Monday, January 04, 2016

Sparking Joy with Konmari Tidying

I have never been a neat person. I generally like "stuff" and don't mind it surrounding me. I enjoy the feeling of being enveloped by all the items I love - be they clothes or shoes or bags or photos or trinkets from my travels. But for some reason over the last month or so, I started feeling swallowed by what I have. When you have 300+ pairs of shoes, how exactly do you find the pair you are looking for?

I've tried organizing in the past, but it never seemed to work for me. I would box up all the summer shoes yet still have 150ish winter pairs, and where were they all going to go? I don't have space for that many shoes to be organized and visible in my closet. And the boxed summer shoes would end up being overlooked the next summer, when I'd buy new because I needed a pair of red wedge sandals and didn't have any...even though I really did. I just couldn't find them in the big overflowing boxes. I'm not a hoarder, but I certainly do love stuff.

I was reading In Style magazine and came across a page on cleaning out closets using the Konmari method. It referenced a little book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and something about it struck me. The basic premise was to take out all of your belongings in each category (shoes, books, etc) and hold each one. Does it bring you joy? Yes? Then it stays. No? Then it goes. This made a lot of sense to me, when thinking of my wardrobe.

I mean, right now it's winter. That means that 90% of the time I am wearing boots. And I have about 30 pairs of boots. How many of those do I actually *wear* though? I consistently wear 2 pairs of black boots, one pair of camel boots, and one pair of brown boots. That's 4 pairs. Those boots make me happy - they are tall, good quality, fit well, comfortable, fashionable. The other 26 or so pairs? Well, I liked them when I bought them. These had fur around the top, which I thought was cute. Those had those punky buckles and unique army-green color I really liked. But the truth is that I never wore them. So why are they cluttering my closet and therefore my mind?

I bought the book and started to read. It's a little too new-agey for me, in reality. I don't think my socks have feelings and I don't think I have to thank my clothes for a job well done. So there has definitely been some eye-rolling on my part. But I am pushing past the weirdness and getting to the root of the book and how it can help me. So over the weekend, I emptied my closet.

You can't imagine the volume of clothes and shoes and bags and accessories I have...but I took out all the clothes (starting with the clothes is Marie Kondo's advice...get to your books and paperwork and photos later) and went through them piece by piece. Some of it was really easy - there are so many things I haven't worn in forever and those were easy to put in the Donate pile. Others were harder. I have some expensive designer clothes. I have been a multitude of sizes. It's hard to let go of that Emmanuel Ungaro jacket I've had for centuries but only worn a handful of times. It's hard to see that Dolce & Gabbana blouse go. But even as I made the decision to put them in the Donate pile, I felt a weight lifted off of me. Now I could see that other funky Ungaro blazer that was buried under the Things I Own But Never Wear. It got easier and easier as the day went on.

Some things that I never wear got to stay. My Aces & 8's NYC t-shirt stays: it's from an awesome time in my life and just looking at it truly does bring me joy. Plus, it says SHUT UP AND DRINK on the back in huge letters, and I still need that in my life. My Finisher t-shirt from my first 5k in Central Park stays as it represents an accomplishment for me as a complete non-runner - I trained and I worked hard and I did it, hills and all. So the shirt stays. But the sentimental keeps were few and far between.

I'm nowhere near done with this process. I have done most of my clothes and all of my makeup (there was a LOT of it...I discarded bags and bags of the stuff!) and I still have shoes and bags and coats to go through. And then comes the jewelry - I am overloaded with costume jewelry. It's my favorite, but I have so much that I can't make decisions about what to wear daily because I can't see it all or dig through it. And then will come the rest of the house - the kitchen and the bathrooms and the office, and TJK's room, which will be a challenge. So I have a long way to go to make the Konmari Method part of my every day life. But I have to admit that I'm pretty excited about how it's going so far and in the changes I feel in myself already. I really want to make this part of my life - I can see it saving me money as well, if I only buy the items that "bring me joy" and avoid the ones that don't.

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