Today I threw out some make-up. Except it wasn’t just any make-up - these were my top three favorite products from three brands I adore, purchased from a retailer I’ve been very loyal to for years. My motivation to discard these products is twofold: first, it’s part of my decision to switch to clean products throughout my home and my partnership as a consultant with Beautycounter; second, and more importantly, these products, while still functional and useful, no longer serve me personally. What does this mean?
I started using my BB cream at a time when my skin was still healing from a nasty case of adult acne. (This flare up still baffles me almost a decade later - where did it come from? Why did it leave? What can I do to prevent it from coming back? I still don’t know and yes, these are the questions that keep me up at night.) My skin was dry, scarred, and I’d used a slew of retinols, making it extra sensitive to the sun. I walked into the Birchbox store in SoHo and the kind shopgirl brought out this amazing Korean face cream that covered my scars, hydrated my skin, had a whopping SPF 45, and still felt light and lovely. I was hooked. This product went a long way towards restoring my confidence, as well as preventing wrinkles and sun damage. Fast forward to today and I realized that while this product was very useful to me for a period of time, I no longer need that much coverage or that much SPF. Therefore, it’s time to move on to a product that serves me better. It doesn’t mean that the other product is “bad” and I don’t regret using a “dirty” product for so many years. Rather, I feel like I can thank it for its service and move on to the next stage of my make-up life.
In Marie Kondo’s delightful and educational book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, she, as we all know by now, asks you to examine which objects in your home “spark joy.” I love the language she uses here - we often think an object brings us joy, when really we are holding onto it out of guilt (the flip side of loyalty), nostalgia, misplaced practicality, or because of a scarcity mindset. When we hold an object that we think we should keep because of any of these motivations, we feel nothing, or perhaps we even feel something negative. When we behold something we truly love, we feel that spark - quick, intimate, warm, and unmistakeable. If you don’t feel it, it can be easy to feel badly about holding on to something that no longer serves you, but most objects in our homes did serve us at some point. Marie encourages her followers to thank the object before sending it on its way. (This seems super dumb, but I’ve KonMari’d my closet several times, and I always find it an extremely powerful ritual.)
As winter moves into spring it’s natural to think about the ways we can clean up our homes, our work, and our lives. While it’s easy, or easier, to go through our make-up bag, closet, or garage and discard the items that no longer serve us, disposing of the non-functional, and passing on that which could serve someone else, it’s much more difficult to apply this technique to our actions, relationships, and consumption. How can we do this?
1.) Examine your routines and think about your motivations for each action. If it no longer supports your current or future lifestyle or goals, you should, without guilt, discard it and swap it out for something that does.
Do you go for a run every morning at 5am just because you feel like you “should” and you’ve been doing it for 6 years? Would a 7pm yoga class actually serve you and your body better during this season of your life?
Why do you drink coffee in the morning? Do you truly enjoy the smell, taste, and ritual of that cuppa? Or are you just afraid that after so long you won’t be able to function without it?
2.) Often at work we do things because we were told “that’s the way it’s always been” or because we feel like we’re failing if our processes don't look like everyone else’s. If the system that’s been handed to you doesn’t function, you are fully allowed to create something better. And guess what? You’ll eventually be lauded for that. Here are some places where you can start examining your systems right away.
Email. Whether you work for yourself or someone else, we feel like we have to be available on email at all times. If you get a buzz shooting off emails from bed or the dinner table, you do you, boo, but I have a feeling that’s a habit that doesn’t serve you. Set boundaries with communication and you’ll find yourself being more efficient and having more time for other things.
Project management. Every single person on this planet manages projects. Even second graders have to manage their homework. If you feel like things are falling through the cracks, throw out whatever system you’ve been using and take this as permission to start fresh. There are amazing apps out there that can help facilitate this (Asana and Trello are two of the most popular). I also love bullet journaling for organizing everything from new work projects to my meal plans.
3.) Not every relationship is meant to last through every season of your life. This does not mean they’re bad relationships. Your best friend from elementary school may not nourish you when you’re in your thirties and that’s ok. Choosing which relationships to cultivate and which to send lovingly and gratefully on their way is a beautiful and humbling experience.
4.) We are so lucky to live at a time of creative explosion (I truly believe the 21st century will be thought of as a second Renaissance in the future) and we are even luckier to have all these new works and mediums available at our fingertips. However, we often don’t full take advantage of the digital tools at our disposal and instead fall prey to mindless scrolling. Take stock of what you consume and only continue with the things that spark in you that same joy. You can do this by:
Thinking about your favorite Instagram accounts. Why do you like them? I like accounts that are uplifting, aesthetically pleasing, educational, and wholesomely funny (and preferably feature rescue puppies). If you follow someone who doesn’t hit your whys, feel free to unfollow and make space for things that truly make you smile.
Getting off the digital once in a while. If you follow the art museum in your city and love everything they post, make sure you’re regularly visiting it in person. Use the digital as a tool to find what want you want to experience IRL.
Setting limits and doing a digital detox, if that’s what works for you. There’s nothing inherently wrong in loving the on-screen life, but if you find yourself feeling yucky or saturated, use a preset limit to remind you to take a break.
Remembering you don’t have to consume everything. Just because you really like a podcast or a TV show doesn’t mean you have to listen to or watch every single episode.
I’m excited to use this change of season to take stock of what serves me, my work, my home, and my family. Come chat with me on Instagram and tell me about what you’re discarding and what continues to serve you.