By Mandi Donohue
Friday we woke to a Winter Wonderland in Mazama. We were gloriously socked in! Big, fat tree branches were loaded with gobs of sparkly frosting like a child overdoing a gingerbread house. All we needed were gumdrops lining the streets! This morning has more of a Halloween feel as twisted, icy fingernails from a winter warlock hang from my rooftop like menacing weapons. Regardless of which holiday we’re currently experiencing, I love Mother Nature’s charm and playfulness, don’t you?
How was everyone’s New Year’s Day? Do we feel any different? Have we lost 20 pounds and cured procrastination yet? Written our novels and finished our marathons? I have all of my fingers and toes crossed for us. After a whirlwind of Christmas events throughout December, I did a whole lot of nothing for New Year’s. It was fantastic!
I’ve been reading Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a book recommended to me by Mary Sharman. I bought it almost a year ago, I think, and only got around to it now. I often find that happens with books. They physically come into our lives at certain times but we pick them up and cherish them as friends when we’re meant to — or ready for them, maybe. It’s a delightful little read, slightly neurotic with organization, but I have to say I’ve enjoyed purging all of the “stuff” I’ve acquired. You Lost River neighbors may have enjoyed these monster bundles piled high outside of our home! (Sorry. It’s going away soon, I promise).
When I moved to Mazama, I only had a car full of possessions and 99 percent of it was kitchen appliances and cake decorating boards, all that remained from my Chicago side business. Since I bought this small house with its one-bedroom loft, desiring some charm, a dresser to store clothes, getting married, we’ve acquired stuff like Last Chance accumulates snow.
Kondo asks some interesting and yet, painfully common sense questions. “Do I use this?” And, “Does this item spark joy?” And a biggie: “Has this gift or memento filled its purpose?” She allows you the freedom of saying “I never liked this” or “It’s okay to let go of my past.” Or the other biggie: “This memento doesn’t define my experience of it.” It doesn’t?
There can also be a lot of guilt involved with letting go of things, especially if they’re brand new or in perfect working condition. I remember mentioning to a friend that I would feel guilty trading in my paid-off Honda Civic for something else more valley-sensible when my car was in perfect working condition and saved me a car payment. This friend mentioned that someone else could really be in need of a car just like mine and to not negate the “one man’s trash” principle. I hadn’t thought of it that way. How many free things have come into my life that were total blessings, mini-miracles really? Getting rid of what no longer serves you can really be a way to pay it forward with gratitude and abundant expectation.
Simplicity is a beautiful thing. It feels good to make life about what we experience rather than the things we have around us. Asking which of your possessions “spark joy” on a daily basis makes it easy to define what “sparks joy” in your life. I’m not sure I have all the answers but I do know the Methow Valley Senior Center is about to get hammered with amounts of “stuff” that could close off a landfill. Enjoy!