Saturday, September 03, 2016

Life-Changing Magic?

This past week I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. (If you've heard of the KonMari method, it's this.) I'm getting increasingly into minimalism - if not in practice, at least the idea of it. My room is more minimalistic than most people's, but I come to a point every so often where it feels chaotic and stagnant at the same time. Overgrown.

Preliminary complaints about the book: Kondo tends to present her method of folding/sorting/etc as THE way, and her experiences as THE truth. She also claims that once you get your house decluttered, you will never, not once, revert to your old ways. I find that a little hard to believe.

The beginning section felt like, "Great stuff, Marie, but could you make this last twice as many pages before we get to the actual tidying part?"

However, I love the book's main point: Keep only the things that don't spark joy. Yeah, I have a hard time finding joy in toothpaste or trash cans, but I see the point. If it's not making you happy, why are you hanging on to it? You'll never use those spare buttons, you don't need your laptop's box, and you can find user manuals online.

Guilt-free discarding and, yes, even guilt-free keeping.

Some people advise: If you haven't worn it in a year, you don't need it. Or, pack away undecideds and if you haven't opened the box in 6 months, out it goes. But I like the criteria of: Is it making you happy? Because isn't that why you want your house clean? To have a space you love and can relax in?

Here are the clothes I had before decluttering:

And now divided between keep (on bed), donate (in grey bin and fabric bags), and discard (trash bag).

Here they are now. I don't wear fancy stuff, so everything I own can be folded except my winter coats, which are in the hall closet. (KonMari says to store all your like items together, but I have no curtain rod anymore.) I even fold my dresses. I only have three, and they're jersey, and I wear them less than once a year. These are my everyday/weekly clothes:

And my jewelry and seasonal/special occasion clothes:

Here's my t-shirt basket, just to show you the KonMari folding method. They're folded so I can see them all at once, none get forgotten, and I can easily pull out the one I want without messing up the rest.

I had 171 books, 7 yearbooks, and 7 huge binders.

I've kept 79 books, 4 yearbooks, and 2 binders. In the past 21 days I've mailed out 53 books via Paperbackswap, and sold 10 to the used book store. I have 14 left to get rid of, so if no one requests/buys them soon, I 'll donate them just to get them out of the house. Here's my shelf now:

(Why, yes, I do in fact have multiple YA/teen books in French. I'm a tad obsessed.)

Verdict: I like this book. And I think Americans are so steeped in a consumerist culture, which such easy access to WalMart, craft stores, thrift shops, yard sales, malls, and even new information, classes, and hobbies, that we're good at acquiring things, but not so good at prioritizing. We're never taught to slow down and simplify. So, while I think this book's concepts are great, I know some people who can't let items go. They hold on to anything usable (even if it's not useful), like rarely-used clothes or toys. Sometimes things that aren't even hard or expensive to replace, like grocery bags or used twist ties. They might like the idea of living simply in a relaxing space, but it would be very hard for them to be willing to get themselves there.

I often think of a definition of classics I saw once: Books everyone wants to have read, but no one wants to read. Just a silly little saying, but it so well describes so much in life. In this case, becoming clutter-free is something we all want to have done, but few feel like doing.

Another saying I read once but I think of often is: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

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On a kind of unrelated note, I made new curtains for my closet. The fabric shrank in the wash, then the clip rings came broken the first time, then the finished curtains were too long, then the tension rod had a screw that kept impeding the clip rings' sliding, then the rod kept falling down, then I mangled some plastic wall anchors installing the new curtain rod, then because the curtains are higher up they've gone from 2 inches too long to 2 inches too short. But they're up, and they're staying up forever and ever, and they look pretty nice now that I don't have to think about them anymore.

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