I am usually accused of this when my Honey can’t find something. “Have you been tidying up again? I can’t find my <insert here whatever he is currently looking for>.” I have always bristled at this because yes, sometimes I do tidy up after tripping over shoes or boxes or piles of paper that haven’t been moved for 6 weeks but many times it is he who has put something away and merely has forgotten the location.
So about 2 months ago when I happened on this book at Barnes and Noble (where I had a 10% off coupon on top of the 20% off sticker on the book) I couldn’t resist.
Yes, “the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing” by Marie Kondo. Little did I know that this book was currently a big hit. I conveniently missed the #1 New York Times Bestseller sticker. Probably because the 20% off sticker had been stuck over it. In the beginning I thought it would just be a humorous read about someone with OCD who parlayed their condition into a profession and yes, it was that but as I continued to read, there were some interesting approaches to getting rid of a lot of your stuff and organizing the rest.
A lot of it had to do with handling everything. For instance start with your clothes. These get divided into sub-categories and the first is your tops. Find ALL of them and put them in a big pile. Then pick up each one individually and decide if it “sparks joy.” That is, do you like it and will you wear it again. For me, it was also, does it still fit. I tried her approach and like she said, the pile was huge and that was just my tops. Now the fear is, when you are done, will you have anything left? Surprisingly I had two grocery bags and one plastic garbage bag full of tops that I no longer wanted, fit into or wondered why I ever purchased AND I still had a lot left to fill up my drawers. Ms Kondo also gets into folding and organizing so you can find things but that is a whole other post. I kept going with my clothes, my pants (all of my pants), my underwear ( all of my underwear) my socks, (yes all of my socks).
I even got my Honey to go through his jeans, the too small, the too torn, the too old.
Now if you think this book is probably a boring read, you would be wrong. My first impression of this author being OCD was right. But put on top of that the sensibilities of being Japanese and you have some pretty amusing passages. Take this one on “Storing Socks”, remembering that her profession is organizing people’s stuff.
“I visited the house of a client in her fifties. As always I started with her clothes….when she pulled open her sock drawer, I could not suppress a gasp. It was full of potato-like lumps that rolled about. She had folded back the tops to form balls and tied her stockings tightly in the middle. I was speechless.”
“Never, ever tie up your stockings. Never, ever, ball up your socks.”
“That’s right. The socks and stockings stored in your drawer are essentially on holiday. They take a brutal beating in their daily work, trapped between your foot and your shoe, enduring pressure and friction to protect your precious feet. The time they spend in your drawer is their only chance to rest. But if they are folded over, balled up, or tied, they are always in a state of tension, their fabric stretched and their elastic pulled. They roll about and bump into each other every time the drawer is opened and closed. Any socks and stockings unfortunate enough to get pushed to the back of the drawer are often forgotten for so long that their elastic stretches beyond recovery. When the owner finally discovers them and puts them on, it will be too late and they will be relegated to the garbage. What treatment could be worse than this?” – Marie Kondo, ‘the life-changing magic of tidying up’
Funny? yes. But when I looked in my sock drawer I found some pretty old, balled up, stretched out socks that Goodwill wouldn’t even want.They weren’t groaning or moaning but they were headed to the rag bag.
Once I got through most of my clothes I moved on to other categories and she tells you how to divest yourself of everything. CDs, DVDs, makeup, appliances, kitchen goods, spare buttons, warranties, unidentified cords, small change, greeting cards…nothing is overlooked. I decided I could never be as fanatical as the author but I did move on to magazines, CDs, and some books. She gets pretty ruthless with books but the librarian, booklover, book-maker in me couldn’t part with too many. Only one out of eight did not “spark joy” so many stayed on my shelves.
One important thing she tells you is once you have made your choices on what is going, make it go away. Don’t store it in the basement “in case you change your mind”, you won’t and it just is taking up a different space. So my old magazines went in the recycle bin, the clothes went to the thrift store, the books got donated to the library booksale. Gone. Out of sight,out of mind.
Curt seems to have caught the tidying bug too because he has been going through his studio/workshop and has declared we will have a rummage sale this summer. So I started tackling my studio too. I think we will call our sale “Artists/Packrats Tidy Up”. So far, this is just two days of sorting. Onward!!