A Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo


A review of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Just a little update on my hoard for ya.

Things were going o.k. for awhile - and then we started remodeling our house. And then my Mom died. And then we moved. Remodeling, death, and moving - that's like the TRIFECTA of unwanted stuff raining down into your space. The only thing worse than a bunch of stuff you need to sort through and get rid of is a bunch of stuff that is covered with 200 year-old plaster dust. Seriously.

My intention for the move to Colorado was to bring only the items that I loved. I would donate or sell everything I didn't want in my beautiful new apartment so that I could focus on mountain hikes and eating out at expensive restaurants. And then...I reached the point during packing that pretty much everyone does. The point where you say, "F*ck it. It all goes on the truck. I'll deal with it when I get there."

And that's pretty much where I'm at right now. Dealing with the aftermath of that mentality. Now, on the positive side? The mover made a comment that at 3,000 pounds, we were "light" for two married people. Maybe.

But when I heard good things about Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I downloaded that book right away. So this is also a book review. Not just a hoard review.

Kondo's toughest assignment is to sort by category, asking each item if it brings you joy. Like, she wants you to lay out every piece of clothing you own on the floor so that you can see what you own. And when you can see every piece of clothing you own in front of you, you have to question your relationship with it. If it doesn't bring you joy, it goes in the garbage or gets donated. If it gets sent away, you need to send it away with gratitude. There's more to this process than I can capture here, but I won't spoil it for you. You need to read the book.

And you need to quit dissing your socks. No, really. Kondo says,

"Have you ever had the experience where you thought what you were doing was a good thing but later learned that it hurt someone? At the time, you were totally unconcerned, oblivious to the other person's feelings. This is somewhat similar to the way many of us treat our socks."

Your sucks HURT emotionally when you roll them into balls. According to Marie Kondo.

It's funny to read, in its way, but what she's really talking about is our relationship to what we own and what that relationship means in the context of our lives. It's the meaning of the stuff that makes it so complicated. How many pictures of my mother do I need to save? What does it say if I discard a gift that someone chose for me? The answers to these questions are in this book. Or at least a helpful process for moving toward those answers. And there's a great chapter on the seductive nature of organization products and how to break up with them.

Probably my most immediate takeaway from Kondo's book is the section on sorting papers. There's a small list of things you need to keep - in my case, tax paperwork as I'm self-employed - but everything else? Kondo says pitch it. Chuck it. Throw it away. An instant cure for the stack of appliance manuals I had on my table. I thought the buyer of our Virginia house should have them, but I never quite got them in the mail to the realtor's office. Yesterday, I picked them all up and threw them in the garbage. Google it, dude.

I'm thinking seriously about dropping my grandma's dishes at the thrift store. For real, this time.

Good book. I recommend it. And I recommend it with a bottle of Apathy Anti-Bad-Mood Spray - to refresh your mind and your space while you sort.



Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Projects: Happier at Home in 21 Days or Less?

It's hard to disturb Kiki and White Kitty just to make the bed.


I've never read a book by Gretchen Rubin and yet...I love everything she has to say. She is a master at sharing helpful content on the Internet. You really must visit her website or subscribe to her monthly emails.

I started making my bed each day after Gretchen Rubin advised that making your bed was [oddly] linked to happiness. I did make my bed, but only if it didn't disturb the kitties snuggled up in the blankets.

So, following Rubin's advice, I started making the bed religiously. In spite of the kitties. And making the bed often extended into a quick tidy of the bedroom in general. (Which, by the way, involves a quick spray of Apathy aromatherapy spray to clean the air.) And when I come in to a calm, clean bedroom at the end of the day...I find I AM happier. Oddly enough.

Gretchen Rubin has a new series of "21 Day Projects" to help you find more happiness at home. There's one on de-cluttering; one to help you stop yelling at your kids; one to improve your relationship; and the one I'm going to try - "Getting to Know Yourself Better." Seems so relevant as I process the artifacts of my past lives and try to figure out what happens next. Each program is $4.99 - but the relationship series is free.

If you sign up for one, let me know. Maybe we can digest and share our findings by email?


Poems for Hoarders: The Man Explains His Souvenirs by Charles Rafferty

Photo of large dust bunnies being fed a carrot.


I'm still cleaning out the hoard in my art studio. It's going well. Things are getting tidier. As long as you don't count the giant pile that's accumulated on the landing just outside the studio door. Actually, the art studio has turned into an office. And the landing will become the art studio. No regrets. I worked one day with my newly cleaned desk in front of the window and and I'm never going back to the old way.

It's sometimes tough to know what to do with the treasures I uncover as I sort through these piles. What am I supposed to do with all the papers my mother saved? The account books from my great-grandmother's farm? The player-piano scrolls in their sagging, broken box? Tough questions since I don't have children. If you have children you can always save them as part of the "family history" and then eventually dump them on said progeny. Woe is me.

Anyway, long story short, I found this poem by Charles Rafferty in my hoard. Apparently, I clipped it from the January 17, 2011 issue of The New Yorker so that it could sit in a box on my desk for close to three years before eventually winding up on this aromatherapy mood sprays blog. Where it now lands because it is actually just so perfect for what I'm doing right now, on August 26, 2013. Read it out loud. With poetry, that's the best way.

What does this poem have to do with aromatherapy? A big fat NOTHING. Unless you consider that my anti-Apathy mood spray has been super helpful this week for getting things done. And beyond the mood-enhancing essential oils, the mist kinda dampens down the dust bunnies. But I digress:



by Charles Rafferty


Twenty years ago, the skeleton

of a wild pig gleamed among violets

while the leaf rot around it

grew hot with spring. I slipped

the molar out of its grin like an oiled key

and took it home, leaving the boar

to reassemble, if it ever did,

at a gap-toothed resurrection. I hold it up

to show my daughters. They are less

impressed each year. I have antlers

and trilobites and chips of pretty bedrock

from all the places where the sun came up

to burn me awake with beauty--even

a turtle shell we used as an ashtray

in that first apartment, on the bank

of a creek that flooded every March

and took our trash to sea. All of it

sleeps in a basement box--a kind of coffin

for my former life, but also a proof

that I stooped to the world,

that I kept what came my way.


--Charles Rafferty


Aromatherapy Mood Sprays, Clutter, and Art Studio thoughts.


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