On the first day of the new year, I bought ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing Book’ by Marie Kondo. I couldn’t put the thing down, I read it in a day... and for a dyslexic that’s saying something!
I’ve always been a disorganized, messy, ridiculous person. A total slob. I’ve tried a lot of things to try and fix this about myself, but honestly nothing seemed to stick. I think my problem is rooted in three things.
There’s something in my brain that just doesn’t seem to recognize mess. You’ll come into my house and be shocked by all the piles of stuff, but honestly, I wouldn’t even notice if not for the look of horror on faces. This applies to other people's homes too - as long as there aren’t dead animals lying around, I’m pretty oblivious to mess.
My attention tends to flow from one project to another when I’m home. At work this isn’t a problem, but when I’m home I have a million projects and ideas I want to work on. I’ll start one then move to another, and I don’t like to put the stuff away because in my mind I’m still working on it.
- I’m a pack rat. I hate throwing things away, I come by this honestly - my grandmother was the same way. She used to unwrap her Christmas gifts and keep the paper, so when she passed away we found all the old paper in the back of her closet (side note: she was the best).
Before I got married I didn’t think about my sloppy ways much. Every few months I would freak out and tidy up, but it never ever stuck. Then suddenly what was my problem became our problem...
At this point I’m pretty positive that everyone has heard of the Kondo method, but I’ll give you a brief summary:
only keep objects that bring you joy.
I went though all my possessions and held them and asked myself if they made me happy. Anything that didn’t had to go. In the end I gave five big bags to charity and five more went straight into the garbage.
The Kondo method takes some time as you go through all your possessions. I looked through my clothes, toiletries, kitchenwares, and knickknacks. I skipped books, because my husband and I merged our books and we are both very very much in love with our collection.
It took me about two weeks to purge my belongings and then...joy! I have to say the results were amazing. For the first time ever I felt like I had control over my space and I felt at peace in my home. I wish, I really wish, that I had tackled this problem years ago. I wish that I had tackled it for my own benefit. I wish that I had really, deeply realized how unhappy all this junk, all these piles all this stuff, had made me. It was only once when my home was uncluttered that I realized how unhappy I was. I don't know if ‘happy’ is really the right word, it's more that there was a fog surrounding me - a murkiness that I would never acknowledge.
Then tragedy struck.
My bathroom fell through the floor. Okay, well, not exactly, but my toilet fell almost an inch into the floor (...when I was on it, but that’s a story for another time), then all the tiles started cracking and the bathtub slipped into the wall. After a surprisingly difficult time convincing our landlord that he did in fact have to fix our only washroom and that, no, we can’t “just use the coffee shop down the street”, we moved out while he fixed the bathroom.
We were vagabonds for a week. When we got home it was like a bomb had gone off. Everything was everywhere and there was dust and film over everything single thing in every single inch of our apartment.. I was upset and felt like I could never get back to where I was, I could never get back to being tidy and clean. Because I’m just naturally messy, I assumed fate wanted me to be a slob.
But then a crazy thing happened. I started putting stuff away. Slowly at first, scrubbing the bathroom and putting the toiletries away, before cleaning a mountain of dust-covered clothes. Everything just started finding its way back to its place, like it tidied itself.
I don’t know how much of this was Marie Kondo, how much was the support and help of my amazing partner, or how much was just realizing that it was time for me to change, but there has been a change.
And I’m so very very grateful to Marie Kondo for that.