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"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 10 October 2018  

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  Does it spark joy?
  By Mark Stoller

   Mark Stoller is a nine-year resident of Colorado. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, moved to Falcon in 2007 and are now raising their three teenage daughters in Latigo. They enjoy their home on the prairie with plenty of room for their six adopted dogs, bagpipes & Celtic Festivals and beekeeping. Mark enjoys the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.
It’s that time of year again. For some, it’s a reality and for others an urban myth. That’s right, I am talking about spring cleaning.
   
   The concept of “spring cleaning” is a centuries old event for humans. Perhaps it’s a biological response to having made it through the winter doldrums. Rising temperatures and longer days allow us to open the shades and windows. More light means we get to see more clearly what we missed cleaning in the previous months.
   
   It’s definitely a tradition steeped in culture. Both the Iranians and Chinese complete massive efforts to clean their homes two weeks prior to their new year celebrations.  
   
   The Iranians call it khane tekani (shaking the house), and no bit of surface or floor is spared from a serious good scrub. The Chinese sweep and clean to clear their homes of any resident bad luck that may have accumulated over the last year. Once the house is clean for the celebration, they hold off on any more cleaning so the new good luck can settle in their homes.  
   
   The Jewish clean their homes in time for Passover. The mere presence of crumbs from leavened bread is considered an affront. They endeavor to clean the home from top to bottom to be in complete compliance for the religious occasion.
   
   Alternatively, Americans have stuff — and a lot of it. Not all purchased items are used regularly as one can see from the clean spot in the dust when the item is retrieved. Maybe the timing isn’t right to use something or maybe you are like my dad who jokes that he is,“saving it for good” (special occasions).
   
   As a military family, we moved frequently and Andra is awesome at the pre-move clean out. Now that we’ve lived here for almost 11 years, we have accumulated without the impetus to minimize.  
   
   Enter the KonMarie method of tidying up your home and life. The basis behind the technique is to ask yourself the question, “Does it spark joy?”
   
   This isn’t a maniacal effort to get rid of everything you own. Instead, as the author states, “Life truly begins only after you have put your house in order.” Everything has meaning and is stored in its proper place.
   
   The correct sequence to cleaning out your possessions is 1) clothes, 2) books, 3) papers, 4) miscellaneous things and 5) sentimental items.  
   
   When deciding on an item, hold it in both hands and think about why you bought it or have it. Does it still evoke an emotion in you to keep it? When you value what you own and treat it with care and respect, it becomes priceless.
   
   The nuance here is to remember that you are focused on choosing what to keep. The discard pile will build on its own. If you are confident something brings you joy, then keep it.
   
   For those, like me, who have issues letting things go, I have found the following suggestion very helpful.  Look at the item to discard and say, “Thank you for your years of service to me.” Promptly place it into the give-away box.
   
   It’s really important to finish the action of discarding your non-joy sparking items. If they don’t end up with a friend, charity or in the trash; they will just sit in a bag or box, still cluttering your home and life.  
   
   It’s been a little rough process for me to go through. What’s mine is mine — right? However, bringing order to my life and home has resulted in not having to look at clutter. Ridding myself of possessions with attached bad memories has also been a satisfying and sometimes cathartic exercise.  
   Good luck in your journey to rediscover and keep what sparks joy in your life.
  
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