Tag Archives: creative living

‘Spark Joy: An Illustrated Guide to the Japanese Art of Tidying’ by Marie Kondo

Spark Joystarstarstar“Keep only what you regularly use, or really love” has long been my rule for tidying. This book says basically that, only changing the ‘really love’ to ‘spark joy.’ I do like that–our lives should be about joy and by selecting some things and discarding others, we focus on those things that do enhance our living. Even a toilet plunger can ‘spark joy’ because think about not having kept it!

Folding Clothes


The rest of Kondo’s book (the KonMari method of tidying) was not really anything new to me, although based on some reviews I read, many consider it life changing. I wonder if it was boring to me because the author is really building a whole book around a few simple ideas. There were long winded chapters on how to fold clothes so they can stand up in a drawer with the assumption that is what you have–I have mostly shelves, so her system doesn’t even work for me.

Suggestions that are just common sense were presented as if they were sagely wise revelations such as: Gather things that are alike. Tidy items by category, not room. Clean out the insides of closets first so there is more room to put other things away. Provide a space for each thing and keep it in its place. Not earth shattering stuff…A place for everything etc–your mother may have mentioned something about that. She also anthropomorphizes which annoyed me…balling socks is ‘cruel’ and clothes hanging in a closet that is empty end up feeling ‘chilly’ while those in a squished closet ‘can’t breathe.’ She also ritually thanks each item she discards and says farewell to it, as if it would hear and understand and not take the rejection personally.

Her chapter on the kitchen was ok. It deals with the tension between keeping things at hand and keeping spaces free of clutter and easy to clean. When beginning a recipe or meal, she recommends a common system…take out all ingredients and tools before you begin and return them to storage as you finish with them. Her suggestion for keeping compost in a plastic bag in the freezer is a good one for hot buggy climates (my daughter does that in South Africa!).

The book itself, as object, is very tidy, complete with its own lime green elastic band bookmark! Although for me the book did not spark joy, but since I borrowed it from the library, I can joyfully return it–thank you and farewell!

Note: This is a companion volume to Kondo’s first book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up which I have not read.

‘Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear’ by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magicstarstarstarstar
Q. What is creativity?

A. The relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration.

Elizabeth Gilbert is the famous author of Eat Pray Love. Some people loved that book and found full resonance with her quest to find herself on a round-the-world journey, while others thought she was not quite funny enough and too self-absorbed. I might have been slightly in the latter camp, but after attending an interview with her and listening to her speak about her life and writing, I gained a new appreciation and respect for this author.

In Big Magic Gilbert champions creativity and does a fine job of describing the creative process. She believes that creative living is necessary for a healthy and sane lifestyle and makes a good case for it. Her light and humorous touch is spot on and she is very honest and open about her own approach to the art of writing. She uses the vulnerability of her own story to teach lessons about what to do and what not to do. Fear is the worst barrier to creative expression. Excuses may include “no time, no talent, fear of the unknown, fear of criticism. etc.” She is practical about her call to creativity, advising people not to give up their day jobs just yet, but to feel free to explore and follow their curiosity and do the things that spark joy. Creative living doesn’t have to be art, music, or writing…it can be mushroom farming, gardening, travel planning, cooking, collecting, dancing, knitting, photography, blogging, or whatever, and the best part of all–you don’t have to be good at what you are doing, you just have to thoroughly enjoy it. Like Brené Brown says, perfectionism is dangerous and can be a block to creativity. Let’s do those things we enjoy without setting impossible standards for ourselves. Of course many of us already have hobbies or creative work and have discovered the joy of what this bring to our lives. For those people, this book is affirming.

Aside from a weird theory about ideas having a life of their own and latching on to receptive humans, I found her advice about creativity, handling rejection, and dealing with doubt to be helpful and down to earth. I really enjoyed the book and would not hesitate to recommend it.