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Does it spark joy?

My niece, Lindsay, lives a minimalist lifestyle in a 500-square-foot studio apartment with a roommate and a cat. Her possessions are few and buying is well thought out.

Lindsay is a big fan of Maria Kondo and has read all of her books – online, of course. In case you’re not familiar with Maria Kondo, Wikipedia describes her this way: “Maria Kondo, also known as Konmari, is a Japanese organizing consultant, author, and TV show host. Kondo has written four books on organizing, which have collectively sold millions of copies around the world.”

Through Lindsay’s urging, I picked up “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Kondo’s best-seller. In her book, Kondo lays out a plan for organizing your life. And, she tells her readers and clients that as they begin to make decisions about what to keep and what to toss, they ask this question – “Does it spark my joy?”

So, this past weekend, I decided to clean out my bedroom, including the closet. Not just the regular dust and vacuum clean, but REALLY cleaning. Tossing some “stuff” was easy: The cards from my Golden Jubilee (two-and-a-half years ago!), which somehow got put into a bag to reread later; the sweater that shrunk after I left in the dryer for way too long; and pens that had run out of ink long ago.

When it came to other things, a different challenge presented itself. But, I was prepared. All I needed to do was ask the question, “Does it spark my joy?”

As it turned out, it just didn’t work for me. Perhaps it’s because we’re in the midst of one of the greatest crises of our time, or maybe it’s because my own perspective on life has changed through the years. Nonetheless, I’d ask the question on items over and over again and the answer was usually the same … “Does it spark my joy?” No, not really.

Here’s what I know:

What sparks my joy …

  • People in my life who love me despite my flaws,
  • The fact that family and friends are staying healthy,
  • That my SP Community members have thus far been spared of COVID-19,
  • My nephew Adam, who is working 17-hour days, seven days a week to make ventilators for the state of Massachusetts,
  • The redbud trees in bloom on our street,
  • The stories of kindness that end the nightly news, and
  • The weekly Saturday night zoom “cocktail parties” with my family.
    My joy is sparked …
  • When a call comes from a family member or friend who just wants to say hi,
  • When the sun is shining, as it is today,
  • When I have some time to make cards or jewelry, and
  • When I spend some time in reflective quiet.

Well, the bedroom got cleaned; the closet too. And, I must admit, there was a good feeling by the end of the day … joy?


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Sister Paula Damiano

Sister Paula Damiano

Sister Paula has been a Sister of Providence since 1967. She has ministered as a teacher, director of vocations, pastoral associate and as a General Councilor for the Sisters of Providence. She currently ministers as director of programs and retreats at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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  1. Avatar Marilyn Schaaf Rausch on April 27, 2020 at 6:36 am

    What a lovely reflection, especially in a time when “survival” and “staying safe” and “flattening the curve” seem to be the catch-words. I love your emphasis on sparking joy…what a better approach to every moment!! Thank you, S. Paula!!

  2. Avatar S. Connie Kramer on April 27, 2020 at 7:54 am

    Thanks Paula. Your words brought me joy today!
    Connie SP🙏🏻😊👍

  3. Avatar Mary Heins on April 27, 2020 at 8:59 am

    Thanks, Sr. Paula, for sharing. What a lovely way to declutter!! And it’s a spark I’ll carry throughout the day and beyond.

  4. Avatar Ann Mooney on April 27, 2020 at 9:50 am

    We are learning how to adapt to new things in our lives. Reflecting on all your joys makes me want to write down the joys that spark me, too. Thank you for sharing., Paula.
    Ann Mooney

  5. Avatar Marsha Speth, SP on April 27, 2020 at 11:53 am

    Yes, your list brought to mind some of my joys, too!
    Thank you for sharing!! Now, will start my own list!

  6. Avatar Janice Shoup on April 27, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    Yes! This crisis, along with other personal parts of my life journey, have taught me what is truly important in life…people and things that bring me joy! Love you!

  7. Avatar Sister Editha Ben on April 27, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    Thanks, Paula. Yes, I googled Konmari sometime last year and has helped me gotten rid of many clothes and other stuff. Does it spark joy? And I also added “Does it give me peace?”

  8. Avatar Riem Rostom on April 28, 2020 at 12:34 am

    Sparked joy reading it.

  9. Avatar Denise on April 28, 2020 at 6:24 am

    Thanks, Paula. Like you, I’ve been cleaning out. It has left me satisfied but not joyful. Your reflection gives me an entirely new perspective.

  10. Avatar Susan Paweski, SP on April 29, 2020 at 9:41 am

    Paula, your words brought a knowing smile to my face. I look forward to Goodwill opening and filling the shelves with things that once brought joy to me. Perhaps these things will bring joy to others. Thank you!

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