Thursday, June 4, 2015

Putting My House in Order

Possum has been helping me go through my clothes now that we've read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up together. He liked the book but he doesn't own anything except toys, a toothbrush, his "apartment" (carrier), and his people (us). Since everything except his toothbrush is community property shared by his brothers and Wendy, he felt no need to declutter, but agreed to help me. 

Possum thinks I have too many T-shirts. He's right. Seeing all of your clothing 
piled in a heap is instructive. How much do you want? How much do you need?

I'm betting that all of you have already read or at least know about this huge international best-seller.

But if you've been in a submarine for the past several months, here's an excerpt from the introduction here. In a nutshell, the author, Marie Kondo, says you can transform your life and increase your happiness by surrounding yourself only with objects you love (or need). To eliminate the items you don't love, you gather everything you own from one category (shoes, for example, or shirts, or papers). Then you pile it all on the floor (or bed, if your back prefers it, like mine). Pick up each item one at a time, and figure out whether it "sparks joy" — a physical as well as emotional sensation. If it doesn't make you feel happy, thank it for its service to you and get rid of it. The author has a Shinto perspective so, to her, objects have energy and "feelings" and should be treated with respect and care. (How do have unwanted or unused possessions "served" us? They initially satisfied a need or an urge when we bought them, or maybe they simply taught us a lesson about what we don't like or what doesn't suit us.) 

Using this technique, you will eliminate a lot of possessions. According to the author, her clients and readers routinely toss or donate dozens of bags of stuff. After they go through this marathon process with everything they own, they never "relapse" and need to declutter again. The process teaches us about ourselves and transforms our thinking about shopping, saving, and ownership. We learn what we do and don't need, what we value, and the minimal amounts of items necessary to live comfortably. When we have less stuff, storing it is easier and so is cleaning. The process teaches us how to be more careful about what we acquire in future, too, so we shop less and save more.

When you have less stuff to deal with, you have more time to nap, says Possum.

Kondo's ideas make sense to me, and her technique has helped me get rid of things unaccompanied by the usual overpowering feelings of guilt. It's been liberating! However, I'm planning to sell a lot of my unwanted stuff on eBay or consign it, so I still have several bags lying around. I want to get rid of most of that before I move on to my next categories (after clothing comes accessories and then books, god help me). This is all supposed to take about six months, although the paper category (my weakness) is supposed to be quick: just get rid of practically everything, Ms. Kondo advises.

This is really the definition of "putting your house in order." As we continue to house-hunt, I love the idea of paring down our stuff to make moving simpler and to avoid bringing clutter to our next home. 

So far, I've gone through most of my clothing and shoes. The shoes were fun, since I have such bad luck finding comfortable ones. The moment I put on a pair, I can tell if they "spark joy," as Marie Kondo says. I had 20 pairs of shoes and sandals and got rid of eight. Flip flops were a separate category. I kept my 8 pairs of Reefs and parted only with one uncomfortable pair from J. Crew. I love flip flops; that's all there is to it. I will probably get rid of some of my oldest Reefs as I figure out which ones are worn out. (And I still have to go through my boots; that's next.) 

Now that it's obvious that I don't own a single pair of comfortable, casual flats or leather sandals, I gave myself permission to buy some. There's plenty of empty space in my shoe rack to hold them. Assuming I can find something comfortable, it will be kind of exciting to have a small collection of shoes I actually like to wear. 

If you've read the book and tried Kondo's techniques, or have your own decluttering tips, please share your thoughts! 


  1. I did read this book, and was inspired. I am trying to find a day to spend on this. My problem is that I already have the area below my dining room dedicated to books that I'm currently selling/posted on ebay, and I was able to clear out a spot in my basement... for more sale items. I've posted other items on craigslist, Facebook yardsale pages, and eBay, so we're looking like a consignment shop already. (The stuff I'm not selling lines the sidewalk for others to pick through, and at the end of the day, I put it in my car's trunk for a trip to Savers.) Once I get a whole day to dedicate to the first category, clothing, I will be happy to rid myself of joyless sparkless clothing, books, cds, LPs (!), etc. And as Konmari says, hopefully I will inspire my family to join in! Do you use Poshmark?

  2. Hi Sandi, thanks for writing and for introducing me to Poshmark. Looks like it might be a big improvement over eBay but I need to study up on it. Best of luck with your epic "tidying" day. It's time-consuming but I found it surprisingly less stressful and angst-ridden than previous attempts. It's actually pretty liberating.

    1. are you folding your socks and underwear so that they stand up like dominoes?

    2. Thank you for introducing me to Reefs. Where do you buy them? I want to try them on.

  3. but.. the sweaters.. what about the sweaters?!?!


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