Spark Joy

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Hi Friends!

Brrrrrr! In the Midwest, March certainly “roared in like a lion” yesterday bringing sleet and snow. This morning we woke up to bright sunshine and single-digit temperatures. More snow is on the way tomorrow. By this time of year, I always take Shelley’s quote to heart. These words, carefully stitched and framed, are hanging near the back door, to warm our hearts as we head out into the cold!

I’m so happy to welcome all of the new ‘kindred spirits’ who have begun following our blog over the past few weeks! There is so much to see hidden behind the slide-out sidebar. (Just click near the top of the orange bar). Brew a warm cup of tea and spend some cozy moments exploring the blog archives and the tag cloud. I hope you will find something to warm your heart and make you smile!

Life has slowed down considerably during the past few weeks due to a lengthy illness. Doctor’s visits seem to be my only adventures lately. I have been following doctor’s orders to the letter hoping to feel better very soon. While resting, I have enjoyed lots of extra reading time. I couldn’t wait to share a few thoughts about a new book…

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After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up last summer, I eagerly awaited Marie Kondo’s follow-up book, Spark Joy. Fortunately, our library ordered several copies hot off the press in January. As I read, I searched for tips to recharge the next phase of my own Tidying Up celebration.

I will always cherish KonMari’s philosophy of Tidying Up, so wonderfully explained in her first book. KonMari’s new book, Spark Joy, added a few more tips that will be helpful as I finish tidying up komono (miscellaneous items) in the kitchen and two more closets. The biggest challenge of the Tidying Up celebration is always saved for last ~ deciding which sentimental items to keep. Armed with another dose of KonMari’s motivation and tips, I’m ready to take on the next part of my celebration!

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 As I read, I made note of a few of KonMari’s tips from Spark Joy that truly resonated with me. As I put her ideas into practice, I would love to share them with you. It was very interesting to read how KonMari has mellowed in her Tidying Up instructions, since getting married and the birth of her daughter. While staying true to her philosophy of having only those items that spark joy in your home, Spark Joy feels more realistic for today’s busy, complicated lifestyles.

Last Autumn, I enjoyed Tidying Up clothing and books. It was surprisingly easy to decide which items to keep! As I held each item in my hands, I could feel those that sparked joy in my heart. The paperwork category was much harder to tidy up. First, I stopped to do a bit of research to be sure that I was saving all of the necessary financial, household, and insurance papers. It was more of a challenge to feel the joy, as I began shredding papers from the file cabinets. (Honestly, there is still a bit of shredding to finish up!) I’m taking it slowly, against KonMari’s advice to work quickly. ‘Better safe than sorry’ when it comes to shredding!

I intentionally planned an extra-long break from my Tidying celebration throughout the holiday season. Although KonMari’s method of working by category is brilliant, it does create a huge mess while working through the process! Be mindful of this fact if you are planning a Tidying Up celebration of your own. In fact, in Spark Joy, KonMari says that as long as you apply the basics, it’s okay to do your own unique version of Tidying Up.

I’m still very enthusiastic about the process! Although I have had to slow down for the past few weeks, it is my intention to complete my once-in-a-lifetime Tidying Up celebration before the garden wakes up. I’m already looking forward to the next get-together of our little ‘Spark Joy’ club. We are a group of dear friends who live locally and enjoy getting together to encourage one another in this adventure. We always have such funny stories to share about Tidying Up!

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Yesterday, inspired by Marie Kondo’s thoughts on “becoming a person who matches the books you’ve kept,” I took a peek at some of the books that spark joy that I kept in my book collection…

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Most of my treasured books are nonfiction. On cold winter days, what could be more fun than reading gardening books and dreaming garden dreams?

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I’m truly passionate about growing perennials and herbs. Thoughts of spending hours tending the plants in my white picket fence herb garden warm my heart all winter long. I can still remember the day I bought The Pleasure of Herbs, while visiting a dear friend in Minnesota. From the moment I opened that book, I knew that herbs would always be a very special part of my garden!

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Although I don’t plant a vegetable garden, these are a few of the cookbooks that inspire recipes with fresh, organic ingredients. The Produce Bible is a great reference, filled with wonderful tips.  Tasha Tudor has always been one of my gardening inspirations.

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This stack of books feels right at home on a table beside my rocking chair. It is filled with inspiration for simple gatherings with family and friends, gardening, and lovely watercolors from nature.

