Tidying is not for the lazy and distracted among us.
I don’t really mean the title of this post, but hear me out.
One minute I’m minding my own business but feeling somewhat uneasy about all the stuff slowly accumulating like the byproducts of amorous rabbits in my house, and the next minute, Marie Kondo is everywhere reminding me of the commitment I made to myself just a few short years ago.
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. ~Buddhist saying
Indeed, a very apt quote for me at this time in my life.
Three years ago, my husband and I decided to completely remodel our home. It was time. We had lived in the house for over 17 years and hadn’t done much to it while the kids were young.
Over the 17 years, though, we added two children to our family of three, and created a bedroom and a loft where there previously wasn’t one — more rooms for more stuff to reside. We also added two dogs and a cat, who also need their own stuff.
Part of the remodel process was to pack up everything we owned and move it off the property. What a joyless chore. We had so much stuff, and not the good kind of stuff — the stuff you accumulate from not dealing with it in the first place.
We were like hoarders except not as obvious. We had 4000 pens, pencils, crayons, markers, glue sticks, and it seemed like 4000 of everything else, too. We had bedding from the kids’ toddlerhood and shoes with so much dust on them I had to stop what I was doing in order to clean them just so I could donate them without shame.
Dealing with every item one at a time was a slow and painful process; I vowed to never allow another thing into the house that didn’t bring me joy after the house was completed and we could move back in.
But…throw in some ADD, sadness (and the subsequent retail therapy), the will of the other residents (buying more and more shit), more sadness (the kind where one is immobilized from doing anything), and you have the recipe for Shit Storm 2019.
In December, I began to feel as if every time I looked somewhere, or opened a drawer, there was more shit — shit I didn’t even want or need. My eyes never got to simply relax and enjoy the view.
Throw in the daily stuff many people have to deal with: jobs, dog walking, exercising, grocery shopping, making dinner, washing/drying/folding/putting away clothes, and the idea of starting the task of sorting through all the crap in the garage seems overwhelming.
I never got started with getting rid of the stuff because I felt it was an uphill battle. I honestly didn’t know what to do or where to start, so I didn’t.
Even though I have my system of donating regularly, there are other drawers, cupboards, and closets that have not seen a human’s eyeballs in months.
It is those cupboards and drawers that call my name every time I walk past them, but thus far, I’ve ignored their calls and sent them straight to voicemail.
Marie Kondo to the Rescue
I already used Ms. Kondo’s words in the recent past about only owning things that bring you joy so I was ahead of the curve philosophically BUT I lacked the skills she teaches in her NetFlix series, Tidying Up.
For example, I never would have emptied my walk-in closet of all my belongings. Too much work, right? But it’s an important step. I must see in the subsequent mound on the middle of my bed that I truly have more than enough clothes, scarves, handbags, and shoes. Never will I fear being naked after viewing that pile.
I also never would have thanked my house for sheltering all my stuff, nor ask the house for its cooperation. And, honestly, I would not have taken the time to thank my cast-offs for their service.
Marie Kondo also demonstrates how to fold everything from t-shirts to jeans, and the worst of them all: fitted sheets. OY! Fitted sheets are the bane of my existance!
I haven’t yet finished the NetFlix series (only in the process of watching the third family from LA), but I have become inspired to follow-through on my plan to remove all the stuff that is holding me back.
I made the decision last night, and this morning, this quote was waiting for me from Tim Ferriss’ 5 Bullet Friday newsletter:
“In order to change skins, evolve into new cycles, I feel one has to learn to discard. If one changes internally, one should not continue to live with the same objects. They reflect one’s mind and psyche of yesterday. I throw away what has no dynamic, living use. — Anais Nin”
The Universe has spoken and I must listen.
Goals for February & Beyond
My Kondo goals for February are to go through every upstairs drawer, basket, cabinet, cupboard, closet, shelf, floor pile, and save only the things that bring me joy. Everything else will be thanked and donated to a worthy charity.
My Kondo goals for March are to do the same for the downstairs.
My Kondo goals for April are to go into the garage (gasp), pull everything off the shelves, place it all in the center, and begin the task of tidying it up, too.
For my final Kondo goal, I will figure out what to do with my possessions in the rented storage unit with the plan of canceling our rental of the unit. I already know this will be the most difficult because it has the boxes with all the memories from three children. Sigh.
I began tidying today with one drawer in my office. I realize that’s downstairs and I’m supposed to start with upstairs but I needed to start somewhere simple for the feeling of accomplishment. That tiny accomplishment has led to this post which is an accomplishment in and of itself!
I will update you on my progress — I promise to be brutally honest. I was going to share before and after photos of my drawer but I had scraps of paper floating around that had sensitive information that I neglected to remove from the before photo. Of course, not seeing the photos is not quite as dramatic but trust me, this particular desk drawer was a mess and included a torn up check, account numbers and passwords, paper I never use, and rusty staples that wouldn’t even work in a stapler.
And, finally, it’s progress, not perfection, right? I’ve accepted the fact that I won’t always be able to answer whether something brings me joy or not — I may have to decide on the fly to keep whatever it is until the next round of tidying.
What I want from this exercise is to simply feel more at ease, and I can accomplish that simply by starting the task of tidying.
Even though I cursed Marie Kondo in the title of this post because she had the audacity to remind me of my promise, I know in the end I will thank her for reminding me of that promise.