I’m a Konmari Konvert

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Lately I’ve been telling hubs that I feel like the walls are starting to close in around me. That if I happen to be in one of our sheds in the backyard when a big earthquake hits, that I will be killed under the avalanche of stuff haphazardly stacked and stuffed in them. That I desperately want to get rid of some of our stuff.

Always looking out for evidence of synchronicity in my life (thanks to “The Artist’s Way”), I kept seeing references to Marie Kondo, the Konmari Method, and the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” I felt like the universe was trying to tell me something, so I listened.

"The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up"
“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”

Holy crap, you guys, I’m a Konvert.

I really didn’t think that I had much stuff. I thought most of our stuff belonged to my husband. He has a poor visual memory so likes to hang on to stuff for the memories they elicit. In the last few years we’ve also inherited parts of collections once belonging to his now deceased parents.

It’s a lot of stuff to deal with.

But it wasn’t until I started to take a look at all my own personal stuff that I realized that I, too, have amassed quite a lot of stuff I don’t really need. And it was time to go through it and let some of it go.

I’ve been talking about creating space in my life for the things I really want. And this seemed like a concrete way to put that idea into motion. I could create physical space that would, in turn, create mental space that would then invite in some of those things I’ve been longing for. Less things to care for and think about means more time for writing and other creative pursuits.

I purchased the book on Amazon for a mere $10 and change, and on the day it came I read the entire thing in one sitting. All 200 pages. I have a tendency to go whole ass on things once my mind has clamped on to them.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Konmari Method, basically it boils down to this: go through all of your possessions quickly and intensely by category, taking in your hands each and every object. Decide what to keep based entirely on what sparks joy. Discard everything else.

Wow. Simple, but effective.

She recommends starting with clothes, since we have the least emotional attachment to them. I did all my clothes in one day, and easily discarded at least half of my wardrobe. Kondo then recommends taking everything that you are keeping and storing them vertically in your drawers, like this.

My newly-organized shirt drawer
My newly-organized shirt drawer

The process is a little more challenging with cats.

Konmari can be a little hard with cats.
Konmari can be a little hard with cats.

At first I didn’t think I’d like folding my clothes this way, but now I LOVE IT. I take more care with every item, and I can see everything at the same time. I love fun socks and have quite a collection, and now this sock drawer practically shouts joy at me every time I open it.

HAPPY SOCKS!!
HAPPY SOCKS!!

Some categories are harder than others.

Books were easy. I’ve moved around a lot and books are heavy and take up a lot of space. I was able to cull my collection so that it all fits easily in one bookcase. I’m discarding this entire tub. I mean, how many Spanish dictionaries does one need?

Goodbye heavy and never-read books!
Goodbye heavy and never-read books!

Papers were hard. Really, really hard and tedious. Kondo recommends discarding all papers. Obviously, there are things you need to keep, like insurance papers. But everything else should go. I spent 12 solid hours on my living room floor going through every piece of paper I owned. It doesn’t look like much, but it is once you take out every. Single. Piece.

So. Many. Papers. And a cat. I kept her. She sparks alot of joy.
So. Many. Papers. And a cat. I kept her. She sparks alot of joy.

By the end of the day, I had filled an entire blue recycle bin with shredded bank statements, credit card statements, and pretty much everything that was not essential to my daily life or that you have to keep for tax purposes.

Goodbye bad ju-ju papers!
Goodbye bad ju-ju papers!

It was a rough day, but I feel so much better for it. All my papers now easily fit in this small file cabinet.

My magnets spark joy. :-)
My magnets spark joy. :-)

Photos and keepsakes are also hard because they are emotionally charged and tedious. My old letters have been stored at my parents’ house until two years ago when I drove from Los Angeles to Indiana for Christmas and could thus transport them back in my car. My mom had actually organized all my old letters by sender and tied them each up into tidy little bundles – cards and letters from family through the years, old letters from my childhood penpal, all the letters my ex-husband sent me when I studied abroad in college. That is not easy stuff to go through, but I did and I lessened the weight of it considerably. Be prepared to feel all the feels when you do this.

This was an especially tedious and challenging evening. Do I know how to spend my Saturday nights or what?!
This was an especially tedious and challenging evening. Do I know how to spend my Saturday nights or what?!

Other keepsakes were hard, too, because my mom had so lovingly organized them into scrapbooks – things like old report cards or awards from elementary school, old playbills and drawings and who knows what else. I couldn’t really cull the collection without completely dismantling each book, so most of those stayed intact for the time being.

