Mental Health, Wellness

January 26, 2021

Sparking Joy and Tidying Up

I'm WillowjakMama!

My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. Now it's my favourite place to be.

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A few years ago, I picked up a book titled “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. My friends were raving about it and when I found out that Marie is Japanese, I was sold. Living in Japan for almost 3 years has sparked a love of all things Japanese for me. I read the book and then proceeded to empty my closets and drawers of all my clothes and accessories onto the futon in the guest room. The key is to handle each item and decide if that item “sparks joy.” If they do not have a purpose, if they don’t spark joy, then they do not go back in the dresser or closet and must be purged. I’ll be honest – I was somewhat horrified at how many clothes I had accumulated. A lot, I mean of lot of my clothes were workout gear. My husband had given me a hard time because I had so many work out tanks. When I looked at the pile, I realized he was right. (Don’t anyone tell him I said that)! After I went through my clothing, I did the same with the kitchen. An abundance of gadgets and Tupperware lids with no partners were my nemesis there. I was grateful for my purges, for six months later we had the movers pack us up for our move from California to Tennessee. I felt happy to know that I wasn’t bringing unneeded items, things that would take up precious storage space in our new home.

Fast forward to January 2021. I have been thinking about Marie Kondo, but not because I’m planning another purge of my clothes (I probably need one though). I have been thinking of her question – “does it spark joy?” These days we are caught up in minimalizing, cleaning up our diets and “detoxing”. What if that is not the point? I mean, sure now you have more room in your closet, you haven’t eaten sugar for 60 days and your colon is squeaky clean after 20,000 trips to the bathroom. Do these things really spark joy in our lives? Or do they just give us cause to feel morally superior to those who don’t adhere to the same lifestyle? Do they actually sap joy from your life because you can’t enjoy that birthday cake or go out to eat with friends? I’m all for achieving goals and making sacrifices for those goals. But I also believe we shouldn’t stop living in the meantime.

Speaking of “detoxing”, I’m not fan of detox teas and pills. They are a waste of money and are potentially harmful. But I do believe in a different kind of detox. The kind that removes what doesn’t spark joy in our lives. For me that is social media, specifically Facebook. It was literally sucking my time away from doing things that I used to enjoy – like reading. And it was causing me distress. Tensions have been so high this past year in the US. Everyone has an opinion and so many find it ok to shame those who do not share in their beliefs. I tried cleaning my friends list, “hiding” certain people’s posts from my feed, and deleting the app from my phone to resist the urge to log on. It was all becoming too much work. I realized that Facebook no longer was an asset for my life. I kept catching myself in the awful spiral of “doom-scrolling.” I was looking for the ugly comments and posts. That did not spark joy for me. In fact, it was causing me much anxiety and distress. I deactivated my account about two weeks ago. I don’t miss it and I feel so much more peace in my life. There are a handful of people I interacted with that I don’t see now on Facebook. But that just means I must message them directly to keep in touch. Isn’t that better? It is easier and more meaningful to foster the relationships of a handful of friends than a “friend” list of 700 or more on Facebook.

I’m not saying I am completely off social media; I still have my Instagram account. I have made my account private and remove/unfollow anyone from my friends list that violate the safe space I have made for myself there. I also occasionally check out Twitter and TikTok – but I have no personal connections there so it’s easier to ignore the ugly. I’m still limiting my time on social media, and finding I have more time for doing things I truly love, like reading. I might go back on Facebook some day. I’m not advocating for you to delete your account. It is just something I had to do for me personally.

What habits do you have in your life that do not spark joy? What are you giving too much energy to – that is taking time away from real relationships, from achieving goals, from doing things that make you happy? What non-food items are you consuming that are toxic to your mental health?Obviously, some things are necessary for basic needs – like going to the dentist or work. I once saw a meme about getting rid of what doesn’t spark joy, and someone was throwing away their bills. It’s too bad we can’t do that. We still have responsibilities, people to care for, and chores to be done. But we can purge toxic relationships and habits. We can make room for more happiness in our lives. There is certainly enough sorrow in our world right now, why add any more into your life if you don’t have to?

Oh, by the way, I was concerned about the rumor that Marie Kondo said we should only have 30 books total. But that is not the case. All of us book lovers can keep all our books if they spark joy for us.

Here’s to buying more bookcases.

Fancy Y.

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Hi, I'm Stacey.
Welcome to the
Willowjak Blog 

My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. We chat about themes that are often ignored and voices that aren't often given a chance at the mic. Now it's my favourite place to be. 

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