Is your life feeling messy? Part 1
Everyone's discovering the secret of tidying up with Tidy Expert & Author, Marie Kondo.
So I jumped on the Tidy Train, too.
This is the first post in a series. Click here to read My Tidy Experiment Part 2.
As a life coach, I’m spending a lot of time observing and learning about both the conscious and subconscious effects of our environment. Thanks to my own unique situation, I’ve been personally obsessed with this particular notion for the past several months. Although our environment is made up of nine different parts, our physical surroundings are probably the first thing we think about when we hear the word “environment”. There are many ways to assess our surroundings, and since everyone including my clients have been talking about the latest craze of tidying up, I thought it’d be fun to experiment with it.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve no doubt heard about Marie Kondo and her “Japanese art of decluttering and organizing” (also called the KonMarie Method). Enthusiastically jumping on the bandwagon, I picked up a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It was an easy read and by the time I finished, it was as if I were looking at everything The Boyfriend and I own with a new set of eyes. I sat in our small but perfectly located apartment next to the ocean and began assessing everything in it and silently asking myself, “does this spark joy?” In her book, Ms. Kondo shares that her clients experience “dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspectives” after they tidy up. I wondered what big life transformations might be in store for us.
The Boyfriend has been in this apartment for just over two years. I just moved in last August. We only planned to be here temporarily before moving to a slightly bigger place, but thanks to life getting lifey, our plans have been indefinitely put on pause. In the meantime, the majority of our belongs have been in forty-one clear plastic bins with lids that we scored at Target and Big Lots. Those forty-one bins have been stacked along the length of our apartment from August until December.
I have an inherent need to decorate my home and living in storage-like conditions was driving me batty. I believed this book could help, but at what cost?
After I finished reading Ms. Kondo’s book, I sat on our bed and stared at the wall of bins. The Boyfriend saw my wheels turning and began asking questions like, “what’s going on?” and “what are you thinking?” and “what are you planning?” I began to explain the book to him, but let’s just say he spotted the can of worms I was swinging around. He reminded me that we’re going to move one of these days and we shouldn’t waste time unpacking. After a lively discussion, we agreed that maybe I could KonMarie my closet for now. It was a compromise we could both live with. Thank goodness because Ms. Kondo suggests we start with our clothes!
The Boyfriend continued working at his desk, looking over with extreme curiosity which quickly turned to mild horror, as I removed all my clothes from my closet, clothing rack, and laundry hamper and piled them high onto our bed.
I, on the other hand, was impressed. I didn’t have nearly as many clothes as I had thought. Yes! I was already slaying this Marie Kondo thing. I began picking up my clothing one article at a time and asking if it brought me joy. Surprisingly, most things didn’t -- even some of the t-shirts I regularly wear while I work from home.
Asking my clothes if they brought joy actually made my decision making easier. Normally, I’d ask each piece about ten questions beginning with, “you’re cute, why don’t I wear you more?” and ending with “you’ll look so much better if I buy some new pants to go with you”. Then I’d keep nearly everything for it’s potential - just like I used to do with ex-boyfriends and husbands.
I thought I was making pretty good progress until I realized nearly the whole day had gone by and I still wasn’t done. Having a meaningful conversation with each piece of clothing -- either thanking some clothing for bringing me joy and thanking others for their faithful years of service -- both satisfied my minimum word quota for the day and took up some serious time.
Then there was the whole process of learning to fold shirts and pants into neat and tidy shapes so they stand on end. Until now, I’ve always considered myself to be a pretty good folder. As I refolded each of my shirts about five times trying to nail this new method, I couldn’t help but think about cruise ship employees who fold the guest towels into adorable origami animals. This process takes patience, time, and a true desire to make something joyful out of a simple piece of cotton. I realize now just how much of an underrated art form it is. If I had a choice of being a carelessly folded towel in the back of a dark dingy linen closet or a beautiful swan sitting on a king-sized bed waiting to be greeted with an audible gasp of delight, I’d surely opt for the latter. I’ve committed to becoming a master folder.
Hours later, I had six garbage bags of clothes lined up at the front door and my closet looked fantastic. My hanging clothes had some breathing room, my folded clothes weren’t stacked and squished, and my socks were no longer balled up with the elastic ankle waist holding each pair together. I had even found dresses and pants I’d forgotten about. Even better, I had found a place for each item and we’d be able to sleep in our bed that night.
I found myself sitting on our bed again. This time I was staring into my closet with a smile of satisfaction on my face. I KonMarie’d my closet! Surprisingly, I had no guilt about any of the clothes I was parting ways with. Thanks to our "it’s not you, it’s me" goodbye convos, I had closure. The best part was realizing my big concerns had been averted. I had more space and an aesthetically pleasing closet, and it cost me nothing but time.
The Boyfriend finally left the safety of his desk and joined me in admiring the finished product. Then he said, “Maybe we’ll Marie Kondo my closet next weekend.”
Well, what do you know, changes in lifestyle and perspective are happening already.
Click here to read My Tidy Experiment Part 2.