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This small stack of books holds an antique lamp, on a tiny table beside the sofa in the living room. I enjoy reading these books often, choosing recipes for tea parties. Small gatherings of kindred spirits sharing tea make such special memories! Tea for two is my very favorite way to stay close to dear friends.

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Oh, my heart! Most of my friends know that Susan Branch has been my inspiration since her very first book was published. This is just part of my most favorite book collection of all. Heart of the Home will always be an extra-special book. I bought it for my mom when it was first published. She enjoyed it for so many years, and then gifted it back to me! I have given Susan’s books as gifts so often. Whenever I am antiquing, I always look for out-of-print Susan Branch books for special gifts. Such serendipity to find just the right book for a special friend!

Next month, Susan’s newest book, Martha’s Vineyard ~ Isle of Dreams, will arrive in the mail. It’s such a thrill every time a new book is published! I’m sure this will be my very favorite book of all. It is Part Two of Susan’s handlettered, watercolored memoir. I just can’t wait to read all about how she bought a little home of her own, planted a garden, grew as an artist, and met the love of her life! Kindreds to be sure!! I’m simply thrilled to enjoy Afternoon Tea with Susan Branch again in May, at a large tea party and book signing in her honor! Such a fan girl!

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My books most definitely reflect the person I aspire to be!

They spark joy in my life… and inspire me to ‘blossom’ every day!

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I’d love to hear about the most special books in your collection!

Perhaps we share some of the same favorites, as kindred spirits often do…

Happy Reading!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  Heartfelt thanks for all of the beautiful cards, phone calls, and emails! Your friendships have truly warmed my heart and brightened my days! ♡♡

 

Treasure Hunting

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Hi Friends!

September has been a month filled with treasure hunting here!  I’ve enjoyed early morning walks through our perennial gardens hunting for the prettiest blossoms to fill antique Mason jars and stoneware pitchers.  We have wandered through our favorite antique fair out in the country to find treasures. Yet the most important treasure hunting has happened right here, in our cozy, little bungalow. That’s where the real magic is happening…

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In the Springtime, I was so inspired as I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  I couldn’t wait to follow her step-by-step plan to declutter our closets! The KonMari Method teaches us to discover the things in our home that truly ‘spark joy.’ Only these treasures should be saved. By the end of the Tidying Up celebration, a home will contain only those things that fill us with joy and happiness!

So, I marked my calendar to begin my own Tidying Up celebration in September, as the garden began to slow down. Rather than working room-by-room, KonMari teaches us to work category-by-category, beginning with clothing. It works like magic!

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After gathering all of my clothing in one place, I held each item, to discover whether or not it still ‘sparked joy’ in my life. This required being truly present, so that I could actually feel physical sensations of joy. KonMari advises working in a quiet space, rather than playing your favorite music, which might interfere as you are being mindful of your physical reaction to each item. Instead of looking for things to give away, the focus is on saving the treasures in your home. The KonMari Method is truly working!

Thankfully, no one was around to hear the conversations I had with each item that I released! 🙂

If you had be there, you might have heard…

“Thank you for bringing me so much happiness as I wore you on the first day of school for several years!” (as I held up my favorite blue, floral dress, with the big pockets)

“I had so much fun dancing when I wore you to Makenna’s wedding, and I hope someone else will feel the same joy when they wear you for a special occasion!” (as I held up a long dress filled with the most beautiful, old-fashioned flowers)

“What fun it was to wear you to school on cold, winter days. Hopefully, the next person who wears you will hear the same compliments about how pretty they look in this sweater!”

and so it went, as I carefully folded the items of clothing that no longer sparked joy.

The more clothing that I folded to donate to charity, the happier I felt!

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Bags quickly filled up and I felt so happy as I dropped them off at Goodwill.

(As the helpful worker unloaded my car, I smiled and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be back soon!) 🙂

Workout clothes in drawer, organized the KonMari way

My workout clothes are organized the KonMari way. Now it’s so easy to find what I need quickly!

The KonMari Method of organizing drawers is quite unique. Now I know a better way to fold socks! Folding clothing as she teaches, lets you see everything at a glance, prevents wrinkles, and respects your clothes for the work they do for you. It’s lovely! Sometimes I just open my drawers to take a peek… and smile!

Susan Branch book collection

Heartwarming treasures that truly ‘spark joy.’

