I’ve written a number of posts over the years about decluttering—my office, my home, my head. But this past Sunday, I actually did something about it. I Marie Kondoed my closet.
For those who may not have heard of the cultural phenom, Marie Kondo, she is the bestselling author of The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up and star of a Netflix series, in which she helps people with far too much stuff to pare down to what they really love and need. There are plenty of memes and jokes and cynicism about her key question for each item, “Does it spark joy?” But after my younger daughter encouraged me to watch her show, it only took a few episodes to convince me that Marie Kondo is onto something simple and seemingly obvious, but profound when you put it into practice. When you clear out the clutter, you make room in your mind and life for what truly matters. That, and those of us living in the richest country in the world have far more stuff than we will ever really need in our lifetimes.
It took me about three hours to go through all my clothes. Kondo’s method is to pile everything on your bed and assess it piece by piece. Keep what gives your pleasure and give away the rest, with appreciation for the role it played in your life. Some of the decisions were easy. There were clothes I haven’t touched in years taking up space; clothes that no longer fit; and clothes that I really didn’t like but had kept because they might come in handy some day.
There were also clothes that I really love, and kept. And there were some items, particularly some of my warmer winter clothes, that I’m a bit tired of but can’t afford to replace quite yet, so I hung onto them out of pragmatism. The best finds were two timeless evening dresses that I had worn for each of my daughter’s bat mitzvah celebrations—that still fit. This was quite the miracle, especially because I love those dresses, not only for their style, but also for the memories.
Then there were the shoes. I ended up bagging about a dozen pairs, acquired over the years. Shoe shopping is always a struggle, not only to find the right fit in the store, but also to find shoes that won’t trigger the neuropathy in my feet, due to thinned fat pads from scleroderma. This is an attribute that I can only determine after wearing the shoes for a while, and since most stores only let you try them out around the house, I can’t always assess them until I wear them outside. If they don’t work out, it’s too late. Someone will benefit from my mistakes.
In the end, I brought six garbage bags of clothes to Goodwill, plus a shopping bag full of hangers. It felt good. I gave away some nice things that I hope many someones out there will enjoy. My closet is organized, and I don’t have to struggle to pull a hanger from an overcrowded rod, or dig through piles of unworn sweaters on the shelf. I can see everything, and everything is in its place. It looks pretty, inviting.
Best of all, I feel like I’ve made room in my brain. It’s an aaahhh sensation, like there’s more space to breathe. Less clutter means clearer focus.
Now, it’s time to tackle my office.