Friday, June 24, 2016

KonMari - Before we dig into the clutter

I have owned Marie Kondo's  The Life-Changing Magic of Tiding Up for over a year. As an member, I purchased the audio book version when I read a review online. I thought it would be one of those books to "read" on my commute and it may help me stop pack-ratting. It sat in my iTunes without a listen for all that time because I was overly involved in listening to the huge audio versions of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series (you may know it as HBO's Game of Thrones). Whatever...

While I was writing my thesis, I had stacks and stacks of books, papers, and digital texts surrounding me for 4 months. I took over my dining room with The Walking Dead academic research and feminist theory resources. My house was a mess most of the time and I was losing things in the clutter.

This is nothing new.

My mom can tell you that I have been a clutter bug all my life (understatement of the year). I used to "clean" my room by shoving toys into the closet, into a drawer, under the bed, into loose socks, anywhere out of sight. She would find socks with toy parts, Barbie shoes, bits of paper, candy, you name it. I still go-to this option when I am stressed or need to quickly make my house look like it is well-kept. I was Dobby the dysfunctional House Elf.

I am not "dirty" per say; I disinfect the bathrooms weekly, wash my floors, dust, sweep and vacuum on the regular. I may let dishes overnight in the sink and/or dishwasher, or I may wait to clean the stove because I hate it, but you would never be grossed out in my home. In fact, it normally looks quite nice. But open the junk drawer, or anything that closes (closets, drawers, cabinets, desks, etc) and watch out! There are at least 10 junk-drawers in the house. I may have over 400 pens/pencils/markers in 5 locations. I cannot keep track of my "stuff" because it could be almost anywhere.

All the clutter hiding stresses me out! I can never find what I need because it is lost in a box somewhere or hidden away.

I have a hard time parting with things that are useful, even if they are used only occasionally. I get sad when I have to toss a gift that was given to me but is useless. I always think "I can probably use this" and into a closet, drawer, or pile it goes. Frankly, if it was expensive or is useful, I keep it. (Might have a shopping addiction to deal with at some point too...)

Part of the KonMari method seeks to get to the root of the kind of life you want, the environment that you most desire to live in, with the things that only bring you joy. I think some of Kondo's mentality is rooted in Shinto and Zen Buddhism: things have kami (spiritual energy) and your space should invoke peace.

What I really like about this is that Kondo seeks to teach you to find whatever brings you joy and peace. You really need to dig into your own self to discover this. It is not prescriptive in the process of purging--"Keep this and toss that and you will have joy" but it surely is more prescriptive in the process of organizing afterwards.

Kondo insists over and over that "people who use the KonMari method never revert to clutter again." Because a large part of me would love to not have clutter at all, this sounds great.

The next week I want to write out some of the exercises she assigns clients in her book to see what I really visualize as the kind of space and life I most desire.

I envision this blog will fight the KonMari method, because I cannot even begin to imagine some of the advice in action in an American home. For instance, she writes "Do not even think of putting your things away until you have finished the process of discarding." I have a 1200sq ft home that I have lived in for over a dozen years with a man who has lived here for 36 years. Sure when his mom passed we had marathon garage sales and purged without prejudice, but we have so much stuff in all areas of our home that I could not imagine living out of boxes and piles for months until I have gone through all categories and things.

Her first category, clothes, took me a whole day with the help of The Hubs. She tells you to take all your clothes, from everywhere in your home, and put them on the floor to go through all at once. From coats to socks, all seasons, were on my bed and I purged, I donated 3 contractor garbage bags, have one regular bag to donate later (coats for a winter drive because they are expensive and new) and an expensive dress for a prom drive next year. I threw away 3 bags of garbage that I did not want to donate. If I did not put my clothes away, I would have been living in a pile of my wardrobe and The Hubs would divorce me. I will write more about this because I have not followed explicitly and am already backsliding in my closet, so I guess she is kinda right.

Till tomorrow, what kinds of decluttering have you tried? Do you have issues with clutter? Am I alone?

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