Monday, May 11, 2015

Tidying up - it's changing my life

Recently I heard from a friend about a book that she said completely changed the way she viewed her stuff. She went through her whole house and got rid of everything that didn't "spark joy." I do that all the time, I thought. I'm always getting rid of stuff at the Goodwill drop-off around the corner from us. I love getting rid of stuff, it's so liberating!

Oh, what an amateur I was. Because even though I thought I was Little Miss Organized, I still on a regular basic could not find simple stuff in my own home. Like my purse. My keys. The tape, or rather any one of the six or seven rolls of tape that were being held hostage by the drawers and cabinets in our home. Let's see, what other things do I have trouble finding? Usually it's the thing I really need, and while I'm looking for that item, I come across other missing yet important things, which I don't have time to deal with at the moment because I'm looking for the thing I cannot find. And then I want to pull my hair out, but I wouldn't be able to find the super glue to put it back in. The super glue is playing hide and seek with the tape, those silly guys.

Enter The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. Another friend, a Little Miss Organized in her own right who also struggles with super glue moments, loaned me the book. How can this be any different from all the self-help books that tell you all the same things? The ones that say:

  • Organize a little every day
  • Organize one area at a time
  • The reason you're not organized is because you don't have all your stuff in the right containers
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

I've always done it that way. It doesn't work. I still can't find the tape. Because the tape doesn't have a home. That's right, we've had homeless tape. Or maybe because the tape had too many homes. 

If you read the book, and you really should because the author is pathetically adorable, you'll see the wisdom and beauty of doing it this way:

  • Pick a category of stuff
  • Any category of stuff
  • Pull out every item of this in your home, from every nook and cranny you can think of. Of course for things like tape, you may need to wait for the hide and seek game to end.
  • So start with stuff you know where the majority of it is
  • Pile it all together
  • Look at it
  • Cry
  • Then take every item, pick it up and ask if the item "sparks joy"
  • If it "sparks joy" keep it
  • Keep all the category in one place - its home
It's not about getting rid of stuff, it's about keeping the stuff you love. That's it. Keep the stuff you love. And give it a home.

Here is what happened with my glassware. (I failed to take a before photo).

I took every last piece of glassware out of our cabinets and put them on the kitchen table, the floor and the counter tops. Vases, glasses, dishes, bowls, everything. Yikes! Was I running a floral shop? How many vases does a person who can't arrange flowers need? Certainly not ten vases! And because I couldn't reach my arm into our Scary Cabinet of Glass, I wasn't using the ones we love! How dumb is that? Through all this moving around of breakable items, I only dropped one thing, a little glass candle holder. At this point our dog Molly tiptoed into the kitchen, gently picked up her stuffed moose toy and gently tiptoed out. I think she expected me to start throwing glassware in frustration, but there was no frustration - just a bit of joy sparking and lots of walks out to the yard sale pile in the garage.

Ernst was part of the process and confesses that when you see the whole lot of it all at once, it's easy to see what you want and what you don't need anymore. It was liberating. There is now room to see what we have, and we love what we have. Simple. While the book gets a bit weird in parts (I'm not going to start talking to my shoes) it is a simple and easy read. There was one item, however, I did have to talk to. Mrs. Duck was a wedding present. She was cute and she held sugar. She served us well. She used to spark big time joy. But the couple who gave us Mrs. Duck is no more, they both died of dementia. I got sad every time I saw Mrs. Duck and she was relegated to the back of the Scary Cabinet of Glass. She deserves better. She will be sold at our garage sale. I said my goodbyes, and I got all choked up over that little ceramic duck. I was in the garage, talking to a duck, and that was OK. That's what this book will do for you. This is what it did for me.

Introducing the Not Scary...


...of JOY!
Last night at a party at our house, a little guest came up and handed me a bouquet of flowers. After thanking him, I floated into the house, reached into our glassware collection, and with room around each item to see what was there, I grabbed the perfect size to fit the flowers. No sighing, no frustration, no breakage.  

I still can't arrange them, but I found the perfect vase! Joy.