Fits and Starts

That’s how I   would describe this process.  I started back in August and made some great headway.  But as the items get more difficult, the process becomes more challenging as well. A few things can help – supportive family members and friends (the Facebook group is a huge supporting factor),  uninterrupted blocks of time (good luck with that), and breaks.  I firmly believe in taking breaks from the KonMari process so that you don’t become overwhelmed or discouraged.  Last week was Spring Break; most of my teacher friends were off, so I took off too. (Thirty years in education…hard to break some habits!) This week I am doing yard work.  I like to think of it as KonMari for the outdoors.  Pulling weeds may be a losing battle, but I call it exercise.  And while we have had a few chilly days her in North Texas, when the hot weather sets in it will be here for good, so I’m spending as much time outside as I can while it is bearable.

Kondo doesn’t recommend breaks.  In fact, she believes the process should be done in one fell swoop so that you don’t fall back into old clutter-filled habits.  In theory, that makes perfect sense, and I completely understand her reasoning.  But here’s the problem – life gets in the way.  Family, work, social activities – these are all going to impact the amount of time you can truly devote to this.  I have it better than many – I am retired, my husband is being supportive, my daughter doesn’t live at home, and we have a modest sized home of about 1900 square feet.  And yet…I started back in August.

If you try to KonMari exactly as  she says, you might be setting yourself up for failure. Don’t misunderstand – I absolutely love this process and am doing my best to adhere to her principles.  But rather than looking at them as “rules”, I am choosing to look at them as “guidelines”.  To be sure, I am a rule-follower (most of us Type As are), but I do have a little bit of a rebellious side.  I like to call it “common sense”.  If KMing your entire home in one month doesn’t make sense for you, then don’t do it that way.  The process is only going to work if you are committed to it.  The only way you are going to commit to it is if it makes sense to you, and the only way it is going to make sense to you is if you can do it in a way that feels manageable.

This process should free you, not frustrate you.  So do it, but if you have to make adjustments, don’t beat yourself up over it.  A perfect example would be what to fold vs what to hang.  Kondo wants nearly everything folded.  Now, I love the KonMari folding method; my drawers look amazing and it created so much extra space. (Try it the next time you pack a suitcase – you might only need one bag instead of two!)  But I am not folding my jeans.  They were awkward and bulky and it just looked ridiculous.  It made no sense to me and certainly did not bring me joy. I do have a pretty good sized walk-in closet though, so keeping the jeans on their hangers made for a much neater, organized look that I am very happy with.  Do what makes sense for your space.

Kondo wants us to strive for perfection; I’m on board with that.  But remember that my perfection and yours are probably going to differ – and that is perfectly okay.

Other People’s Stuff

I worked on my kitchen every day for a week.  It wasn’t a lot of fun – most kitchen items are utilitarian, so not a lot of joy-sparking there – but I did manage to get rid of a fair number of boxes and my cabinets are organized.

kitchen boxes

One of the major issues with KonMari is that you can’t KM someone else.  Each person has to be responsible for their own belongings.  If I lived alone, this house would have been done months ago!  But I am slowly making progress with my husband.  He was fine with all the kitchen stuff I sent to Goodwill, but there still remained cabinets and shelves I could not touch because they belonged to him.  He bakes. A lot. So we have shelves and shelves of baking items and cake decorating tools.  They’ve invaded the garage too.  Pans, candy molds, tips, bags – you name it, we have it.  And while I can’t KM his baking supplies, I can at least organize the shelves where they reside.

But he was starting to come around.  I asked him to come into the garage with me so we could organize the dozens and dozens of pans and molds.  Again, if I can’t get rid of it, I at least want it to be neat.  And then a funny thing happened.  As he was going through the items he started to pare down.  Unpopular pans and molds he only used once were put to the side.  And then more and more, until we had a giant tub of cake pans and a smaller, but still large tub of molds all ready to be discarded.  I was shocked!  And I think he was too.  Just the act of sorting through all of those supplies made him realize that he was hanging onto them for no good reason, especially since he wasn’t using all of them anymore.  And that left the remaining items much more easily accessible.

I guess that motivated him, because a few days later he started working on his toolbox. Men don’t get rid of tools; doesn’t matter if they have multiple versions of the same item, in their minds there might one day be a need for this particular size of hex wrench – or hammer – or screwdriver.  But the top drawer of his beloved Craftsman toolbox was so overflowing he could not close the lid. It took him several evenings but, soon he had gone through the entire thing.  It was a sight to behold; and now the lid closes.

But for me, the most validating thing has been his willingness to work on his closet. You have to understand, when I met my husband, I thought I was with someone who also liked orderliness.  His apartment was always immaculate, no piles or signs of clutter.  On my first visit during a party, he actually brought me to see his huge walk-in closet.  Clothes hung neatly, other items stacked on shelves – hardly a thing out of place.  I often joke with him that he sold me a bill of goods, because this is what I live with now:

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And you can’t even see the top of the dresser in this picture.  If there is a horizontal surface, it is covered.  The only saving grace has been that we each have our own closet so I can just close the door and TRY to ignore his. I asked him one day if we could please just go in there and straighten up a bit.  The next thing I know, he had two full tubs of shorts and jeans and an armload of shirts all ready to be discarded. He’s recently lost fifty pounds, so none of these items even fit! Discarding them all means a couple of things.  First, he is committed to not putting that weight back on.  But it also shows that he gets where I am coming from; he understands my need to dig out from under all of this and he is starting to feel it too.  Now, he won’t caress an item and ask himself, “Does this spark joy?” but when I ask him if he is sure about getting rid of something, he will say it doesn’t make him feel joyful.  He’s poking fun a little bit, but he understands the process.  And now his closet looks like this:

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Sometimes, you can get the horse to drink.