Happy Friday + Randomness

magicoftidying Happy 2015! I’m keeping it short today for various reasons, one of which is that I’m quite sad that my mom returned to Los Angeles yesterday after a two-week visit, and I fear I might get overly maudlin. Let’s focus on this book with the bold claim to change my life through tidying, yes? I’ve been burned by these types of claims before, so you can imagine my skepticism. I finished reading it a couple of days ago, and I have to say, I was completely charmed. Marie Kondo is an organizing fanatic, and apparently started to clean and “tidy” from the age of 5. Now with decades of tidying experience under her belt, she’s become a lifestyle phenom in Japan. This slim volume can essentially be summarized in two sentences: 1. Only keep things that “spark joy”. 2. Express appreciation for everything, including things you decide to eliminate. You wouldn’t think this would be revolutionary in any way, but I found myself incredibly motivated to start tidying in a way no other organizational book has prompted me. I’ve already donated 7 huge trash bags full of things that fail to spark joy. The game changer for me was the idea of letting go of items with thanks. e.g. “Thank you for showing me that I don’t like t-shirts with green zebra stripes (a delusional purchase years ago that I’ve never worn but kept since it’s a perfectly fine shirt from Anthro).” Or “Thank you for being useful in the past” for things that are decrepit and no longer functional but I’ve held onto out of habit. I can’t fully describe why expressing gratitude to inanimate objects made me feel so much better, and yes I felt silly, but it was really liberating. This renewed vigor to get the house in order ties in nicely with my tolerations list, which I’d blatantly ignored the last few months of 2014. Ms. Kondo specifies a particular order for tidying, and so far I’ve tackled clothes and books and fabric (which is not on her list, but was something I desperately needed to do). I already feel about 100 pounds lighter and must get back to tidying my papers! It really is magic and I’m starting to feel like my life is definitely changing…I’ve even been thinking about applying this concept to people — how amazing would it be to surround ourselves with only people who spark joy? Difficult to execute, to be sure, but I can’t even begin to imagine how life-changing that would be. Serious food for thought. Have a wonderful weekend, my friends! Winter break is done It is now twenty fifteen Raring to start fresh*

31 thoughts on “Happy Friday + Randomness

  1. How funny! I read that in early December. It’s going to change my life, just as she said it would. I have an entire room of things for goodwill and I am already a neat person! And like you I feel so much lighter. And I’ve stopped asking others if they want things I no longer do. She showed me what an unwanted burden that was. It’s like advice, which when it’s given freely, is actually implied criticism.

    1. I’ve had this book on my list since I saw your Instagram conversation with Crab & Bee. But, hearing how freeing its been to give thanks to the objects you’re giving away and this comment on what it really means to ask others if they want things I no longer do just pushed it to the top of my must-read list. I currently have a giant pile of stuff in my basement that should leave the house, but it just hasn’t yet. Having only lived in Seattle for a year and a half, I’m not sure where the best places are to get rid of things around here. Any recommendations?

      1. Oh wow, that’s cool that a simple exchange on insta got you interested, Amy! I’m not sure where you live, but a lot of those donation metal containers are popping up all over Seattle: Queen Anne, Wallingford, Ballard, etc. I like to drop off reusable items at the Salvation Army truck in the Fred Meyer parking lot since it’s close to my house, but I also make the trek out to the large downtown Goodwill. For pick-ups you can always call Northwest Center: http://www.bigbluetruck.org/.

    2. That was another good point too – not offloading things to other people. I don’t do that normally unless someone asks me if they could borrow/have something I no longer have a use for, but it’s good to be aware of. Thanks Annelieke and good luck with your tidying! 🙂 It’s really been life-changing for me.

  2. I read this book last month. It was very interesting, but I have yet to implement her suggestions, apart from folding some shirts a different way. I wish I could whip through the house and attack one category after another as she suggests, but am afraid of getting overwhelmed, not finishing, and ending up worse off. Too bad I can’t afford a Marie Kondo-trained counselor.

    For more traditional, time-blocking, priority-oriented decluttering methods, the Un**ck Your Habitat (UFYH) site and phone app can be helpful.

