Your Stuff. It’s Killing You!

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Even though it is pouring rain here in usually sunny Southern California, spring has sprung nonetheless and I’m going to write about one of my favorite topics. Spring cleaning! I’ve had a lot going on in the last weeks in my personal life and with my family that I would like to write about, but not yet. When things seem bleak there’s one thing that always makes me feel better. KonMari’ing! Simplifying, paring down, cleaning and organizing.

Salve for my eyes. A beautifully organized shelf from Sara Berman’s closet, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

As winter comes to a close and the days are getting longer, it’s the perfect time to get down and dirty with your stuff. Many of us already have seemingly tidy homes but we know we’re hiding something – a dirty little secret seething beneath the surface. Storage! Our garages, sheds, storage units, deep hall closets and the spaces under our beds are writhing with stuff. Our tidiness is a lie. You’ll never feel truly at peace until you deal with your bursting secret underbelly. Buckle your seat belts, y’all. We’re going deep.

I’m no angel. Here’s the contents of our shed!

Let’s talk about your stuff. Why do you have what you have? What purpose does it serve in your overall happiness? Do the boxes and boxes of old baby, maternity, high school clothes add to your life? Do those bins of old letters, cards, childhood school work bring you joy? Or are they nagging at some part of your psyche? Who will go through them one day when you’re not around? Your kids? Will you wear those old clothes again? Are you saving them to pass on to your children or grandchildren? Are they valuable? Are you hoarding travel trinkets or books? Why do you hold onto your stuff?

Ah! An empty space. Can we keep it organized?

I’ve just read The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson and wow, did it speak to me! Look for the review coming soon in my Book Club section. A must read.

Everyone has some things they must store, such as seasonal clothing and holiday decor. I understand you don’t need your skis out in the summer and your camping gear hanging around in the winter. But what if you could drive a car or two easily into your clean and sparse garage? What if picking out the couple boxes of Christmas decorations or Halloween costumes when the time comes wasn’t a scary chore? What if every closet and under-the-bed space wasn’t crammed full?

Let’s just rip off the band-aid. Your stuff is killing you and will only burden your children when you die. Your stuff is wasting your time and money now and will waste your children’s time and money later. Okay, on that cheery note, let’s dive in.

After going through everything, discarding and putting it back in the shed.

I’m going to take you through the steps I would with my clients using the KonMari method. I highly recommend you reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo right away. There are five categories we will go through. Clothes, Books, Papers, Komono (miscellaneous items) and sentimental items. When we’re finished, I promise your storage areas will take care of themselves. It’s magic!

In this post we’re going to address your clothes. Step One – Take every item of clothing out of your closet, drawers and anywhere else they might be, including all the clothes you’ve stored. EVERYTHING. Just do it. There will probably be a large mountain. Don’t fret. Take a deep breath and begin.

Here’s one of my client’s mountain of clothes. She was amazed at how much she owned.

Pick up each item of clothing, touch it, hug it, smell it, whatever you want to do to see if it sparks joy. This may feel awkward at first but keep going. It becomes easier and much clearer as you go. My clients always look at me like ‘are you kidding?’ when we first start, then two hours in they’re like, ‘joy, no joy, in, out’ with great speed and accuracy. It’s amazing to watch.

So many shoes!

So many bags ready to leave the apartment!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re going to do this even with your off-season clothes. Only pick the items of clothing that truly spark joy. Everything else put in a separate discard pile and take a moment to thank it for its service. That ugly old sweater or jacket from the mid-nineties did its job keeping you warm. Thank it, then let it go.

This is a closet from The Sara Berman’s Closet exhibit at the Met in NYC. Doesn’t it make you just exhale with its order?

Only when you are completely finished with this category can you put your favorite clothes back into the closet, drawers and storage boxes. It’s important you just work with your own clothes and not other family members unless your children are very little, like under five. You can go through the process with your children or partner but don’t give their clothes away without their consent. I learned this the hard way. Sorry about that Incredible Hulk shirt, Shep!

See? Even a child can fold this way! Three year old Pippa easily adopted the KonMari folding method.

In the KonMari method we have a specific folding technique that once adopted you will never stray from. Here’s Marie Kondo demonstrating her folding method. It will become second nature – from your undies and socks to camisoles to turtlenecks, this folding method makes your clothes happy and your drawers pleasing to the eye. Next we will attack the categories, books and papers.

 

 

 

 

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