Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sparking Joy and Laughter

By now you have probably heard the phrase "Does it spark joy?" bandied about. If you haven't, well, get on the internet or your nearest smart phone because it is everywhere. I first saw it on a Facebook share, then I caught a segment on TV, but when a client was singing it's praises, I jumped on board and checked out Marie Kondo's amazing book at the library. Actually, I started tidying before I even got the book.

In a nutshell: Kondo is a Japanese organizing guru whose method is simple: Get rid of anything that when you touch it, doesn't SPARK JOY. Okay, if you read the book, there are about a million other rules to her system including the order in which you tidy, the timing, how you fold and replace clothes, sticking to categories, not tidying another's belongings.

It sounds a little goofy, but the amazing thing is, it works. Even if you can't or don't follow all the rules like me (telling your off season clothes you care about them because "this type of communication helps your clothes stay vibrant" really?!!? who does this), I have lightened my load immensely. It was much easier than I thought to empty my closet and drawers, and then carefully replace only the items that sparked joy. This gave me the permission I've been needing to discard most of my wardrobe. I like her ideas for making all the items in your dresser visible by rolling your socks like sushi and standing your shirts and pants up after carefully applying her folding method. I bet you didn't know that you can transmit energy to your clothes through your hands, and thus increase their resilience and sheen!!

Now to the part I dislike about all self-help manuals: Kondo warns us that you must strictly follow her plan. Otherwise, you will 'rebound' back into disorganized chaos, which I guess is akin to relapsing on drugs. I'll let you know how that turns out, as no one could possibly go to the lengths she prescribes, least of all me.

Sparking joy has spawned a weekend of jokes in our family, (when we traveled to Clarksville), and inspired closet cleanings and unsolicited advice for my parents who are moving the middle of next month. It has filled my trash and recycling bins, and given a pre-holiday boost to the local thrift shops.

Betsy mentioned to Chuck that she, too, was going to be getting rid of anything that doesn't spark joy, and he replied, "How long do I have to pack?"

Chris went home and cleaned out a closet, and finding an old Patriots jersey, he put it on (per Kondo's direction), and immediately went into a sneezing fit. Apparently, the dust was pretty thick in his closet. Betsy heard this and told him, "Your closet doesn't spark joy, it sparks allergens."

Tidying Up (mid stream)

Saying good-bye to my original Uggs and "thank you for 7 winters of service"

Monday, November 09, 2015

Why I Cry

I thought maybe writing this little essay would answer a baffling question. Let me bring you back to Wednesday when I was innocently telling my supervisor how much I was looking forward to some events coming up in my personal life. Namely, Eli's senior recital (yesterday) and my nephew's performance as Don Quixote in his high school's Man of La Mancha (next weekend). As I was trying to say this I got completely choked up and had trouble speaking. In true counselor fashion, she gave me a moment and then asked what the tears were about. I haltingly replied that I often cry when I'm happy or proud. She went on to tell me a touching personal story about Man of La Mancha and helped normalize the emotion I feel when talking or even thinking about certain experiences, particularly hearing vocal music.

Fast forward to Friday afternoon when I was in a meeting and someone mentioned living in the 'mystery' of life, and embracing that. He described it as seeing a piece of art that moves him deeply and when trying to explain why, cannot. That resonated with me as I can't put into words why I cry when I even think about a church full of people singing Silent Night, my nephew singing The Impossible Dream, or a choir singing The Pasture. I have cried in band, jazz or orchestra concerts as well, but it's usually vocal music that pierces my heart.

At one point I thought I cried because I internalized the message, "It's not okay to be happy" or it's fraternal twin sister, "It's not okay to be proud." Sometimes I think it's because I am so unmusical. Or perhaps I took the Buddhist noble truth "life is suffering" to heart. Sometimes I use my cry meter to determine authenticity (eg. if I don't cry at emotional content, there's some insincerity going on).

I really appreciated the advice I got about how to "get through" my nephew's performance; I was told, "just cry." Regardless of what I do or how I look, I am going to bask in the beauty others make surrounded by my loving family. I may have to continue to live in the mystery of why, and stock up on Kleenex.