I thought I would take this weekend to tell you about the start of our own labor of tidying up (See: Tidying Up and To Have or Not to Have) since some of you have expressed interest in the process. We knew it was not going to be easy, but I don’t think either of us was prepared for the emotional exhaustion it entailed.
We started our day with a special pancake breakfast to get ourselves in a festive mood and then, around 8:30, we got down to The Event. There is (dare I say it?) a rigid process to the KonMari method of tidying and you begin with clothing since items of clothing are the least emotional possessions you own. The instructions are to take every single item of clothing, including accessories such as scarves, hats, belts, shoes and purses, and put them on the floor in the middle of the room. Problem One: We do not have a room large enough to put all of our clothing on the floor. So we separated and put my husband’s clothing in one room and mine in another – we were, after all, going to make decisions individually so there was no need to have everything in one room. Problem Two: Even in two rooms, it was not possible to have all the clothing on the floor and be able to be on the floor with the clothing so that we could handle each piece and decide whether it brought us joy. (Before you wonder how much clothing we actually owned, please remember this included underwear, exercise wear, nightwear, coats and boots and hats and mittens, evening gowns, robes and stoles. And we live in a small condo with small rooms.) So, we decided to engage with our clothing in the order Marie Kondo suggests and we took it out sequentially. We knew this was cheating, but the point is to get it done and we were committed to getting it done.
What I regret is not taking a picture (or two or forty) of this process so that you could see the ‘befores’ and ‘afters’. You’ll just have to use your imagination.
Somewhere around noon, we were ready for a tea break and we had not even started accessories. Meanwhile, every room we were not using for the decision-making process, had stacks of clothes sorted to go to different charities. So instead of the house looking clearer and cleaner and more spacious, it looked like the tornado that begins The Wizard of Oz had just moved through our space, leaving most of Kansas behind it.
I’ll be totally honest here: I don’t know how easy my husband found this, but I had a really hard time ‘feeling’ joy. I was pretty quick about saying, “Yes!” when I picked up an item that I adore; and almost as good at saying, “No!” when I picked up one that just felt boring. But there was an awful lot of stuff in the middle that didn’t feel especially anything-at-all. I don’t know about you, but my underwear does not bring me rapture at the best of times. On the other hand, discarding all my underwear until I could find some that threw me into paroxysms of delight seemed like a lost cause. Ditto my panty hose. As my husband said, “There are just some things that are necessary whether you love them to death or not.” (White undershirts seem to be his item in this category.)
And, honestly, I couldn’t feel any difference between one pair of jeans and another. So I tried them on (which is something you are not supposed to do). But if I have to decide, it comes down to: which one looks best on me.
By late afternoon we were both exhausted. ARC had (fortuitously) called about a truck in our area three days after The Event, so we were able to pack up four large garbage bags of clothing for them. My husband’s professional clothing needed to go elsewhere. My vintage clothing will go to a vintage consignment shop. The evening gowns went to a wonderful group that provides prom dresses for girls who cannot afford them, as did several pairs of dressy shoes, and two evening bags. But we didn’t have the energy to get in the car and start making deliveries…so for almost a week, we have had random stacks of clothing all over our house. And Problem Three: If you keep seeing it, you start to second-guess yourself and there is a little return creep into the closet.
But here is the good news – Every single item of clothing we own is now in our master bedroom closet or the coat closet, with the exception of my clergy robes and stoles, my husband’s clergy robes and stoles, his tux, and the one evening gown I kept. And we have one empty drawer in our dresser. I still need to go through some accessories (including purses and scarves) and that should free up a second drawer. And there is nothing anywhere that we don’t want to wear. I suspect that there are additional items that will go the first time one of us puts them on and thinks, “No. No, this actually doesn’t do it for me.”
We have empty storage everywhere. Unfortunately, the clothing discard didn’t really clear much visual space because so much of it is out of sight normally, but it has opened up room in closets and the armoire in the basement to put other items out of sight.
Here is what I learned. I learned to forgive myself for buying things that I never wore, or that I wore four or five times and then stored away and never wore again (because my Yankee genes insist I wear them out or, barring that, keep them for the parousia as proof that I am not wasteful). I accepted what Marie Kondo said about, “Maybe the purpose of that item was to help you discover what you don’t like.” I woke up to the fact that as I have changed emotionally and psychologically, my style has, too. So I really need to release the things that were part of the old style and embrace the new ones that reflect who I am right now. [And, as a corollary, I have permission to discard these things when I change again.]
And I am learning – in yet another arena – to make decisions based on joy and love and delight rather than on rejection or disappointment. In other words, I am choosing what I want to have around me rather than what I want to leave behind. The former quite naturally leads to the latter, but the energy is totally different.
Now that all the stacks of clothing are gone to their new homes (except the vintage pieces that are awaiting my appointment at the store), we are ready to move on to the next area: Books.
Text © 2015, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2015 Immram Chara, LLC
PS There are still three sets of SALE CARDS in my Etsy shop. They will be removed September 21, so now is your chance to get 12 cards for less than $2.10 each (or 6 cards at $2.25 each). I also call your attention to the canvas print of Matrix which is available in the shop. The original will never be sold, but this is a chance to own a limited edition copy.