Tidying up

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing. -Phyllis Diller

This is why I should never buy self-help books in January.

I resisted the urge to pick up the small aqua hardcover entitled The life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo three times during the holidays. Three times.

Then, a week ago, I was in Target and the darn book called to me.  Seriously.  I’m pretty sure that I had an out of body experience where I was teleported to the back of the store to buy this decluttering bible written by a woman who makes her living organizing the stuff other people. I picked it up and leafed through it.  It was 30 percent off. Wait, what? The chance to change my life was on sale?

Okay, so I’m a little vulnerable this January. I’ll admit it. The kids have flown the coop, but about 30 percent of their accumulated stuff is still in limbo in the bedroom purgatories of their own making. So yes, I would say that parts of my house are desperately in need of a little decluttering, for sure.

I read Kondo’s book from cover to cover in one evening. She is a hoot even when she isn’t trying to be. She might also be a tad bit OCD, if you ask me. In the Introduction, she talks about how, as a child, she spent a lot of time sneaking around and throwing away her siblings’ possessions because she just couldn’t help herself. Kondo believes that it is important to keep only those objects that bring joy. She spends a great deal of one chapter walking her reader through the process of determining which articles of clothing are joyful and which ones are clearly not. She almost lost me here. It seems like a lot of pressure to put on a sock, if you ask me. Her advice was a little too flaky and woo woo! for a practical Scandinavian who considers anything that isn’t grossly uncomfortable or scratchy to fit that bill.

Despite my doubts, I decided to take Kondo’s advice and change my life.  I’ve been working at it for three days now, and I’m exhausted.  The upside? My closet has never looked better. Neither has my office, which has been liberated from an entire laundry basket full of books I’ll never miss. Next on my list are the kitchen cupboards and food pantry, but those will have to wait since I’m recovering from asking every  book I own whether or not owning it brought me joy.  I can’t bear the thought of having that conversation with my dishtowels yet. I just can’t.

Until I can, I’ve decided to spend some time decluttering my mind instead. For starters, I will think only of the people I love and the places that bring me joy. Next, I’ll toss out negativity and needless worrying. I’ll probably scrap cable news and bellicose politicians, too, while I’m at it.  Yup. That’s my next project in January. A good, old-fashioned, spiritual housecleaning. Then, I’ll put on a pair of warm, joyful, socks and sit by the fire while I refresh my soul with sweet music and good books on cold, winter evenings.

Sorry, Marie. The kitchen cupboards can wait. That’s what doors are for.

I have more important things to do.

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