    1. Ha, I need to check out UFYH! I had to asterisk out some letters because I just found out that a bunch of tweens are reading my blog!! How awesome and unexpected is that? It does feel overwhelming at first, but I have to say, I got totally into it once I started. But yes, I bet having a trained tidying expert guiding the way in real time would be SO helpful.

  3. I’ve been in the process of cleaning out my closet and I always struggle with getting rid iif handmade items, even when they really should go for whatever reason. Perhaps I should thank them as they make their way into the giveaway pile. Thank you first Renfrew for giving me the confidence to try sewing with knits. Thank you alma blouse for teaching me that I can alter necklines. Perhaps then I would feel less bad about getting rid of things that I made. I’m a total packrat at heart. Sigh.

    1. The giving thanks has totally been working for me, Carolyn! I’m really quite sentimental by nature and also have a tough time letting go of handmade clothes. For me, it almost felt like unlocking handcuffs as soon as I started to say “Thank you!!” to all the things I’m attached to but don’t actually fit into my life anymore.

  4. I like this! What a great way to look at things! Actually I think this should be my sewing mantra for the year. Only sew things that “Spark joy” What kind of closet would that be?

    1. “Spark joy” is a fantastic litmus test for many, many things in our lives, I think. I’ve been loving it, Em. I just dropped off another huge load of unjoyful things this morning!

  5. Ha ha… I have already given away some unsuccessful things I have sewed to Cerebral Palsy or Diabetes. And I was secretly thinking of throwing out a Top I made of Nani Iro fabric that looks like pajamas, until I tried wearing it to sleep. So I have little problem getting rid of things I made myself that don’t give joy. I am keeping the dresses that make me look pregnant though.

    I tend to enjoy getting rid of things, but I am still kind of messy and disorganized. I need a clear place to work though. The other people who live here have a lot more stuff. I kind of want to get in there and give their stuff away too. And talk about things that don’t give joy! those all polyester fleece bathrobes we all got for Xmas, or years of unwanted gift garbage. Most of it is gone, but I do feel like it is like “unwanted advice”, even once you get rid of it the aftertaste lingers. This sounds like my kind of book, but I am afraid to read it. I might just go on a cleaning rampage and organize my life instead of working!

    1. It’s so interesting that you mention that aftertaste, Max, because I’ve experienced that before too, when I was guiltily donating/giving away things. I know I’m sounding like a broken record, but the whole giving thanks approach is entirely psychological. When I express genuine appreciation for whatever purpose it DID serve for me when putting it in the “get rid of” pile, I have no icky aftertaste! Just a pleasantly light feeling from having passed it on. Of course, Marie Kondo does point out that every once in a while you may regret something you’ve let go, but in the grand scheme of things, the benefits will far outweigh the stray item that you’ll miss.

  6. Send some of that organizing mojo my way, please! And it’s funny how this popped up briefly yesterday on a friend’s Facebook page. Maybe it’s a sign, ha! Happy New Year, Sanae.

    1. Haha, I think it’s the combo of the beginning of the new year with the right book for the moment that’s got me purging away 🙂 I highly recommend the book! Happy New Year to you too, Aja!

  7. Ahhh! My boss sent me details about this book a few months ago. We both enjoy organising and decluttering books. I think she’s better at the whole thing that me!

    Thank you for the two points – they are good ways to approach the things we struggle to part with. My house is full of clutter – I’ve been gradually working through it, but it’s difficult. I still haven’t managed to tackle clothing – confronting for various reasons.

    This is a great post for the first few days of 2015!

    Happy new year to you and your family, Sanae!

  8. PS I can recommend the decluttering books and blog by Brooks Palmer. I think the site is brooks-palmerDOTblogspotDOTcom

    He recognises the emotional impact stuff has on us and his approach has comforted and helped me on this decluttering journey. I’m also in a Facebook group of people who want to lighten their load of stuff. That helps = seeing the progress others have made.

    1. I hadn’t heard of Brooks Palmer before and must check it out!! I am perennially trying to organize/declutter and I feel like I’m slowly but surely getting closer to the minimalistic living situation I’d always envisioned. It’s been taking a loooooooong time. Almost there and I think it’s achievable for anyone!!

