The Quest to Tidy: Clothes Closet, Part 2

Clothes are the very first thing Ms. Kondo suggests one tackles in her KonMari method of tidying house. When I first started applying KonMari to my own household last summer, I started with clothes. And my goodness did we get rid of clothes… (You can read that post here.)

When I picked up the process of KonMari once again this summer, I began with clothes. My husband’s wardrobe hasn’t changed too drastically, so I left his alone, but mine had seen at least one more big thrift store sale as well as new purchases this spring before going on international vacation. It needed going through.

clothes on bedI will admit that this is all I bagged up to donate. Just 25 items. But it was so much easier going through my closet this time around. Not to mention I was also pulling from an already heavily reduced inventory. I couldn’t really expect to pull 100 or more items. There are a few pieces I almost pulled for the donation pile this time, but I’m not quite ready to let go and if I still don’t touch them for another six months it won’t be so difficult.

Doing this a second time I was able to more easily tell my feelings about the clothes I had. The skirts that were a little too short, the shirts that didn’t quite stretch long enough, the dresses that were worn less now that I had others I liked better to wear… all were so much easier to thank for once being mine and let go.

Yes, I do still thank things out loud, both when I keep them and when I let them go, as I go through the KonMari process. For some, this part of the method is more metaphorical. They use it to simply be conscious of their decisions and the reasoning behind them. For me I take it a bit more literally. It works for me. I talk to the objects in my house frequently, so why would I not talk to them when figuring out whether or not they will remain a part of my household?

I would like to be able to keep up the process of going through my clothes about once a year. It would keep my closet from getting out of hand, and also keep me aware of whether or not the things I’m keeping are actually being used. Not to mention, it just feels good to open your closet and see only things you love to wear.

The Quest to Tidy: Having a Plan, Sort of

“No matter how messy your house may be, tidying deals with physical objects. No matter how much stuff you may own, the amount is always finite. If you can identify the things that bring you joy and decide where to keep them, the job of tidying must inevitably come to an end. The more you do it, the closer you get to a house full of joy. Therefore, nothing could be more wasteful than to give up in the middle.”
– Marie Kondo, “Spark Joy”

The KonMari method is very particular on the order in which you are supposed to go through your house as you tidy up. Me? I am not so particular. Honestly, if I can manage to use the KonMari method to break up the giant task of tidying, I’m calling it a win.

And yet KonMari has definitely taught me a few of things that I am employing as I tackle this project at my personal, slow pace.

  1. Thank everything. Be grateful. This is one of the things that is a bit too ‘silly’ for some, but I thank every item (often out loud) as I tidy ever since reading her first book. Sometimes it’s a thank you because the item is so wonderful I can’t part with it. Sometimes it is a thank you because the item taught me something about myself/my habits/my style and I am ready to move on from it. Sometimes it is a thank you even though I have no desire to hold onto the item because perhaps it was a gift or something else similar.
  2. Don’t tidy by room! (My personal exception being when you have company coming and you are doing a quick once-over.) If you’re going to tidy clothes, put them all in one spot before you start. If you are going to tidy jewelry, put it all in one spot before you start. Same with dishes, toiletries, books, instruction manuals… anything! Do all of one category at one time. It really does help put perspective on what you have and what you can let go.
  3. Tidying really is slowly changing my mindset. It isn’t just ‘throwing stuff out’. It’s creating, one tiny step at a time, a personal space where I feel happy and content. A space where I don’t have things that make me feel burdened or responsible. The more I clear away, the more clearly I can see for myself what is more important. Just because I have memories tied to nearly everything does not mean I need to keep everything. I’m still “over keeping”, I’m sure, but I’m evaluating my reasons for doing so more and more.

KonMari doesn’t work for me in the same way it does for the people in her books, but that’s okay. That doesn’t make me a failure nor does it make her process a failure. And one day, if I don’t give up, this finite project will have an end. Now, on toward tidying!

For the Love of Writing Letters

Most people like receiving mail. Not bills or credit card offers or sale ads, but the kind of mail that means something. Birthday cards. Christmas cards. Just thinking of you cards. A brief note saying hello. An announcement of good news. The old-fashioned sort of letter catching a friend up on one’s life.

Most people like receiving that sort of mail, but most people don’t seem to want to take the time to write it, and that’s the problem. It’s not that we want less snail mail in our lives, it’s that no one believes they have the time to send it.

