The Magic of Tidying Up

Once when Hayden was a toddler, I purged many of his stuffed animals, toys, baby clothes. I displayed his favorite things – a few matchbox cars, Winnie the Pooh, books about Mr. Sillypants. When he came into his room, he didn’t say, “Where’s my stuff?” he said, “Mom, where did you find all my things?’

That’s what happens when you get rid of your things, you find your things.

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I hated these bookshelves in our entry way because besides being a place for books, they were a place to stash shoes and bike helmets. (Dont’ judge, people. We live in an apartment in the city – we don’t have a garage, attic, basement. We have narrow closets.)

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I have been following the wisdom of the Marie Kondo bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. It is not a simple process. You have to gather all like things in one place. Here are the steps:

  1. clothes
  2. books
  3. papers
  4. komono (miscellaneous)image

First, discard. Then, organize.

While the girls are at camp in Vermont and Chris is fishing in Canada, I have been purging like mad. I emptied two bookshelves. Then emptied six more.

I took time out to get a pedicure. Yay.

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The least fun part was our handyman yelling at me and Hayden for using the wrong elevator to drag our book case into the garbage. Sorry. 😉

The most fun? Arranging the book cases. In one, I created a shelf for mine and my friends’ published work. There’s a lot of room for more books, friends. Here’s another book case.image

I reorganized the entryway. “Keep only those things that spark joy in your heart.” My father’s painting, my mother’s figurine, wall art from Hayden’s trip to Botswana, a mug/bowl made by our beloved babysitter Josie. (I can see in this picture that the bookcase and the door needs a paint job.) image

This is where the tipsy bookshelves were. The space is now becoming a homework or dining nook.imageThe basic tenet of the book is to get rid of everything that does not spark joy when you hold it in your hands. That’s tough. Because, like my clothes, not many of my books make me feel Oh Joy! Oh Rapture!

I don’t know if it’s because I don’t feel I deserve joy. Or being a good Christian, I have set aside material objects and taken joy from spiritual experiences. I enjoy relationships and adventures not things.

I have not wanted to make the decision of what to keep for the rest of the family. I piled many of the girls’ and Chris’s books to let them make the call. Our books were all junked together. As the children get older, I believe everyone should have their own bookshelf. (And the girls share a closet and during this process, I have thought they should have their own spaces.)

Maybe these shifting family space dynamics are spurred by Hayden leaving for college in three (yes, three!) weeks.

What did I learn?

It was hard to give away books that were given to me. Books that I still haven’t read.

I let go of half-read books or books that I hung on to for someday. Like, let’s say there was going to be Armageddon, I would be ready with my books.

Many of my books were accumulated for book club or before my Kindle.

Books get dusty. Blech. I had a headache doing this yesterday. So Hayden and I took a break and went to see Mission Impossible. Fun.

I have a ton of blank journals and half-written journals. I have baby journals, bird logs, yoga journals, books of lists, gratitude journals. The Marie Kondo method suggests keeping those and going through them during the komono or keepsake portion of the purge cycle. I can wait.

Still. I could not help but read some of my children’s writing as I purged.

Here’s one:

“The hospital is not as fun as you think it is. You get lots of shots, you have to stay in bed all day and night and you cannot walk around because you have wires attached to you.”

I think Hayden wrote this after one of his three heart surgeries/procedures. I think that one was from the one when he was 10.

This is why going through stuff is difficult. And gratitude-inspiring. And time-consuming.

I look at my stuff and think, Wow. How far we have come.

Or I don’t think at all, I simply feel. Does it spark joy? Yes, keep. No, toss.

There is beauty in minimalism. There is joy in simplicity.

Also read:

My post about decluttering clothes the KonMari way.

The Daily Post asks: What obstacles hold you back from getting it done this week?

 

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6 thoughts on “The Magic of Tidying Up

  1. Thank you for your brilliant introspection on this subject- I’ve been thinking about undertaking the purging using this method for sometime but keep experiencing stalls. At first I blamed the stalls on legitimate excuses, mostly, “too busy to start this big project!”. But reading your comment about not deserving joy really hit home. You write so beautifully, it’s a joy to read. Thank you

    1. Thanks, Jill. I think it gets easier – the more you do it. You can do it your own way too. I think the main thing is to be prepared to get rid of A LOT. Hayden going off to college – yes, COLLEGE – has inspired me to get my act together too. BTW, YOUR baby is beautiful!!! Just love the hell out of him.

  2. MaryBeth, I read Marie Kondo’s book and partially ‘purged’ my belongings too. It does feel good (sometimes) and it is a process and I have not gotten to the sentimental portion yet. As you say, it can wait. Life has so many ups and downs and sideways forays that what was materially important continually shifts. As far as new books go, do grab mine – The Moon To Play With, A Daughter’s Journey…and let me know your thoughts. I hope it holds its place on your bookshelf for a long time.

  3. This was inspiring, Mary Beth. Our bookcases could use another purge, but even more so all the work-related papers, folders, clippings, etc. in my home office. On another note, I know exactly what you’re going through as Hayden heads off to college. Enjoy these last days together.

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