The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, or, How I Spent My Day Today.



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After:  These hangers all used to have things on them.   Those things were either put into drawers, or discarded.


Lately, my sister and I have been contemplating minimalism.   I think that this was the very natural result of our shared holiday season - full of too much delicious food and drink, an inundation of gifts, and the frenzied atmosphere that was everywhere, of THIS IS CHRISTMAS AND YOU MUST PARTAKE.

I have to pause and consider what a first-world sentence that last one is.   Too much food, drink, presents, and celebrations.   Wow.   I'm a first-world douchebag.

But it's true.   Left to my own devices, my perfect Christmas season involves performing in a holiday show, watching a live performance of The Nutcracker somewhere, watching two or three more Nutcrackers on television, and hanging out with friends and family, but in a low-key, relaxed sort of way.

January found me with a surfeit of everything, and desperately eager to simplify and pare things down.

So... just a few days ago, my sister and I were discussing Marie Kondo, and her acclaimed book,, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up".   I googled the author, read an excerpt from her book, and immediately downloaded it for Kindle.   How about that, folks?   Back in the day, (ahem, the 1990's), you ordered the book, and waited for the company to eventually ship it out, and then for the USPS to eventually deliver it.   Or you got in your car and drove to a bookstore, and hoped they had a copy, and that it didn't have coffee stains all over it.

I decided I wanted the book, and within minutes, I had lost myself in its electronic pages.   These are magical times we live in, people.  Magic, I tell ya.

That was Saturday morning.

Today, at 11:43am, I finished the book and messaged my sister, telling her I was ready to roll forward with the KonMari Method.   My excitement was palpable.

So let me tell you a little bit about the book, and the Method.   It is all about 'tidying' - i.e., decluttering what you don't love, and finding a place for everything that you do.  I know, right?    It sounds like every other de-cluttering book that has come out in the past 10 years.

This is different.   Here is why:

Ms. Kondo tells the reader:

1.   You must follow this Method precisely, in the order she outlines, with no tweaks, adjustments, or excuses.

2.   You must follow the decluttering categories in the order she outlines.  She begins with clothing, moves to books, papers, and miscellaneous items, eventually ending with nostalgic mementos.

3.   You do this all at once.  Not in little 15-minutes a day here, a drawer or shelf there, that so many other methods recommend.   With the KonMari Method, you see and feel immediate results, and it keeps you moving forward.   

4.   Here is the most important part:   You must handle every one of your possessions, in your hands, and ask yourself, "Does this spark joy?"

If the answer is no, out the door it goes.

The end result is that you are left surrounded by things that spark joy your soul - and only those things.   

The 'white noise' disappears.

And it is magical.


From the moment I started reading this book, I was in a welter of impatience to start.   So this morning, when I finished the book, I got started.   I tackled the bulk of my wardrobe, which I keep at JC's condo.  

Here is how things progressed:

At 11:43am I finished reading the book.  "Haha", says I to myself, "a two-room condo?   I will have this entire place wrapped up by 4pm".

At 11:50am, I began assembling all of my clothing, shoes, accessories (bags, belts, gloves, hats, jewelry) into a big pile... I had to search the coat closet, the dryer, the laundry hamper (I held the items and put them back), our main closet, three drawers stuffed to the gills with clothing, and infinite shoeboxes and little storage boxes tucked everywhere.

At 1:00pm I finally had emptied out my wardrobe.   Yes.   It took that long.   That's when I started to realize that 4pm might be a bit ambitious to sort everything.

At 1:05pm I started de-cluttering.   I took every piece of clothing, every pair of shoes, every pair of stockings, every belt, every set of earrings into my hands, and asked myself if it sparked joy.   

If I was unsure, I set it aside and came back to it.

And in every case, when I came back to it, it was with the knowledge that it needed to go.

I was surprised to find, within minutes of beginning, that my hands felt warm and tingly, and there was a huge smile on my face.   I loved every moment of this.

