You know when you’ve finished a really life altering book, and the next day you interact with people in some sort of disbelief they have not transformed right along with you? Ok, maybe that’s just me. Well, a few weeks ago I was suggested the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo by no fewer than 4 different friends and colleagues, none of whom had any connection to the other. (Thanks, Social Media!) I’m a tidy person, so I wasn’t sure what I could learn from the book, but I did, in fact, find it Life Changing. After finishing it in an afternoon, I also wasn’t sure I would have anything to add to the conversation regarding the KonMari method, the book itself has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for a while now, and the author and the book have made the rounds for several interviews, and countless articles and blog posts.
But alas, this book and it’s contents just keep “showing up” for me. In my own life, and in the lives of my clients and friends. I find myself wanting to quickly recommend it like you’d recommend a favorite brand of hosiery to a friend, but stop short when I would imagine the people in my life reading Ms. Kondo’s method. You see, as one friend put it, the author is bat shit crazy. Ok, well, I’ve never met her, and that may be a bit harsh, but if the well publicized advice she gives to ensure that the things in your home “Spark Joy” (Really? A toothbrush? Joy? Mmmkay.) doesn’t make you think she’s cuckoo, perhaps her detailed account of how she enters her home daily will……
“First, I unlock the door and announce to my house, “I’m home!” Picking up the pair of shoes I wore yesterday and left out in the entranceway, I say, “Thank you very much for your hard work,” and put them away in the shoe cupboard. Then I take off the shoes I wore today and place them neatly in the entraceway……..My next task is to empty the contents of my handbag on the rug and put each item away in its place. First I remove all the reciepts…..”
But here’s the thing. She’s as passionate and sure of her calling as the Dalai Lama or Karl Lagerfeld. This woman was BORN to have the highest standard for tidying and she’s chosen to share it with us. So what’s so life changing about her advice? Well, I really just need you to read the thing for you to understand, but my essential life changing take away was this. EVERY single organization tip I’ve read has focused on storage. Storage containers, storage furniture, storage solutions, storage hacks, etc. But if you follow her method carefully, you will likely come away not needing a single solution to your stuffocation problem, because every thing you own will be something you cherish, that yes, SPARKS JOY, or that you need to survive. And survival can by joyous no? The rest will be gone. Set free, and able to spark joy in someone else’s life (or recycled).
There are plenty of practical, if seemingly strict rules that are outlined in the book including, “do it once and get it over with” and “organize by category, not by room.” She believes your belongings have their own energy (think of how you feel when you hold a cherished memento from your Grandmother versus your ex-husband’s golf club), and even your home, no matter how small, will “tell you” what it can hold. I can only tell you that if you open your mind and your heart, and keep your sense of humor, you may come away as one of my friends did, who said the following: “I was worried about where I’d be putting my filing cabinet in my new apartment, instead I should be thinking about why I need a filing cabinet at all!”
One of the issues I’ve always had with Closet Cleaning tips has been some of the rules I’ve even touted here — you’ve heard them all, “If you haven’t worn it in a year…..” etc. But here’s the rub. Everyone is different. I have an extensive wardrobe, with pieces I most certainly haven’t worn in over a year, but I am also certain I will wear them this year. Does my love and knowledge of fashion exempt me from that rule? Well, kinda.
Just as I was designing and moving in to an entire room dedicated to my wardrobe, I began reading this book. Cringing as I turned to the page on clothes organization, hoping not to feel poorly about my “more than are needed” (to say the least) shoe collection. Instead, I felt invigorated. I ran up to my new Fitting Room and carefully considered each item, measuring its joy sparking abilities, and purged about 3 pairs of shoes and a few pairs of pants. Yes, that’s all.
When I moved on to my office, I had many more boxes to haul away, because frankly, books and magazines don’t spark all that much joy in my life. I like them plenty, but am not a “must read and keep it on paper” type. Once my office was clear, I was able to make room for the yoga and meditation area I’ve always wanted. Life changing! And on to the kitchen, the basement, and don’t get me started on toiletries. Any curly girl can attest to a failed product graveyard worth at least $500 in their home.
You see, I’ve always struggled with the Buddhist philosophy of renouncing one’s possessions. I like my possessions! But in honoring them, rather than blindly collecting them or fearfully clinging to them, I have opened up my home and my life for more of what makes me me. And that, my friends, sparks joy.