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?

 

Konmari Adventures

“My criterion for deciding to keep an item is that we should feel a thrill of joy when we touch it.” – Marie Kondo The life-changing magic of tidying up.

To be honest, only one or two items of my clothing sent a shiver of joy up my spine. Most of them sparked a memory, a regret, a story. (Poor Barbara had to to me listen to me travel down memory lane when she came over to help me declutter on Friday afternoon. Thanks, BW!) I like my stuff. I just don’t love it.

So the process is this: hold an item of clothing in your hands, ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” Yes? keep it. No? toss it.

So I gave or threw away about five or six garbage bags full of clothes. I have about one-quarter of the clothes I started with. image

This is before.

And this is after

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It took me two afternoons. I have several empty drawers now. (I have two dressers and I think I am going to get rid of one of them.) I am trying to love what I have.

This is such an awesome concept — Keep what you love. I love these housekeeping movements. I was a big fan of Flylady. Because of her, I keep my sink clean and shiny (her first rule).

I do believe our culture is too materialistic. We have too much. And we think accumulating more will solve our problems. But our stuff needs tending. We have stuff and we have to think about it. Our stuff swamps us — does not free us.

I learned about Marie Kondo’s book and movement from a NYTimes article and from a friend in a writing group. Konmarie-ing is becoming national obsession. So is minimalism. I wish I were a minimalist. I have noticed when traveling — like when we were in California at Christmas-time — the less I have, the less I worry about. And the more time I have to read a book, walk in the park or ride my bike. It is, after all, experiences that delight us, not things.

Less stuff means less housekeeping and more time for Facebook. There is a popular Konmarie FB page – and a Flylady friend and I started a Declutter FB group to post our goals.

Incidentally, my blogging has been sporadic in 2015. I have felt ambivalent about writing without pay, getting too personal, and besides, I have had so much work — teaching, editing, writing. But this summer, I am aiming to post every Sunday morning. I am rebooting my business and my home life. I am trying to keep what I love and discard the rest. I love blogging. It sparks joy.