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.
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.
The process is a little more challenging 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.
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?
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.
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.
It was a rough day, but I feel so much better for it. All my papers now easily fit in this small file cabinet.
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.
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.
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?