Home, self-acceptance

Baby with the Bathwater


I read both of Marie Kondo’s books when they were first published in English and I’ve noticed her publicist has been working overtime, increasing her visibility since her Netflix TV episodes began airing earlier this year.  While I adopted some of her ideas right away – (folding and storing so that all socks, shirts, etc. are visible just makes sense!) – I find her “throw everything in a pile” approach to be unnecessarily violent and even punitive; there are kinder, gentler ways to sort through and discard clutter without shaming ourselves. I find I need time to process tender feelings, especially dealing with unfinished business and items with sentimental value.


What we choose to keep says a lot about who we are, and releasing our possessions can be a spiritual as well as physical and emotional journey. Even going through “junk drawers” in the kitchen takes more time than I would’ve thought – what to do with half-dead batteries?  My collection of twist-ties and tired old rubber bands reveals how hard I try to “keep it together” – and my willingness to sort through and discard such detritus tells me I’m ready to release a lot more stuff I don’t need.


value of the purge

I agree with Gil Hedley (above), who champions the spiritual nature of sorting through, examining and recycling our “stuff” – knowing that while it doesn’t literally define us, it’s still a potent force to be reckoned with – in his words; “psychically and biologically active”.  Dietitians have been saying, “you are what you eat” for decades – perhaps now is a good time to entertain the idea that “you are what you keep!”


I’ve been noticing how certain items DO seem to carry an energetic charge – and that broken items are somewhat distressing to me; they cause a disconnect of sorts. As I become more aware of how my possessions actually make me FEEL, I’m hoping to release more than STUFF these days – I’d like to think I’m ready to let go of old habits and attitudes that don’t fit and/or don’t work for me any more – maybe they never did!?

Both of my parents were minimalists and left behind very little by way of clutter; they purged their belongings periodically and I wound up inheriting one office-sized storage box for each of them, the contents of which I scanned and shared with my sisters and other relatives. Knowing how my friends have grappled with their own parents’ possessions, I’m grateful my folks left such a small footprint.  My dad’s box contains his plays, reviews and indecipherable diaries, written in his own secret shorthand, along with a beret that stopped smelling like him many years ago, alas. My mom’s box has her drawings, writings, paper pop-up experiments, letters and cards.

The items of theirs that I’ve kept remind me of the REAL treasures they shared – the time they lavished on us, their artistic flair and aspirations, their love for us.  What else is worth cherishing?

Screen Shot 2019-02-15 at 1.32.35 AM


21 thoughts on “Baby with the Bathwater

  1. Steve says:

    Thoughtful article. Ive yet to find that the thinking and energy required to agonizingly weigh in on and assess every item actually exceeds the potential delight in having a “ lighter” less cluttered space. But still, I keep trying!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well Said! Thank you for sharing! For the past several years, I’ve been going through drawers and shelves, finding items to toss and/or give to someone who could use such items. I give myself time to enjoy the experience so I can really make a decision about these things. They are “things,” but I must have kept some for a reason – or not? It was after we lost our home to a fire that I had to deal with the fact that some things are just no longer around like they used to be, so I have to say “good bye,” and embrace the “new.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. MaraPurl says:

    What a beautiful post. The kinder, more tender approach to our clearing process is in compassionate practice here. For myself, I adopted a practice a few years ago of keeping an empty box handy and filling it as I come across things I can no longer use, but might be useful to others. That box goes to charity. I’m working through piles of papers in my office, accumulated while I cared for my parents in their last days, scanning what I’d like to keep in the “cloud” and recycling the rest. I can feel how freeing and powerful it is to clear the decks for action . . . and new ideas and projects pour in as room is made for them. But there are, indeed, tender moments of remembrance that require a pause for gratitude. Thanks for posting!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well said, and I love the comics!

    I agree with much of Marie Kondo’s philosophy in principle, but like you I can’t just toss everything into a pile and deal with it rapidly. My biggest issue with her approach is that (as I understood it) she just trashes everything. I think some thought needs to be put into whether to sell it, donate it, recycle it, or trash it.

    It’s so nice that your parents were minimalists. Mine certainly weren’t, and I’m still dealing with that upbringing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dick & Henrietta Lieb says:

    Hi Mark & Marilyn—this is a reminder to get rid of stuff we have intended to but haven’t yet made any significant progress toward that end——BUT WE WILL!

