Once upon a time, there was a girl who was a self-professed pack rat. The girl had a hard time letting anything go because it “might be useful someday” or “it still has life left. I can’t just throw it away” — among other excuses.
The girl met a boy and they got married. Together they had two daughters. The boy didn’t like to pick up after the daughters. The daughters didn’t like to pick up after themselves, either. The girl didn’t have the time or energy to pick up after everyone in the house, including herself.
Before she knew it, the girl was living in a home that looked like this:
The girl and her family simply had too many possessions.
The girl knew she needed to do something about it, and many times, she tried. She pulled out old clothes, books, toys, and so on, listing them in online sale sites and putting them in garage sales in the summer. Some things sold, but most did not. The clutter continued to pile up.
Then one day, the girl decided she would try to win some books through the Goodreads First to Read program. She entered many book giveaways that day and was pleasantly surprised the next day to discover she had been selected as a winner. Which book did she win, you ask?
Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
The girl had heard of Marie Kondo and her organizing methods, but had never read her book. During the summer, only months earlier, the girl had been working in her local Target store talking to store guests about ThredUp.com, encouraging them to clean out their closets and consider sending their unwanted clothing items to Thred-Up in exchange for a Target gift card. On two separate occasions, the girl was told about Marie Kondo and her KonMarie Method. The girl jotted the name down, and then promptly forgot to ever look it up. Inspired by the company she was promoting, she did clear out some clothing items.
With her book win, it seemed as though fate had stepped in. When the book arrived at the girls home mere days later, she immediately jumped in, devouring the pages. She read right up until bedtime, then spent quite a long time laying in bed, trying to fall asleep while thinking about how she was wasting time on sleep, and instead should be purging her wardrobe of unwanted and unneeded items. Purging herself of possessions that no longer spark joy.
The thus began the girls (ongoing) journey from pack-rat to minimalist……….
This is my story. My life. For reasons I really can’t identify, I have a hard time letting things go. I know they’re just possessions. I know that in most cases they can be replaced. I still can’t bring myself to let things go.
Anyone who has seen the TV show Hoarders can tell you that this is a psychological issue. The struggle is real. While I’m no where near as bad as the cases profiled on Hoarders, my family does have a problem and I’m the only one who can fix it.
In Spark Joy by Marie Kondo (which I will be reviewing soon – promise!) the reader is encouraged to read the original book first (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering an Organizing.) Being the rebel that I am, I jumped right in on Spark Joy because, well, I already had it. From what I gather, the main reason to read the first book first is to help the reader really decide to tidy up. I was already at that point. She states at one point in the book that some people really need to hit rock bottom before they can start really tidying up their homes, and therefore, their lives. Rock bottom is where I am. I’ve been here for a while and tidying has always failed for me.
Before I talk more about the KonMarie Method, check out my mess of a bedroom. I’ve been in my house going on 7 years now. From almost day 1 it’s looked like this. We have simply too much stuff and we don’t know how to store it. Thankfully, with the things I’ve learned, we’re getting there.
Lesson 1: Clothing
The KonMari Method has you start with clothing. Gather up every piece of clothing you own in one place. Then sort through it, hold it in your hands or try it on if you must, and feel it. Does it spark joy? If yes, keep it with confidence! If not, say goodbye.
There’s a lot of talk that can inspire some eye rolling, especially those of us raised in America. Marie Kondo literally wants you to say goodbye and thank the items you’re getting rid of. It sounds hokey, I know, but I promise it can help, at least it did for me. She talks of items that spark joy, which can be hard to imagine at first. I didn’t really know what she was talking about, until it happened.
I had two identical hoodies in different colors. I put the blue one on and thought to myself, This fits. It’s comfortable. I guess it sparks joy? I’ll keep it for now, I can always change my mind later.
THEN I put on the purple hoodie. A small smile spread across my lips as I looked into the mirror and realized this purple hoodie sparked far more joy than it’s blue counterpart. With confidence I put the blue in the ‘get rid of’ pile and moved the purple to the ‘keep’ pile. I may still get rid of the purple one in the future, but for now, I’m choosing to keep it with confidence.
The purple hoodie was my first feeling of joy during this process, but not the last. The ultimate joy I felt during my clean up was when I picked up my Harry Potter graphic tee. As soon as it was spread in front of me a grin broke across my face. There was absolutely no thinking required, this is one of my favorite items and I was keeping it.
Letting go of items we once loved can be hard. But looking at them practically is helpful. I have a pink and white striped shirt with a hood which my sister gave me a couple years ago when it no longer fit her. It was one of my favorite tops to wear. As I went through my clothing I realized it had a small hole in the back. In the past I might have decided to hang onto it for a few more wears, or until the hole got bigger, but no more. The shirt had a good run. I loved it while it was whole, but having a hole in my shirt is not the image I want to project to the world. I didn’t just throw the shirt in the trash (or in my case, recycling, because we can recycle lines in my city), instead I held it in my hands one last time and said a silent goodbye. It was peaceful. (I know, this sounds super lame. But remember when I talked about Hoarders before? It’s a psychological thing. Trust me. No regrets throwing it away.)
What about items we “know” we love? I had two sweaters I received a good 8 or 9 years ago. They’re still in good condition, I took great care of them. They were nice sweaters, perfect for an office job or a holiday party. I loved them, but realized I haven’t worn them for a year or two. As I held them in my hands, I realized the spark of joy I used to feel when seeing and wearing these sweaters was gone. As we grow up, our tastes and feelings change. Just like I no longer love the band Hanson like I did when I was 13, I no longer love these sweaters. I posted pictures of them on Facbeook and asked friends if any were interested in purchasing them for a couple bucks each. A friend of mine from high school will be trying them on soon and probably buying them. It’s good to know they’re going to a good home, and nice to have my closet a little emptier.
LESSON 2: STORING CLOTHING
Once you’ve decided what to keep and what to get rid of—and both Marie Kondo and I encourage selling or donating items that have life left, and trashing those that are stained or with holes—it’s time for storing them. Marie Kondo recommends using built in storage before all else, which makes sense. She also talks about moving dressers into closets, which simply won’t work in my home.
If there’s one thing to take away from the KonMari Method it’s folding. I’ve tried a similar way of folding in the past I think, but I didn’t have the dedication to stick with it. (To be honest, I already had my underwear drawer almost completely organized as she recommends!)
I mean, look at my shirts? I used to keep my graphic tee’s in the closet where it was nearly impossible to find what I was looking for. Now I need only pull open the drawer and glance down to find exactly what I want.
I honestly didn’t even get rid of all that many articles of clothing, but we went from the big dresser with the mirror, the big light wood colored dresser, and the smaller light wood colored dresser to JUST the big mirror dresser! For both of us! We’ve left the smaller of the dressers in the room, but removing the larger dresser has improved the flow of the room by leaps and bounds. It’s amazing how removing one piece of furniture can do all that.
Stay tuned for more updates on my progress! I’m planning on making this an every Tuesday thing.
This is a slow progress, I’m taking things daily, but I’m done with clothes. (For the entire family!) and all drawers are organized (though I may play around with arrangements a little bit more.)
Next week: Books and papers!
BONUS: Here’s a great video that helped me figure out exactly how to fold with the KonMari method! 🙂