Books were the next category to Tidy Up. Again it was necessary to hold each book, to determine if it still ‘sparked joy.’ When I held a Susan Branch book, a favorite gardening book, a Christmas book, a biography of Beatrix Potter, or a book filled with tea party traditions, I could feel the ‘joy’ warm my heart. These were the treasures that I would definitely save!

It was time to release many other books.

I knew they would be appreciated by other book lovers.

Once again, KonMari helped me practice the words I needed to say as I held each book…

“I loved reading this book, and now I hope another reader will enjoy it, too. If I want to read it again, I can find it at the library!”

“Thank you for the joy that my friend felt when they bought this book and wrapped it for me, and the joy I felt when I opened this gift. I was happy to read this book, and now I hope it will make someone else feel just as happy!”

“Someone recommended this book but it just wasn’t my ‘cup of tea,’ so I never finished it.  It’s time for someone else to enjoy this book now.”

and so it went as I made stacks and stacks of books to donate.

Stacking up books to donate

Stacking up books to donate

We took many big bags of books to our favorite used book store.

We decided to donate them to a place where avid readers might find them.

It felt really wonderful to give away so many books from our shelves!

Currently, I am working to declutter paper files. It is a much slower process than going through clothing or books, and will take some time to complete. Again treasures have appeared, as I came across special photos, old letters from dear friends, and a few paper Euros for future travels. The photos will be saved for a scrapbooking project and the letters are filling a basket to read one more time with a cup of hot tea, before I bid them farewell. My reward for going through paperwork is the whirring sounds of our paper shredder and new, open space in our files!

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Working category-by-category through The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

There is still a lot of magic ahead of me. KonMari teaches how to go through Komono (miscellaneous items) and sentimental items throughout a home. As a sentimental girl, I know that will be the most difficult part of Tidying Up. I often remind myself that I’m looking for treasures to save, rather than thinking about items that will be discarded.

As a scrapbooker, I’m NOT planning to discard photos as KonMari suggests. My photo albums, scrapbooks, and framed photos are true treasures! My dear husband has been carefully scanning them to preserve our precious memories. I’m looking forward to using these photos to document our lives and tell our story. Our stories truly do matter and will always ‘spark joy’ in our family!

After the careful discarding of items concludes, the KonMari Method teaches us about storage. She cautions against buying more storage units, which just leads to keeping more unnecessary items. KonMari explains that clutter develops when things don’t have a designated ‘home.’ It will be interesting to try her storage suggestions!

The Internet has been all abuzz about Tidying Up for several months now. The audio book has made its way to You Tube. So many people are sharing their Tidying Up photos on social media. It’s fun to see others documenting their journeys because I know just how wonderful it feels. Although the Tidying Up process takes time, it does feel like a real celebration!

I’m so grateful that friends have been sharing their journeys with me. I feel so blessed that a small group of nearby friends are getting together to share our discoveries, challenges, surprises, and funny stories about the Tidying Up process! We will be there to encourage one another to keep the Tidying Up celebration going! Do let us know if you live nearby and want to join in! 🙂

In January 2016, an illustrated, companion book, Spark Joy, by Marie Kondo will be released. It’s good to know that continued, expert guidance is on the way. There is a very good chance that I will still be treasure hunting into the new year!

It’s a wonderful mindfulness practice.

It feels so good…

 Positive, happy, celebrations of new beginnings have always been just my ‘cup of tea!’ 🙂

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Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up?

Are you curious about the KonMari approach to decluttering?

If you are Tidying Up at your house, please let us know how it is going!

Choose joy!

♡ Dawn

Tidying Up

Hi Friends!

Are you feeling organized?  Hard as I try, I just never really feel organized! So many interests, ideas, plans, and dreams… All of these interests require supplies, books, and of course, places to hold them until the moment inspiration strikes!

I’ve always heard that creative people are rarely tidy.  Yet that can’t possibly be true!  Some of the most talented, creative artists and paper crafters that inspire me are truly organized. Over the past year, I have admired their thoughtful, creative spaces, and  have discovered so many helpful organization tips as I set up a paper crafting Studio of my own.

I listened closely whenever these talented, creative people, with names like Jennifer, Wilna, and Stacy, talked about their favorite things, home projects, and big transformations throughout their homes. These three, highly creative people all mentioned the very same book…

The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up

(The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing)

by Marie Kondo

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A tiny book with a powerful message!

