I am sure that it is no co-incidence that Marie Kondo’s popularity escalated at the same time as the pandemic made us all prisoners in our own, possibly over cluttered homes. There was never a better time to tackle the spare bedroom, the garage or the loft. (I remember being told by a building inspector back when I was a housing management trainee that a loft should contain nothing more than your Christmas tree decorations and possibly a water tank – and he wasn’t convinced about that second item).
Kondo’s mission was to encourage us to only keep things that ‘spark joy’. I remember looking round my sitting room when I heard this and thinking, ‘I must be very easily pleased’, but during the pandemic sorting through years of possessions, and decluttering became the national pastime. There was only one problem, the charity shops, and the council tips, were all closed. I wonder how much ended up in boxes back in the loft.
I used to be better at the minimalist life, something to do with moving five times in four years kept the number of possessions I owned to down to ‘moving house in a car’ level. I was helped in this for a couple of years by working for a charity which a) didn’t pay me very much and b) ran two charity shops that I used to have to provide cover for when the managers were on leave. There is nothing like the way your heart sinks when you see Granny’s treasured items brought into the shop and knowing if her nearest and dearest don’t want their cute little urchin figurines, then is likely that no one else will (unless of course they are Spode!).
I always dread my birthdays, not because I am getting older, as my mum used to say it beats the alternative, but because I will be faced with the question, “What would you like for your birthday?” My family get particularly shirty when I can’t think of anything, I really don’t need more stuff. Whatever you may think of Facebook, the birthday fundraiser has taken a little of the pressure off me and raised funds for Parkinson’s UK at the same time. I am sure I am not alone in this.
What sparks joy is a subjective concept. William Morris said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”, and I do have things in my home I would not be without. Somehow, I could not bring myself to dispose of my mum’s pastry board and rolling pin, they had had something of a renaissance during the pandemic. However, I doubt very much anyone from the next generation will want them… or possibly even make pastry!
1300 careful owners?
The other thing I own, or part own, is of course a credit union, and that has certainly brought me joy over the years. Saving regularly with an ethical not for profit mutual financial institution has been a real blessing to me. Knowing my savings are somewhere I trust; with values I believe in is a source of peace and security and was a long time before I started working in the sector. Likewise, a number of treasured souvenirs of holidays, in the form of memories mostly, paid for by my credit union savings and loans.
So next time you pick up your pay slip or bank statement and see your savings deposit, remember you are a part owner of a credit union.
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