Simplifying life and dietary changes: cliché January goals every year. I hadn’t thought twice about either of them till just before Christmas. A book fell into my lap, and health issues too, which has got me thinking about both.
Have you seen this book yet?
Perhaps you are one of the 3 million that has purchased this book, ‘the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japenese art of decluttering and organizing’, by Marie Kondo. She’s the samurai of tidy.
Samurai warriors are ruthless right? This lady has got tidy going on.
In fear that judgment might be heaped upon me, I won’t stand on the moutaintop of condescension and teach the masses, because Kondo warns, “the urge to point out someone else’s failure to tidy is usually a sign that you are neglecting to take care of your own space”.
I know well the notion that a cluttered house=a cluttered mind. The first thing I do when the hubby takes the kids for the afternoon is tidy, yes, in that rare spare time that I am alone, I spend twenty minutes tidying. Tidy house=quiet mind.
Kondo says we don’t need to tidy when we quietly work away at disposing of our excess continuously and that this is actually the best way of dealing with a family that doesn’t tidy. Throw stuff out.
Kondo’s primary principle of tidiness might sound a little kooky at first, “take each item in one’s hand and ask: “does this spark joy? If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.” For most of us, we’d own very few things with that guidance.
Kondo says we don’t need fancy storage units to get tidy. Or I’d add, you don’t need to increase the share price of Rubbermaid (though I have certainly helped them in the past); you just actually have to not keep everything that passes through your hands and home.
Less is more. Travel has taught me much about being in the moment (and that I don’t require more than a backpack of stuff to do it). And I want my life to be more than just organizing my (and my kids’) stuff. Creating is my passion. If we love what we own, we can get on with actually living.
Kondo suggests putting every piece of a family member’s personal belongings in one closet. When we’re heading out the door, I like to know that dirty boots have a home, in the mudroom. That the swim bag has everyone’s suits ready to go, in the mudroom. A canvas bag for my collection of canvas international bags, in the mudroom. (I allotted plenty of space for my mudroom and highly value its constant use). My kids are lucky to have their own rooms, so I keep a basket on the stairs and toss things in there when stray sweaters, socks, Lego, make-up, pony tails…get lost on the main floor.
Kondo suggests it is therapeutic, to “process your past”, garbage childhood memorabilia, and though I have done that in spades, I just can’t part with certain things from childhood, like my cabbage patch dolls (don’t ask) or report cards from elementary school. I definitely can’t part with my baby’s memorabilia, and therein lies my Rubbermaid purchases. So unless I devote counseling dollars to that endeavor, I’ll have a few Rubbermaid totes for the kids to weed through in the end.
What should we do with all that extra stuff found in the recesses of our storage rooms and closets and desk drawers and kitchen drawers? Sell it, or give it away? I find joy in giving it to someone who values it, and I find no joy in hovering over internet sale sites in hopes that I’ll make fifteen bucks. Give it away is my go-to.
I would pay money to visit Kondo’s home. No papers does she keep. No bank statements, no kids’ artwork, no receipts, warranties, pay slips. Everything she owns in one closet? Wow. I probably wouldn’t hire her to tidy my home though. I’d be a wee bit scared.
There’s also a whole lot of work to her approach. Taking every piece of clothing in the house and laying them on the floor. Six people times two seasons (spring/summer and fall/winter). The thought of that mountain! Every book taken from every bookshelf and laid on the floor? Ummm, I am a homeschool mom that loves to read.
Though I have often heard that I don’t own many pieces of clothing (it’s more than thirty), I can’t imagine culling it all. I did takeaway from Kondo’s book a different way to folding my socks. Yes, sock folding. No stretching the cuffs; just fold them in half on each other like a rectangle. I should have thought of this before.
And old clothes turned loungewear, she is not a fan. Has she been in my closet? I don’t want to get rid of a comfortable piece, though it be pilled and not public-worthy, it might not fit me right, but I keep it, and wear it during home days. She says, no surprise, get rid of it.
Keep things because you love them–not “just because” someone gave it to you. Ooooh, tricky one. Guess that means that when we’re giving others gifts, we must assume that they might not love it as much as we might. Perhaps the original intent behind the gift was that the gift giver cared about us and wanted to give us something. So we hold that item in our hands, and give thanks for the gift that it was, and release it to someone who might love it more.
This book did compel me to sift through the warranties box. What an overlooked box! I have a six month old sofa falling apart, so I was motivated to find the warranty. But Kondo is right again. I am never going to reinstall my electric appliances, so why am I keeping installation guides? What are the chances that I am going to get warranty work on a stereo? What about those instruction guides to the Toshiba computer I purchased ten years ago? What about those cd instruction guides that, if I really needed them, I would ask my husband to fix…then he’d go on-line to search anyway. That box got a whole lot smaller.
There’s not a thing that humanity has owned that she hasn’t discussed chucking, so if you’re interested in a January purge of your stuff, this book is your guide.
The criterion for keeping something: “The item has to give you a thrill of pleasure when you touch it”. That’s not a lot of things to keep. But that is a whole lot of holding.