Once upon a time, I was very organized. There wasn’t a Barbie dress, shoe or Ken doll that couldn’t be found. Books were exactly where I knew they were meant to be. And my clothes hung in the closet, with space in between, according to type (skirt, shorts, and so on).
And then I went to college.
Suddenly, working part-time and maintaining my grades were more important than organizing. Suddenly, clean laundry lived in the laundry basket, not the closet (which was more of a cupboard at UCLA, to be honest). Drawers, once a trove of hidden treasures, became makeshift file cabinets, with every bit and scrap of paper saved and stuffed in case I ever needed it again.
By the time I was married, my mother was the only one who maintained I was organized. And while I can still find a specific book if you should ever need it, it may take me three, four or even five tries. Mornings consist of me running up and down stairs for ribbons and socks instead of calmly, serenely reading the paper (which I don’t have time to do because at night I don’t organize the ribbons and socks, as I should). In short, I’m now the Lucille Ball of organization, with the occasional screech of a fishwife thrown in for good measure.
But my sanity may soon be restored thanks to a slim little volume entitled, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”. Marie Kondo, the author and lifelong organizer behind the book, is a calm looking woman who dispenses zen advice that goes against the Western mantra of, “If you haven’t used it or worn it in six/twelve/whatever months, out it goes.”
Instead, Marie encourages you to find joy in your possessessions. You know if you find joy when you hold an item in your hands. It’s not enough to snap through the clothes on your hangers, however; you must deposit the entire contents of your closet onto the bedroom floor and touch each piece, one by one. The good news: I felt a surge of joy when I picked up a fun black flapper dress I wore in my sorority days, too small and silly to fit me anymore, but it makes me so happy I was glad to find an excuse to hang on to it. However, the bad news: the skinny jeans that have either shrunk or I’ve outgrown (let’s go with shrunk, shall we?) must go, which is a bummer because I can’t stand to go shopping for jeans and instead continue to cram myself into my AG Stevies.
Obviously, I am very early stage into the magicial art of tidying up. I understand the concepts, but haven’t quite implemented them. For example, books. I am a crazy reader and, until recently, have held onto almost every book I’ve ever read. And while I do sometimes read books more than once, it’s not a common enough occurence to justify hanging onto every Ken Follet thriller I’ve ever read. Nor do I reread Shakespeare, yet I have various volumes from college that I have yet to part with. And then there’s the unread books, the aspirational books. You know, when you’ve walked into Barnes & Noble or hit “purchase” on Amazon thinking you really, really wanted to learn how to bake bread from scratch or yes, I do want to read every novel ever written about Queen Elizabeth.
Here’s what Marie has to say about unread books: “You may have wanted to read it when you bought it, but if you haven’t read it by now, the book’s purpose was to teach you that you didn’t need it.”
Ah-ha! The book’s purpose was to teach me to … stop buying books I’m never going to read.
The ultimate goal of tidying up is to transform the home into “a sacred space, a power spot filled with pure energy.” And once we’ve put our homes in order, and rid ourselves of not just the physical clutter, but the emotional and intellectual clutter that comes with too much stuff, we can expect to discover what we really want to do with our lives.
Clear the clutter and find a renewed sense of purpose? Hmmm, sounds like a trip to Goodwill is in my future.
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links meaning I may receive compensation if you use those links. I received a complimentary copy of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” from Blogging with Books for review; all opinions are my own.