Move over Marie Kondo

Part of this year's crop of rejects.

Part of this year’s crop of rejects.

It’s that time of the year. I get the nesting thing and start to clean out stuff. I happens every year. Each year the cut gets deeper. The goal is that by the time I move to the nursing home, I will only have a suitcase to carry.

This year the bread maker went. This was a painful despite the fact that I haven’t used it in 15 years. Still there may be that day when I want to make bread. A cold, snowy day with a big pot of soup on the stove…..

I was raised by a woman who went through the “Big Depression.” I keep extras of extras just in case, but I’m in recovery. I no longer keep tin cans. (They are great for cleaning paint brushes. Oh wait! I don’t use oil paint!)

I don’t collect fake butter containers (anymore). (I do keep a few quart-sized yogurt containers. You never know when you’ll give someone soup! And just a few take-out containers….for the same reason. I could open a soup kitchen!)

It’s not so much admitting that I don’t use or need something, it’s my neurosis that I have to find a home for the stuff. A good home. One that will nurture it and treasure it (yes we are talking about vases, teapots and other non-life stuff here). I don’t want it to go to the landfill or (gasp!) an unworthy house.

Some of it has value. Cut glass bowls. Some is pretty. Many were gifts. Collectively it’s not enough to bring in an auctioneer or appraiser. (“Sure lady this cut glass bowl is nice but you can buy one at the store for $80!”)

Really tough job (at least for me). Enter Marie Kondo.

She has written a fabulously successful book on organizing. More pointedly – throwing out everything that doesn’t bring you joy. The technique is to hold something to see if it gives you joy. If not, throw out or donate.

You either love her or think it’s a big rip-off. She talks about joy a lot. A whole lot.

Gunny Saxe dress circa 1970 went out. It's a size 7 and I can still get it on. It's tight across the shoulder blades. Funny how your body migrates.

Gunny Saxe dress circa 1970 went out. It’s a size 7 and I can still get it on. It’s tight across the shoulder blades. Funny how your body migrates. This gave me lots of joy. Not so much now.

Could this work for me? Can you really feel joy by holding something? Can I get over the need to re-home?

Where to start? The beloved husband’s stuff? I don’t think I would find joy there. I also don’t think I’d be successful in throwing any of his stuff out. (He oversees the trash.)

I got a lead on a place that sells second-hand stuff (nice stuff) and the proceeds go to a women’s homeless shelter. Their pickings are attractive enough that I know someone who shops there. This would give me joy.

On a positive note I found that I have been folding my clothes correctly. I “rotate” most of my clothes – jeans, nightgowns, socks, etc. To do that you have to fold and store vertically so you can push the pile to the right and add the newly laundered to the left. Perhaps I should write a book!

(Note to self: You missed writing about sex toys and clothes folding, both authors were financially successful. Pay attention please! No one cares about your adventures with lemon pie!)

Author’s note: I did not read Ms. Kondo’s book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” I did watch her YouTube videos. If you are truly disorganized (I’m not disorganized, I just hate to part with usable stuff), it’s a good start.

Another note: Sorry about the blurry selfie. Can’t take a clear picture, focus and hold the camera steady while I press the button. It’s like walking and chewing gum.

 

54 thoughts on “Move over Marie Kondo

  1. You look fabulous in that dress Kate! At first I thought it was a model in an old advertisement. And your thoughts on spring cleaning are right on from a lady who came out of the Great Depression. I may have been raised by the same lady! Imagine saving slivers of soap to make laundry detergent.

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    • Been there. We have a habit of keeping the “old one” until we are sure the “new one” works. That’s true of telephones, computer components, small appliances etc. I found 4 old telephones and computer keyboards/mice dating back a decade that went out this past trash pickup. I’m thinking of making a specific shelf for those and putting an expiration date on each item that’s no more than 3 months so it doesn’t get away from us again. My husband is slowly coming around. At first he had so many records (yes that’s like the 45 rpm vinyl ones) along with the equipment to play them and thousands of photograph slides. I got him to toss duplicates out and any photo that is goofy (eyes closed, something you would never use). He has started putting what he wants on a disc. He is now willing to get rid of boxes and boxes of stuff and old equipment.

