Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

One of the most blogged about books (at least in my spheres of being influenced) in 2015 was Marie Kondo's The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

I, of course, don't jump on band wagons, so it took many, many, many blog posts for me to decide to read the book.

It was a good decision.

Here's the thing, I love reading books, but I suck at writing book reviews.

Also, how-to books are right at the top of my least favorite genre category (along with devotionals). I tend to be a bit choosy with how-to books and their contents. I'm neither a throwing out the baby with the bathwater nor  drinking the KoolAid type.

I'm a chew the meat, spit out the bones type.

Here's the meat and bones of this book:

-Meat: Basic premise-tidy once, and never again. And by "tidy" Marie Kondo means to get rid of what is not needed and then put away the rest.

-Meat: She divides all possessions into 5 categories, and then her KonMarie method is the way to go about sorting, winnowing, discarding, replacing, and placing these articles. She advocates starting with the clothes (tops, bottoms, hanging, socks, underwear, bags, accessories, specific events-sports, etc, shoes), then books, papers, knick-knacks, and finally, sentimental things like photos and such. This made a lot of sense to me. Clothes are relatively easy to get rid of. Photos, not so much. Start with the easier category, get in the habit of sorting and discarding, then move on to the harder categories.

-Bones: It's a bit woo-woo. Which probably appeals to some personalities (though not mine). She seems to animate inanimate objects, assigning them the need for our gratitude and rest for a job well done.  Woo-woo....

-Meat: In order to see what you have in every category, place all the items on the floor and touch each one, as you decide whether to keep or discard. I think both the piles of the items and the touching, are integral parts of the process. We all lament that we have nothing to wear, but obviously that is patently not true when we have a 6 foot pile of clothes on our bedroom floor.

-Meat: Realize that discarding something doesn't mean it didn't fulfill it's purpose. It  probably did. Maybe it's purpose was the thrill of the purchase. Maybe it's purpose was being a gift. Maybe it's purpose was to clothe you at a bigger or smaller time of your life. It's okay to let go of these possessions that are no longer serving a purpose.

Favorite Quotes (that got me pondering):

"When your room is clean and uncluttered, you have no choice but to examine your inner state. You can see issues you've been avoiding, and are forced to deal with them. Tidying is a tool, not a final destination."

"Dispose of any papers that do not fit into 1 off 3 categories: currently in use, needed for a limited period of time, must be kept indefinitely."

"By handling each sentimental item and deciding what to discard, you process your past. To put your things in order means to put your past in order too."

"It is not our memories but the person we have become because of those past experiences that we should treasure."

"When we delve into the reasons for why we can't let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear of the future."

"The question of what you want to own is really the question of how you want to live your life."

"When I visit clients homes, I never throw anything away. I leave the final decision up to them. If I choose what to discard for them, then there would be no point in tidying. It is by putting one's own house in order that one's mind-set is changed."

How this is playing out in my own life:

-I have not done all the categories in the order she's listed. I threw away gobs of papers and books the first day. Because I was listening to lectures with my kids, and it just worked out that way.

-Part of the Kon-marie method is to sort categories and not rooms. I get the wisdom of this, but, I didn't follow it to a "t". I did sort all of my clothes at the same time. I found the clothes from my room and from other places around the house, and piled them high. As I placed clothes back where they belong, I put everything in my drawers, in my room, in my closet. Not around the house.

I've tried to do that with all the categories, except books. We have books in most all of the rooms of my house, and I like it that way. But, the dishes are with the dishes, the papers with the papers, and only coats and bags are in the coat closet.

I'm trying to do that with each thing. One place. Not all over the place.

-Some of the stuff she advocates (not stacking clothes in drawers or dumping everything in a pile first, sorting my purse as soon as I get home), I already do. Some things-like the way she folds socks-doesn't seem to work for my heavy wool socks. Her way of folding takes up more room than mine, so I am sticking with mine.

-I found that her book seemed tailored mostly to single professionals, not families with 4 kids. I know junk is junk is junk. And, I try to keep my kids' clothes and broken toys to a minimum, but I feel that it is not really respecting my kids or their possessions, if I go through and throw everything away that I don't like or that I don't have a bond with. It has to be their choice (within reason) for their possessions. If I just go through and get rid of their stuff, they aren't learning responsibility or the life changing magic of tidying.

-Also, I need to take responsibility for my own stuff. If I'm sure someone needs something I am getting rid of, then I can ask if they'd like it. Otherwise-trash, donate, recycle-whatever. I need to make the decision myself to do one of those things, not foist it off on someone so it's their problem to deal with.

-I've made a pact with myself to use the things that I've chosen to keep. My good dishes from our wedding? They are now in the kitchen cupboards as our everyday ware. (they're not china, and are perfect, and beautiful, and I am thrilled with this decision.)

-I'm slowly investing in things that I think add beauty to my home. Floor vases. Gorgeous textiles for tables, windows and beds. Artwork for walls. And, I'm ruthlessly getting rid of things that I "settled" for.

-So far, I've gotten rid of (by garbage or donation) 4 huge boxes of stuff, plus 10-12 kitchen size bags, to say nothing of the stuff that went straight into the garbage without getting in on the head count.

-It's not out with the old to make room for the new, it's simply, out with the old to make room. Room to think. Room to write. Room to relax. Room to make beautiful things. Room to be.

So, that's my takeaway on the Marie Kondo phenomenon. Have you read the book? How is is changing your life?