Spacefem (spacefem) wrote,
Spacefem
spacefem

the life-changing magic of tidying up

I finally got a copy of this 2014 best seller by Marie Kondo: the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. I read it in two days. It was interesting... at times, a little crazy. The author is definitely genetically different from the rest of the population of the world, in some way. She is OBSESSED with organization. But like many eccentric people, she brings something important into the lives of the rest of us. A decluttered living space where everything has a purpose and designated spot makes you feel peaceful and relaxed, just like this book - spend a weekend reading it, and you will be very chilled out.

I see myself as an above-average organized person anyway so I probably won't have my life changed by this book but I did note a few very good moments from the book I wanted to note. Here are my top 3.

1) Storage solutions. Marie Kondo does NOT approve of storage solutions! A million bins and boxes to tuck everything away? Bad idea, you can't see what you have and your stuff is harder to get to. When it's harder to get to you don't use it, and if you don't use it that's a sign you don't need it, so why store it? When she does need an extra bin or tray to keep things straight in a drawer, she uses simple shoeboxes, and lids. She actually devotes several pages in praise of shoeboxes. Everything else "clever" that we buy to maximize every weird space in our houses to store more stuff? NO.

2) Gifts. The theme of the book is that you should get rid of anything that doesn't spark joy within you. Gather the things you own by category - and she does carefully describe every category - touch each object, evaluate it, keep or discard. A lot of clients feel obligated to keep things that are gifts. I can see it. "It was a wedding present from my favorite aunt..." Kondo says that the purpose of gifts are to convey a feeling - once that's done, their job is done. This makes total sense to me and it's something I've talked about before in gift-receiving, when people are like "Why can't I just tell everyone coming to my wedding to give me cash?" or "Why can't I tell each baby shower attendant EXACTLY what gift THEY should give so I know the necessities are covered?" Because they're not giving the gifts just for you! They want part of their unique personality to be part of your marriage/baby/new house. If you can use the item, great. If not, send it on and don't feel bad, now I've got Kondo's words to add to my philosophy... "It did its job."

3) Parents. Several weeks ago Josie and I did a stuffed animal audit. We bagged up two huge bags of stuffed animals that she didn't love anymore, to send to the thrift store for other kids. I was really proud of Josie for being willing to send so many away. Then what happened? Marc saw the bags and did the, "But you're not getting rid of the squid/fish/buffalo/walrus!" thing. Kondo says parents have to be OUT of the "what to keep" equation, even as adults, they can be very oversentimental about the little kid part of your life. Your life has to be about your future, not your past... parents are sad to hear that. Marc's parents kept way too many of his art projects and gave them to us and I wanted to scream. But instead, after reading this book, I'm realizing I should have said, "Thank you for keeping these, you did a great thing, you're wonderful people, that was a great time for your family when he was winning this 6th place ribbons for paper mache." and then quietly recycled all of it... as Kondo says, that art project had a job to do, it did it for his parents, and now it is done.

Beautiful!

I lately purged my podcasts because I was listening to too many that were about dealing with STRESS and they mostly start with the podcasters harping about how STRESSFUL life is... Stuff Mom Never Told You, Note To Self, Harvard Business Review, etc. The worst was Note To Self. It's a really popular one, but they did this special series on information overload that had its own special STRESSFUL THEME to show just how crazy full and busy our lives are before they'd issue these challenges to, say, turn your phone off for an hour or something revolutionary like that.

Marie Kondo's book is positive. It does not describe disasters, it goes straight to describing the beauty of folding everything in your sweater drawer. Simple. Possibly life-changing, probably not "revolutionary" unless you really can't handle the world outside your house. It's a self-help book that proposes cleaning and going through your stuff as a way to get to a better mental state. If you need that sort of thing, you will like her story.
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