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  2. It might tell you where I’m at that I “needed” to buy both of Marie Kondo’s books! I’m still thinking about some aspects of her tidiness ethos. I do love the way she folds clothes and that’s a whole new system for me. I no longer collect, but I still have so many things, though, that have that dreaded sentimental value. I’m still trying to absorb Kondo’s encouragement to only hold onto things that bring joy. I admire how well you’re doing in this area, Kate. Letting go of a Gunny Saxe dress–history–must have been a challenge. 🙂

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    • I’ve kept the dress for “costume” reasons (so I say). I decided I should try it on and when it was uncomfortable (in the shoulder blade area for heaven’s sakes) it was much easier to let it go. Now it’s a challenge finding someone who would use it for “costume” value. I painted for many years but haven’t done that in maybe 15 years. I have been throwing out all my supplies ever so slowly. As the paint hardens, out it goes but this last round I tossed some of the tools and aids keeping only my brushes. That was a hard toss. I’m going to tackle unhung artwork next.

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  3. I can so relate. I think the second post I ever blogged was called “Drowning in Stuff” and dealt with this very topic. I have recently found a good home for so much of my excess not-quite-junk – the school I work in. Just this week I brought in about 15 years worth of empty boxes that had been languishing in our wine cellar. They are being turned into medieval castles as we speak.

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  4. I wish I had the natural urge to clear out stuff! In my first marriage we moved every couple of years, and that was the time to do it … now I am happier and have a closet full of executive clothes … just in case I need to put my corporate hat back on and make some money!
    Looks like its time for letting go … or reading that book.
    Or not 😊

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  5. I started reading her book but gave it up. Throw out a perfectly good item because it doesn’t give me JOY? I don’t think so. As for clothes, I’m with you Kate ~ blazers are hard things to part with. Now that I’m retired, I just don’t wear them any more.

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  6. This was like reading porn…I love that feeling of cleaning out.
    I love love love that photo of you in your Hippie dress! I know some young girls who would wear it in a heartbeat today!
    We have neighbors, who were raised by Depression parents and lord knows they need to read this post. There is a dryer on their patio and a car in their driveway that haven’t moved in 17 years and counting….WHY? The dryer was new when it arrived to be stored for their son when he moved …. he has been in 2 places and never took it and the car was their daughter’s … she’s had 3 cars since!

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  7. I am a total Marie Kondo devotee … Probably almost a groupie. Last April I started with my clothes and all I have left to do is photographs. It’s not for everyone, but for me it really and truly changed my life. I still shop, but with a much more discerning eye, and since I spend less on clothes I can afford to buy better quality stuff when I do shop. My hubby claims to have bought in to it but he really hasn’t (witness his 3 closets of clothes) but that’s not my problem because he crams his own clothes into drawers & on racks. Space on shelves brings me joy 🙂

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    • You either love her or not. The good tips are on vertical folding, dedicating time with an end time and doing a category at a time. I can do clothing well. With other stuff I get caught up in my fantasies (like baking bread on a cold snowy day although I haven’t done that in over 20 years). Her idea about taking pictures of some sentimental items and then tossing is good too. I can’t be as brutal as she is and it’s taken a few years to downsize my business wardrobe (retired 4 years ago) because you know….I might just want to wear a suit to grocery shop! Baby steps but always forward!

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  8. This is a funny post. Love the suitcase line. I LOVE getting rid of things. Filling up a Hefty Trash bag is better than sex. I then drag it all to housing Works where, when I see it later on in the week for 2 bucks, feel like I abandoned my children. Oh well. Funny essay.

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  9. My breadmaker gives me JOY . . . so I’m keeping it!

    OK, now that that’s out of the way ~> GO YOU!!! I love to clear out clutter if it can be recycled, donated, given away, or sold. But I don’t want to stuff landfills w/ usable stuff.

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  10. So you finally parted with a 1970’s dress. Well, that must have been a biggie. My wife holds onto things, multiple things of the same kind. It’s like the old George Carlin routine of having so much if something you’ll never run out of it in your lifetime. Of course if you never use it…..