In the end, I ended up discarding about half of my possessions, easily enough to set up an entire new household. It’s a stunning visual to see it all piled up on my back patio.

Holy crap, look at all of it!!
Holy crap, look at all of it!!

I’m going to have a garage sale once the weather cools, because it seems a shame not to after doing all this work. I’ve even seemed to inspire hubs, who willingly went through all our kitchen gadgets with me and is parting with several (like that food dehydrator right there), and is planning to go through other things of his before our big sale.

I’m excited about the space this has created in my life, both physically and mentally, and how chaos has been tamed. I’m spending the month of September with a clearer mind so that I can complete the second rewrite of novel #1. I’m ready to start the outline for novel #2, which I want to begin writing in November, so there’s much work to be done.

Have you tried the Konmari Method? What do you think about it?

 

Creative Hurdles

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What is it about August? The heat index here in Southern California rises to absurd – nay, offensive – levels and all I want to do – all I CAN do – is hole up inside. On the east coast this happens to me in February, when it’s just too damn cold and nasty outside. But on the west coast, August is the winter of my discontent.

It’s a time of creative darkness. Ennui sets in. I see things I’d like to do but can’t do because the time isn’t right. No planting, no pruning, no enjoying my back patio. Being inside feels like torture and I can’t focus long enough to get anything meaningful accomplished (hello, novel revisions, I see you there waiting for me).

Last year I had the brilliant idea to pick up “The Artist’s Way” in August. It was easily the best decision I made all year. Those dark hours of August suddenly lightened. I had a renewed sense of purpose, a sense of hope, and a sudden and welcome investment in the now.

I’m definitely feeling those August blahs right now. I have many creative projects on several burners here, but they are all just simmering at the moment. I obsessively think about them, but have yet to take action to bring them to fruition. The task seems monumental, and finding the baby steps to reach those lofty goals out of my reach.

What’s a girl to do?

I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. Julia Cameron, bless her creative little heart, made not one but TWO sequels to “The Artist’s Way.” (Seriously, BLESS HER HEART). I’ve picked up the second in the series, called “Walking in This World” and am enthusiastically jumping into Week One of another 12-week creative odyssey.

walking in this world

I’m a little nervous. I have extremely high expectations. My rational brain is telling me I couldn’t possibly experience the euphoria I felt at this time last year, discovering all those creative treasures that were buried inside me.

But fuck it, I’m giving it a try. I’ve reached a plateau, and I’m ready to take it to the next level. It can be challenging as a solitary creative person, to find the structure and the motivation to keep going, to reach higher levels. I am exceptionally grateful for books such as these that help me break down my process, overcome my barriers, ignite my passion and help me find my way forward.

So I’ll be Walking in This World over the next few months. I hope you’ll come with me. I’m sure I’ll be sharing insights and setbacks, triumphs and failures with you in the coming weeks.

How do you overcome creative hurdles in your life?

 

 

What Is It About Sunsets?

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Well, I’m finally back home and settling in for a long stay after a spring and summer marked by frequent (excessive?) travel. The last hurrah of the travel season was a few days camping in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. Wow. If you’ve never been, I’d highly recommend a visit.

There are several car-camping sites to choose from in each park, and we (my husband, brother and I) decided to try our luck in Sunset Campground, on the Kings Canyon/Sequoia border. It’s first-come, first-served (most in the park are), and we timed our arrival perfectly to score a site on the western edge – the ideal place to view the sunset.

We were not disappointed.

What is it about sunsets that seize your heart? No matter how many of them you bear witness to, each one is magical. And like an orgasm, each one is beautiful in its own way.

Some explode with color and light, a symphony bursts forth and blazes out in a matter of moments.

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Others build slowly, teasing you with their potential, but then quietly come and go, trying not to bother you too much with their presence. They are wonderful, nonetheless, in their unpretentious and subdued beauty.

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Not everything has to be a party.

It’s important to have variety. Each one can’t be a blowout or we would become desensitized. You can have too much of a good thing. It’s meant to be a treat, a dessert at the end of the day. But too much can make you fat. So you have a little mint tea instead, most nights.

But one evening the colors erupt into a cake-and-ice-cream dream. The spectacle rips open your heart and mind and you can’t help but be still while its radiance envelopes you, penetrates you, stirs you.

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Is that what it is about sunsets?

Or is it all the pretty colors? All day the sky is blue or gray or white, but for a few impossible minutes it turns orange, magenta, deep purple, golden yellow, heart-pumping red and a million colors in between before it all fades to black as quickly as it came. A feast for the eyes that nourishes the soul.

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What is it about sunsets?