Thursday, September 8, 2016

KonMari - The Garage Sale

Tomorrow and Saturday is the culmination of this round of KonMari - THE GARAGE SALE.
In The Magical Art of Tidying, Marie Kondo never mentions a sale. She wants you to put it all in the trash, into donation, or gifted to someone who could truly want and need it.

In America, we have garage sales.

I donated all the clothing and most of the shoes. I could not see selling my stretched and worn items, even for a quarter. The rest of the stuff? I think it is good and could make someone happy while bringing in a few dollars.

Here is the deal: all items are on flash sale until Saturday at 3pm. What remains will be donated to the Vets. I do not donate to Goodwill as they are basically the country's largest garage sale and make money off of your donations. And that money goes into the CEO's pocket more than any other.

I will donate to the local Vets because they actually give the items to families who can use them, or resell in the local base-store. This makes sense to me.

I hope to see you at my house tomorrow or Saturday! (Chase Ave in Lyndhurst NJ)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

KonMari, Paper - What do you keep, why do you keep it, and when to letgo

Do you keep nice, organized files? Do you have stacks of bills around the house? Do you keep pieces of paper just in case you need them one day? Love notes? 

Are you a grown-ass adult still holding on to their elementary school paperwork?

Oh, no? That's just me than...

I don't think that I will ever have to prove how smart I was as a kid, but I have my Talented and Gifted award from elementary school. I kept this with my Presidential Fitness Award, Safety Patrol Award, and Student Leadership awards. I had every single scholastic test result from primary and secondary school. I had almost every glowing report card till grade 11.

Among these, I also found school newspapers and creative writing magazines. When I was a kid, I was usually included in these publications because I was “advanced” as a creative writer. Yet these staple-bound copy-machine creations were absent of my childhood creativity. Why the hell did I keep them in the first place?

The more important question for me to ask is this:

What do these things represent to me now as a 37-year-old woman with a husband, career, master's degree, two puppies, two kitties, and generally happy life?  

If I am honest, clutter. Who wants to see this stuff but me? Does it matter now that I was "brilliant" when I was a kid? Going over the paperwork, I wasn’t even that special. Sure I had A’s and above average scholastic marks, but none of this matters.

I am still brilliant, funny, and creative. Damn skippy.

None of my personal paperwork matters when I step back and consider what storing and moving all this flammable material means.

All this paperwork reminds me of the potential of that little girl. I’m reminded that I was awkward and not popular. I was kind of a dork who liked dancing school and writing. To be defined by a past captured in standardized testing is not the life I strive for now.


Kondo encourages us to toss all the paper we can: the lecture notes, old bills, manuals, etc.

She says we should take care of bills when we get them and shred them when done. If you need to keep certain files, receipts, proof-of-purchase or warranty, mark with them with the date to dispose of them. 

That TV has a one year warranty? Mark the date of purchase and write on the date it expires. I highlight it. It can go after that date because it is useless.

I had a box-file of user manuals for everything in my house: the fridge, stove, grill, TV, lawn mower, dish washer, computer, laptop, motorcycles, car, washer and dryer (even two I got rid of), mixer, rice maker, juicer, vacuum, remotes, hard drives, and more. I have receipts from all manner of home repair and home ownership. Then there was this:

Filing this was one of those "we may need it" scenarios. “BUT we may need it SOMEDAY.” Hello Crazy, it says DO NOT FILE!

I had 8 copies of my mortgage paperwork, at least. Three say DO NOT FILE because they were freaking copies! Ugh.

Let me tell you the truth: I have never referred to the guide for my coffeepot. I have never used a warranty for anything because almost everything that has one, breaks right after the limited warranty is over. Meanwhile, I put them in a box and save forever. 