Colorful Mailboxes - from Morguefile (cropped)

This last month I’ve been on a bit of a mailing binge. I’ve sent out 15 postcards and 4 letters. It would have been more if my postcards had registered faster or I’d received more replies. I suspect September’s numbers on those fronts will grow now that it seems I may have some new pen pals as well. Continue reading

Tidying Your Digital Life: The Initial Assessment

The bathroom is scrubbed. The kitchen is spotless. The curtains are freshly washed. The couch cushions are arranged just so. But what kind of mess is your digital life in?

digital life, digital woman

I didn’t want to talk about this side of tidying until I’d managed to make it a steady habit. I’m good at announcing projects and effectively shooting myself in the foot when doing so because then I never get anywhere. With this one though, I’ve been steadily making headway for about a year now, so clearly I’m not about to give it up.

You might be following my series “The Quest to Tidy” which is all about my adventure in trying to use some of Marie Kondo’s tactics (dubbed the KonMari method) to tidy up my household once and for all. It’s been an on-again, off-again project since late last spring and while my house is not yet perfectly organized, her words inspired another project for me to work on. Digital tidying.

Take just a moment and evaluate your digital situation.

Here’s just a smidge of where mine started: Continue reading

Worldwide Post Report: July 2016

It’s been a long time since I was able to do a proper post report around here, but as I am at least currently fully immersed in postcrossing again I have new favorites to share.

2016 July - AustriaFirst up, my very first postcard from Austria!

The sender told me the first time the town of Straßwalchen is mentioned in history can be found all the way back to the year 799, though it had a different name at the time. In the heat we’re having right now, a snow-covered town in Europe seems like the perfect place to escape. Continue reading

On Some Days…

Have you ever had one of those days?

When the librarian, being helpful, directs you to another self-check out, but because she called out to you the only thing you feel is stupid for not seeing it, and as though the stupid has been painted on you like a target everyone else can see.

When after going to McDonald’s (because the only other option for dinner that sounds good is nothing and didn’t Happy Meals fix things as kids?), you realize the cashier in the drive thru didn’t even thank you for your business, and now you feel tiny and loathed for being a consumer that made him do his job. His blank stare when he handed you your receipt was probably because he’s imagining not working at a McDonald’s drive thru and didn’t even see you, really see you, but all the same you feel judged and sentenced in that single breath.

When you calm yourself down from the panic, rising anew, at the prospect of crossing just five miles across town to get home, cars pressing in around you like anxious sharks around a bleeding fish, by telling yourself it’s okay, you can listen to the quiet burble of the aquarium filter as you watch the fish you love at home… only to remind yourself that you got rid of the fish a few years ago and finally sold the tank last year, because every place in your home that could fit the tank is a haven for algae and nothing will live.

When you convince yourself that it’s okay if the librarian thinks you’re stupid and the McDonald’s cashier hated you as a lesser creature than he and the fish are long gone… because after you eat your hamburger you can go sit on the swing set in the park, sweating in the rolling waves of the leftover heat of an August sun, and talk to your friend who always insisted that the world made sense on a swing set, pour your heart out to him as the chains on the swings groan and screech, beg him to make sense of everything driving needles into your heart because on swing sets we have the answers… …and remember that he, too, turned his back on you years ago.

I can’t go sit on the swing set alone.

On those days, it becomes very hard to create.

KidLit Love: Otto the Owl Who Loved Poetry

This book has three of my favorite things – owls, poetry, and the moon – so how could I not pick it up?

Otto the Owl“Otto the Owl Who Loved Poetry” is about an owl who is far more interested in pretty words than he is in doing… well, just about anything owls would normally do. And wouldn’t you know it, all the other owls think he’s weird for it.

This is Vern Kousky’s first children’s book, published in 2015 and suggested for ages 5-8. I think it is a sweet introduction into poetry and would be great for kids who want to make the next leap from simple fun rhymes (Feline in the Bonnet, anyone?) to something a bit more classical without going over their heads. I like that Otto quotes bits of familiar poets like Eliot and Dickinson, but he and some of the other characters make up their own poems too.

Otto the OwlWhen it comes to picture books, the art makes or breaks it for me, and I really enjoyed Kousky’s art in this as well. Though do the other owls remind you of the Fireys from Labyrinth, or is that just me?

*Is there a children’s book about poetry, books, or creativity that you want me to check out? Make sure to leave the suggestion in the comments!

Thoughts on Rejection

We are now over the hump of the first half of the year and this is right about the time I’d love to be announcing “Guess what? I had work accepted for publication!!” Unfortunately… that’s not the case. And it’s awful easy to feel down about it.

Some rejections I expected. Big publications that accept a very small volume of work. But hey, pie in the sky, right? The answer is always no if they don’t even see your work.

Other rejections I had hoped not to see, felt like I had a better chance of finding placement, but in the end it was not to be. Once again… small volume of work accepted. Maybe I just wasn’t a good fit for the editor.

But at the same time my feelings on the matter are still bolstered this year. Continue reading

Getting Back to Postcrossing

Postcrossing‘ is one of my favorite hobbies. I love snail mail and postcrossing helps to satisfy that love, especially in a world where so many people don’t even send birthday cards or Christmas cards through the mail anymore. It’s as easy as uploading my mailing address to the site and creating a basic profile. I request an address from someone else in the world, write them a post card, and once they have registered it as received, someone else is given my address! (Your address is only seen by the people who are given your address as someone to write to. The general public cannot see it.) You never know who you will write to or receive from next.

The nice thing about this hobby is you can easily put exactly however much time and money into it you want. When we hit a rough patch in finances and were saving for some big expenses, it was easy for me to simply stop requesting new addresses and thus put the hobby on hold.

I’m happy to say that I’m actively postcrossing again. I’ve missed it dearly.

postcard from new mexicoHere is the first one received after nearly a year of taking time off…

To be honest, I didn’t even know postcrossers really had meet ups. This one of course had already occurred and this was just a commemorative card they had made.

For me, I think, I prefer to stick to the snail mailing side of things. I think it is awesome any time a group of people can get together over a hobby they share (assuming that hobby is, you know, non-detrimental to themselves or society). But for me when it comes to postcrossing it feels a bit odd. I like the slight anonymity and briefness of a postcard and leaving it at that.

Do you still send snail mail?

Putting My ‘Tidying’ Hat Back On

Has it really been 10 months since I went on a tidying hiatus and 8 months since I had a small post about the whole process? My goodness! Time to dust off the tidying hat and get back on the train.

A little over a year ago I read Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”. It completely changed how I look at tidying and keeping house. I have not, however, ‘completed’ her course in getting my own house in order. After making great progress last year, I hit burn out in addition to simply too many other things going on in my life that demanded attention. (That’s only partially an excuse. It’s also at least somewhat true.) You can click on the “Quest to Tidy” link to the right, listed under “Recurring Segments,” if you want to catch up on all of the posts written so far.

woman with hat reading a book

How I imagine I’ll spend time when my life is tidied up…

To get myself back in the mindset for this summer project (and probably fall and winter too…) I have been rereading Marie Kondo’s first book as well as starting in on her second: “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up”.

“So, let me ask you point-blank: Are you committed to completing the once-in-a-lifetime special event of tidying up?”
– Marie Kondo, “Spark Joy”

Probably not quite as committed as she’d like me to be were I one of her clients, and I already know from reading her first book that there are a few things she does I simply will not do (such as pare my book collection down to a single shelf or two of favorites), but I saw the progress I made last year and I know that if I’m a little bit hard on myself and don’t completely give up, I can certainly make a lot more.

Expect many more posts to come (including a spin-off mini-series on organizing your digital life, something Marie Kondo also inspired me to do), but for now I’ll leave you with this very important quote from the brilliant lady herself. It’s good to think on before you roll up your sleeves and take on the seemingly-giant task of tidying.

“The responsibility for mess and clutter lies 100 percent with the individual. Things do not multiply of their own accord, but only if you buy them or receive them from someone else. Clutter accumulates when you fail to return objects to their designated place. If a room becomes cluttered “before you know it,” it is entirely your own doing. In other words, tidying up means confronting yourself. 

In contrast, dirt does accumulate of its own accord. It is a law of nature that dust and dirt pile up. Therefore, cleaning means confronting nature.”
– Marie Kondo, “Spark Joy”

 

*Image taken from Pixabay, creative commons license, user Pezibear