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.



Hoarder Update: Going from room-to-room?

Heidi Rettig, Still Life No. 1 (2008) is an encaustic mixed-media piece on panel.


I'm still working on my hoard. I've made a great deal of progress which has been helpful, mostly, for figuring out all the things that are left to do. My super clean office space is now a bellwether of sorts. Desk (or any other kind of) clutter now points to action needed in other areas. My filing cabinet, for example. Also the miscellaneous piles and items that don't have "a place" and just get shuffled from room-to-room. That shuffling is so much more obvious in a half-organized space.

The space that has become my art room works fine for collage but not for sewing. I'm not convinced that sewing and paint should be in the same room at all - but still reluctant to take over yet another room for my projects when the only private space my husband has is his bathroom and the six inch landing above the microwave. Like the pioneers, I will have to make do. That means the art studio - like everything else - will have to be carefully considered by function.

That's the hard work for me. I've got to think and think and think things through to figure out how and when I use certain items so that I can arrange them efficiently. What I find is that the organizing tools purchased before thinking things through are actually a big part of the problem. The shelves with fabric drawers do a great job of hiding my art supplies from view - but they also do a great job of rendering them into a useless jumble. It's tough to donate perfectly good furniture but that might have to happen.

There just isn't room in this little house to store it for "someday." That being the source of most of this clutter to begin with. And perhaps part of the challenge of doing all this work is that I've never been able to plan for now. My mother always discouraged us from hanging things on the walls or making decorating choices that were anything but beige. She believed that these perfect beige walls would enhance the resale value of the home when that time came. Which always seemed imminent. We never imagined we'd move her into a nursing home after 30 years in the same house. The beige carpet was worn bare and the walls weren't perfect either. I can't speak for my sister but -- coupled with other things my mother said and did -- I never quite relaxed into my life in a way that allowed me to make plans. Or decide what I wanted my home to look like or how it needed to be set up. At the moment, the number once clutter-y item in this house is my own unhung artwork. There's something not right about that.

I finished this encaustic piece in...2008. It sits on a shelf but should really be on a wall with some of the others. I must learn to use the hammer.


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