Marie Kondo's book, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," sat
on my bookshelf for months before I opened it. As you may know, Marie Kondo's
bestseller is a step-by-step guide to decluttering one's home by identifying
the items that spark joy. When done thoroughly, it promises to bring a calm yet
motivational mindset. Usually, I am resistant to self-help books.
But the truth is, my self needed some help.
I've always been a tidy person. So I genuinely thought that
the problem with our messy house was everyone else in my family. My kids are
complete barbarians, trailing miscellany with every step. And my husband's
habits totally irked me. I'd swear the house was so much easier to keep tidy
when he went away on business. His wadded-up receipts and loose change on the
dresser, his closet overflowing with clothing. The door doesn't even shut
because it's blocked by a duffle bag stuffed with sweatshirts and shoes.
Marie Kondo shares an anecdote in her book about how she
started throwing away her family's items seemingly to help them help
themselves. But when the family eventually caught on, they were extremely
resentful. Wrong way to go. The better way to get others to declutter is to
lead by example.
So I started with my own stuff and prayed that this so-called "life-changing magic" would follow.
Marie Kondo recommends tidying up by category, starting with
the easiest thing: your clothing.
I've always considered myself good at letting go. As a kid,
my mom taught me not to get attached to material things. I moved around a lot, so the process of purging was a big part of my life. But the "KonMari" method
goes deeper than simply getting rid of things you don't need. It involves
taking out each and every item from all the corners of house, handling each one
and asking "Does it spark joy?" It approaches decluttering not from "what I
want to purge from my life," but "what I want to keep in my life."
Many items were easy to categorize, and went straight to the
Goodwill pile: outdated jeans, loungewear, bathing suits that had lost their
And then I came to a dress, a pretty floral shift in a
lightweight rayon blend. I wore it once—15 years ago—and never again.
It had survived many a purge.
Why was I holding onto this dress?
Did it have
something to do with the fact that a celebrity crush I worked with flirted with
me while I was wearing it? Oh, God. Subconsciously, this dress had become a part
of my self-worth. A movie star said I looked pretty in it, so I kept it.
There's nothing as embarrassing as realizing you're a
happily married mother of two, holding onto a dress to support your ego.
At some point in my life, it must've sparked joy. But now it
was time to move on. Marie Kondo's philosophy states that if we're holding onto
things, we're holding onto the past and we're fearful of the future. She writes
about saying goodbye with gratitude to the things that have made us who we are.
And that's what I said to that flower shift: "May you give
some other girl the confidence she needs when she needs it. And may she pass
you on when she becomes a woman who can find her confidence within."
Digging deeper into my closet I found another dress. This
dress was not quite as old, but it also hadn't been touched since it was first
worn. It was my wedding dress. Never cleaned in nine years, it sat in a garment
bag. Not even on the hanger. It was clumped in the bottom of the bag. Was this
a statement on my marriage? I was ashamed at how I had treated this dress,
especially since all it represents sparks oodles of joy.
I brought it to the cleaners.
After a day of purging, I showed off my gorgeous new closet
to my husband, my face beaming with pride. I didn't mention donating the dress
I wore when that actor hit on me. Nor did I mention my wedding dress
revelation. Later, while we were out to lunch with the kids, I asked him how he
wanted to spend the afternoon. "I think I'd like to KonMari my closet." he said.