I have a lot of stuff. There are ceramic and pottery bunnies hiding all over my bookshelves. Hiding, because they have to just squeeze their way in between the hundreds of books with which I will never part. Will I be breastfeeding again anytime soon? Nope. But you will wring my copy of So That’s What They’re For from my cold dead hands. No, I don’t need the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, but I earned it with my magnificent PSAT score which was the last time anyone considered me smart, and by damn, I intend to keep it.
My closet is stuffed with one grandmother’s wedding dress and the other grandmother’s silk kimono. Costume jewelry from both of them cause the one drawer that should easily hold all of my jewelry from closing. A shoe box full of their gloves and scarves takes up precious space on my closet shelves.
There is a box of randomness in my bedroom. Old college ID’s. Prizes from KinderEggs. My first minister’s tie tack. Similarly, I have a box of ticket stubs from London. There is a bag of pamphlets and receipts from Disney World. I have a desk drawer stuffed full of nothing but your Christmas cards.
That’s right. The Christmas cards you sent me are taking up a huge space in my house. The breastfeeding book? My best friend gave to me since she couldn’t personally sit with me through the horrors of beginning to nurse. The ticket stubs? Concerts I went to with friends who meant a lot to me at the time. The half dozen mosaic broaches that I never wear? Were collected by my grandmother on her many trips to Italy.
Several months ago, my Twitter and Facebook feeds were blowing up with people who were gaga over #KonMari. I love to have a clean house. I love to be organized and be able to sit in a space that is neat and clutter free. So I bit. I ordered my copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. I was going to declutter and organize!
My book arrived, and I packed it in the pool bag to take to swim team the next day. As my boys swam their laps, I sat by the pool and soaked in all that Marie had to offer. What she had to offer at first was the history of her life as a neat-freak.
“Humph. The first part of this book could use some decluttering of its own,” I thought.
Still, I persevered. There were more and more pictures of beautifully neat desks and lovely closets with space between the hangers and a morally decent number of shoes lined up below showing up daily in my Facebook feed. I wanted beautiful closets.
Or so I thought.
Marie’s “magic of tidying up” relies on you keeping only what “sparks joy” when you hold it in your hand.
Me being a pretty damn joyful person in general makes that a difficult task. The bottle of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bubbles that is currently sitting out on my built-ins like a relic in a museum brings me no amount of joy. However, it makes my six year old giddy, and seeing him happy brings me immeasurable joy.
Marie wants you to tidy by category, and she recommends starting with your clothes. That’s an easy one for me. I can get rid of clothes like I’m moving to a nudist colony within the week. But the whole idea of holding up every piece of clothing and asking if it brings me joy? No. No, this pair of pants that is two sizes smaller than what I currently wear doesn’t bring me joy. But the thought of getting back into them this year brings me inspiration. And that skirt that I’ve had for 10 years, wear maybe once a year, but I pulled out just last night for a professional interview? Nope. No joy. But I needed it, and I’ll need it again.
The opposite holds true in my sewing room where I horde yards and yards of fabrics that have no discernable purpose. I will make something from them one day. Probably. Or, I could #konmari that room, go through each cabinet and bin, and hold each piece of fabric, feeling the joy it genuinely brings me. At the end of the day, that room is still going to be overflowing with fabric because of all those flying sparks of joy.
The truth is, there was a time my mother was hesitant to pass down anything that had family value or sentiment to me because I toss stuff out whenever the wind changes. What she doesn’t know is that I have every letter she’s ever written me. Each one, bringing me plenty of joy. Her favorite china sits in a china cabinet purchased specifically to house it. I use it. I love it. I never would have picked it out for myself, but the fact that I know how much she loves it makes it my favorite. It is beautiful, and it brings me joy. Do I need five sets of dishes? Yes. Yes I do, because they bring me a lot of freaking joy.
So when you come to my house, expect to see a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff in places it doesn’t belong. But don’t think for one minute that Marie Kondo didn’t help me find something to toss. Next time you are at Goodwill, you should be able to purchase a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in excellent condition. I didn’t even break the spine.