[vc_row][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]by Kay Vander Vort

The thought of moving gave me a headache every time I looked at my basement clutter and loaded bookshelves. But, I had an interested buyer for my town house, which coincided with my need to downsize, so I did what I always do when I am faced with a dilemma – I bought a book!

The book, a New York Times Best Seller which sold over 2 million copies, was written by Japanese author, Marie Kondo, titled The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The book was small and thin and I was hooked by the word “magic.”

The magic began when I enlisted my grandchildren to help. They were intrigued (and a little puzzled) when I told them that according to Ms. Kondo’s book, “the best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask, ‘Does this spark joy?’ If it does keep it; if not dispose of it.”

My granddaughter Frannie (14) brought her friend over to help, and at the end of a few hours she said, “your grandma sure has lots of books but they are all on the same subject – spirituality.” (I really do read other things, I just get them from the library.)

My wonderful daughter-in-law Alison gave me a birthday present of flying in from Boston to help de- clutter. Alison is an Enneagram 8 and has the no-nonsense, non-sentimental gifts I needed – and the energy. One morning she came over and said, “today we tackle the basement!” Box after box came down. I had a big box for each of my 4 children’s memorabilia, and two or three boxes from my parent’s home. I moved them here 22 years ago and haven’t opened them since. I had boxes of student papers, notes from years of teaching and learning, and a full filing cabinet whose drawers were seldom opened.

After the basement de-cluttering, Alison and I left the house to get in a different environment for supper. When I got home and walked in, the house felt different, more empty. Maybe the magic was working.

Later, when I couldn’t sleep, I went back down to the basement and opened the box of all the funeral cards I had saved from my parent’s funerals. I looked once more, and at the bottom of the pile I saw a few folded yellowed notebook papers with my Father’s handwriting. I soon recognized that these were two sets of notes – 32 years apart – of his annual recounting of his journey into Alcoholism and recovery, sometimes called “drunkalogs.” I remembered my Dad struggling with having to give this talk each year – not because of the content, but because he disliked public speaking.

These felt like “holy papers” to me. He began the first “set” with, “It hardly seems possible that May 14th I celebrated my third year of total sobriety and, I might add, three of the best years of my life. He ends that talk with, “My prayers have given me the strength and guidance to stay sober for these three years. It’s a miracle the way you finally realize the importance of sincerity in your prayers.”

Thirty-five years later in what was to be his last talk, he wrote, “I am sure that my prayers and the strong belief in the AA program as practiced here in the Nicollet group have given me the help and guidance to stay sober for the past 35 years.”

This was my “magic” gift.