Six days out of seven, I check my email inbox and feel the same disappointment I feel when I check my snail mail mailbox. With most of my non-local family and friends using facebook as their primary method of communication now, I rarely receive personal emails. Instead, my inbox is filled with messages in which the sender is hawking a product or two.

Last week, though, I had a one-out-of seven day; when I logged on to my personal email account I found a message from a favorite cousin, Debbie. And it wasn’t just any old message! Right away, she touched my heart by saying that when she read what she was sharing in the message she thought of me. I don’t know about you, but when someone says that — and I know they truly meant it — I feel honored, yet humbled.

Then I read the rest of the message. The blogger shared a concept I’ve long embraced and even shared here more than once (get rid of everything you don’t love or use). But he said it more succintly. More profoundly. Better.

In short (pardon the pun), Chris Guillebeau summarizes the decorating philosophy espoused by Marie Kondo in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. 

Get ready; here it is:              “Discard everything that doesn’t ‘spark joy'”.

I wrote this sentence on my little dry-erase marker board that sits in a prominent place in my apartment:


I read that sentence every time I walked through my living/dining area. I found it running through my head at odd moments. And then, I put it into practice on Friday morning by going through my books (again). I pulled all 100+ books from my large entertainment center and sorted them into 3 stacks.

1: Spark joy

2: Do not spark joy

3. Portions spark joy or I haven’t had a chance to read this yet

The books in the first stack — only 45 — went back on the newly-dusted shelves.

The books in the second stack have already been donated to the local Friends of the Library for the biannual book sale.

The books in the third stack have been subdivided into two more stacks. The first contains books in which I’ve hilited a sentence here or there. I’m going to skim or read each of those books again, recording in a beautiful leather journal I was given recently the nuggets that inspire me. Of course, I’m organizationally-obsessed — I’m already thinking of how I’ll sort-of divide the book into topics such as organizing, decorating, faith, etc.

What about the second sub-divided stack? Well, I’ve imposed on myself a deadline of the end of Christmas Break (January something-or-other) to read each of them and, of course, apply the “sparks joy” criteria when finished.

Four days later, I glance over at my entertainment center, devoid of the clutter of books that I had kept out of habit, not out of intentional thought. I like what I see. It makes me smile. It brings me a peaceful kind of joy.

I’m not done. Next up are my clothes, and I can’t wait to get started!

If you’d like to read the blog post my cousin shared with me, you’ll find it at: