Taking Arms Against an Ocean of Clutter

May 19, 2016
Full Disclosure:  I carry the “clutter” gene in my DNA.  While my mother’s clan of military migrants moved their Spartan households around the map, my Dad’s family decided there wasn’t an empty bottle or old magazine on earth that shouldn’t be saved.  And while half of my chromosomes are Clutter Monkey, my husband got the gene from both sides.  Given this, you can probably imagine what our house has looked like in the past.  You can imagine it, but you’ll be happier if you don’t try. By March of this year the flotsam and jetsam of life were threatening to swallow us whole.  I’ve done a bit to beat back the tide but I’m getting a lot of help from a book my sister sent me.  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo has done more than help clean up my house.  It’s  brought some needed perspective to my life.
Most “how-to” books are filled with lists of steps.  Marie Kondo teaches tidying by concept.  One of her big ideas for recognizing the extras is to spread out everything you have of some category.  Then pick up each item, one at a time, and see if it gives you a “spark of joy.”  If the item doesn’t spark you, out it goes.  That may sound silly but think about it.  Aren’t there some possessions you like more than others?  I decided to try this theory out on my shoes.

Now, for an anti- fashionista, that’s a whole lot of zapatas…

Fast forward with the KonMari method and I’m left with the shoes that spark.

That result proves two things to me: 1) I have a subconscious rule limiting me to shoes that are black, brown or white and 2) I was giving a lot of house room to footwear I didn’t like. Worn-out shoes, half-pair shoes, shoes that hurt my feet.  Now my footwear fits my feet, my needs and the space in my closet.
The KonMari method honors what (and who) you love and the roles they play in your life. If a loved one got you an unsuitable gift, remember to thank the gift for the affection and event it commemorated. That’s the reason you got the present in the first place and your acceptance completed it’s purpose.  Now, move the gift on (discretely!) to someone who will love it for itself.  Non-sparking mementos from finished relationships aren’t keeping your memories of someone, but holding on to those tchotchkes may be holding you back from reaching out to new people.  Getting those items out of your life helps you to move on.
This method even works on pictures, my sister says.  As a doting mom and the custodian of the bulk of our parents’ photographs, she had a million snaps taking up room everywhere and no real way to review them. Now they are culled through, organized and in place, ready when she wants to share them.  
Now, I still have a ways to go but our house looks more like a home instead of an episode from A&E’s Hoarders.   We’re healthier, happier and it takes us less time to find the possessions we want. I won’t finish “The Great Tidy” in one fell swoop, but I’ll tell you one thing: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is one of the books I am keeping.

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