In my twenties I used to love nothing more than reading works of great fiction. Valley of the Dolls, The New York Trilogy & Wuthering Heights were among some of my favourite reads. However, since turning thirty a few years ago I have found myself reaching for books that awaken my spirit and speak to me on a personal level on my quest for self improvement. Some of the most notable books I’ve read of this genre include Secrets of the Worlds Healthiest Children by Naomi Moriyama & William Doyle, Happy by Fearne Cotton, The Danish Way of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexander & Iben Dissing Sandahl, Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes and The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo.
It is with reference to the last book that I am writing today, as I was so profoundly affected by the words of this wise-beyond-her-years Japanese lady that I’ve talked all my friends into beginning their own tidying journeys as well. I call it a journey, because as anyone who has read the book knows, it’s about far more than tidying. In following her process start to finish (and for once I followed instructions WORD FOR WORD) and tidying by category in the order she suggests (Clothes, Books, Papers, Miscellaneous and Sentimental) you will find that in putting your home in order, you are putting your life in order as well. Essentially, by keeping only those possessions you actually love and discarding ABSOLUTELY everything else, you can hone your decision making skills, gain self belief and confidence as you trust your ability to make those decisions and confront your past when you let things go that no longer bring your current self any joy.
Here I am sharing some of the absolute best things I discovered and did on my tidying journey and how they have had a hugely positive impact on my life;
My friend told me the other day she was always quite surprised by how small my selection of clothes is. She was shocked when I then told her I got rid of about two thirds of that while adopting the KonMari method. I am a simple girl; I like my clothes made of cotton or viscose, and as my friend pointed out I like white black and grey. There isn’t an awful lot of room for anything else in my clothes life. I don’t need it. She asked me but don’t i end up wearing the same things all the time? Yes. I do. But I explained that I also recently read 'The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck' by Sarah Knight and quite simply, I no longer give a f*ck about what anyone else thinks of my limited wardrobe. I own a washing machine. I can wash and re-wear my clothes. That’s a perfectly OK thing to do. Except now compared to before I always feel good in what I’m wearing and without exception. And thanks to Marie Kondo’s method of folding I now have space for everything and can easily see what I have in one glance and that’s not just because I don’t have very much :)
I also liked Marie Kondo's method for storing clothes hanging in a wardrobe. The basic concept is to hang long and heavy garments on the left, and light and shorter garments on the right, in the order of coats, dresses, jackets, skirts & trousers then blouses. Also, hang anything that looks like it would be happier hung. Intuition plays a part here. I also decided to hang everything on the same style coat hanger, cause, you know.
Finally, even my two boys didn't escape my tidy. By adopting Marie Kondo's suggestion to fold everything vertically I was finally able to restore some order to their clothes drawers. They have more clothes than I do, so it was necessary.
This is the only instance where it’s OK to judge a book by its cover. You can read books not based on their cover, but when it comes to a decision of what to keep and what to discard you should only keep the ones you love to look at, or pick up and hold. The content is entirely irrelevant. Keeping books based on content is pointless. That’s what libraries are for. The point of books is to read the content and then retain something of that content, inside your head. Not on your shelves.
I have only three folders for paperwork now based on the advice in this book. One for 'Currently in use' (Jesse’s passport application, an appointment letter for the hospital, Father’s Day cards to write), one for 'Needed for a limited period of time' (Lease contracts, water bills, mobile phone contracts, receipts and product warranties) and 'Needed Indefinitely' (Decree Absolute, My Will etc). These folders all sit on a shelf in my storage cupboard.
This was the most fun category for me! It includes...well pretty much everything not covered by the other four categories (sentimental comes last). Once I had decided what dvds, cds, bathroom supplies, hair accessories, perfumes, gifts, baking trays etc I loved and wanted to keep, I found my home just kind of ‘offered up’ storage solutions...as though the things were telling me where they wanted to be stored and how. By this stage in the process my decision making skills were getting quite refined and I just instinctively started to know where everything wanted to belong.
My major wins in sorting this category were;
a) I found tucked away inside my iPhone packaging a little cable to convert the pesky phone jack into one that is compatible to the aux lead for my Roberts radio. This makes me happy on so many levels, namely being that I was going to buy an iPhone dock, which is now no longer necessary. Also it means I get more use out of two things I have paid good money for; my radio and my Spotify subscription. Amen to that.
b) The empty iPhone box became the perfect storage solution for all my favourite hair accessories and the need for the fussy, porcelain butterfly shaped tray that I used to keep just because was removed.
c) I came across a washing machine in my storage cupboard. Laugh all you will, this is an actual thing I was storing in my cupboard for the last three years because the kitchen where I live was fitted with one already when I moved in. The crazy part? I LOVE my washing machine. It is black, it is silent, it treats my clothes well, it is Hotpoint...and it is brand new. I used it for a grand total of seven or eight months before I moved and I decided it was superfluous. I actually chose to use the old, unknown white cheap brand washing machine that my landlady clearly said I could dispose of...for no reason. I just do not know why I did this. The moral of the story is how crazy people can be when they fail to think things through and just let their stuff accumulate around them and settle for second best. The very best part of the whole washing machine gate was actually selling the old machine for spares and repairs the same day I decided to get rid of it to a bloke who actually came and took it off my hands. I used the money to buy my favourite face wash by Clarins. Literally, if you can’t see the magic by now I think you may be immune...
Saving the hardest til last. Picking up every sentimental thing I had kept, hoarded or saved over the years and deciding to keep only what I loved was hard to say the least. But I love it all! I can’t possibly throw that away, it’s irreplaceable? Several statements running through my mind before I tackled this category. But you know what? I DON’T love it all. The entire folder of, for want of a better word, sh*t that I kept from a trip to NYC? No I don’t love that. I love NYC. I love my memories of it. But I do not love subway tickets, Knicks tickets, nor any other piece of paper with words written on them. The exception was my copy of the New York Times, which is a joy to hold, touch and look at. So I kept that.
Another pile I found hard was all my old sketchbooks. But Marie Kondo suggests that as most people won’t be routing around inside your cupboards you can decorate them to make them attractive and boost your spirit. So I tore out my favourite old sketches along with my favourite greetings cards and stuck them around the home inside various cupboards. Now I smile every time I look at them and they get seen every day, as opposed to...well, never. The most amazing feeling from getting rid of all this old stuff is looking under my bed and seeing the light at the other side. There is nothing under there anymore, and all that light and energy is free to flow around me while I sleep.
By far the hardest jobs lot of emotional crap I got rid of (and friends who know me well will confirm this book must really have affected me for me to go this far), was twenty years worth of diaries and journals. I’ve been keeping the damn things since I was ten years old. Sweet in places, amazingly happy in others, and downright miserable in parts..they needed to go. I do not need a physical written reminder of a past relationship anymore than I do a hole in the head. So the last to face the judge, jury & executioner was my enormous weighty pile of hardback diaries and they pretty much all went on the ‘to burn’ pile. Every last detail gone into the fire and now only accessible in the way I can recall them as memories in my mind. And in my opinion that’s the best way to remember things - the way I want to remember them. I kept only two; based on the fact that they are leather bound gold leaf Aspinal ones that incidentally tell the full story of my pregnancy with Leonardo (2015) and the one I’m using now which documents daily life during Jesse’s first year. The weight that has lifted from my shoulders in making this realisation, at the end of my festival of tidying is the true Life Changing Magic. Truly putting your home in order is confronting your past, letting it go and finally being able to move forwards as a free spirit open to the boundless opportunities life has to offer.