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Sparking Joy

I’ve had a lot of Marie Kondo discussions, both in the past and recently with her new show, and I’ve found that most of the conversations I have end up getting pretty personal; cleaning and how we arrange our space are deeply intrinsic things that are impacted a lot by our internal baggage. The article below touches on this in a way that I’ve really wished someone would, and it was a great read. Konmari has some lovely things in it, but it is essentially a one size fits all solution, so that regardless of any underlying issues of why your house is the way it is, konmari believes that the answer is the same and that their process addresses everything. This article does a great job of basically saying that our spaces are the way they are for a reason, and that while cleaning them can help , it isn’t necessarily an effective way of fixing our actual problems.

So WHY is your living space, GT? How is your house and what is comfortable for you? Is it clean, messy? Do you like minimalist Scandinavian furniture or is your house filled with overstuffed random vintage chairs you found at a thrift store and painted bright colors? Do you have trouble throwing things out? What “sparks joy” for you and when are you most content?


Marie Kondo sparked a ton of debate between two friends and I and after about 20 minutes of superficial debate (I just like clean spaces! blah blah) the real truth started coming out. I don’t care for Marie Kondo because I grew up poor and am terrified of being poor again and having things around me was comforting; it told me I was not poor and that if I got poor again I’d have these things still (I truly have a concept in my mind that throwing things out is like something only rich people do haha). My friend loves Marie Kondo and realized a large part of the reason was that her mom is a hoarder, and so she loves the idea of throwing all the things out, because she’s terrified keeping something will mean she will turn into her mom. A third friend deals with anxiety and self doubt; keeping old things, things associated with memories comforts her. It reminds her of people loving her or that she can have good times and memories when she goes out into the world.

I know it was an epiphany when I realized that I tend to have a messy bedroom and find comfort in it because it’s a way of marking my territory and rebelling. This sounds so crazy and weird, but when you grow up in a house with 7 kids and not much space, territory is actually important. And it was the only space in the house I could control, because it was mine - so when my dad get in a temper would scream about the house being dirty or physically abuse us when it wasn’t, keeping my room dirty became an important act of rebellion and control.

There are a lot of societal and cultural things that come into play too - we are taught that cleanliness is next to godliness to the point that somehow it is actually easier for me to stop believing in god than to stop believing that having a messy room says something fundamentally bad about me as a person. And right now I don’t know if any fellow maximalists out there constantly feel judged for not having a midcentury/Scandinavian minimalist clean lines but I’m real tired of it. But trying to break down what I actually like and what is empirically true (I am not a bad person if I have clothes on the floor of my closet instead of in a bin. There is actually no logical reason why it is bad for my clothes to be there. They’re not spreading germs, they’re not getting dirty, they’re not a safety hazard, etc. That is a cultural response when I feel bad about it. ) its really mentally difficult.

So I am hear to hear all your thoughts! Discuss with me! All feelings welcome positive or negative here :) What might be more effective to tackle than just killing yourself tidying all the time?

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