I love organizing. Always have. When I was a little girl, my mother and I would spend many happy hours organizing drawers and closets and dolls and trinkets. I found comfort in order and I guess she did, too.
I am raising two sons who also love organizing. I always tried to make it fun. And as my boys have gotten older, organizing their room and their “stuff” becomes an opportunity to donate things to others. Organizing is soothing for us all.
I also love collecting things. And I am exceedingly sentimental, which makes for lots of things accumulating. I have my grandmother’s linens and her collection of cast iron miniatures. I have all of the family photo albums. I have the same collection of beads I have had since I was a little girl. There are so many things I need to have on hand as an artist; there are boxes and trays of miscellany which sometimes get transformed into art by idle hands.
And so I have a lot of stuff.
When I moved houses after my divorce, things started multiplying. My sons gathered more decks of cards and stuffed animals and pencils and miscellaneous boy things; it was spilling over. But since I moved into a house bigger than the one bedroom house we lived in until they were 5 and 8, I had so much more room to store all of the stuff. So I didn’t really confront it.
And then two years ago, my friend Chanel lent me her copy of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. And my life changed. Truly. Madly. And yes: deeply.
I read that book as if my sanity depended on it. Every single word rang true for me. Chanel and I exchanged texts with so many emojis and exclamation points and question marks the week that I tore through that book:
“OMG this book is everything!!!! ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ 🎈”
“How did I live without Marie Kondo?!?!???!?!?!!?!??! ❤️❤️❤️
“Can I marry Marie Kondo?!?!?!?!?!?!?! 👰❤️ 😂”
“How can I properly thank you for this book?!?!?!?!? 👭❤️👭”
I lost my sanity in the best way over this book and its simple elegant philosophy: We collect and hold onto things out of fear rather than joy in so many cases. A true accounting of your life and your things can allow you to be in control of your relationship with material objects and will ultimately make room for emotional abundance and freedom.
The promises are deep, and so is this journey.
I jumped in with both feet. I followed her book to a T, starting with the “easy” things to go through (kitchen, clothes) and working my way up to the hardest of all things to go through: pictures and photo albums. I listened when Kondo told me to do this process in a discrete period of time so that the impact would be optimized. Girl, was she right. I eventually donated about 20 large bags FULL of stuff. With every step I took as directed by this lovely little book, I felt freedom knocking at my door.
I know where everything is in my house: There is indeed a place for everything and everything is in its place. I know what containers and boxes hold what in every closet and drawer. I was able to keep things that are important to me and I still have my collections of cast iron miniatures and vintage handkerchiefs and beads and buttons and weird things only I love. I have lost a sense of guilt about holding onto things that don’t bring me joy. I used to hang onto gifts I would never use out of guilt. I no longer carry that weight and that burden. I make smarter choices about what items to allow into my home, thus reducing clutter.
I have discovered a joy in folding clothing and linens that I never imagined before; I share this love with friends and family who want help organizing their drawers and spaces. My sons’ and my drawers are a source of pride for me and for them. Everything fits better and I create space when I fold our things the way Kondo describes.
My physical space being cleaner allows my mental space to be cleaner as well. I feel consistently better and happier about my home and my life.
I know these things may sound lofty or out of reach. But they aren’t. For me, it all started with a small book, a friend I could check in with, and the desire to create more space for joy in my life. I have gained so much from challenging myself and I never want to go back to the way things were before. I don’t miss one second of that chaos, denial or disarray.
The new me is still disorganized and things still pile up as they are wont to do. But now, I have a way to fix the things and the way I feel about those things. Indeed, the art of decluttering and organizing has changed my life!