I confess I've never watched the new TV show about Marie Kondo, but I have read her book, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," and I absolutely LOVED IT. It really made sense to me, and I felt like it was going to change my garbage-ridden life. The way she thought carefully about every item in her home and if it no longer served a purpose, she had a method for sending it on it's way--that really spoke to me. The way it wasn't about PURGE! PURGE! PURGE! But more about living only among things you love was right up my alley. And the fold-up style of placing clothes in a drawer legitimately changed my laundry life for the better. It sounds so RIGHT to only keep the things that really bring joy into your life, and to mindfully let go of the rest. I love it. Her method is not without sentimentality, but it's so practical at the same time--I just really, really liked what she had to say.
And yet... My house:
Also my house:
One view of my kitchen:
(Two walls shelves to the right of the frame in that last picture are LOADED with mugs, bowls, kitchen towels, plants, knickknacks, and children's art!)
So, I suppose while Marie Kondo's words resonated with me, they didn't quite leave such a lasting impression when it comes to my housekeeping.
It's been a few years since her book came out, and I have to share a relevant story about it because it kind of encompasses who I am, as it relates to the KonMari method of keeping house.
Not too long after the book was taking the nation by storm, a friend asked if she could borrow my copy. I enthusiastically told her I'd love to lend it to her, because it REALLY changed my life and I enjoyed it so much. I said there were some things that seemed a little over-the-top, but the general intentionality that defined her method was really something I aspired to. So, I went home and looked for the book. And I looked for the book. And I looked everywhere for that blasted book and could not for the life of me remember where I'd put it. I had to email my friend and tell her nevermind--I couldn't find it. Maybe I lent it to someone else without remembering? So sorry.
It was a couple weeks later that my husband pulled a novel off one of our bookshelves for himself to read, and out tumbled "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo! It seems it had succumbed to the overloaded nature of our bookshelves and had fallen back BEHIND a row of books! Heh heh.. Oops! And thus, my life as it relates to the KonMari method was well illustrated.
Also of note: I just now was looking for the book for reference, and doggone, it's lost AGAIN!!
So, you might be wondering, "Gee, Annie, if you were sooooooo inspired by Marie Kondo's art of tidying up, why the heck do you continue to live in such squalor? Why not just implement her method and clean up your house?!" If you ask that, you'd be asking the same question I've asked myself many times over the years, but one that I've just recently come to accept.
And the way I accepted it is this: I still DO try to live only with what "sparks joy." The tricky thing is, I find joy very easily and in a lot of places. I can be a very sentimental person, so I tend to hold onto stories that come along with "stuff," but also I just really think a lot of things in my life are very beautiful and I love them. I'm not an official collector of anything, but I LOVE handmade pottery, so I have quite a collection and I don't want to get rid of any of them because they DO spark joy in my life, and I love serving warm drinks to my friends in them. My large amount of houseplants bring me SO MUCH JOY, while also cleaning my air! Our books? Every year we say it's time to get rid of some books, so we skim the shelves for ones that aren't necessary to keep. If we're lucky we find one to give away, but most of the time we just stand there with hearts in our eyes, feeling pleased and proud of our library that we've grown over the years. And the mess of other things like craft supplies was something I've struggled with... The yarn stash alone threatens to strangle me in the night. But if I look at it with a "does it spark joy" question upon my lips, I say, "YES IT DOES!" and I hug all my happy little skeins and make plans anew for all the gorgeous sweaters I will never actually get around to knitting.
Since the airing of the television show and the revival of Marie Kondo's fame, I've again been faced with the idea that my house is a little cluttery and maybe it's time I do something about it. When I read her book those years ago, I definitely felt the push. And I think I did clear out a good deal, and I maintain that her words impacted me and the way I live among my hoards of things. I do not believe, however, that we have to be minimalists in order to live in a joyfully stocked home. I don't agree with putting a number on possessions. It took me a long time to love my house and my way of decorating because it's quite cluttery... and in the age of minimalism I often feel guilty about the amount of clay mugs and plants I have. But over the last few years, as we've moved a number of times, and been forced to embrace pretty extreme minimalism for different periods, I've just come to realize more and more how much the things I have DO spark joy in my life. I'm not a shopper by nature, which means that most of my possessions have come to me through other people. Many were gifts, some were inherited, and a few we buy with intention. If I love something disposable, I make it not disposable--for example, a plastic dish soap dispenser that I bought years ago from TJ Maxx... I really don't think it's meant to be used for years--it's just thin plastic! But I can't let it go! So I keep refilling it, and it keeps making the mundane task of dishwashing prettier. We also don't have a lot of storage in this house so almost everything we have has to be stored in plain sight. This means I hang kitchen tools (colander, dustpan--I absolutely ADORE my dustpan-- hot pads, etc.) on the walls to double as art and bring me even more joy. Instead of living in a tidy, empty-ish house, I live in a crowded, overstocked house, but everything has a place and everything is a treasured item.
It might be true that my style of decorating is not very in-style right now. It is most definitely true that I'll never be a minimalist and that it's taken me a long time to realize that, but it's also true that I'm a happier person for having realized it and for embracing who I am and the fact that I don't live with a bunch of junk, but a large amount of treasured belongings. I think that's the key difference.
In case you are like me, and feeling a little bit like the KonMari craze is not for you, I'm here to tell you that you're not alone. But also that the main thing that matters in her message is the joy. Isn't that what matters most in a lot of avenues of life? Joy! Purge your household items as it brings you joy, and embrace your clutter in the same manner if that's right for you. It's not about the stuff, it's about surrounding yourself with LOVE, BEAUTY, and JOY.