The Quest to Tidy (Week Four): The Importance of Things

Week 4 of this project fell on the weekend of my 5th wedding anniversary. I decided not to tackle anything resembling cleaning or organizing.

Instead, I’d like to talk about perhaps the biggest point of this project.

tidyingWhen I read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo, I was hoping to find a few tips and tricks I could apply to having a more organized household. Anything to give me a shove and a bit of motivation.

But aside from a well-thought-out plan for creating organization in one’s home, this book taught me to truly evaluate whether or not an item gives me joy. That is one of Marie’s key points. If it doesn’t make you happy… why do you have it?

This has helped me evaluate the things in my closet and in my kitchen. It has helped me clean out makeup I don’t like and personal toiletries I didn’t ever use. I expect this change in thinking will help me as I continue to tackle the remainder of my house.

But I feel like something else needs saying.

Sometimes the things you love have absolutely no practical use… and that’s okay.

This whole project is about finding happiness within your home, and learning how to align the physical aspects of its contents with an atmosphere that creates joy in your heart.

So for fun, I took a few pictures of things in my house that I love that have positively no ‘use’ to them, but I treasure them and keep them anyway.

drop of oilMy dad was a pipe fitter while I was growing up. I remember our household smelling of crude oil. 

I loved that smell.

He was given this when the refinery he worked at held their centennial anniversary. A drop of oil. I don’t imagine it meant a lot to him (the work was hard and really this was nothing but a bauble), but it represents a childhood full of sense memories for me. So it sits on the window sill above the kitchen sink and makes me smile every time I see it.

angel leaning into windThis angel sits atop my writing desk (where I do so little writing these days…)

I collected angels growing up. Nearly all of them still reside at my parents’ home as I have had no place to safely display them in mine. (Something I hope to resolve soon!) But this particular statue was purchased at the state fair after I was married, and so has lived in my own home instead.

She’s one of my favorite pieces. She’s the wind. Everything about her is peace. She is the embodiment of ‘The Moment’, forgetting the worries of past and future. What you can’t see in this picture is that the orb at her base holds a crescent moon inside. The night is at her feet and she leans forward into the day.

She brings me calm and faith, two things that are treasures themselves.

teddy bear and flowersAlso in my bedroom is this: a photograph of my husband and I in San Juan, Puerto Rico; a vase of the flowers that were used as table decorations in our wedding reception; and the teddy bear he left on my doorstep in the middle of the night before Valentine’s Day, before we were even dating. 

One may argue that photographs are keepsakes that don’t need explanation. But fake flowers and stuffed animals are dust-gatherers. While my house is full of things bearing happy memories for my husband and I, this little corner atop our dresser contains some of the ones most precious to me, whether they require special, more frequent dusting or not!

ChildhoodAnd finally, this box. Not a single thing in this box is useful. But in going through things for last year’s garage sale I noticed a trend of my keeping everything from my childhood ever. This is not manageable. It was cluttering my parents’ house and mine and making no one particularly happy. 

So I created a box. Not a clunky cardboard thing that will get shoved into a corner to be ignored, but a pretty box that could hold odds-and-ends that brought me joy when I was smaller, and continue to bring me joy even now. 

I used to collect stickers, back when you could go to the drug store and there would be rack upon rack of stickers for 50 cents or a dollar. I had whole books filled with stickers. So when I came to that collection, I chose a small book that had some of the stickers I remembered the most in it and set it aside. This is all it takes for me to remember those days. I don’t need 8 more books, much larger and full of the same.

There’s an American Girl catalog from 1998. I LOVED those catalogs. I’d spend hours creating stories in my head as I looked at the outfits and miniature bits of furniture and accessories. I never owned an American Girl, but I love these memories all the same. 

There are crocheted jingle-bell blocks I remember from being very tiny, and wooden necklaces with numbers on them that I would get each year around my birthday when we’d go to the local mall (which is no longer there). There’s the pink ribbon I wore in my hair every night that I performed as Little Mary in the play The Drunkard at The Spotlite Theatre. 

And there are two dresses. Two tiny, very worn, time-stained dresses. These belonged to my stuffed doll I named ‘Baby’, who was my constant companion through every up, down, and sideways twist of childhood. She was not a traditional baby doll — I never liked baby dolls anyway — but she was my ‘baby’ and that’s all that mattered. She spent most of my childhood dressed up in one of these two dresses. They are entirely useless on their own, but absolutely precious to me.

As I continue to go through the odds-and-ends I inevitably discover, I evaluate those from my childhood to see if I will add them to this box. Yes, I take this box down and go through it. It is far from forgotten. And so I continue to keep the things inside it, even though they have no practical use in my life.

As you go through your home and evaluate things for joy, don’t forget that joy doesn’t always have a practical use.

Sometimes it must only ‘be’.

Other ‘Quest to Tidy’ posts:
– Week One: Diving Into the Mountain
– Week Two: On Pots and Pans and Wedding Gifts
– Week Three: Hitting a Low


One thought on “The Quest to Tidy (Week Four): The Importance of Things

  1. I have a drawer where I keep childhood artifacts of mementos of those I’ve lost. None of it serves a practical purpose, but I often visit that drawer – especially after dealing with so much loss in the last year. I only saved a few items that bring to most lovely memories back and I’m so thankful that I can find them so easily. 🙂

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