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  11. My husband purges stuff for me. Even stuff I don’t want purged. I can’t let him do garage sales or Craig’s list without supervision. Not after he sold my old bed and mattress, the ones we could have used in the guest room…

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  12. I’m not as good as you are about getting rid of things. I get the urge once in a while and take a bunch of stuff to our local Discovery Shop (sales support the Cancer Society – a cause near and dear to both of us). It looks like it may be time again! I know what you mean about body shifts… I weigh about the same, but things fit very differently. Good for you for still fitting in your dress, despite your buffed shoulders.

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  13. Oh, dear God, where does all this stuff come from? I keep throwing stuff out or donating it and in no time at all, I have more. I have quit going to malls as I won’t be tempted if I don’t see it. I also throw out any catalog that comes in the mail without looking. Still, I have stuff I don’t need. It breeds like rabbits.

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    • It does breed. I do at least one post a year on it. Last year I let go of a beautiful full length wool coat (25 years old but perfect). Lesser things go out easily. It’s the hard cuts I agonize over and they are always things I would never wear/use now (like the Gunny Saxe dress). Today we delivered 6 lamps and 12 boxes to a shelter thrift shop.

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      • Sometimes I feel like a hoarder. Much of it is not mine, though, so I appease my guilt that way. I have 20 bins in my garage waiting for a garage sale. I don’t want to think about the attic.

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        • Kudos to you! Garage sales are work! The stuff needs to be clean (at least somewhat), tables set up, and then there is the time. I did a rough dusting of my stuff (so it wouldn’t be too embarrassing) but I mostly packed it up and carted it off. My attic needs work too but it’s been too cold to go up there. We did get the lamps out but I didn’t do that.

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  14. I absolutely hate accumulating stuff. I went on a tear last fall when I knew I wouldn’t be working anymore. I packed up decades of beautiful suits, etc. in a wide range of sizes (OK, I pulled, Dan packed) and just recently we put 20 or so giant trash bags of stuff out for the Lupus people to pick up. I feel like I could have sold some stuff on Close 5 (sold my living room furniture on that app) but I just don’t have the energy to go through all that. I’m like you, I don’t want anyone to get stuck going through all my crap once I’m gone (mentally, physically or both!). HOWEVER, I am completely impressed with your ability to get in to your Gunne Saxe dress, and the fact that you’ve kept it all these years. I had at least two back in the day. And I hate to encourage you, but you might want to hang on to that dress if you have any kind of Halloween party in your future, because you’re radiating Alice in Wonderland. Giving me full on Alice my friend.

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    • I wore it to a party dressed as Anne Boleyn (with her head of course). It’s very tight at the shoulder blades and wouldn’t be comfortable to wear now. (What kind of person gets fat shoulder blades?) I don’t want to really throw it out and let’s face it, what donation place would take it. I’m looking for a young teenager who would like to dress as Anne Boleyn or Alice for a party.

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  15. I’m not sure I agree with the joy factor. My dryer doesn’t necessarily bring me joy, especially when it’s loaded with a bunch of clothes to fold…but I need it. I love to donate, but I typically make the decision based on usage. If I haven’t worn it or used it in a year, it goes.

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    • In my head I have the 2 year rule (haven’t worn in 2 years). In my heart I have attachments like that Gunny Saxe dress which no one would wear anymore. I cleaned out another work blazer but still have about 8 of them. I love blazers but I don’t wear them with my jeans or yoga clothes so they just hang there. Each year another goes out.

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  16. Too funny Kate! I DID read Marie’s book. First observation I had was she probably had no husband or children! Just found out she has a new book out and her eyes have been opened – she now has spouse and child! Lol! Read the first book. You’ll be amazed. I’ve got the second one on my TBR list. I got as far as the clothes folding chapter (love it) and am stumped now. You aren’t supposed to decluttering for your husband and most of this crap is his! I keep telling myself that…~Elle

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  17. I grew up with parents who believed you saved everything just in case someone needed it. Who this mythical someone was I never knew… but don’t throw useful items out was the message. Thus, it’ll come as no surprise that I find this Marie Kondo phenomenon to be pure gibberish. Not that I’m totally like my parents and save it all, but I sure as heck don’t throw something away because it doesn’t spark me. Gibberish, I tell you.

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    • You either love her or think it’s gibberish. I didn’t throw out my painting clothes (which don’t give me joy unless the paint job goes well). It’s straddling that fine line between being a hoarder and tossing out something only to buy it again the next week. (Yep, did that in an overly zealous cleanout a few years back.)

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