When I found myself starting to sift through things fast, and inclined to skip over handling stuff, I would walk away for a few minutes, take a little breather and come back.

By 3pm, I was amazed to realize it was 3pm, but I figured I could still get most of the list done.  My sister pointed out that the book says it usually takes six months to tidy and de-clutter.   What the whaaaat?   I guess I skimmed past that part.   I had some crackpot notion that "all at once" meant "a 24-hour window".

At 5:38pm I was rolling socks to put away in drawers.   

At 5:52, I did not know I owned so many pairs of socks and underwear.

At 5:53  I finally admitted to my own self that clothing, shoes and accessories were all I was going to get done.

At 7:10pm, the last pair of socks was rolled up and put away.   PHEW.   Eight hours, fifteen minutes. I have about four 33-gallon bags of items that will be leaving, and a bag of trash.

I cannot begin to tell you how empowering and exciting this was - and exhausting!  I handled hundreds of items, ran back and forth around the house, up and down the ladder to get to the higher closet shelves.   Over the course of the day, I only stopped to use the washroom, drink some water, and send my sister updates on my progress.

For the first time, since the day I brought a toothbrush over here... I know exactly where every last earring, belt, and flamenco flower is in this condo.   Ask me where a particular pair of stockings is - I will go get them right now.

I am feeling very much at one with my world right now.


Here are some before, during, and after pictures for today:


Before:  One of three dresser drawers, where I had things shoved in higgledy-piggledy.  This photo fails to capture the true higgledy-piggledyness of what was there.
After:   Items rolled up and placed vertically.   Some stuff I still kept stacked, because I can't roll a corset.

After:   Shirts, shorts, and dancewear is all rolled up and placed vertically.   So much more fits in here, than when it was folded and stacked - and I can see all of it.

After:  Everything is all sorted and what I could roll and place vertically, I did.

Before:  The Closet.   The right wall is JC's.   He is planning to tackle it this week.

After:   I tidied the shelf over his clothes, and took my stack of scarves and hats off the lower one.


Before:  The back wall of the closet is mine, but I share it with other things, such as toilet paper and rags and electronics bits...

Before: ... Luggage, and more toilet paper.  And bins of electronics bits.  And my box of hosiery on the floor.

Before:  My shoe storage 'solution':  a hanging bag plus stacks of boxes on the floor.
After:  Overall, just more streamlined, with fewer items and more space. 



After: This looks more like what I had always imagined...

During:   I dumped about 1/3 of the jewelry on the windowsill to sort.

After:   I got my jewelry sorted.   For the first time pretty much ever, I can see everything.  I have had some of these pieces since I was four years old.

During:  All mah stuff on the floor.  And windowsills. And nightstand.  The bed was reserved for everything I kept.  That's my jewelry box sitting on it.  And hangers.

During:  "On the next episode of Hoarders"...


During:  The windowsills were taken up with belts, gloves, and flamenco accessories.

During:  At this point, I had placed everything that I feel 'sparked joy' on the bed. I know - that's a lot of joy.



After:   Closet Nirvana.

After:   I was able to re-purpose this Parisian-theme hatbox to hold flamenco castanets, flamenco fans, my eyeglasses, a pitchpipe, and a box of Hermes scarf-folding cards.    Pro:  now I can find the castanets and fans to practice with, and won't have to hunt everywhere.   Con:  now I have no excuse not to practice. 

After:  The jewelry box, restored to its rightful home.





So... what is next?   The clothing at my place, and it will be a two-parter:  1.  my personal wardrobe, which should be quick, as the bulk of my wardrobe is at JC's.  And 2.  all the theatrical costumes I have stored.   I anticipate this step will be very long and painful, and will take more than a day.

After clothing, the KonMari Method says to move on to books.   We actually culled the books here  at JC's on New Year's Weekend.  But I have a lot of books at my place.   My goal is to empty a bookshelf and use it for costume accessories and wigs.

But that's another post for another day.   Peace out, y'all.

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