Sunday, May 3, 2015

tidying up and coasters for our house

My daughter Lesley loves her new quilt. Yes, the totem quilt was for her birthday April 30. She posted this photo of it at Instagram, with a new shawl she is designing and knitting. You can see she loves dusty turquoise, which is featured in the quilt and the backing. It's still cool enough at night that she can cozy under it a little longer this season.

Lesley's Instagram photo with her new totem lap quilt;
she is knitgraffiti

Now that the two most recent gift quilts are finished, this was a good weekend to dive into a project inspired by the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

The book came out last year and it really seems to be going nuts. Here's my review of it at Goodreads yesterday:

I first heard about this book a few weeks ago when my daughter-in-law told me she was reading it and starting to discard items she and my son no longer wanted. It was all of a sudden last week that I realized — quite apart from any consciousness of wanting to read the book — that I needed and wanted to gain a flow of energy that was being constricted by STUFF in my home. I got back into The Way of Zen, which I hadn't read in months, and then I remembered this book, bought it and began to read. Instantly, I knew it was just what I needed.

I actually began discarding the first category of possessions today — clothes — before finishing the book this evening. In fact I would take little breaks throughout the day of working to read passages. I found it inspiring to do that, and I'm glad I didn't do any more discarding before finishing the book. It's important to get the full sense of her perspective.

I found reading the book and sorting through my clothes to be a spiritual experience. Even before beginning the process of purging, all week I have been looking forward to it the way I would look forward to spending time with my grandchildren, or a special trip or date. That's how badly I needed to do this cleansing process.

When I first read her advice to fold things and store them in boxes or drawers so you could see everything, and not lay things on top of each other, I wasn't convinced that it would be necessary. But as I took the now empty shoe boxes from discarded shoes, and folded socks, tights, underwear, yoga pants, and placed them vertically in the boxes, I felt so happy! The process of folding and fitting everything in the box just the right way was a satisfying puzzle to put together.

I think what's amazing about this book is that it results in action, even before completing the book! I was eager to begin discarding all week, and I am even more eager now to continue on to the next category. Ultimately, this book is about respect — for things, for oneself, for your home, for space, even for the things you get rid of. Her concept of thanking inanimate objects for what they do for you is new for me, and I find it quite sweet. This Eastern perspective (which also feels akin to Native American) is powerful in its simplicity and deep respect.

I spent about six hours Saturday purging my clothes. I ended up with three 30-gallon bags to donate, and one bag for trash. The trash bag had garments that were were stained, worn or torn. They were not appropriate for quilts, and I do not need more rags. Then I put what I'd chosen to keep (what sparked joy) back and organized things a little differently, using Marie Kondo's methods.

There is great pleasure for me adopting Zen simplicity, putting things away where they belong, having a place for everything, folding and caring for all possessions with love.

Today I spent several hours sorting books to keep and be donated. I got through the downstairs bookcases and have still two more to go upstairs. Carrying books around is heavier work than clothes, and I just didn't quite have the energy to finish today. I really like the concept of sorting by category, rather than by room or closet. We have a great recycling center at my university, and I'll take the books to the drop box there.

* * *

After all that work, I needed to create something. Sorting and organizing made me look at the coasters we use here in the family room, and they looked tired and drab. So I spent a little time sewing some reversible quilted coasters from some of my favorite scraps.

I began with old doilies that I grew up with in my parents' home. I don't know if they were first my grandmother's, but I've always loved them and have wanted to sew with them for a while. I needed to keep them with me here too, not add them to a quilt for a gift or sale. The doily fabric is on one side of each coaster.


  1. Oh rats! It looked like my comment posted twice so I removed one of them, only I guess it was both! I said that I, too, was on a clothing purge -- so far, six big bags and I have discards as well. It feels good -- and I've only just started -- now to get it all to Goodwill! I've not read the book but heard it is quite life changing! Well, to you I say "hats off" and good work! Now, what I really need is a rainy day so I don't feel too terrible being down in the basement to do all that!

    1. Jeanie, I've had identical problems at this blog. Two comments post, then when I try to delete one, it deletes both. So sorry, I wish I could fix it.

      Yes, purging feels fantastic, but so does this gorgeous May weather! So I get that. :)

  2. And to think you didn't even have to move overseas to do this, Ruthie! HA! You know I'm loving this for you...the process, the sense of cleansing, the new space, the giving, the...all of it. YAY you!

    1. Boots, we have probably purged a few times already in our lives, but this is more serious, more like what you had to do to move to the Netherlands. I am so completely grateful for the discovery of this book, and the freedom I begin to feel.