      1. Got my hands on my copy tonight! It’s paperback and quite plain – white cover with a red stripe and a gold circle, not the dreamy cover above. Not sure why that bothers me…. Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading up and clearing out! I’m somewhat apprehensive that the start is with clothes, but that’s the area that has eluded me so far, so I guess it’s good. I might then do fabric… and destash!

  9. Thanks for the book recommendation, I love the idea of only surrounding yourself with things that “spark joy”. I’ll definitely be checking it out <3

    1. I think I might have to make a temporary tattoo with “spark joy” for myself (I’m not ready to permanently tattoo anything on my flesh). Here’s to a year filled with joyous sparks, Kathryn 🙂

  10. I like that the book is giving a bright idea about organising and get the “life luggage lighter”. Funny enough I never do a spring cleanse, my family custom is doing it before the New Year starts. Then I spend the last two days of December trying to let go those things that don’t “spark joy” anymore. Anything that has not been used or have a slight use and in perfect state goes to a charity shop (My first option always is Cancer research or PDSA here in the UK) . To make the de cluttering easier I think how those things I’m not wearing/using will be useful for somebody else plus is going to give some money for my chosen charity. I have to be honest here it gets very difficult with my fabrics/craft materials. Last but not least I love the second statement about “Express appreciation for everything, including things you decide to eliminate”.

    1. Sounds like you’ve got the decluttering thing down, Maria! I totally agree that fabric is really hard to part with, but I took the plunge and it feels SO great to have a much more manageable stash!

  11. I read this on New Years Eve, had my husband read it too. In the last five days we’ve donated about 30% of our household and it’s MAGIC. I have yet to get to my fabric, I’m dreading it but need to just jump in. I fought a little bit of anxiety that my Weck jars got donated this morning, but I’m going to remain calm:) It’s a small price to pay for such a vast difference in lifestyle. I could go on and on and on about the greatness of the joy spark!

    1. It really is magic, Sarah!! I’m going through papers and magazines right now — one of my biggest categories to slog through! I’m hoping I’ll be able to get closer to the minimalist lifestyle I’ve always dreamed of 🙂

  12. I read this book several months ago and also found it charming and motivating. Although I had decluttered my clothing last summer, I was still unhappy with the results. I jumped in with her method and found 5 more bags to send to Goodwill. I plan on doing the next area this month.

    1. Wonderful, Katie! I’m still plowing through my paperwork right now, but I’m feeling better and better every day!! 🙂

  13. For the last two months I have been on an organizing and decluttering kick. I wonder if I still need the book? Normally I am not an organized person but the more children I have, the more organized I have become, likely out of necessity. :0
    Your blog is always a joy, Sanae!

    1. That’s awesome, Rachel! You probably don’t need the book if you’re already on the purging kick. 🙂 I start out strong and then tend to peter out so the book was a great kick in the pants!

  14. I love this book! Appreciating and letting go items that do not spark joy and have ended their useful life with you are incredibly powerful liberating actions that make decluttering a joy rather than a dreadful guilt inducing chore. I’ve read a lot of organizing books and while I was skeptical about the title, I must admit now that it lives up to it.

  15. Hi Sanae!

    I’m an avid reader but I don’t think I ever commented. I just wanted to say THANK YOU! It’s on your blog that I first read about Marie Kondo and then seeing the book here in there I finally purchased it on my kindle. I read it over the weekend and went through all my clothes already. It truly is like magic. I could never discard any self-made item before (yes… 0, thankfully I’m not too productive sewing wise) and for the first time I got rid of maybe 2 dozens of them (along with half of my closet). The key: thanking the items for the joy the provided as I made them and letting them go.

    Again, thank you! (next weekend is books)

  16. I am deep into the tidyup process. I am on “komono” and feel like quilting and misc crafts go in here. This will be the toughest for me.

    Regarding tidying “people”–I feel this is tough but achievable. We can do this in part by how we choose to spend our time. I am also working to drop people I follow on Instagram that for whatever reason are no longer sparking joy. It is not about being mean, I am thankful for them, but need to let them go.

    I am really enjoying this process and the things that are coming into my life as a result.

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