Not anymore. How do I apply Kondo-crazy to an American home?
1.     I have listed all the model numbers and information for each item in one list and have tossed the booklets. 
2.     I have created one file box with items to keep about the house that can be given to someone if they were to ever buy my home (fence, roof, stairs, siding, plumbing, survey, etc).
3.     All the appliances I am selling will now have nice little booklets to go along with them! (bad reason to save them forever, but here is where I am at)
I am storing home paperwork in the safe, where they will be safe from fire or flood. Not that we have either planned, but I have worried about this in the back of my mind for a long time. I plan, when the purge is complete, to take inventory and photos of everything else in the home and storing this on a flash drive in the safe too. The model numbers and receipts I have kept are handy for insurance purposes, so I am glad to do this added step for peace of mind. I can imagine this is will add relaxation to my mine because I will not have to scramble in case something ever happens.

That is my adulating in action.

This is all I have left of personal papers:

I used to save all my school notes from college, all my papers, all my handouts - like I was going to one day need them. Let me tell you a secret - I have never looked at old notes and said "Now I totally remember why I saved this". It is more like "My handwriting is terrible" or "My papers are not very good. If I graded this I would have given it a C."

Have you ever run across the blatherings of your High School social life in handwritten notes? Bleck… I'd share the hand-passed notes from friends that say nothing important, but I won't because I tossed them. They are irrelevant in my life now. I did read them all again for nostalgia.

I placed importance on saving little stupid things to immortalize moments in my life that were important to the teen me. The years have given me perspective and the distance has given me understanding - the actual thing is not the memory.  When I am gone from this world, the last thing I want people to read is the banal bullshit my friend Chris and I discussed on notes in high school.

I put all the sentimental papers and photos to the side as Kondo suggests. Don’t get distracted as I did while purging! Put all that memorabilia to the side especially if you have lots of papers to go through.

Of all the papers I found, and I know there is a still a box buried in the garage, I shred 3 bags and tossed 3 kitchen bags full. I probably will have more in the sentimental items, but Kondo says this last section is the most difficult to go through.

Have you the same paper-mountain I do? Do you save and file papers for just-in-case?

Tune in next time when I start tackling my Komodo or miscellaneous items...

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

KonMari - Does this blog make me look preachy?

We have too much stuff.

Here is a general statement - we retain a lot of stuff we don't need. Our capitalistic culture wants us to keep buying more stuff. Our culture wants us to keep up with the Jones, to memorialize moments in sourviers, to buy storage solutions for our things, maybe hold grudges and emotional baggage of guilt associated with gifts and hand-me-downs. We keep to preserve but to also avoid loss.

Last night after reading a really hysterical piece of satire about the influx of the KonMari and minimalism into our culture, I started to feel bad that I was step-by-step processing my belongings in this method and it was a bit...gross.

I had that same reservation when I took my first photo for this segment of the blog - my entire wardrobe on my bed.

Can you imagine I looked at this, at one time thankful for the bounty that allowed me all these clothes, but also horrified at my own horde. "Oh, poor me. I have too much stuff and I can't manage it all like a normal person. Waaaahhh." Boo frickin Hoo.

But that is just it, isn't it. What is normal? I am striving for my normal, who gives a crap about anything more than this. Right now I can tell you that up until this process of discarding the weight, I felt like my home was too much work, too cluttered, and stressful. Inventory has helped me take stock of the emotional value and actual value of keeping everything I purchase.

I want to keep what I love, in Kondo's words, what sparks joy.

I grew up barely middle-class with divorced parents and they taught me not to waste perfectly good things. Somewhere along that path I lost sight of how to manage it all and what "good" really meant. You, dear reader, get to watch me figure it out.

I have followed minimalism websites like The Minimalists, which is about people seeking value from their lives beyond the constant consumerism and rat-race. Sure there are plenty of  people who live with less than 100 belongings total, some with less than 60! These people are wandering mystics to me. I have read these:

