By guest blogger Teresa Duryea Wong
Marie Kondo is adorable. She sparkles. Marie is a tiny Japanese woman who wrote a tiny little book, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, that sold really big — over 10 million copies. Now she has a new Netflix series where she helps people “tidy up.”
Her adorableness makes you want to cheer her on. Makes you want to sign up. Yes, I want a tidy life. Yes, I want to feel joy. Please, Marie, just show me how!
Marie’s religion helps people decide what stuff to keep by deciding what “sparks joy” for them. If an item does not spark joy, get rid of it she says. I embraced the concept. I cleaned my closet. I got rid of old stuff and donated it. I folded my jeans so they stand up. I organized my shoes. It was joyful.
But after that, her joyful method met a spectacular collapse in my home. Marie, I said, you are not touching my books and certainly not my quilts or my studio!
Can you imagine what would happen if she entered a home like mine with piles of old quilts? She’d ask, do these spark joy? And of course, I’d say no. Joy is not the right feeling. I’d explain, these quilts were made by my grandmother, my great-grandmother. These quilts once kept my family warm. Mothers made these quilts that for their children. These are a part of the people who came before us. These do not spark joy. They take up space and collect dust. They are hard to store. But I keep them because they spark something more important than joy. They spark memories. They are our history.
In her television show, Marie consistently encourages people to get rid of their books. She suggests they do not open the book, just look at its cover and decide if it sparks joy. This is crazy. Getting rid of all my books would make me sad. Like old quilts, books are hard to store and collect dust, but I keep them because of what they once meant to me. They represent literature and learning. They do not spark joy. I keep them because I love them.
And what about our quilt studios and workspaces? Does your space have clutter? Mine does. Some days I wish it was less cluttered, but I also believe that clutter can spark creativity. A dusty old object can spark inspiration. A shiny tool can spark creativity. For example, I have over two dozen pairs of scissors. Do I need them all? Does each pair spark joy? No. They simply have a job to do. But even my ordinary, utilitarian scissors can spark creativity. They are part of the process. They have nothing to do with joy and everything to do with how I create.
And what about all that fabric? Like many of you, I have tons of fabric. There are days when it stresses me out because I feel like I should be using it more quickly. But then those feelings pass, and I look at my stash and I am inspired. That’s the thing about emotions, they change. Cleaning might feel joyful for a moment. But it can go too far. Don’t break what isn’t broken. And so my dear adorable Marie, you can have my closet, my jeans, my shoes, but you must stay away from the stuff that sparks my creativity --- my books, my studio and my quilts!
Teresa Duryea Wong writes and speaks about quilting and textiles. Her most current book is American Cotton: Farm to Quilt.
To visit Teresa’s website and check out her popular books +click here
To see a video that flips through Teresa’s book, American Cotton +click here