It is late on the third day of the new year, long past tipsy midnight kisses and the initial fortitude of resolutions. Day three; this is where the rubber meets the road.
Three-hundred-and-sixty some-odd days ago, I made my plan for 2015. And I mostly kept it; mostly. Even with a few ups and downs.
Now that year has itself been put to bed, left to linger in memory only. Time for fresh starts and new beginnings.
I toyed with making a real list of resolutions this year, a get-shit-done kind of list because that’s the frame of mind I’m in. Get the prints finished, the show hung. Get back on a damn dinner plan. Get on with what needs getting on – at home, at work, everywhere. Start now. Do it. That’s what I was thinking; but this year I have selected a different way.
A couple of months ago, on the night when I was in the opposite of a hurry, I wandered through Anthropologie, a store of which I am very fond and which, fortunately, is not anywhere near our house. It is a happy, inspiring place to me, even though I rarely ever make an actual purchase there.
On this particular night, however, I acquired two books: the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto’s 642 Things to Write About, and Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I dove straight into the first, which has proven to be a tool beyond measure. What the WordPress daily writing prompts lack, at least for me, 642 Things delivers. I can flip through, open to any page, and knock loose the words.
I approached the second book with a combination of enthusiasm and trepidation, reminded of the friend who years ago introduced me to Michael Pollan’s books by saying I should read them, but that I should wait until I felt fully prepared to make the changes I would want to make once I cracked the cover. I had a feeling that Kondo’s book, of which I’d read many reviews, would be the same. I was correct.
The idea behind the KonMari approach, in case you haven’t crossed its path yet, is different from other organizing and life management systems. For example, one undertakes this work by category, not by room. The suggested starting place is clothes – not one closet, but the entirety of one’s wearable possessions. Place them all on the floor (or bed) in one pile and then go through them item by item, holding each one and deciding whether or not the item sparks a feeling of joy. If not, then the item is given a proper farewell (“thank you, blue shirt, for going so well with my tan pants that now don’t fit”) and placed in the discard pile.
I skimmed the book over Thanksgiving weekend and decided to re-read, in earnest, after Christmas. As I am chronically disorganized, swimming in a house full of crap and always in search of a magic solution, I figured: what the hell.
So I read the book, and I made a plan to start the new year with joy, in the present, just as Kondo suggests, by tackling my clothes, kitchen linens, bed linens and books. I made it through the first one, clothes. It took nine and a half hours; I had my daughter’s help for the last four. It was a remarkable experience – exhausting, freeing, uncomfortable, renewing. I suspect it will be weeks before I am sufficiently prepared to do it again, this time with bed linens (kitchen linens have too much history in them).
It’s early to deliver a verdict, I know. But I must say that when I looked in my closet this morning, the closet where all my clothes now fit neatly, where every single item (yes, including the purple lingerie) sparks a happy feeling, I swear this thought popped spontaneously into my mind:
There is no someday; there is today.
It all sounds so thrilling. I keep chipping away at the stuff and that has its own good results. However, I need a breakthrough.
This idea really is different, at least for me. I feel like I’ve been chipping away and away and away for half my life and never seem to get ahead of the mess. Kondo’s premise is that traditional organizing and tidying don’t help anyone deal with the emotional issues related to things. The book is a quick, easy read – much easier to read than to put into practice! If you give it a try, let me know what you think. Happy new year, Bruce. I hope 2016 will be a good one.
Hi Jennifer, great post. Getting rid of clutter / downsizing is one of my goals for the year. I’ve heard many good things about that Kondo book so will have to take a look at it. I agree with your closing thought too. Too much procrastination on my part!
Thanks! The book is a quick read and very different from anything I’ve come across in my many years of trying to conquer clutter. Happy new year, and best of luck to you in streamlining, whatever method you choose.
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Thanks very much. I tried to buy the hardcopy but it seems like it’s most popular in e-format? Either way, I’m going to be taking a look pretty soon!
I am not quite sure I am ready for the act of letting go, although the result sounds magnificent. I will hold the thought in my pocket for now and come back to it in good time. Thank you for putting it out there in the universe in your gentle, beautiful way.
Happy new year, my friend. May 2016 be filled with all you hoped!
You will know when you are ready, which will be not someday but a very specific day that simply hasn’t arrived yet. Happy 2016, Jen, to you and your family.
I’m always looking to clean out a closet and throw things out. Makes me feel lighter. My daughter went through her stuff last week and I had a thrill bagging the old stuff and taking it to the trash bin.
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I purged my closet over this past summer, because I got caught up in the wardrobe capsule / lean closet trend. And I’m so glad I did. Not only do I love the less clutter feel of my closet, but it gives me room to hang some art in my closet in an area that was once crammed full of clothes I barely wore!
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Jen, I finally am getting to posts I held on to and wanted to enjoy. Like all things in my life, I do tend to hold on and collect… but I love that I actually do read posts, savor them and then let them go, knowing their beauty has already been absorbed. Your first lines alone are simply gorgeous… But then, there’s this thing that happens each time I read one of your posts, and realize again that I wish you were nearby, because we share so many things. Anthropologie, clutter, and more… and the fact that I have been fascinated by the KonMari approach, since I came across it, about mid-way through 2015. I can’t say I’ve been able to fully explore it yet, but I’ve held to the spirit, more than I thought I would. I’ve done a lot of purging and letting go in recent months, and find it addictive. IF I was just home for a while, I am inspired to really dig in… that will have to wait until the end of April, at this point, but I’m inspired. Kudos to you, for sticking to those 9 hours! And Happy New year! xox
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And a happy new year to you! There will be time for KonMari, when you’re ready. And do start with clothes – or whatever you have the least emotional attachment to. And I’ll keep you posted if I keep going with it, when I keep going, as I keep going, et cetera ….
I felt like my hall closets were my least attached area… so I emptied out tons of kid videos (um, yes, videos!), linens, etc… I could do it again, but the first round was remarkably helpful. Clothes: I haven’t taken it all out yet, and I know how important that is. I did do a lot of clearing, by asking the joy question. It’s my office that is THE hardest challenge. THAT, will take some doing and prep.
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