how many black cardigans?

So it’s day 2 of my KonMari experience. I went to bed last night with the satisfaction of having detoxed my wardrobe quite successfully. It feels like the beginning of a new life, one that is filled with only gorgeous little things, darling. The hanging part of my closet has reached a zen-like emptiness, and I have realized that my problem was never ‘not having enough hangers’ but ‘having too much crap’.

I start the next day going through suit jackets (which I never wear), where I find a few gems among some horrors, all of them long-forgotten. I wear one of them the next day at work and get compliments. Maybe this is the new me, not only clutter-free but also slightly more professional-looking?

I move to skirts. Here as well, besides a few recent purchases that I still like, I find some very old items that never even seemed to ever fit me that well. Sorting through all this is like archeology. going through strata of different eras: my first job, holidays, ballroom dance… The memories flow through me, it’s like these clothes are my madeleine.

Sweaters are stored high up on a shelf in my cupboard and I never dig through the back of that shelf, I usually just grab whatever is in the front, nearly falling on me. What I find there is slightly horrifying. It turns out I have 8 purple cardigans and 15 black ones. Some of them have understandable seasonal differences, but most of them are nearly identical. The worst is that if I went shopping right now, I’d probably be looking for a black cardigan because, you know, cause I don’t have any. I get angry and ruthless. I only keep the cardigans that look good. Those that have cute ribbons or buttons. Anything plain or shapeless or cheap goes into a donation bag. I also discard a couple comfy sweaters that I enjoyed wearing but just don’t look good. Still, I find so many lovely things that make me happy, I can’t believe I never wear them. I wear one of the cardigans later that week, and all day I feel like I won some weird kind of contest.

Shoes are overtaking my house, and the shelf above my sweaters are summer shoes. I throw them all on the floor and Kondo (that’s right, it’s a verb to me now) my way through them. Basically, there are 2 categories: gorgeous heels that are pretty much unworn, and flat sandals that are so worn they are actually unwearable. I find a couple of pairs that I never wore simply because they hurt. I put them in a new pile which is ‘potential sales’.

I get the plastic bags to the donation bin, full of energy for the week. I can feel the space that this cleaning is making in my house and in my mind. I look at my agenda and get annoyed to see it will be a few weeks before I can spend a day on this again, but I stay committed. By the end of this year, every item in my house will be ‘sparking joy’.

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Does it spark joy?

A few months ago as I began to look at my life, I started to feel that house my house was possibly full of things that were weighing me down. I’m lucky enough to have a big apartment but somehow I managed to fill every room and every square centimeter of it with… well… crap…

I’m a shopaholic, sentimental forgetful hoarder. I buy a lot of things, I get very attached to them, and then forget I own them and start buying more. I never throw away anything. I mean it. I have the ticket stub of every movie and concert I’ve ever seen. It’s an illness. I know.

Anyway. So little by little I started to get the sense that my life would be better with less crap lying around. I started imagining what it would feel like to have more space around me, less baggage. Space, instead of ‘scary’, started to feel more like ‘possibility’. Every time I started thinking about how to get there, I got stuck at thoughts like ‘where do I even start’, ‘what if I throw away something and then regret it’ and of course ‘but I can’t throw away perfectly good crap, surely I need to find ways to give/recycle/donate every single item otherwise I’m destroying the planet’.

So I remained in that mental block until during a conversation a friend told me about Marie Kondo and her decluttering theories. That night I ran to the American Book Center and bought Marie Kondo’s book. Except she now has 2 books and I didn’t know which one was best so I got both. Way to start the decluttering.

I pretty much read the 2 books immediately, and I really liked the way Marie looks at decluttering. The way you have to find what sparks joy and keep just that. The way you thank everything you get rid of. Most of her theory made sense to me apart from 2 things:

  • She does not touch at all on what to do with all the stuff. She keeps talking about the hundreds of people she has helped, and about putting things in garbage bags and ‘discarding’ them. Which seems simple but I simply could not fathom how someone could throw away so much stuff and not feel guilty.
  • Drawers – her way of storing is based on drawers. Seeing everything from above, getting a good overview. Well, my house is pretty much full of shelves, or cupboards with shelves in them.

Despite these 2 worries, I had a free weekend coming up and I was itching to get started with my de-cluttering. I decided I would start with my dresses, as Marie Kondo recommends starting with clothes and going through them category by category. And I would give myself the weekend to do 2 categories.