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  • Writer's pictureJane Rubin

Sparkin' Joy or Taking a Sucker Punch!

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

Decades of Collecting.

I admit, I have been a victim of this closet/bookshelf cleaning craze. It has coincided with one of my top retirement commitments - put my house on a diet. After stuffing many big black bags with joyless clothes and books and dragging them to drop off points, I have to ask myself how I initially arrived at this very sad place. And yes, 99% of it belongs to me and not my husband. He is totally off the hook.

Why did I buy all this stuff in the first place? Am I that much of a sucker to fashion trends and marketers? How was it possible to buy things and then forget I even had them (I know there are some of you out there like me)?! There were never any guidelines, like a packing plan for a trip eg. 5 pairs of pants, 2 suits etc, to instruct me to limit my belongings to a certain amount - just the size of my closet(s) and bookshelves. Did the retail therapy actually help spark joy? I think not.

After a few rounds of purging, I have spent a considerable amount of time thinking about how to avoid this dilemma again. Now that my closets seem close to right-sized, I have a few new rules I am self-enforcing:

  1. If I put it on and don't like how it looks, into the bag!

  2. For every new purchase, something must go into the bag - no net growth.

  3. No shoes are purchased unless they feel super comfortable in the store - there is no such thing as breaking them in - that is a seller's gimmick! They do not get bought if they don't fit correctly.

  4. No more purses and coats - I mean, how many does anyone actually need...

Books are so much trickier. In the pre-Kindle age, as an avid reader, I bought many books. I always felt too busy to go to the library and I wanted the immediate gratification of having my up and coming reads on my nightstand. Then came the great disrupter, electronic books. I haven't slowed down the book buying - it is just electronic and invisible. No change needed.

But I still have decades of books on my shelves. Most I will never read again. Some, I shyly admit, I have never read and probably never will. Hopefully, someone else will enjoy them or they will be purchased for staging houses and stage sets. They go into the bag unless they are author signed, sentimental or for the coffee table.

The front end is the key. That is where powerful marketing and consumerism have their impact. I have been manipulated and resent it. And clearly, I have lacked the discipline to refuse. All of this need to Kondo my things and search for what sparks joy is just a byproduct of buying far too much along the way. I think of other joyful options for all of that spent money and feel pretty foolish. I don't dare do the waste calculation! So, my advice to those of you bitten by the Kondo joy bug, after you tidy and reorganize things, find a way to discipline yourself before you pull out your wallet!

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