot once wrote, “It will never rain roses…When we want to have more roses, we must plant more roses.”
I hear from so many readers, friends, and family that they are tired. That they are weary. That they’ve spent just as much time simplifying and slowing down as they did staying busy and speeding up.
Minimalism and simplifying does not rain down on us, and neither do those roses. To have the beautiful space that we want so badly we have to work for it. We have to plant the roses.
But we don’t have to plant our roses alone.
This past weekend my kind, passionate, beautiful friend asked me to help her declutter her closet. My friend’s home is already simplified and unbusy but she still felt there was more to do.
The closet is said to be an easy place to start when decluttering and while I do believe it is a good starting point (because most of us are so used to donating clothing) I wouldn’t say it is easy.
Clothing can be hard to listen to. Clothes still hold memories and ideas we have about ourselves.
I used to have a whole closet that fit a different Bonnie Rae. She loved bright colors, cat patterns, and endless amounts of Toms shoes. That Bonnie Rae existed in college and because of the clothes she left in my closet she tried to join me in my adult life. But, eventually, I was able to say thank you to her for all the fun and the lessons, and then I let her go.
Sometimes, we need a trusted loved one to help us listen to ourselves. To help us see who we are now, in the present. To help us plant the roses.
I felt so privileged to be the one my friend chose to help her see her closet and her style more clearly. Her amazing daughter and adorable puppy helped as well!
First, we pulled it all out. Take every single clothing item you own out so that you can see how much you really have. It might be more than you think!
Next, hold each item in your hands and ask yourself if it sparks joy. If it doesn’t? Let it go.
I always recommend having a “maybe” pile. This is for the items that you really aren’t sure about. Leave the maybe pile until the very end of your process, you will go through it at the very end when your joy sparking senses are stronger.
My role as the facilitator was to listen. I listened to what my friend said about each piece and reflected back to her what she already knew. If she held an item for too long saying, “But maybe…” I reflected back her uncertain words and body language- 99% of the time, she let that item go.
This does not mean that we pressure others to get rid of items, but we can repeat back to them what they already know in their heart.
Next, after each item has been held and sorted hang and fold it all. Hang the pieces that look happier on hangers and fold the pieces that need to rest.
With all of your pieces in place take a step back and look at all of your joy sparking items when they are not surrounded by other items that do not spark joy- they take on a whole new light.
My beautiful friend thought that she, “didn’t have any style.” She believed that she needed to create a whole new wardrobe/style when all she needed to do was uncover the one that already existed.
When we put back her beautiful joy sparkers, without the rest, her style was beaming at us. It was there the whole time, it was just hiding among the items that no longer make her happy.
My friend let go of seven bags of items that no longer spark joy! She let go of old ideas of how her style should be. She embraced her beautiful style that was there all along.
We planted and weeded together, and everything came up roses.
My wonderful, talented, insightful friend shared some beautiful lessons she learned from the process with me and I wanted to share them with you as well!
Bring in a trusted friend to help you, preferably someone with experience in the KonMari method. It was so helpful to have someone observing my body language, sharing observations, asking good questions, and supporting me as I made difficult choices.
Don’t take shortcuts! I can’t believe how helpful it was to pull every item of clothing out and pile it up – I was shocked by how much I actually had! I also learned how important it was to take the time to hold and consider each item – it really helped my decision making process.
It’s definitely best to wait to consider the “maybe” pile until the very end.By then, I was better at knowing what sparked joy and I also realized there was a reason they didn’t end up in my keep pile.
You may think you don’t have a style but you do! When you tidy, you’ll be amazed by the synergy in the items that spark joy. You just need to remove the excess clutter to see it.
When you’re done, step back and take a look. I saw two items that clearly didn’t belong in my closet and both had been in my maybe pile! The new space from tidying allowed me to sense what belonged and what didn’t – that was the magic for me!
A word of caution – tidying is addictive! Once you experience the joy of tidying one area, you’re going to want to keep going! When I carried out the bags, their weight was overwhelming and letting them go was so freeing. I couldn’t sleep the night after tidying my closet because I just kept envisioning all of the things I want to tidy next!