I knew that it was a ‘must read’ for me! Just the thought of being organized makes me so happy. I always enjoy reading books that promise to help with organization. Yet those books just sit on my bookshelf. Although interesting to read, they didn’t speak to my heart or inspire action.

This time it was different! I couldn’t wait to open the cover to discover the magic for myself! During late spring, as I eagerly read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, it clearly spoke to my heart! I could now understand why all of those other books on organization hadn’t helped me to feel organized. The powerful message that this tiny book carries has inspired me to action!

Have you read it?  Have you tried it at your house?

Author, Marie Kondo, an organization expert based in Tokyo, takes readers step-by-step through her highly successful ‘KonMari’ Method’ of decluttering. Her organizing method becomes a celebration, a one-time life event. Ms. Kondo assures us that if we follow her method completely, we won’t ever have to do it again!

With detailed guidance, Ms. Kondo helps us to determine which items in our homes ‘spark joy.’ Working slowly, category-by-category, the ‘KonMari Method’ gives us permission to let go of things that no longer spark joy in our lives. Handling items one-by-one (each piece of clothing, each book, each gift received over the years,…), KonMari teaches us how to show respect to each item and then release it. (Take a peek at the steps KonMari leads us through here in the Table of Contents and excerpts from the book.)

The ‘KonMari’ Tidying Up process can take three to six months to complete. I’m definitely ready to downsize my things in our home, eliminating those that no longer ‘spark joy’ in my life.  I’m really looking forward to the whole process!

As I read the book and contemplated the powerful, step-by-step KonMari method, there was only one part that troubled me. As a scrapbooker, I don’t think I will follow her recommendations for disposing of photos. My photo albums tell the stories of my life and truly ‘spark joy’ and happy memories each time I open them. I am so inspired to create new scrapbooks that highlight the relationships and connections in my life! (I take my inspiration from talented scrapbooking ‘rock stars’ instead.) So, although I will reread KonMari’s chapter as I celebrate Tidying Up, I am certain that I will hold onto the photos that I treasure. For they truly ‘spark joy’ and document the story of my life!

All year long, I have been focused on the word present. It’s my ‘One Little Word’  for this year. The ‘KonMari’ method will definitely keep me in the present as I determine which items in our house ‘spark joy’ for me today

Although I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in late May and was very excited to jump right into the Tidying Up process, I knew that summer time wouldn’t be best for me. It was time to enjoy sunny days in the garden, lovely visits with family, fun gatherings with friends, and relaxing hours reading on the front porch. So, I’ve set my date to begin Tidying Up for early September, right after Labor Day weekend. It seems like the perfect time! New learning, new beginnings, and new spaces opening up in our cozy, little bungalow!

I have shared my enthusiasm over this tiny gem of a book with three nearby friends. They are all looking forward to Tidying Up at their homes, too! It will be so nice to share our successes as we follow the ‘KonMari’ method together! If you have been dreaming of the relaxed, happy freedom of an organized, decluttered home, …

Join us for the Tidying Up celebration!!

It would be fun to share our successes and help one another through the hardest parts of the Tidying Up process right here on our blog. Everyone’s invited!!  All you have to do is read the book (and stock up on large trash bags!)  Instagrammers have been showing about 30-40 large bags per person of things that no longer ‘spark joy.’

Although it isn’t necessary, I highly recommend reading the whole book through before beginning your own Tidying Up celebration. It’s very helpful to understand the big picture of the ‘KonMari Method’ before we actually begin the step-by-step process.

My enthusiasm for Tidying Up has remained very strong all summer long. In fact, it is working already! On several recent antiquing outings, I resisted bringing home many things that could have been ‘at home’ here. As I held each item, I stopped to ask myself, “Will this really spark joy in my life?”  Only two small, vintage items met the ‘KonMari’ test! It reassures me that Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up process will most certainly work for me! I can already feel it working…

I’m curious to know if you have already read this #1 New York Times Bestseller? It has been a bestseller in Japan, Germany, and the UK, as well. Time Magazine recently named Marie Kondo as one of the ‘Top 100 Influential People.’

If you have already celebrated the Tidying Up process at your house, we would love to hear your thoughts, successes, and the challenges along the way. Let’s share the celebration! It’s always more fun with friends!  If there is interest here on the blog, we can chat about it as we are Tidying Up. Our little group of three who live nearby with definitely be sharing… and celebrating together!

I’m so grateful that you stopped to visit today!

Wishing you happy August days!

Sunny wishes!

♡ Dawn