A few weeks ago a friend asked if I had a book she was looking for. I dug around in the endless piles and dusted it off. ‘The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up’ by Marie Kondo. The irony. Bought years ago with good intention (like them all) … until it got swallowed into the bookshelf overflow and general clutter. Besides, I’d later heard the comment, “that’s the one where she talks to her socks to keep them happy…” I figured yeh, I’d never read it.
Yet somehow now, the prospect of giving it away made me crack the spine – just to see. As they say, ‘when the student is ready... a small, Japanese organisational guru's manual appears’.
I have often joked about my untidiness and knack for accumulating things. Writing it off as: “interesting isn’t neat!” However, taking photographs through my house recently, I suddenly saw it through an objective lens (without the glossing-over I have trained myself to do)… it wasn’t a pretty picture.
How good we can get at just ‘putting up with’ things.
In my defense, it’s not like there are stacks of newspapers you can’t move around… and yet, here these are that I’ve been holding on to (because I can’t help feeling they’re pretty cool).
The truth is, I am a bit of a hoarder (little h). And I’ve been drowning in STUFF for the past few years, feeling completely helpless to do anything about it… because I didn’t know where to begin.
Half of the stuff isn’t mine… inherited. A lot of it was expensive… does that mean valuable? I’m not sure… Most of it is nice/a slice of history/functional/useful/handy if I ever (fill in the blank) in the future… How do you get rid of that stuff?
I really didn't know until suddenly this simple, little book has shown me a way. Not only has it broken the overwhelming task of ‘tidy the house’ down into really small chunks so that each bite feels manageable... and arranged it in a progression that intensifies after practice and skill. More importantly, it has offered a valid measure for deciding what to keep and what to move on…
So simple and yet previously overlooked – perhaps because it didn’t seem ‘intellectual’ enough… or maybe even from feelings of undeserving… The straightforward question: does this thing bring me joy?
Not the SHOULDS or the SOMEDAY I MIGHT NEED IT or the JUST IN CASE or the BUT THAT WAS YOUR GRANDMOTHER’S… just, DOES THIS SPARK JOY IN ME?
If we got to pick (and we do btw.) wouldn’t we choose to have more JOY? What really sold me was her suggestion: ‘imagine walking into your space surrounded only by things you love, that bring you joy’. What an overwhelmingly tantalizing prospect that is and suddenly I am fully on board to do the work.
And what is the work… talking to my sock drawer? Yes – in part.
The 'MariKon' system is to touch and hold each object in turn and ask ourselves, “does this spark joy?”
I can tell you, in the beginning, kneeling on the floor holding a white t-shirt and asking myself, ‘is this sparking joy in me?’ made me question the sanity of the whole process. But then strangely, an answer started to come… Joy? I don’t know about joy, but comfort, yes. ‘It’s easy to wear,’ I thought ‘and flattering… as t-shirts go’. The blue one however, next in the pile, is scratchy and requires ironing – no joy there. And so it began.
I am three weeks in. Doing a little bit every day… and what’s crazy is that I’m REALLY enjoying it. Not words I ever thought I’d hear myself say about tidying! I am finished with the closet. Nine bags of clothes - that didn’t fit right, weren’t really my colour or were more about the buying than the wearing… (so head to Orange Bay if you’re a size 8-12 and long in the leg!)
I mean, look at this sock drawer… a thing of freakin’ beauty!
And what a different relationship it’s created for the objects that remain. More gratitude. Now I can see what I have, and feel a desire to treat those things I love, well. I love picking socks in the morning!
The more I do, the more I realize this is less about tidying and more about having a measure of what’s important in life. The questions can be applied to anything. ‘Does this spark joy in me? Do I really want this in my life?’ You start looking at things in a whole new way when ‘joy’ is your yardstick.
6 months, she suggests. It is a process that will likely take 6 months to do the whole house – not the 2 weeks that I had vaguely imagined that the ‘Sort the House’ item on my To Do list would take… The item that has unsurprisingly been carried over from week to week for the past 10 years!
So six months from now my house will be joyful! I’ve said it now – it’s official. Hold me to it - nothing like giving myself a little accountability…
And what about all the life changing magic that Marie Kondo promises will follow? Watch this (tidy) space I guess.
Julia is a trained Personal Development Coach, certified NLP Practitioner, writer and public speaker. Using coaching methods, tools and conversation, Julia helps her clients achieve the goals they set for themselves and transform their lives. Here she shares her own personal development journey on her life quest for authenticity, growth and having a good time!