If your life is crazed, if you are frantic if someone unexpectedly drops by, if you have piles of laundry endlessly in baskets that you shift from place to place… if you are short on the most priceless thing there is, time… then stay with me, I may be able to point you in the direction of a “once and for all” solution.
My friend Carrie messaged me that she thought I should order a certain book because she felt I would like it. I trust Carrie. I am a book lover and an Amazon Prime person, so in less than 2 minutes it was on its way to me. Weeks later I want to share that I found the book a life changer. “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up- The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” has been quite the 206-page surprise. The author is Marie Kondo.
This is like no other system. It is not a system. Do not go out and invest in organizers. In a nutshell: you organize by categories, handling items and asking yourself if they spark joy in you. If they do not, then you pass them on, with thanks that they were with you for a time. You are not deciding what to give away; you are deciding what to keep.
I am not yet “done.” I am still enjoying the process and learning things and yet I am also really appreciating more than I can express the subtle changes I am feeling about my space and myself.
Yesterday, a rainy day, I had time to consider my cabinet of baking dishes and mixing bowls. It is a poorly designed cabinet, one of those awkward ones that extend deep into a corner. After I emptied the front I had to crawl partway in to reach the side "annex." I really had no idea what was living there, just that it was full. The part I can reach and see into is always a place where I am stuffing bowls or leaving a bowl on the counter, waiting for a chance to restack what is in there so everything fits. It has been “crowded’ for 10 years. The colander actually rents space other places because it is forced to move around- sometimes it will not fit in.
I pulled the contents of the entire cabinet into my kitchen. I found my missing crockpot, something I had convinced myself I “left” somewhere. I mean, this life we live, you do not have time to think sometimes, right? “ I am too busy” is some kind of badge we often wear with pride. ENOUGH. Life is too short.
The oblong Pyrex dish that was born warped, that I neglected to return when I took the cardboard wrap off 15 years ago, has lived here quietly for years. It wobbles when you are cutting or serving, and is never the one I reach for. I have two, and always use the other one. I do not remember ever needing two, or ever feeling joy about having two. And so I bless it and carry it tenderly to recycling.
I have never considered objects like this. I have never had this kind of clarity about what I actually like and use. If we are always reaching for the same things, maybe those same things are all we need. It is not minimalism, however. If those 100 egg cups you have collected make you happy every time you see them on your egg cup shelf, you are all set. Just do not make the egg cups you love live a lonely life stuck in a carton in your basement. Do not save the good crystal for "some day." You can enjoy your water in it today, all by your wonderful self.
I found 3 cookie tins that I have housed for years, as “they would be so good to use if I mail cookies somewhere.” They made me laugh. I have mailed cookies and never thought of using these tins.
I find a few bowls and plates that are random and do not spark joy. I place them in my donation box, trusting that someone else will love them and appreciate them. This sounds so simple; taking a conscious look at items you are surrounded with, weighing their purpose. I never did it, ever. Taking time and actually making sure your bedroom drawers… your linen closet… your kitchen cabinet… contain things that bring you joy. “Does this bring me joy?” is so very powerful.
There is much wisdom in the book and it cannot be captured in a few paragraphs. Everything in the book is important. You might think the gratitude part is silly. And yet actual research done, unrelated to Marie and her work, shows that showing gratitude for things and people in our lives can actually be a powerful antidepressant. It can even be more helpful than medication. So even that tiny part is very important.
I have read the sweetest tributes to this work and how it has affected people. A mother of a young one who has challenges communicating verbally heard her son speak more words than he ever had before when she asked him which of his books brought him joy. He had been watching his mother go through her own process for days. I do not think she even expected him to answer; and yet he did. He told her he did not like the book she held; he liked the book about the stars and the planets. It was a "wow" moment for them. She had not known.
So many sweet things happen like this that people call it “Kondo magic.” Make some room in your life and you never know what will take its place. It is not always “things.” The space changes might trigger inner changes: a simple, conscious looking at your life and how it is working for you.
What is important to me?
What can I let go?
What brings me joy?
Love yourself enough to ask.