Yeah okay, but does it spark joy?

You know what doesn’t spark joy? My fucking period.

You’d think I would’ve managed to get used to shedding the lining of my uterus – it’s only happened every month since I was 10.

Yes, I was 10 fucking years old the moment I thought I had minutes to live. Convinced I was dying, I refused to leave the house and wondered why I had no prior knowledge of this natural and normal process that was happening to me and my body.

So happy 19th year of shedding to my baby capsule! She’s getting on, poor darl and obviously so am I because I just used the word ‘darl’ unironically!

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Now, normally having a visit from the red sea is a non event, except for that time a few months ago when I thought I might have been pregnant (thankfully I wasn’t) or if you pair the red sea with doing literally anything else that is difficult.

You see, I’ve also had a drop in from a throat infection I thought I broke up with last weekend while simultaneously (and poorly) navigating Marie Kondo-ing the fuck out of everything in my house and life that doesn’t spark joy.

For those of you who don’t know, Marie Kondo is a Japanese organising consultant and a no nonsense folding genius, with a new show on Netflix.

Not only does she encourage you to take time to check in with your home, your relationships and yourself, she also pulls off a sweater like a deadset dream.

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Her show is just the kind of wholesome viewing we deserve while we wait for the next season of Queer Eye. Also, her tutorial on folding a fitted sheet is content I never knew I needed until it happened.

So, with the green light from Marie, I thought it might be a good opportunity to check in with myself while I’m not so silently suffering in the bath. I mean what is self care if there’s never any work involved anyway?

Pro tip: self care = bubble baths, carbs, hydration, Will and Grace marathons AND equal parts actual self work.

The last few months have tested my resilience – hard.

I’ve been busy renegotiating boundaries while unpacking harsh realities of past relationships. Basically this meant I was able to be way more accountable for my own toxic bullshit.

It seems I wasn’t done relearning old lessons and had to check myself on my ability to remain professional in the face of (what felt like) setbacks at work.

Lastly, I’ve been unlearning everything I knew about monogamy, consent and needs vs wants, while learning to accept that sometimes the universe has bigger and better plans for us than we thought possible.

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Unpacking my own behaviour and recognising how easy it is to make mistakes that eventually become behavioural patterns has been A LOT.

I share. I’m a sharer. I don’t need to not be a sharer but I do need to ask those around me if they have capacity to hear whatever it is I have going on before I pile my shit on top of their shit. It’s respectful, honest and open. I dig it.

When thinking about consent in sex though, it’s well documented that I believe consent is necessary but not necessarily sexy.

I know, it’s not a particularly welcomed point of view but it’s mine, and I stand by it.

Bringing new partners into my loving bed has meant that I’ve needed to examine my past behaviours though and establish new personal and romantic boundaries.

What actually makes me feel safe?  How can I confidently ask for what I need while holding space to hear the needs of others? What happens when I inevitably fuck up, or my lovers do?

Are the experiences in my life sparking actual joy?

1. Just be honest. As a starting point, open communication has been a staple of all of my successful platonic relationships and it has always somehow become harder once sex is invoved. Surely it doesn’t have to be such a hard transition though, right?

If the people you’re being intimate with sexually or otherwise aren’t there for transparency, how on earth can that interaction continue to spark joy? Say thank you to the person, treat them kindly and pop them in the give away pile. It’s what Marie Kondo would do. 

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2. Establish Boundaries. As complex human beings, it can be difficult to navigate setting boundaries and sticking to them. New relationship energy or NRE can make setting rules for yourself and actually following through almost impossible. 

Knowing you need time to yourself, time with your friends, time to focus on work/life admin or just time to be still is only half of the struggle.

You also need to know your limits, how much can you take on, what can you comfortably offer in the form of contact, support and energy?

Trust your body, express your boundaries and set yourself expectations. If this is being met with any kind of bullshit response, you know what to do. Thank you and in the pile.

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3. Set an example. It’s one thing to expect this of others when you’re doing it yourself but what happens when you’re not? It absolutely has to go both ways.

If your friends, family, colleagues or lovers are pushing back on you about your own behaviour it’s time to clean your own damn house.

You have to live and breathe the expectations you place on your relationships. You cannot expect to receive what you seek if you can’t manage it yourself.

Similarly to the thoughts above, if your energy and needs are no longer matching or sparking joy, pop them in the pile and create new ones for yourself and others.

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4. Trust your red flags. Too often we can feel completely blindsided by our relationships and the behaviour of others. This really only occurs when we choose to ignore all of the signs.

Okay, so they’re hot, the sex is incredible and your orgasm now resembles a sprinkler on a hot summer day. That’s great but trust me when I say – it can’t be the only thing that sparks joy.

We all have different red flags ranging from how people speak to those in the service industry to how they talk about their ex’s or how easily they come and go from your safe spaces.

I often joke that I know someone is truly awful for me if I’m really into them. I know that notion is not actually funny and I promise I’m working through my bad boy/girl/non binary human shit.

Anyway, if someone is setting off alarm bells, do something about it.

Of course you can question them, keep an eye on it, pop a pin in it for later and go about making such a mess that you’re considering purchasing a plastic mattress protector.

Alternatively you can say thankyouuuuuu, next and set out buying a doxy if multiple orgasms is your only prerequisite for a meaningful or successful relationship.

If you choose option b, it might still be a good idea to buy a matress protector.

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5. Believe them. Oprah said it and I’ve quoted the Queen herself a number of times but people do show you who they are. They only thing that you have control over is whether or not you choose to believe them.

If you can see patterns of behaviour forming, you can guarantee you’re seeing the real shit. That’s not to say people can’t evolve or change. We can, we’re able to be enlightened – it happens every day. What is your limit though?

If a person, environment, or job has become unsafe for you, put yourself first and add them/it to the pile.

You do not have to put up with toxic behaviour just because you care about someone or have just accepted them for who they are. All that shit does is fester.

Marie Kondo wouldn’t stand for it if it didn’t spark joy and neither should you.

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6. Be accountable. Check in with yourself, often. Maybe it’s you. Maybe your behaviour has become unsafe or toxic for the people that care about you.

Assess the situation and realise not every relationship can or needs to be fixed and that’s totally okay.

All you truly have control over is yourself.

Stop believing your own bullshit and while you’re at it, stop surrounding yourself with people who encourage you to do that too.

Sometimes the person, patterns and behaviours you have to bid adeiu to exist within yourself. So thank them and yourself for the lessons and get rid of them.

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7. Accept you’ll make mistakes. Finally, accepting that everyone around you (including yourself) are going to fuck it up will release you from an anxious hole of dread.

We’re human beings, doing our damn best on most occasions and there’s nothing more freeing or realistic than knowing we can’t always be perfect.

Now, I don’t know about you but nothing sparks quite the amount of joy I feel when I fianally give permisson to stop punishing myself for shitty things that bought me closer to the person I want to be.

Thank your mistakes and put your punishment in the bin, don’t be bitter – be better!

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There you have it, 7 actual ways to identify the gaps in your self care/self work routine inspired by Marie Kondo.

Marie says when you hold items from your home you will know instantly if you should keep it.

Hopefully that means eventually your home and space will ONLY be filled with things that spark joy.

I’m going to get back to holding every item in my room to establish if it makes me feel like I’m holding a puppy.

If it doesn’t spark joy? You guessed it! It’s gone.

So far I know I’m keeping my doxy, my black denim jacket, my biker boots and a cup of lemon and ginger tea. It’s going to be a long day.

Love, P.

Artist of feature image is Chris Valencia 

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