Part I: Real Magic

Real Magic

I just finished reading the life changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo.  Yes, I was like the mother from Leave It to Beaver, reading books on how to fold clothes; but I never vacuumed in high heels. The read was fresh and nutritious. It fed parts of my soul as well as filling my head with all sorts of ideas and visions about being neat well-ordered, and happy.   I decided to begin using her method of organization, she calls it the konmari method.

She claims that “effective tidying involves only two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to store things.” (28)  Kondo strongly suggests tidying by category and begin by discarding and then determining what gives you a thrill and want to keep. She says, “Start with your clothes.” Today I started with my clothes. First I gathered all my clothes, every single clothing article, into one large, massive, looming heap.  We call it mount clothes.  The next step is a very spiritual ritual where I am to hold each item in my hand and ask myself ‘does this spark Joy’? If not, it’s out, after a gesture of gratitude to seal the departure, a closing ceremony to help my soulish self-part with the garments which have covered my nakedness and warmed my body. The motive of her method is to find and create the sacred place where you are only surrounded by that which inspires joy, and you will be happy. I want to be happy. It’s not just about what goes but what stays.  I want my house and my bedroom to be a sanctuary not a salvation army.  So I started today.

I’m a baby step kind of girl, so I decided day one would only be about collecting the clothes into a congregation where the cat has found a place to revel.  Focusing on one category is quite effective. As I was gathering clothes from different rooms and drawers and closets, I was tempted to grab that one lonely glove, or tidy that messy shelf full of random stuff and “what about the shoes” I thought briefly, until I reminded myself gloves and shoes are NOT in the clothes category, which eliminated my need to bring in more than I could tackle. Being overwhelmed for me mostly means giving up, so I said ‘no’ to myself; I limited myself. Wow, I’m changing already!   And since I’m on a roll, no sugar in my coffee, “no you can’t go to the park until homework is finished” and “no, I do not want to hang out at the mall.” I guess ‘no’ can be a good word.  I can’t save the world, but I can help one person at a time. Same concept.

By organizing categorically you can focus on the one category at a time without the tentacles and clusters of random messiness pulling you down into the abyss of stuff. I’m leaving everything except clothes without guilt or concern, because ‘it’s not in the category’.  The gloves get their own category.  Accessories their own day and so forth.  My goal is to get down to few enough clothes that everything fits in my drawers with nothing piled on top of the dresser, book shelf or bench at the bottom of my bed.    As I gathered ALL my clothes I realized how many clothes I really have, I observed the full context of my apparel; this will make it easier to throw stuff out. Who needs this many clothes anyhow?

Mount Clothes

After the rapture of my clothes from my bedroom it was magically clean and already I could see the attraction to this method.  Already it felt so fresh and new and bright, and I hadn’t done anything but removed the piles of clothes.  Just when I thought I had gotten everything I remembered some winter clothing stored under my bed. That happens in life when we start to put our lives in order and remember an old friend we haven’t called in a long time or a grievance we have yet to forgive or a secret sin we we are harboring. Things hide in our bedrooms and hearts like clothes in storage and they clutter our lives by filling our spaces with things we don’t need or want. Sin and other stuff gets buried and forgotten but that doesn’t make it go away.   What else do I need to get rid of? What people, activities and ideals, or attitudes and self-concepts need to go, those things that cause a sense of heaviness and disorder in my life?  What is buried and out of sight that I need to dig around for that just doesn’t fit. I want to smile at my spaces not duck and run to avoid getting clobbered with falling sweaters and an overloaded calendar.

I have lived here for 12 years and today was the first time I have seen the back of my closet.  That alone felt monumental.  Hesitancy struck first; I won’t lie, I thought, “What a mess”, but then I remembered sometimes things get worse before they get better. It’s like the storm before the rainbow and as long as it is in one pile away from my living space, like my bed, I can pick away little by little without feeling rushed.  This only changed a little, when I realized I didn’t have any clothes to wear and my underwear was on the very bottom of the pile. But either way I’m taking this journey, this magic journey of tidying; hoping to get rid of old clothes, old habits and a few unnecessary activities in my life that keep me from enjoying what I really care about.

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