Warning! This New York Times best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, will change your life. It has changed mine. Even though I am more organized than most people, or so I am told, I needed a book on decluttering to kick into a higher gear about my house.
It was good to read some nonfiction for a change, after all the drama of my latest fiction adventures. Marie Kondo grew up tidying up and experimenting with different storage methods. She made all the mistakes in the book and learned from each one. As a result, she has put together a method of de-cluttering which helps many people in affluent countries like Japan and USA.
And even though her Japanese background (homes are very small in Japan compared to the US or Australia, for example) and her stay in Shinto shrines have influenced her much toward a minimalist style, you can tell she also genuinely loves to help you transform your house into a space where you feel joyous and at peace. Stuff does not bring joy or peace. We needed a Japanese young lady to teach us about it and more power to her and those who listen to her.
Most of her clients are women in their 50s who have been homemakers for most of their lives – supposedly the “experts” of keeping house and making a happy, enjoyable home environment. With a waiting list of three months, you know Ms. Kondo is fulfilling a huge need in first world countries – the need to stop hoarding and start focusing on things that give you joy.
There is a method to discard, apparently. First clothes, then books, then miscellaneous, then memorabilia. In each category, there are sub-categories. So don’t clean by room, but by category. Take clothes. Do you have clothes only in your closet? Or do you have a sweater on the back of a chair in the living room? As well as in the coat closet? As well as in storage bins under the beds in the kids’ rooms? So when you look for clothes, think of all the places in the house where your clothes are and then bring them all in one spot, put them on the floor and start picking them up one by one. Touch, feel, and ask yourself, “Does it spark joy?”
I have been doing this for the past week. She says to do it all fast and I am trying, but I also have a life and homeschooling to do. I think this might take me a couple more weeks. But I can already tell you that I have donated five big bags of clothes and gently used kitchen items to an inner city ministry. The transformation in the house is palpable. Even though most items were tucked away behind cabinet doors or in the walk-in closets, some were hanging on the outside as well. The before and after pictures would not be as dramatic as in a reality TV show about hoarders, but I feel the clearing of myself inwardly.
And yet, you can feel the difference in the house, too. Maybe because I knew in the back of my mind that we just had a lot of things that we did not need or want, things that did not spark joy. By thanking them for their service to our home and releasing them into the world, I am allowing other people to find joy in these items. And we are free to enjoy the ones we truly love.
My adventures continue in de-cluttering according to the KonMari method continue. I am not finished. I cannot wait to get into our poor garage and then into the kids’ rooms. That will be a delicate mission. Not to mention my husband’s stuff.