I Got Rid of 60% of My Clothes

I finally got around to clicking on Tidying Up with Marie Kondo instead of watching another episode of The Office on Netflix.

I was surprised to learn Marie Kondo doesn’t speak English and expected the show to be annoying. Instead, I found Marie charming and whimsical. Her disposition is very light, happy. One thing she can  say was “I love mess!” So she’s some sort of fairy.

The first episode was about a family with two kids, and mom was too overwhelmed to handle the mess. I related to that on a spiritual level, except I’m not overwhelmed by the messes, they were just not at the top of my priorities. Dad was frustrated she couldn’t keep the house clean. Same.

One episode was all I needed to see. For one, the episodes are all kind of the same except they may provide guidance on different categories of mess. But after one episode I trusted Marie, and I trusted the process. I ordered the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

Netflix and Kondo Enterprises had me right where they wanted me.

The Book

I was eager to begin the book. It was infused with Marie Kondo’s personality and life experience; it wasn’t just an instructional book.

She revealed that considers herself a naturally lazy person yet has been obsessed with organizing since five years old…

I, too, consider myself a naturally lazy person. Wendy Williams once said she would have been lazy in her twenties if not for her jobs making her push forward. Same. I can work hard, but not trying to be busy for the sake of being busy.

Anyway, organizing and neatness is a part of Japanese culture. Kondo studied magazines about organizing and read books on the topic growing up.

Her theories and methods changed over time, which impresses me because I never had a method. I take that back– I tried just kicking my clothes under the bed for a while, but my husband has a problem with that.

Time to Change

When my husband started complaining about my neatness in marriage counselling, I began to consider the concept of neatness. Until then I had always considered myself a messy person because wanting things in their places was something I had to develop. Immediately returning items to where they belong is a whole other phase of development.

My husband was trying to “accept me for who I am” and say he can choose to tolerate my bad habits. I vehemently told my husband I would become neater!

I would rather use that goodwill for something else.

There had to be a way! God was not going to give me a husband only to piss him off with my bad childish ways.

The book suggests tidiness is something that can be taught rather than only possessed innately. If I had the right thinking about it, it would not be so hard to stay on top of.

I began to understand how my transformation would take place. Once I reduced the amount of energetic noise in my home, everything could have a place, and I would be drawn to keep them there.

Marie says none of her personal clients have ever returned to their messy ways of living. Even though I was my own client, my fingers were crossed.

I was once able to keep the house together. Even after I started working full-time the house was cleaner than it is now. But four years of accumulating things and a child who has a ton of things and pulls our things out of their places has made this a losing battle.

My husband was frustrated I didn’t clean up after our son or stop him from making messes. I didn’t know that until we went to counseling. I had felt like, number one, I had better things to do than chase after an infant, and number two, allowing my infant to pull things out of the cabinets would allow him to explore, which is good for him.

The solution was actually to reduce the opportunities for my son to make a mess.

Anyway, I was happy to have guidelines for how to put my entire house in order right in time for our big move back to Missouri. When I close a chapter, I like to symbolically discard things to make it easier to move on. When I’ve left jobs, I have thrown away the cups I used for water or even an article of clothing I wore. Leaving my home was going to take much more discarding to freely move to the next space of my life.

Getting Started

It was not an hour after I returned from dropping my mother-in-law at the airport that I began pulling all my clothes into the guest bedroom. This is step one in the book. Part way through doing that, I remembered I was supposed to greet the house and stopped to offer a little prayer of gratitude.

I thanked the house for protecting us from the elements and crime. For being a place we have been comfortable. For storing all our things and for allowing us to welcome guests.

Pulling all my clothes into the same place and finally coming clean with the shame I carried for having too much felt great. I felt guilt for never feeling I had enough but somehow having too much at the same time. What the process helped me understand is that I had a lot of things that weren’t sparking me joy, and that’s why I never felt satisfied.

I easily pared down to only keeping about 40% of the items in that room. No question. I quickly returned those items to their drawers and hangers.

I admit, I did not thank each piece of clothing before shoving into a bag or draping it over a chair. I tried to, but many of my items never served me. They were given to me and held onto out of guilt of being wasteful.

I called a friend with a Poshmark account to see if she wanted to try to sell any of the items, including an unworn David’s Bridal wedding dress. She took a heap of clothes with the agreement to split profits 50/50.

The rest of the wearable clothes I put in trash bags, and my husband took them to a donation box. I gave up hopes of consigning things or taking them to Plato’s Closet because those were obviously too challenging of tasks for me since I hadn’t done them for all these years.

My husband was surprised that I chose to throw away some items that I had actually been wearing like a sweatshirt from my college track days. It had been my favorite sweatshirt but now the sleeves were threadbare and the graphic was crumbling. I did the same for t-shirts I wear to the gym but hate, and cardigans with holes. There was no question about what I should keep.

This process was incredibly easy for me because I could easily identify what I wanted to wear and didn’t want to wear. The book taught me to accept that an items’ purpose may have just been to be purchased or received and not to be worn until holes formed.

I kept one formal dress I have no plans of wearing again, but brings me joy just to look at.

My husband was shocked to see my closet so clean. I used to have piles of shoes I would never wear, but now I just have the ones I like, and they can fit on a shelf in my closet. All my underwear and bras can fit in their drawer, and my t-shirts aren’t packed tight.

Moving Forward

I will admit I have not gotten the room back in order because my own living space was my main focus, but will have to before my mother comes to visit.

I am very anxious to tackle my junk drawers and beauty products. The book didn’t speak to these specifically, but knowing that some items have served their purpose just by being purchased and directing me toward the item I actually needed will help me let go.

The only clothes I have that are not in my closet or dresser (or is it chest?) are maternity clothes, formal wear, and other truly seasonal wear. I am very happy with this change. I can access ALL my clothes with ease.

Prior to going through everything I had been wondering about a white sweater. I found that and another sweater I completely forgot about and am happily wearing right now. I don’t have a bunch of sweaters from high school hiding clothing I actually like.

I find myself applying that same concept to my life. Maybe that project I was eager to do served its purpose when it introduced me to excitement and it’s okay if I don’t complete it. Maybe that person I was cool with has served their person, and it’s okay if she never texts me.

Who knew tidying up would impact more than just my space? I have a lot more work to do, but am optimistic about the further impact taking out the trash will have on my life. All I have left is the treasure.

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