Leo Babauta’s Description of Minimalism
Joshua Becker’s Benefits of Minimalism
Colin Wright’s Minimalism Explained
And in all, I respect people who step back from getting caught up in "stuff". I really love to see how people pare down their wardrobes into outfits of good standards and own solid and well-made pieces of classic clothing. It is as if these people have really figured out adulting and only spend money on experiences and things that last. 
That satire had me thinking - do I really come across as the level of gross and crazy in this blog? I argue no, because I am consciously questioning how crazy Kondo seems in the fanaticism with which she purges (talking to and thanking each thing you discard for it's service? Yeah, she is over-the-top). But if I do sound crazy, fuck it. 
You're the one reading this crap. I's trying to be honest in case someone out there feels like they are alone in their secret drawer-and-closet-horde of stuff.
This discarding process provides me structure to do what some people probably already do - keep neat and well-organized spaces. Also, it helps me toss things I hold because "I can maybe use it" (but have never used it). 
Let's take those shoes for example. None of the shoes in this picture is newer than one year old, aside from the graduation shoes I crafted.

Even the shoes in the box were purchased a year ago, as were the red sparkly flats that are too big but were a steal, I only have one set of feet. The oldest pair is probably the brown Vibram Classics, at 10 years old. Then are the brown Frye boots, 8 years old. But here are the whole amount of shoes, I as an American, used to own. 

The number of toe-shoes is where I depart from most people, but for me, the problem is I hold onto things far past their use and style. I'll bet most of my girlfriends have more heels than I do, or more flip-flops....everyone has their thing. The point is when you put it all together, the sum total is more than you need and you can see the flaws in individual pieces that you overlook when things are spread out.

I've half this amount now.  Kondo gave me permission to let go of 10 year old shoes that are not in good condition, that I have not worn in 2 years, and those that are never the pair I grab. I am rational. I am emotional. I needed outside perspective.

I am not going to discard everything I own and live in a temple. But, I gotta say that it is far nicer now to live in my bedroom with the right amount of clothing and shoes for me. I like that I can close drawers and doors now. 

I'm not looking to go full-guru here. Hell, I don't mind if anyone reads this or not. This is working to make me less stressed by the things I have held tight to for longer than I should have.

Honestly, I hate that I find it difficult to toss things. If I didn't use something until it broke (and even then I would glue/sew/up-cycle it), I felt I had to keep it. It can be used, so I keep it. It doesn't look that bad, so I keep it. I never use it, but I keep it. It all amounts to padding a life with things that take time to manage. I want to give my time/energy/money/creativity/heart to other pursuits. 

Minimalism at its core can best be summed up by The Minimalists: Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

I want to share my journey here so that it is concrete (in my mind). So far Kondo has helped me:
  • find clarity
  • discard without guilt
  • focus on my creativity and not constantly finding storage solutions
  • take a real look at the number of similar items I actually have
  • focus on what I love
  • realize the space I live in is totally my making
  • really see what I have disregarded while "too busy"
  • get my adult life together
I am done with the first two categories and must move on to paper tomorrow. If you are reading this, do you think it is wrong to share the process? Do you also find yourself torn between loving your things and feeling burdened by them?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

KonMari - The 'wait' of books weighing me down

It is now Tuesday, and I am finished with my bedroom books, finally! I have pared down from 436 books to about 45 books(!) plus a stack of adult coloring books. Before we get there, I want to walk through the process for me.

In the last blog you saw me in my home-cleaning mode: overwhelmed and dusty.

I dumped the contents of my bookcase, the piles off my dresser, the stack that was in my closet from my thesis research, the scattered books I had stored in the secretary downstairs. I can't believe how many there were.

I had so many other things squeezed in these books: notes, journals, photos, handouts, magazines, manuals, audio book CDs, a few DVDs for teaching, 2 more B&N gift cards, a stock lens for my DSLR, and what can best be described as 'in-case-I-need-it' paperwork. 

I could not organize into the categories Marie Kondo suggests. She thinks one can move general books and text books, reference books and fiction, into piles and work trough them in categories. I could not because I had so much and the space to do this is limited. I specifically moved them onto the bed because I would be forced to go through them all in one go. I would need a spot to sleep afterall. 

