Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Marie and Me

I'm late to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up party, but a friend loaned me her copy (see, I'm already not further cluttering my home with extra books!) and I finally read it. After I got over my initial skepticism and eye-rolling, I began to understand and appreciate Marie Kondo's basic premise - take everything out and choose what to put back.

"If I had been a little smarter, I would have realized before I became so neurotic that focusing solely on throwing things away can only bring unhappiness. Why? Because we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of."

There may be some craziness in her book, but I think there are also some real truths, such as “the question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”

I've spent years organizing all the stuff and crap I've accumulated, with limited discarding along the way. My mindset towards tidying has always been, "Oh, no, now I'm faced with the difficult and emotional task of getting rid of things." I've approached my kitchen, clothing, and books with this new "choose what to keep" mindset for creating order, and have been relatively successful. Kondo advocates tidying by category (clothes, books, papers, etc.) rather than by room, but I made the executive decision that looking for joy room by room would work better for me, and keep family members from wondering why all of our books from multiple bookcases throughout the house were piled up in a single looming mountain.

There is still the hurdle of getting rid of the things that I've chosen not to keep, but I have donated many, many boxes to Salvation Army and our library's book sale over the past few months. I have sold jewelry. Recycling takes care of all the old recipes I've clipped and saved but will never make, and I threw away an embarrassingly large number of trash bags full of stale spices and expired food items. Much has been made of her idea of asking yourself about each item as you hold it, "does this spark joy?", but she also cites functional, informational, and emotional value as reasons why we keep things. Kondo goes on to say that most of the time we’re lying to ourselves about that value, so I really had to be completely honest with myself when deciding what to keep. I still have to do the tough stuff - photos, mementoes, and yarn, but that will come in time.

Marie Kondo is an interesting person, and I find it even more interesting that there are so many of us globally who feel a need for her book. I didn’t use the book as a way to purge everything and discard my ideas about the value of money, things, and frugality, but as a guide to applying those values to my own situation. It's clear that needing to tidy is a first world problem. And let’s be honest about this - this is a joy that comes from privilege.

A friend recently sent me this article about the KonMari rules for shopping. Some of them are just as crazy as some of the ideas in the book, but what really caught my attention was that she is expecting her first child this year. I can't wait to see how she'll deal with a child and the clutter of stuff that seems to arrive (and stay forever!) along with children.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go make sure my socks have room to rest and thank my purse for its hard work. :-)


  1. I agree with your interpretation of her ideas. I am planning to get started this weekend, and like you will go room to room because it is both more practical and more likely to get done for me that way.

    I am amused by some of her ways of "addressing" objects, but I think it's all valuable in the end. I'm glad I'm not the only one who is doing her program my way!

  2. Without reading Marie's book, it sounds like she and I have similar ideas about the accumulation of stuff.

  3. I started reading it and found it interesting but also daunting to think about doing types of items rather than rooms. I may try your approach instead although I will say that I don't hold on to stuff for emotional reasons. Dale, on the other hand . . .

  4. I'm going to be even later to the party - I don't even have a copy of the book (yet). But everything I've seen and read makes sense. (and also makes me really happy that I chose what to move to this new home three years ago - and made all those accompanying thrift shop/recycling/trash trips back then!)

  5. I did a little work this winter (thank goodness for recycling!) and really feel better. I love your review of this system - thank-you!

  6. I always take books to my one library location - to donate for their sales and/or the shelves in the library. This location is the one where I used to work. I buy a lot of books - and they all go there after I'm done with them. I gave away bags full of clothing and shoes and scarves this past winter!

    Linda in VA


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