Not gonna lie: when I think about the term “tidying up,” I think about a stray toy on the floor, an open book on the coffee table, or maybe some excess paper on a desk.

What I don’t think about is the endless black hole that I’ve managed to amass somewhere in the center of my home.

I’ve lived in my current house for a little over four years now, and at the time I moved, I was more in a rush to get out than I was to throw anything away.

At one time during my single living, I was quite organized and methodical in my…well, cleaning methods. Perhaps it was the five tenets of taekwondo I was practicing at the time that kept me on track.

Or maybe it’s because I’m so freakin busy now, I hardly have a second to breathe!!!


Regardless of the reason, I’ve finally decided to take a stand. It didn’t happen on my own, though. It took three four different friends and family members to interject themselves into my house last year and help me clean. I felt awful that I couldn’t keep a clean house, but I felt even worse that they thought I needed help cleaning in the first place.

Enough is enough. It’s time to stop making excuses and start regaining a hold of my clutter.

2019 Resolution: Clean Up, Organize, and Redesign My House

My mindset and levels of stress are easily swayed by the state of my home. Seeing as how my home SUCKS at this moment…you can only imagine the current state of my mind.

Or, rather, don’t. You might hurt yourself.

Last Friday (it’s always last Friday I get these revelations, isn’t it? Ah, well), I mentioned to a friend that I was finally tackling my house. Instead of going room by room–which got me nowhere nearly every weekend last year–I decided to start with a different tactic. First on my list: wading through my clothes.

“Wait!” my friend yelled.

“I mean, I’m not gonna start it right now,” I said, my right foot frozen in mid-air over the top of my descending stairs. “It’s Friday. I’m still on ‘don’t do anything for one afternoon per week’ of my Creative Change Challenge.” [Shameless plug]

“Oh, okay,” my friend said. “In that case, I recommend you watch some of Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix before you start cleaning anything.” [Mildly shameful plug, though I’m not getting paid to plug it. …Be kinda nice, tho–sorry, got distracted!]

“Sure, why not,” I thought, going downstairs and plopping on the couch. “I was trying to find a show to binge watch, anyway.”

(…okay, so I fell asleep two and a half episodes in, but that was only because it was late-ish. The point is, I got the point.)

Marie Kondo: Expert of Tidying and Sparking Joy

To quickly summarize (because I think the Netflix trailer above speaks for itself), world-renown “tidying coach” Marie Kondo developed a method to organize and clean any mess. This method, called KonMari, arranges clutter into five categories:

  1. Clothing
  2. Books
  3. Papers
  4. Miscellaneous (Komono)
  5. Mementos (items of sentimental value)

The optimal technique Mrs. Kondo recommends tackling each category is by compiling them into an open space, where you can view everything at once. By doing this, the shock of realizing how much “crap” (my word, not hers) you’ve accumulated over the years should also make you realize what’s actually important to you, and actually makes you smile. She calls this realization “sparking joy.”

From what I have researched about Mrs. Kondo since Friday, her philosophy goes so far beyond just cleaning a house. Her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, purportedly teaches the reader that, by respecting his/her property, you can take time appreciating what you have instead of going out over and over again to get more. It’s about finding spiritual balance and internal peace.

As above, so below. As within, so without.

My brain likes joy and peace and balance. So do I.

Ergo, if we could live in a house that sparks all of this, I think we would very much enjoy that.

Tidying Up A-go-go

On Saturday, I began stage 1: Clothing. According to the tidying rules, I now have 8 days (well, 5 days as of this posting) to get my “spark joy” clothes back in the closet and my other clothes stuffed away in industrial-sized trash bags, set for Salvation Army.

Let me slow down. It’s not as simple as picking and choosing what stays and what goes.

Mrs. Kondo states that with each article of clothing you review, search inside yourself and assess how that item makes you feel. Does it still make you smile? Does it make you feel good when you wear it? Then, keep it.

If the article does not make you feel good, it is probably best to let it go. However, as you are releasing your attachment, don’t forget to thank it for the times that it did give you joy. After all, you owned it for a reason.

So far, I like this technique. Sorting through the pile Monday afternoon, there were articles of clothing I found where I thought, “I can still wear this!”

Even if the question was “Will I still wear it?” I might scoff and shift and say, “…Maybe!”

But…does it bring me joy? Does it make me smile?

Accepting the Truth

I sighed at one dress, a jungle green turtleneck I’d owned for 10 years that I’d adored in the beginning. It’s been about four years since I’ve even tried it on. It was still good as new.

But…it didn’t make me smile.

Gently, I air-kissed it, thanked it for the times it made me feel truly beautiful, and tucked it into the give-away laundry basket where the other “goodbyes” were nestled.

I’ll confess, I’m excited to continue this new method of organization. I can’t help but think about the clutter and the mess that I’m currently not touching, and how well the KonMari method will apply to them. Nevertheless, I’m going to be patient. If this method allows me to mentally return to the way I used to be nearly 4 years ago (color-coordinated closet, meals prepped for every day of the work week), I would be absolutely ecstatic.

I just have one question: