A year ago I borrowed a book from a friend. I told her I need some inspiration to really de-clutter and set my house right once and for all. She handed me ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ and I raised a wary eyebrow. It didn’t seem like my kind of book. My friend convinced me to give it a try, so I took it home. When I was done reading it, I remember kinda mocking the flowery prose on Facebook. I didn’t quite call it silly or ridiculous, but I did feel it was a tad unbelievable. For one thing, you were not going to catch me bowing down and talking to the household spirits. Uh,uh, no way. It DID give me the inspiration to tackle the clutter with renewed vigor. I can even admit-I fell in love with the way she folded and stored clothes! So I guess in a way you could say Marie Kondo changed my life.
A year later the Netflix series launched and I jumped at the chance to watch her in action. She gave people hope and helped them to tune into their needs. Then she provided structure to support those needs. At that moment I realized why her style of doing things was not a fairy tale to her. She believed in what she was doing with all of her heart and soul. She was inspirational by simply being to true to herself.
I also saw in that moment why the KonMari Method could not work for me. Ever.
Why Does it NOT Work for Me?
We gather our material belongings in a cyclic way. They represent pieces of who we are and who we want to be. We create a psychological bond with our stuff! Which makes it hard to get rid of something-unless you make your peace with it first. The things we are ready to let-go, the things that no longer serve a purpose, we have no problems carting it out to the curb in gusto. The stuff I struggle with? The things that represent potential purpose. I might need it in 6 months…or even in a year! If I throw it out right now, I feel like I am shooting myself in the foot. 6 months later, when I had the time to process it, I can face reality and actually put a plan together to remove it from the home.
The KonMarie Method focuses on 5 categories. It is very strict about not moving on until you have fully addressed the last category.
- Miscellaneous Items
- Sentimental Items
When I initially tried to implement the method I ended up getting stuck at the second step. I am a person who thinks books have souls. If a book finds its way to me, it means something. I was already waging a battle before I read her book. There was nothing anywhere in those pages to help a person like me. If I had followed the plan faithfully it would have meant discarding the books in a flash or being stuck at step 2.
So What Does Work?
The KonMarie Method starts with taking everything off the shelves and out of drawers and throwing it in a big pile.
An overwhelming mountain of stuff, at least half of which I knew was in the right place before I began? That would kill me.
Your home is not only a place you happen to be at the end of the day. It is a place that welcomes you and invites you to celebrate your life. It is a place that serves to remind you of your values and what is most important to you. It helps if there are areas or elements of your home you already feel good about. Start by thinking about why you feel good about these spaces. Test out your idea in a small area. It can be a shelf or a corner of a room.
Cultivating your Chaos
I like think of the best use for that space. I think about what I need to make this area work for me. Then I take everything out of that space and ONLY put back what will work there. Dealing with what is left takes a bit more time. If there is a pile, it is usually a small one and I leave it right there until I can figure it out. Don’t move it anywhere else. Refuse to hide from it.
Summoning the energy to de-clutter huge areas requires a strong motivator. For me I love the idea of traveling in an RV full time! That and micro-house living appeals to me. You already know how attached I am to books. And you know I love to travel, so something has to give. I make a conscious effort every year to slim down the amount of books I have, and while it does get easier every year, it is still painful. The idea of letting go of a book before it is read makes we feel queasy. The first goal was to par books down so they weren’t double stacked and I could actually see what is there. For my next goal I removed a bookcase and it forced me again to reevaluate what was worth keeping. This doesn’t keep me from enjoying new books! When I am ready to buy something new, I am also ready to let at least one old one go.
Don’t Lose the Most Important Thing In the Room!
You are actually the most important person in the room. All that stuff, it tells a story about you. Our homes are one of the windows we can use to do a little soul check. How much of you and what you think is important, actually shows up and throughout the house? Before you purge your story. Think about what is meaningful about your home to you. If you have a messy eclectic style, Cool. Embrace it. This is you. Here is how you can tell that mess or style is not working for you.
When your home doesn’t feel like a sanctuary.
Despite the perceived chaos, if everyone living there feels safe, acknowledged, and love-it becomes a cozy den where they can thrive. If one of those factors are weak or missing, it can be because we are too distracted by our mess.
This is the reason I prefer the show Queer Eye! They notice things about the people they are helping and look for ways to incorporate them into the home…so they feel like they belong there. Make sure you do the same for yourself!
Yes. There are benefits in intentionally choosing to live with less stuff. I simply do not think your life has to become sterile in the process. When sorting out your mess, which do you prefer?
Extreme Makeover or Curated Chaos?
If you missed the original post for this series you can read it here: How to Live More Intentionally this Year