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"To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose."

- Marie Kondo

Ode to The Sweater That Never Got Stitched

How I Applied the Marie Kondo Method to My Life

A couple years ago I came across a book that changed my life. As dramatic as it sounds, it’s true. It got me to think about everything I held onto in my physical space and questioned whether any of it needed to be there at all. It started innocently enough as I was moving from my small apartment in New York back to my hometown of Los Angeles. Rather than pay to have a ton of stuff shipped literally across the country, it seemed like now was as good a time as any to rifle through my belongings and only take what I truly needed. I started with just the clothes, then moved to the books. Before I knew it, I was finding ways to simplify every aspect of my life – not just my apartment.

In wading through my overstuffed closet and trying on (or finding!) pieces I hadn’t worn in forever, I wondered why I’d held onto them for so long. One cardigan was clearly ripped beyond repair, and rather than throw it away, I assumed I’d get it hemmed at some point so as not to waste. In my mind I told myself that so many people went without, so who was I to discard items that just needed a quick fix. Although that logic only held water for a few seconds before I realized that the ripped sweater wasn’t doing anyone any favors. I couldn’t actually wear it out because it looked tacky and unkempt with the tear, and with the size of the hole it wouldn’t protect me (or anyone else for that matter) from wind any more than an open window would on a chilly winter’s day. I had to be honest with myself; the sweater had outlived its usefulness.

Once I started to scrutinize all the items in my closet, I then moved on to every portion of my apartment (from books to sentimental items, and even down to pots that I never cooked in or old food in the cupboard that had basically turned into science experiments since they’d sat on the shelf for so long). The feeling of relief and lighthearted ease that accompanied each bag of trash I piled up, not only made the items I had to move from New York to LA a much lighter load, but the process gave my general attitude and spirits a lighter lift as well. By throwing out the items that were no longer needed or didn’t “spark joy” (as Marie Kondo likes to say), it made my life feel surprisingly more spacious. By letting go of the old, I was unconsciously making room for something new. By choosing only the essentials, I made sure my next adventure in life could start fresh and unencumbered by old assumptions about myself, or even just ill-fitting jeans that no longer flattered my now fuller shape. Cleaning out my apartment allowed me to start making real choices about what I wanted to keep and what needed to go.

In a way, I mentally started dusting off and examining the internal patterns that no longer served me, and had a similar “toss” and “keep” pile for these inward reflections as well. I even went so far as to clear out all the old numbers in my phone from people I no longer wished to speak to, or who had for some reason or another, not sparked joy. By creating a more spacious container for my life, I had unknowingly given myself permission to flow and change and evolve into whatever the next phase of my life would present. The choice to take on this task ended up changing the entire trajectory of the next 5 years of my life.

And to think, it all started with cleaning out a closet.

Written by Jasmine Johnson