Friday, September 9, 2016

The book that is changing my life - The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Wow, am I ever so excited to share this book with anyone that will listen.  Currently I am reading Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

It is brilliant.

You will read that the basic premise of the book is this: pick up and hold every object in your house.  If you don't literally feel joy while holding it, get rid of it. Touch every item.  Every object in your home starting with your clothing.  Keep only those items that fill you with joy.  The items you dispose of; thank them for the service they provided to you.  Literally.  As in, " Thank you, sock for keeping my foot warm and protected".  Then let it go.  The item has served its purpose.  Items that were purchased but never used? "Thank you for the joy you gave me when I bought you.  Thank you for teaching me that this color is not flattering". When you have sorted all of your belongings in this way you will wake up to, and come home to, to a place that fills you with joy. Every day.  Do you want to live in a storage shed or a house that fills you with happiness?  Really think about it. It's that simple.

I have been, let's face it, pretty close to a hoarder since childhood.  A love of crafting + american consumer culture + frugality (I paid money for this!) = an inability to throw anything out ever.  It was disgusting.  Totally disgusting.  I will say I have realized over the last few years that space in my house is worth something too and so have been actively working to weed things out that I don't need or see a use for.  But this was the kick that I needed at this time in my life.

I sorted my clothing this week.  All of it except the maternity clothes in the attic.  I couldn't believe some of the crap that was cluttering and choking the life out of my house. Clothing that was moved from floor to laundry basket, washed and never put away.  Repeat.  I will be honest and admit that some of the items I had been keeping actually filled me with disgust when I held them. Those tank tops that cost $3 new at Wal-Mart? That I bought a dozen of in various colors? Here's the kicker - that I wore when I WAS NINE MONTHS PREGNANT? Why was I keeping them? Because I needed to be told it was OK to get rid of them.   I donated two garbage bags of clothing and threw 3 more in the trash.  For the first time in my life all of my clothes fit into a dresser and my closet.  With plenty of room to spare.  I cannot even begin to tell you how good that feels. 

I did cheat a little and kept some staples until I can replace them.  Because if I kept only the items that truly sparked joy when I held them this is literally all I would have left in my closet:
  • I have exactly two blouses that I love. They look like something to wear to an office circa 1950.
  • My fancy dresses from when husband and I took ballroom dancing lessons.  I have lost 20 lbs since then and they don't even fit.
  • A kelly green Calvin Klein raincoat.
  • My deer hunting clothes.  As in, camouflage/canvas brush pants, blaze orange vest and collection of wool socks. Wanna know what fills me with joy? This. Pretty much this.
The thing about the book, and this is the part that is so important, is that ridding yourself of all of this crap (that, let's face it,  you didn't like anyway) puts you in the mindset to honor the things that DO bring you joy.  To be mindful. To thank each item at the end of the day for the service it provided. 

She encourages you to think like: as I'm letting my hair down at night "Thank you hairpins, for holding my hair up and making me feel beautiful". Or, in the morning, "Thank you nightgown for clothing me softly while I slept."  What a beautiful mindset to extent gratitude for the things you do have and cherish in life.  

And it's making me view my world differently.  To look at the activities that I have enjoyed over the years and admit that some of them do not bring me joy at all.  Like beekeeping for example.  Video gaming. Most all crafting.  It's time to thank those hobbies for what they taught me and release them.

And to be more more mindful.  I took so many Buddhist studies classes in college that I was on my way to a minor before I transferred and this is it in a nutshell.  I was hungry tonight and wanted a snack before bed.  I was also mentally spent from taking care of our little man all day.  So I put my husband in charge, sent everyone upstairs and made myself what we call a "nibble plate" - soft homemade bread with butter, hard cheese, cured meats and mustard.  I poured a glass of wine and sat down to eat.  I was wrapping a piece of prosciutto around a slice of cheese when it occurred to me that I was very much in a meditative moment and had been for the last ten minutes.  The silence, the cricket outside the window, the smell of the wine and the act of eating deliberately with my hands.  This is what I had been wanting, needing.

This is what the book has shown me.  


  1. I love this post and love the concept of holding each thing. I buy something in every colour if I like it.... only to discover that d'ya know what? It really doesn't suit me and I only ever wear it once. I am leaving off with the craft room and going to destash my wardrobe... right now. The charity shop will be getting a huge donation of clothing this coming weaek.

  2. That's what happens to me too! I think "oh, might as well get a couple since I like it." Then I find that I don't like it at all. Ugh! Shopping for clothing is so miserable.

  3. What a beautifully written post. This sounds like a book I need to embrace. Both my wife and I are fed up with all the cr@p in our house, the hundreds to plastic toys that I pick up daily. We need to declutter note. I've started in my workshop but then got distracted and bought more stuff. I need to push on more and tackle each room.
    Sometimes I'm embarrassed if people just pop buy because our house always has that "they've got three kids" look about it.

    1. Kev, our house is absolutely embarrassing and we only have one child. I did sort out some of the toys he's outgrown but the toys that bring our little guy the most joy are also the ones I want to throw out a window: ones that light up,have awful music and terrible sound effects. Too bad for me I guess because adores them.