I think Marie Kondo is just precious. I love the sound she makes to describe “spark joy” as a feeling.
She seems like a kind, gentle and caring person. And, I love that she has brought so much attention to decluttering and organizing, especially since it’s an area we tend to put off as unimportant, or not important enough.
What I don’t love is the cult-like following. This is not in any way a criticism of Marie Kondo, or her work to spark joy. Instead, it’s a comment about our culture.
We tend to want trendy, cool, and easy fixes to our problems. In other words, we don’t want to do the hard work or walk the long road.
We’re busy and tired.
And, that makes us extremely susceptible to blindly following along with the latest and greatest without any real thought or examination.
This is why I was relieved to see my friend Patti’s questions about the KonMari method in my Facebook messages; I was so glad she was questioning and examining a method before jumping on the bandwagon.
Since there’s so much spark joy talk lately, I asked Patti if I could share her questions, and my answers to them, with you.
FAQ’s About Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy Method
Patti – I want to talk Marie Kondo with you.
Me: Okay…whatcha got?
Do I really have to empty my space?
Patti: First of all, do you think we have to empty our closets onto our beds. Can I touch each item and ask if it brings me joy?
Me: As far as emptying a space, I prefer it for these reasons: it removes the stuff from the space, which means your space is now open and clear and you can begin to see its potential. Not only that, I believe separating the clutter from your space initiates the necessary emotional separation. You can not only see your empty space with all its potential, you are faced with just how much you have amassed. I call this the messy middle of decluttering. And, I believe we have to face to messy middle and reckon with it in order to grow and move forward. This is what I consider working out your salvation in a very real, tangible way.
Me: Now, you can go through your closet one clothes type at a time if need be. Tackle dresses and skirts. Or tops and blouses. Especially if time is a constraint.
(Edited to add: while I prefer emptying a space, there are exceptions, such as too much stuff, not enough time, or a client not being ready. In that case, which is more often than not, we take each space one small area at a time.)
Patti: This is FABULOUS!
The messy middle – especially. We have been culturally trained to think there is a way around this. … even think of the lingo in the writing world — gain your 1000 followers in one month … like you don’t have to walk the long road, go through the learning curves, face any hardship,
Is asking “Does this spark joy?” the only criteria?
Patti: She’s adorable. I don’t want to thank my house, or my clothes. I want to thank God. I think that is a beautiful alternative. What do you think?
Me: As far as thanking the thing or the house, or thanking God, I think this is a matter of heart and intention. She is likely approaching this through an Eastern philosophy or religion. That is not your worldview, so stick to your beliefs.
Patti: Do you think sparking joy is the solo criteria? I think I know this answer … but want to hear your thoughts.
Me: For criteria I ask: Is it functional, or beautiful? It doesn’t have to be both.
Patti: I have always used the three questions: Is it beautiful, meaningful, or purposeful?
I ask those questions in a row – it can fit any of the three: beautiful (it makes me feel my home is beautiful and welcoming; purposeful (it serves a purpose, like my blender or my curling iron that I use daily – not the three in the drawer I never touch!); and meaningful (it’s a sentimental item I hope my grand kids get to see, or ends up in a museum, or it reminds me of something so precious about my boys’ childhood, or some other significant memory. This could be the necklace my son made me in kindergarten, or a bouquet of dried roses from my wedding. I don’t keep a ton of sentimental things, but I do have some that I want to keep for posterity – for my lifetime and then into future generations.
What about sentimental items?
Me: Those are good questions. Most people struggle with sentimental items so I don’t include that question (is it meaningful?) when working with clients. We go through a different set of questions for those things. A big one being, do you need this item to relive the memory? And for things people hold onto for their children…adult children rarely to never want them. Those items just don’t hold the same sentiment for them.
Patti: True. I think those can be the hardest – letting go of our children’s childhood items means letting them grow up and saying goodbye to their childhood years, our years of mothering littles, the mistakes we wish we could revisit and do differently, the joys we no longer get to have. It’s a hard thing. The goodness comes in the release, always. Still, it’s some seriously hard stuff to let go of. My hardest, I’d have to say.
Me: Mine too. I’ve got a few things that I intend to gift to Hannah to use with her children…like her baby blanket.
Patti: What do you encourage that is similar to what she does, and where do you differ?
Me: Okay…overall her approach isn’t very different…she’s just put her own vocabulary and worldview into an existing process.
Patti: Thanks for thinking through this with me, Sharon. It gives me food for thought about how to purge in a different way. Since the people she works with are in dire straits (on the show) I was thinking, “Maybe I don’t have to go to the lengths they go to” but, I see from what you are saying that gutting an area gives it a fresh start – then you only put back what you love and need.
Thank you, Patti, for asking these questions.
I hope this Q&A will inspire you to ask questions, too, and ultimately, live intentionally.
Speaking of intentional living, Patti is an author and blogger who writes about simplifying and slow living, especially for mommas. You can find her and her latest book, Slow Down, Mama, at https://pattyhscott.com/
p.s. The Clutter Challenge by Get Organized Already! is an excellent model for taking your space one small area at a time.
p.p.s Before you go, get my step-by-step guide to kick clutter for good, which includes the questions to ask when dealing with sentimental items, right here.