Spring Cleaning, Inside and Out

The Blog:

Spring Cleaning, Inside and Out

Chantel Garrett

Spring Flowers

Spring cleaning is always a great opportunity to clear out clutter - clothes that no longer fit, items that we don’t use anymore. For those not already familiar, Marie Kondo takes this to a next level. Her unique “tidying” method, branded KonMari, raises the bar for rationalizing the the stuff that we hold onto, from jeans to jewelry to coffee mugs.

Marie Kondo’s process: Ask yourself, “Does this bring me joy?”

  • Yes: Keep it and find a pragmatic place for it based on use, size.

  • No: Genuinely thank the shirt/novel/fidget spinner (remember those?) before adding it to a donation pile.

After watching the Netflix series, I went on a Kondo-inspired spring cleaning campaign. Pretty quickly, I discovered that there is something really therapeutic about taking a hard look at your belongings in this light.

  • Does this bring me joy?

  • Is it useful? Do I need it? How does it make me feel?

  • Does this have sentimental value? Why have I held onto it? What’s the story? Does that story still serve me?

After all, a “spark of joy” ("tokimeku" in Japanese) is a pretty high bar to apply to ones’ belongings. While it was a lot of work, the clearing out process left me feeling lighter, less stressed and more connected to the (fewer!) things that I invited to coexist with me. I’m not particularly sentimental, nor do I buy (ahem, too many) things that I don’t think are necessary. (It helps that my daughters are all too aware of our family’s carbon footprint.) Even so, I couldn’t believe the heaps of items that our family managed to uncover as unnecessary, too big or small, broken, boring, painful, disappointing, worn out, useless.


When I first began to hear from colleagues and friends that Marie Kondo’s book has “literally changed my life,” I most often shrugged in half interest. When I later learned about how shirts are to be folded like origami and organized like a standing accordion, I knew it wasn’t for me (read: life is too short).

So far, I’ve only applied part of Kondo’s systematic approach — the sorting and emptying part. (Even Kondo herself later abandoned the tedious aspects of her tidying strategies.) The letting go felt so good that I alllmost understood the hype. At the very least, I felt liberated.

The feeling was strikingly similar to how I feel after meditation, or my chosen form of moving meditation, yoga, walking, or strength training. In the context of meditation, I am used to asking myself what I can metaphysically release; what no longer serves me. And here I was, in full physical manifestation of the act of letting go. It made me think:

What if we took as careful a look at what we allow to percolate in our headspace — our self-talk, ruminating, protective armor — as we are now inspecting and optimizing our kitchen drawers?

Inner Spring Cleaning

So, here’s my Marie Kondo approach to inner spring cleaning. I’ve been asking myself:

  • What thoughts, beliefs or behaviors can I let go of that no longer serve me?

  • What do I spend energy on that no longer fits in my value system?

For me, a collection of self criticisms, impossible standards, goals, and a dash of irrational fear were the first to bubble to the surface.

While exhaling, I’ve been envisioning myself plucking each of these thought tracks off a dusty shelf, acknowledging their presence, and chucking them in the trash. Up and out.

In their place, I’ve been welcoming in two new things:

  • Little ways to practice self compassion

...like making myself a healthy lunch (and sitting down to eat it), not pushing through pain of an injury, not over scheduling, not caving to false obligation, not doing. Not. Doing. Getting curious about what happens when I’m not doing.

  • Expressing gratitude

...for both the big and little things. Mostly little things: the laughter that fills the house while playing a board game, the beauty and magic of redwood trees and hummingbirds, learning something new, a long-awaited orchid bud, the way my dog “hugs” me, listening to my older daughter teach my younger one a new skill, the feel of the sun on my skin. Most days, there are too many to count, and I’m left feeling abundant and more present.

So, I’ll ask you:

What is one thing you can let go of this season? What is one thing you can welcome in its place?

I’d love to hear what you find in your spring cleaning. Drop me a line or pic at @strong365community.

In wellness, Chantel

The strength to persist and thrive through mental health struggles exists in all of us. 🫶🏽

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