The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Hello, 2015. I’m not usually one to make resolutions, since I’ve learned over the past few decades that all I do is break them. Instead, I set goals or give myself little projects to work on. On New Year’s Eve this year, I was boasting that I didn’t have any resolutions. That might be true, but I still have several things I want to tackle over the next few months. One is unsubscribing from most of the seemingly random emails I get. Another, more strenuous one is to seriously get rid of a lot of the stuff in my  house.

I’ve recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. It’s a lot more interesting and . . . different from many organizing books out there. Kondo, who I think is just barely 30, claims to have three month waiting list for her services and that over the course of running her business, she’s never had a repeat customer. Meaning that, her method works.

One of the things that makes her process, dubbed KonMari by her, different from the standard organizing advice we get from uncluttering pros in the US is the concept of aninism, or belief that objects have a soul. Although I’m not really spiritual, this belief kind of vibes with me. I talk to inanimate objects all the time and believe that you should treat things respectfully.

The two big pieces of advice Kondo gives in her book are to purge your stuff first, then put it in order, and to only keep those belongings that spark joy. When you do decide to give something up, either by donating, selling or plain out discarding it, she tells you to thank it for its service to you, then send it along. I know that type of advice won’t jive  with everyone and plenty of people are going to think its’ nutso, but it just makes sense to me.

Kondo has a recommended order for purging, starting with your clothing and moving on to more emotional items, such as letters and knick-knacks. Really, for someone like me, clothing tends to be pretty emotional, so I was a bit worried about starting there. But, there were no tears, although there was some disagreement, since my POSSLQ was in the same room while I was sorting through my stuff, and let’s just say he and I disagree about some of my sartorial choices.

Life changing magic of tidying up
Most of my clothes, pre-purge

The book recommends sorting through all your clothes at once, putting them all in one area. Did I cheat? Kind of, because I split the task into two days, tackling the tights, knickers and socks on day one and the dresses, shirts, sweaters, jeans and skirts on day two. One both days, deciding what stays and what should go was surprisingly easy. There was no well, this still fits and I sometimes wear it  . . . so I guess I’ll keep it.

The idea of only hanging on to things that “spark joy” really  helped draw the line in the sand. I have (or I guess, had) a few skirts that were, eh, okay, but didn’t really fit right or didn’t really  match  a lot of things or just weren’t my style any more. I’ve been hanging on to them because they are decent skirts, a bit pricey, and there’s nothing “wrong” with them, except that they didn’t make me  happy. In all honestly, one of them I was hanging on to because it was Marc by Marc Jacobs. It was too tight in the hips and I felt self-conscious wearing it, but was keeping it because of the designer brand. Dumb, I know.

The discard pile. It looks smaller than it felt.
The discard pile. It looks smaller than it felt.

They’re gone, into the pile, along with a few dresses that were just blah or that were worn out in really weird ways. I had this lovely dress from CK that I’ve had for five years. It still fits, but I hardly wear it because it smells like gasoline. No idea why it has that scent, but it’s kinda of gross to wear a dress that smells like a gas station. Into the pile it went.

Deciding whether things spark joy or not does make some decisions a bit tricky. I’m not really a shoes person, but I have a pair of black and white menswear style brogues that I love. You could definitely say that these shoes spark joy.


But, they also hurt my feet. They hurt my feet so much that I’ve them for more than five years and can count on one hand the number of times I’ve worn them. I love the shoes, but I also know that it’s time to say goodbye. Bye shoes, thank you for making me happy and for protecting my feet the few times I wore you.

Up next: thoughts on the value of purging a lot of stuff at once.

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