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I’ve always loved to get rid of stuff – I love the feeling of decluttering and creating space.  On this last trip, I read a great book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo.  It put into words exactly what I’ve always felt – that if you have too much clutter, and too many old things that aren’t any use any more in your home, then chances are you have those things in your life too, and that you might be closing off your life to new possibilities.

Marie Kondo has a consulting business in Japan where she goes into people’s homes and guides them in the process of tidying up; she calls her method the KonMari method.  Apparently it’s a very busy business – there are a lot of people who live with a lot of “stuff” – clothes they’ve accumulated and don’t wear, papers that pile up, books that may or may not have been read, but will almost certainly not be read again.  We see the dramatic reality shows about hoarders and we think it seems completely insane, but we all have a bit of an inner hoarder in us.

Marie Kondo states in her book, and I’d agree, that when you create space in your home, you also create space in your life for new people, experiences and opportunities.  She reports that many of her clients have had huge shifts in their lives as a result of cleaning up.  That doesn’t surprise me at all, and I feel acutely that so many things in my life are reflected by the state of my house, my desk, my possessions.  Right now my desk in my home is a complete shambles – there are receipts needing to be filed, papers piling up, books needing to be put away, boarding passes waiting to be thrown until I see the air miles appear on my account; and it makes me feel chaotic.  I feel stressed when I look at it, it is not productive, it is overwhelming, and I definitely don’t feel an ease of workflow or organization.  Now it’s not that I can or should necessarily just throw it all away, but I do know that when that desk is back in order, I’ll feel less stressed, and more able to be productive in my home office.

On the other hand, I bought some new clothes when I was in Australia recently, and before I even put them away, I cleaned out my closet and made a pile for donation way bigger than the pile of incoming new clothes.  It felt great.  I feel clearer, I could feel that feeling of being able to let go of things, and it did feel like it created space.  And I don’t just mean space for more clothes either!  I mean space in life, and head space too.  It felt balanced – energy in, energy out – not just this constant incoming flow of more stuff, more congestion, more busy-ness, more clutter.  In closets as in life!!

So how do you go about this process of tidying up?

She has a set order in which to tidy up – clothes first, then books, then miscellaneous things, then mementos last.

She encourages us to do all the discarding before we do any storing.  She also encourages us to have a storage spot for everything, giving everything a place.

She is also big on the idea of only keeping things that spark joy.  In other words, she advises to check in with each and every object in your house and see if you feel joy when you see it and touch it.  If yes, then keep it, if no, then into the trash it goes.  She believes that all our possessions should give us joy and make us happy.  We shouldn’t keep things that just keep us tied to the past, just for the sake of it.  Let it go!

Tidying up and decluttering comes quite easily to me because I have experienced the relief of it, the great feeling it invokes and the sense of space and energy that it brings.  However, I still have resistance factors such as making time for it.  I also had to promise my husband not to go chucking his stuff out (I might have done that once or twice before!).  When life feels so full, and often so chaotic, I love the pursuit of simplicity and the positive feelings invoked by tidying up.  Now I’m on to her second book, Spark Joy: an Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up which is a more practical guide.  (There were some things she said about how to fold and store stuff that I needed a visual of!)

I loved this book and highly recommend it. I can vouch for the transformative power of tidying up, and I love that Marie Kondo has put her thoughts and feelings about it into a book that is both interesting and easy to read.  Getting our house in order helps us to get our life in order.  I now have a box of hefty garbage bags beside me and am going to start another round of tidying up later today – I’m excited to get rid of old food that’s probably stale, books that I won’t read again, even more clothes and some of Valentina’s old toys that she doesn’t use any more.  I also know that through donation, other people in need will be blessed by some of these things.  So get out those garbage bags, get busy tidying up and let me know what it opens up for you!