    Liked by 1 person

    • YES! It feels really good to let go and recycle things that might be perfect for someone else. I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to cull through all the CDs, but I’m getting better at identifying actual JUNK! 🙂 XO – M


  6. Don Shelton says:

    Well, this one Really Hits Home in a Huge Way! And while in the midst of doing exactly what you revealed we’re finding that it’s TRUE. Letting go of certain things is
    most difficult but when viewed with the idea of sharing with someone else becomes the way to go. So we are trying like crazy to deal with it all to make the relocation a much more acceptable way to go. Thanks Marilyn….We Are Trying! Don S.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lew the interfool says:

    I’ve downsized twice now. And we’re in that process constantly. As a guy who saves everything on the premise I might use it one day, I find the process painful, but necessary. When I first started with downsizing and was agonizing over selling/giving away all my parent’s stuff from Japan they brought back, my friend Dale told me “Lew, do you think your parents would want you bogged down by possessions” Take pictures of the stuff and get it out of your life” He was right. Attachments to material objects is stultifying and serves no purpose, UNLESS you use the “stuff” in your daily life. And people forget about entropy, the tendency for everything to degrade and break. The more you own, the more you have to maintain it. That’s true about relatives, too, but you can’t sell them….Just love ’em…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I ♥LOVE♥ this, Lew! Especially the part about recycling relatives!! 🙂 And I can vouch for the practice of photographing stuff and then letting it go – we spent much of 2015 scanning Mark’s parents’ photos and old papers and then we were able to SHARE the images with other family members on a single DVD which (we HOPE!?) they will cherish! For sure I cherish YOU! ♥ XOXO – M


  8. Sandra M. says:

    Good read, Marilyn. You write and express well. And very good points and reminders. When we recently made a major move, we had 23 years of “stuff” to wade through. Whew! It taught me to have a new practice in the new house. I don’t hang on to nearly as much!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Josie Falbo says:

    Much food for thought. I love the feeling of release I feel when I’ve gotten rid of stuff I hadn’t even remembered I had for so long! I’ve made good inroads on purging and reorganizing but not home free yet. But I’m getting there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me, too, Josie! It’s an ongoing process and NOT a “one-time-only” deal! We never actually “reach the finish line”! And we need to MINIMIZE the pain, instead of amplifying it as Kondo and some other experts advise. Reminds me of when I was a kid trying to learn to play the piano; I tried biting my fingers to “teach” them not to make errors! You can imagine how well THAT worked…NOT! After a few tries I realized that the pain would actually KEEP me from learning! 🙂 ♥ XO – M


  10. Great post, Marilyn. I so admire your passion and commitment to this process, which I understand intellectually, but struggle to find the motivation to follow through with. Still, the few parts I have tackled I feel good about, so maybe there’s hope in my future, lol. Much love to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Frank Cannavo says:

    Great post! I never thought I would end up living like a hoarder, but it’s happened.
    Part of the problem is that two people living in NYC in a 600 square ft. apartment can find it very difficult to deal with “stuff”!
    I figured that every year you bring in at least 20 new things…(probably much more!), and after 10 years you have 200 things. And after a few more decades if you’re older it just piles up and has a life of it’s own!

    I love recycling and love when people cherish what I give away. But it’s very difficult to sort things out. And you’re so right that so many things have sentiment attached to them which makes objects feel “alive” in some way with hurt feeling when they are discarded…lol!

    Getting a storage unit is expensive and 99% of the time is just an expensive drain to avoid facing reality. So one muddles through.
    I do realize as I get older that my old college books need to get discarded, but can I really throw out the ugly mask I brought back from Mexico 40 years ago?

    Love your post and it certainly does resonate with how to deal with living in a society where consumerism can overwhelm us all!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Photography has been my saving grace in this process, Frank – scanning so many OLD photos into digital format opened up the possibilities of taking NEW digital photos of items I might be ready to part with… but NEVER that wonderful pillowcover you gifted us a few years ago – it will always have a place of honor on our couch (which it matches PERFECTLY, btw!). ♥ XO – M

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Karen D. says:

    Marilyn, your turn of phrase and the essence of your thoughts are so well done! Keep at it. I smell a book…
    And one of my pet peeves is when journalists use apostrophe’s (sic) excessively! Thank you for commenting on grammar.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: ThredUp/ParedDown | Celebrations Of Failure

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s