Marie Kondo, a cute little Japanese gal, wrote her first book about “tidying up” in 2012. She has since written three more books and sold millions of them. Because, apparently, people all over the world have trouble putting things away.
Kondo is worth 8 million dollars. I’ve always loved to sort and organize and toss, but I never thought writing about it or teaching it could be worth $8 million. I sooo missed that boat. Kondo is one lucky, brilliant woman.
Americans seem to be the worst at organizing their lives. We have bigger homes and more stuff than any other county. Shows like “Hoarders” exhibit how deeply we’re buried in our possessions. Oh my gosh, the paraphernalia we accumulate.
Kondo came along at the right time, when Americans were beginning to trip over their stuff.
It hit us that “stuff” takes maintenance, and care, and dusting. “Minimalism” became the new trend – trade, sell, donate, or simply pitch the things that clutter up our lives. As Kondo teaches, “Keep only things that spark joy in you.”
Hmmm. I always came at it from “this is the junk that aggravates me, or takes up too much space, or I never use, or I’ve outgrown (physically and emotionally.)” I’m always amazed at how much of that stuff I have. And I can go through the house every month and eliminate even more. “Stuff” seems to multiply when I’m not looking.
I have not read Kondo’s books, because tidying up to me just seems so…common sense, or easy (even though it does take time.) However, I have several friends who assure me it is neither. And, I’ve helped them “clean out” their kitchens, garages, whatever. (They are always astonished at how quickly I see what needs to be done.) So, when Netflix gave Kondo her own show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (where Kondo goes into real homes and helps families tidy up their lives), I didn’t think it would interest me.
But, then I watched it with my daughter, and we ended up watching Season 1 (eight episodes) in two sittings.
Kondo is charming and gracious. She makes not one grimace or frown at the chaos she walks into. With a giggle, she declares, “I love mess!” because she knows her “konmari” method will help families wade through the mess and find more peace in their lives. And it does.
The foundation of the konmari method is gratitude.
1. Foremost, be grateful for your home and your family. (Kondo does a sweet and reverent blessing of each house she visits.)
2. And then…as you examine every item on your bookshelves, in your closet, kitchen, and garage…you thank the thing for serving you.
Then, you let it go, to the donation or trash pile.
Unless, it sparks joy; then you keep it.
It’s a very simple, though at first, time-consuming process (but you only do it once.) From your heart and mind, you weigh what is important to you (for whatever reason) and what is not. Clients end up releasing at least 50% of their stuff – happily.
Kondo gives clients a week to sort through all their clothes, another week to evaluate just books. Then kitchen items, then all that junk in the garage. She connects with and guides clients though this journey for about a month. It’s liberating to watch. And it always inspires me to hop up and clean out a closet.
My favorite aspect of the konmari method is the folding of clothes.
Instead of stacking t-shirts vertically, all items are reduced to a rectangle that is then folded into thirds. This creates a little packet that will stand on its own. This method enables me to see the pattern or design of each shirt; I can choose the shirt I want without shuffling through layers of flat items. The best part of this method is that you gain so much extra space in each drawer.
My husband used to have two drawers of t-shirts. With the konmari method, they all fit in one, giving him an extra drawer for sweatshirts, which used to be piled up on a closet shelf. He can now see immediately what he wants to wear.
The final category Kondo tackles is “sentimental items.” She does this last because people tend to get stalled here – memories, regrets, longings….all kinds of emotions can arise while assessing what to discard or keep.
This is where I was stuck with my wedding dress.
I’d held onto it for nearly 45 years, and it had not weathered well over time, even cleaned and packed away. I had moved it eight times, from closet to closet to closet, to simply hang in a new place with no attention. It doesn’t fit anymore, and I have many pictures of it…so, why was I keeping it?
For one thing, I found it at the local mall and paid for it myself. (Fancy, overpriced bridal stores never appealed to me.) Second, the feature that sold me was the long ruffle starting at the knee. I loved the weighty feel and the gauzy swish.
I thought about it for a week and did some Pinterest research. With a fresh perspective about looking for that “spark of joy”, I concluded that I could preserve the ruffle and discard the rest of the dress.
I had a favorite scripture I had wanted to do something with for a while, and I’d been longing for something to hang on the wall behind our bed for a few years.
Everything came together with this…
I cut the ruffle from the dress, leaving enough fabric above it to sew a casing. I slid the ruffle onto a dowel that hung by two eye hooks screwed into a lightweight box covered in canvas I found at the thrift store.
The canvas had art work I simply painted over; my daughter helped me paint the words of scripture using a projector and a chosen font.
TA-DA! A joy-sparker for sure. I love, love, love it.
I don’t miss anything about the upper part of the gown, and I’m now reminded of the fresh start God gives me daily. Every morning and every night. When I go to bed, when I get out of bed. A perfect place for a wedding ruffle to dangle.
Even if you’re an organized person, you might find some ideas or delight in watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. She’s an effervescent little thing who gently helps clients re-center their attention on what their hearts really want from life. What all of us want – less matter and more soul.
After all, everything we own will eventually turn to dust.
Even my wedding dress ruffle.
But, as long as items brings us delight, they have a purpose. Everything else is a distraction, cluttering up our lives, squandering time and clogging space that could be put to better use.
Start with one dresser drawer. Or, one shelf on a bookcase.