In the end, I was able to remove the books that I already read or would never read again. I let go of every single teaching textbook I ever owned. This was easy because I know that things change. It was difficult to say goodbye to my Donald Murray and Peter Elbow books, though in going through this process, I realize I lent my best of these to someone in grad school and I never got them back! I know their names, and I have assimilated their content. I doubt I will need their books in my immediate future, and the library is the best place to find these standard text in the future.

I am less sure of the pile of magazines I have put in the pile. I subscribed to Whiskey Advocate and Imbibe and saved them all. I saved a select number of Wired that I grab when we go away so I have something to read. I have not read them all and that dense pile on the far left is what remains. Kondo writes that the time to read a book or magazine is when it comes to you the first time. The immediacy of the message it holds is within and when you store it for later, it looses its value. I am not sure I buy into this. I will let them all go after an afternoon flipping through them one last time.

My bookshelf can breathe now.  The second from the bottom shelf contains only coloring books and journals and the bottom, self-help Tony Robbins and reference.

The energy within these books is for someone else now. I have gained what info I can from them.Someone else needs them I am almost positive. It is kind of awesome that I have been able to relive my initial contact and remember the content in each book as I let it go. I only saved those that have brought me joy and those that I still turn too. If I didn't read it yet, there must be a reason.

I have the pile of books lent to me that I need to return. People need to install GPS on their books if they want them back apparently!

I may keep Rick's Douglas Adams because it still is joyful. The Catching Fire audio book needs to be returned to the library (it is about 3 years overdue!). The Mammoth Hunters is book three of a set that needs a read before I return it to Billie. The Help was brilliant, but I have held it for over 2 years from Noreen. The fertility books were informative, but did not help my issues and I have resigned myself to being an awesome dog mom for ever and hoping my 401K will pay for a nice retirement home someday. Finally Beautiful Creatures was lent to me about 3 years ago from Amy, and I never read it. I couldn't get past the first chapter. I never give up on books but I hated it. 

Kondo's advice to recycle or donate is positive, but this is America and capitalism is king. They are going online and will be out for sale at the garage sale. I have too many current and valuable books along with the paperback clutter (though it is my experience that paperback junk sells better than the good stuff).

Can I get emotional for a sec? Moving the weight of these books was physically draining. BUT the 'wait' - wait to read, wait to return, wait to donate, wait to decide -- this burden was greater for me as a book lover. I always wanted a library room in my house. I visualized a happy place full of books and a desk for me to write and chair near a sunny window to read. Then I realized that this is the magazine version of my ideal home. What I discovered in going through the exercises Kondo forces on her clients is a space to write that breathes because I am more creative when there is no clutter and fewer things to distract me.

I kept my journals and coloring books because creative outlets like these are more interesting if I need to talk to the muses. When I get too involved in someone else's fictional worlds, I lose my own. I had to purge some great things I loved like my collection of Grimm's fairy tales, because I've read them and know them, but rereading them may waste time I could be using for writing. 

This blog is only one aspect of writing. Since I got rid of the bulk of the books I own, I outlined a kid's book and contacted an illustrator. He is totally excited about the concept and I plan on bringing it to publishing houses before the end of the year. Talk about opening up the channels of energy!

Tomorrow I want to take a moment to talk about selling online. I am a novice, but it feels better to try to sell them than to toss them in the trash or put them in the Better World Books donate bins. If that company, who takes donated books and sells them for profit and some donation, I can at least wait a year to see what I can well for profit before I donate the rest.

How are you with books? Do you hold fast to loads of them? Do you read a lot? If you don't hold on to books or don't read much, how and why? 

Friday, July 8, 2016

KonMari - Friday night - Wild Book Orgy!

Yeah, that's what I'm calling the HUGE pile of book/magazine drama happening in my bedroom. Sexy, I know. Soooo many books! So many kinds! So much DUST! AhChoooo!

 Enjoy my little vid with yesterday's hair, naked face and my shame...

If I survive,I will write about what I discard and what I keep. If I don't, please take care of Leo and the animals. I love you all.

What would your pile of books look like? Tell me: what do you read? Do you love books like I love books? Can you let them go? How do you store them?