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11.03.2015

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up?

Likely you've heard of "KonMari" or Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up already.  The book alone has sold millions of copies and been on the New York Times Bestsellers List for 52 straight weeks (more or less since it was published last October) as I write this.  One KonMari facebook group I am in boasts nearly 30,000 members, and there are so many other groups I didn't even bother to count them because I just kept scrolling... and scrolling... and scrolling and they kept coming.  Oh, and there is talk about turning it into a prime time comedy (which has already been done in Kondo's native Japan).

But magic?  Magic is a strong word.  When you say magic around the likes of me, you'd best have a wand (or better yet a sonic screwdriver) hidden up your sleeve.  You don't just throw around a word like magic.
Going all KM on my books.  I did get rid of some, believe it or not.
Let's rewind a minute though.  Do you ever have times in your life where you do something or try something just because the universe seems to be telling you to, and no other reason?  I do.  Pretty often in fact.  Either I'm completely bonkers or the universe has a lot to say to me (the jury is still out).

I was talking to a friend about clutter.  Specifically about clutter and kids and getting them to clean it up.  She mentioned that her daughter was sometimes resistant to cleaning up even though she only had a few toys.  I was like "that sounds amazing."  Her next words- "Try KonMari.  It will change your life."  I didn't even wait for her to explain (full disclosure- this was a facebook conversation) and started Googling.  Decluttering.  Sounds great.  But special folding?  Unpacking my purse every day?  KEEPING MY SOCKS WITH THE REST OF MY CLOTHES???  That last one especially was a deal breaker.  I am KNOWN for my revolutionary system of keeping the entire family's socks within spitting distance of their shoes.

But I'm down with some decluttering, and I have a pretty open mind, so I ordered the book and joined the facebook group.  Now, in the KM groups it is pretty taboo to talk about other systems (mention Flylady in a KM forum, I DARE you), but at the same time I was reading about capsule wardrobes and I was totally intrigued.  Basically, a capsule wardrobe is a mini wardrobe of pieces that you love (for each season, not your entire wardrobe like total)that is limited to around 37 pieces (different people use different numbers), INCLUDING shoes (well, pairs of shoes...).  I, like 99.9% of females in this country, will openly admit that up until that time I wore about 2% of what I owned.  I had a full closet, yet never felt like I had anything to wear.  As such, the concept of the capsule wardrobe was appealing- a small number of clothing that more or less coordinate with each other (and that isn't always a criteria for choosing an item, but it tends to just happen), and that I love.  Not just tolerate, not just keep around because I think I might need it or fit into it or magically like some day, but really, truly love.  Every piece.  Having a bigger wardrobe was obviously not working, so why not try the obvious?  I hadn't read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up yet, but I knew it meant getting rid of things you didn't like (or that don't "spark joy") and that clothing was the first category- I picked that much up from the facebook page, at least, so I figured why wait for the book.

(btw, wait for the book, don't be naughty just because I was)

I got rid of so. many. clothes.  This article told me that once I had whittled my wardrobe down to only things I truly loved, that my style would be obvious.  I have always struggled with finding my personal style.  I want to be #allthethings- pretty, feminine, tough, sexy, innocent... and I am attracted to both dark and light, color and neutral.  So I had doubts that this would work on me.  But did it ever.  I weeded.  I was diligent.  I sorted into two piles- "absolutely no" and "maybe, but try it on first."  I didn't even know it yet, but I was following a KonMari principle.  You have to touch it to know if it truly sparks joy.  I got rid of 4 trash bags of clothes.  Then I tried on every single item in my keep/maybe pile.  Every one.  Some more got cut that didn't fit right or didn't flatter, and when I was done it was so very obvious.  A lot of black and grey.  Some green and blue.  Edgy but still girly.  Girly but still willing to punch you in the throat (jeez... violent much?).  It was, in fact, kind of magical. (and no, I didn't get down to 37)

Fast forward to today.  There are five KM categories and you have to go in order- clothes, books, papers, "komono" (ie "everything else" or miscellaneous), and sentimental.  I finished sentimental today.  No doubt I'll spend the next few weeks fine tuning, and I have a few more loads of donations and trash that need to GTFO of my house, but I'm done with the big work.  I've been breaking another rule, though (don't do it!!!).  I've been reading the book as I go, just making sure I stay ahead in the book of what I am doing in my home.  So today, after finishing sentimental, I read the sections on storage and "the magic of tidying dramatically transforms your life."  Kondo says, and I am paraphrasing, that if you look at the things that you kept and the things you have liked to do your whole entire life (particularly during your childhood), you can learn so much about yourself that it can lead to drastic life changes.

I am a 35 year old woman who still doesn't know exactly what she wants to do when she grows up.  It's a thing.  But as I read the aforementioned passage, I thought, "huh, what did I like to do when I was a kid?"  I liked to read, and I liked to write.  Not four hours before I had ccme across a big stack of journals from high school and college.  I didn't read them, but I flipped through them and was amazed at the amount of writing I did during that time in my life.  Even when I was actively blogging I didn't write as much as I did then.  Since having kids I haven't focused on writing at all (I still read like it's my job, but that's a lot easier) other than this blog, and as we all know it has been seriously neglected for longer than it would be polite to mention.  But tidying my house, looking at the things I have kept, it is so strikingly obvious to me now.  I love words.  When I sorted my kids' school papers, I favored their journals and reports over paintings.  I have more books in my house than photographs.  So the signs are just as clear- writing needs to be a priority in my life again.  Even if I only journal, or journal and blog, and nothing ever comes of it.  It needs to happen.

So magic?  I'm a believer.  Not only do I now know what my priorities are, I have a clean, peaceful, uncluttered space with which to pursue any of my interests (honestly I'm pretty excited about my craft area, too- I don't think I have ever had all my craft supplies organized and in one area before).  So thank you KonMari, thank you Marie Kondo, and that you The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  You have sparked joy and life back into this poor writer's soul.

Oh, and I will make a prediction.  Thrift stores are about to get very, very full.

And yes, because I know you're dying to know.  I moved my socks.

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