I’m not a tidy person. I have no idea what is at the bottom of the pile on my desk. Is it a receipt for something I bought three years ago? Could be. My natural inclination is to make mounds of things and only excavate if absolutely needed.
I’d heard of the best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, but the whole of idea of it didn’t resonate with me.
The key concept is that you keep only items that bring you joy and that you treat your objects lovingly as if they have feelings. I’m sorry, Marie. My socks don’t have feelings. This was not the method for me.
When my friend Lisa of Tidy Upgrade, the only St. Louis-based certified consultant in Marie Kondo’s method, offered to work with me in trade, I decided to give it a try. I had nothing to lose.
Lisa informed me that the method always starts with clothing and you have to go in a particular order. I rolled my eyes. How could the order possibly matter? But, OK, tidying anything was better than tidying nothing.
My dad sells secondhand clothing (among other things) and as such, I’ve always had easy access to lots of nice clothing. My closet was so stuffed that I could barely see what I had. I often didn’t put clothing away simply because it was too hard to find a free hanger. In addition to my own closet, I had clothing in Jonathan’s closet and the guest bedroom closet. I had no idea how Lisa was going to tackle this.
Lisa showed up and, after thanking our house for letting her do her work (umm… OK), she took every single piece of clothing I owned and made a giant pile of it on my bed which spilled onto the floor.
Then, we started working. I had to hold up each piece and answer one question, “Does this spark joy?”
Sorting was easier than I had expected it be. When I held my cozy grey T-shirt, I immediately felt happy. When I held my cardigan which I had once loved and now makes me feel like Mr. Rogers when I wear it, I did not feel happy. Sometimes, I was temped to hang onto something – like the pair of pants that I hadn’t worn in three years, but I might someday. Lisa would politely point out that I didn’t look joyful while holding them and gently nudge me to let go. When a garment didn’t spark joy, I was told to verbally thank it and add it to the donate pile. I had laughed at the notion of talking to my clothing, but thanking the clothing for the times we shared actually helped me to get rid of them. They did their job and now they can move on and make someone else happy.
There were a few pearls of wisdom that really helped me through the process:
- If something was a gift, it did its job by being gifted. You can thank it for helping to make the gift giver happy and then get rid of it.
- Keeping a garment is not about whether you will wear it, it’s about if it brings you joy. I have a ton of skirts that I love, but I don’t wear skirts all that often. Lisa told me that if I love them, I should keep them because it will make me happy looking at them.
- It’s not important to stop and try things on. In the past, I convinced myself to keep things because I tried them on and they looked OK. In truth, I didn’t love them and no matter how good they looked, I wasn’t going to wear them. Now that the fit didn’t matter, I just thought about whether I even liked the garment and moved on from there.
When all was said and done, I got rid of eight garbage bags of clothing.
Then, Lisa told me how to put my clothing away.
There are tons of videos online on the KonMari method that teach how to fold clothing. The basic idea is that nothing is ever on top of anything else so you can see everything. I can now see every single tank top I own so easily.
And, I can quickly see if my red T-shirt is clean.
I’m now bothered by that one sort-of-crooked sock in the drawer. Who am I becoming?
Here’s my clean closet. It brings me joy – so much joy. Myles has been hiding in there recently. Who wouldn’t want to be in such a neat, happy space?!
It seems that when you tidy with joy in mind, you end up with a joyful space. I can’t stress enough how well this crazy-sounding method actually works.
So, now I’ve KonMari’d Jonathan’s closet and started on Myles’s and can’t wait to get Lisa back to help with other parts of my house!
If my whole house could be like my closet, I would feel superhuman. Actually, I would feel like my grandma, who doesn’t have a single piece of clutter in her house.
Some people just have tidying skills, but for others there’s Lisa and other KonMari consultants.
Thanks, Lisa! I couldn’t have done it without you!!