Spring cleaning overdrive

Deciding on whether an item “sparks joy” when organizing our lives, our closets and our drawers will help you sort through your more precious items.

Does the melting snow and singing of birds drive you to wash windows, scrub grout, sweep out the basement? It does me! I want the kind of fresh start that can only come from emptying closets and discarding things we haven’t used in months.

And this year I’m in overdrive because we have been getting our house ready to sell – we’re moving! It’s exciting, but exhausting because since I last sold a house, things have changed. I, for one, blame HGTV and all the perfectly staged homes on shows like Fixer Upper and Property Brothers.

Photo Credit: hgtv.com
Photo Credit: hgtv

Getting a house ready to sell now means stripping out clutter, removing all personal effects, leaving nothing that reminds potential buyers of real family life. Then, add tasteful new bedding and colorful pillows, and place a beautiful bowl filled with lemons on the kitchen counter to tell buyers “this could be your life.”

Our daughter got into the spirit one night (possibly a ploy to delay bedtime), and packed her room into boxes. That was fine until we realized she had packed away all her clothes!

Early in the process I asked myself a question. Do I really want to pack everything we own into boxes in the basement or should I sort through it all? So daunting!

As women, we are often left with the task of organizing the clutter as well as caring for the abandoned keepsakes of our family members. In my household, it’s not just my family members that hang onto little doodles and greeting cards etc., I, too, hang onto them. Love letters from my first boyfriend, a cat-print dress my Grandma made for me when I was 10 and my adult son’s stuffed Kitty are among the collection.

life changing bookTo help me, I bought a book – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. The chapter headings are fantastic: Storage experts are hoarders, Unread books: sometime means never, and my favorite: Starting with mementos spells certain failure. No kidding! I have spent hours looking at old photos instead of cleaning a closet.

I learned the task is easier when starting with emotionally neutral categories like tools. Sorting clothes gets more difficult. I’ll have an occasion to wear the beautiful evening dress I bought on a whim, right? And how can I get rid of the T-shirt I wore on my first trip to China twenty plus years ago? So many shirts, so many memories, so I flip to the chapter headed: Selection criteria, does it spark joy?

At first I was skeptical – can clothes spark joy? I gather all my T-shirts together in a pile – some of which I had stored away to make a quilt. As I touch each one I try to decide whether it is “quilt worthy”. Shirts that don’t evoke memories are tossed. Others that remind me of the time I hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with friends and the grape vineyard my uncle started long ago, these joyful reminders stay.

As I move onto other clothing, the items that make it to the move box make me happy by their color and fit. My lingerie drawer I save for last but by now I feel like a pro. The keepers are comfortable, soft, and look good on me, if I dare say so myself. Feeling confident and sexy definitely sparks my joy!

So, my first efforts to really organize have been fruitful. The house is on the market with a bowl of lemons on the counter and fewer boxes in the basement. When we complete our move and start to pull stuff out again, my Grandmother’s cat-print dress will make the cut but now I doubt those old love letters will survive!

Are you still hanging onto old love letters or do you have a creative way to display keepsakes? Share with us your organizing ideas.

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