lady of the rings

According to KonMari, my next categories should be shoes, and clothes-wise, all that’s left for me to do is coats. But the idea of getting started on my shoes scares me. I keep finding excuses not to do them. I get started on jewelry and accessories, which is technically not cheating but still a little. Jewelry is another category I just can’t count. I have so much. The worst in there are things I bought on holidays (necklace made of neon-colored shells anyone?) and some presents I got. I throw everything in a box and begin the delicate task of finding every match to every earring and untangling necklaces.

I realize I have dozens of bracelets – I never wear bracelets. Some of them are too small and hurt, but the beads were so pretty I had to have them.

I have dozens and dozens of necklaces. Thanks to my cleavage, I never wear long ones, so out they all go. And the really short ones go too, they’re always just out to strangle me.

I have more rings than I expected, considering I never wear them. But in a tiny bag, which was hiding away in a drawer, I find the beautiful opal ring I got from my dad for Christmas a few years back, which I was certain I’d lost in a toilet somewhere. Again, I take it as a sign from the universe that I am on the right path. I am so happy, I wear the ring the next day and get asked if I got engaged. Erh, nope.

Earrings I possibly have a million of, running the gamut from cheap plastic to possibly precious. Some were quick purchases (oh the famous get 3, pay for 2, how many useless things have I not paid for that way?). Others were gifts or family heirlooms.

It literally takes me 3h to sort out everything, and to this day, I still have a box full of leftovers (beads, unmatched earrings, pieces that fell off something else). I have a huge bag of stuff to get rid of. And yes, some of them were gifts and I do feel guilty towards all of you lovely people who gave them to me, but Marie’s view is that your intention when giving is to do something nice, which you did. She then goes on to explain that you certainly didn’t mean to make me feel guilty or crowd my space with stuff I don’t like. So thank you so much for your gifts, but I’m sorry, away they go. To be fair, I am not throwing away every gift I got, I’m also keeping a lot, don’t worry about it, ok?

The most fun part of jewelry Kondo-ing is organizing it. Marie Kondo recommends to use any box you might have to create compartments in drawers, and I have a lot of fun imagining the best way to group my new, reduced collection for maximum joy and efficiency (as in actually finding what I’m looking for on a sleepy morning). I decide to organize by color/style. I now have one drawer for golden-ish, and within that drawer are several boxes, one for stud earrings, one for hoops, etc. I have one drawer for everything sparkly. My 3 pairs of drop earrings are together in a box. The first week, I immediately start wearing more rings and necklaces. Mainly because I’m now very aware of what I do have, and because it doesn’t require 10 minutes of searching or untangling. My life definitely has more joy.

My shoes, however, stare at me with an accusatory look every time I enter the room. There are so many of them that they are all in a pile, getting damaged by the shoes on top of them, separated from their other half. That’s right, my shoes now have feelings. I’m a shoe abuser.

Another glitch in the plan is that I try to wear one of the few black cardigans that I kept, and find out it’s too big. I start wondering if I went too fast in the discard phase. Or maybe I really did have 14 black cardigans, none of which fitted and looked nice. Then I need to go shopping – oh no! That’s where it all begins!

I try to wear a jacket I kept because it sparked joy but realize I have nothing that matches. I try to wear the pantyhoses I found and they tear as soon as I slide my leg in. Clearly pantyhoses don’t age well. It starts to feel like maybe I kept a lot of pretty joyful things that I can’t ever wear.

Every morning when I’m getting ready I feel like Kondo-ing the beauty products, every time I’m making tea I want to Kondo my mugs, but those categories are only coming up after I’m done with clothes, accessories, books, and papers. Which could take months!

I feel anxious. I stop Kondo-ing for a while. Then I take a look at my shoes and feel guilty. My plan is to get to them on my next free weekend. To be continued…


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’.

100 Dresses

So it’s Saturday afternoon, and I’m ready to get started with Step 1 in my KonMari decluttering journey. Dresses.

I decide to use my living room as sorting area. Which means I’m walking back and forth from my closet to my living room, arms full of dresses, well, too many times.

Some dresses are hanging nicely from a hanger. Some hangers carry 2 dresses. Some dresses are crumpled on the floor of the cupboard, having fallen from their hanger. Some are in the pile of half clean/half dirty clothes. One is still in the shopping bag, not even unpacked.

I’m playing some nice music, drinking tea, the sun is shining, I’m excited. I decide to keep track of how many items I’m keeping vs. not keeping. I’m careful not to write ‘throwing’ away because I’ve decided I’m giving everything, somehow.

I get started. Quickly it’s clear that there are some items in there I never even liked, even when I bought them. Looking at them, it’s very easy to put them in the ‘away’ pile and my mind drifts to the time in my life when I felt so awkward about my body that I would buy anything that fitted somehow. It saddens me. But it also makes it even easier to discard them, as if I’m forever saying goodbye to that time of my life.

Then I get into dresses that I fell in love with, but never really fitted or looked good on me. They do ‘spark joy’, looking at them, but when I pick them up I remember what I feel like wearing them, which is not great. Sometimes I put them on and run to the mirror. Some of them are actually wearable but mostly they make me feel not so joyful so ‘away’ they go.

A few dresses make me feel joyful even though I never wore them. I hesitate. Marie says if you hesitate you shouldn’t feel forced to discard them. So I keep some of them. Mainly some that actually look good on me. Or one fabulous silk piece that is pretty much bag-shaped but has a print that makes me smile. Maybe I’ll turn it into a pillow. It stays.

I find a couple dresses that actually don’t fit well, don’t spark joy of themselves, but have beautiful appliqué or beading. I set them aside. My plan is to remove and keep the sparkly bits and put the dresses ‘away’.

My final count is over 100 dresses. And I don’t even wear a dress every week! I get rid of about 30%, which is good, but still leaves me with an obscene number of dresses.

Looking at the ‘away’ pile, I actually notice most of them have hardly been worn. They are in perfect condition and I would say the average cost of each item was probably 100 euros. What a waste! I’m thinking someone could probably sell them and make a little money. Not me, cause it’s just too much trouble when getting rid of so many things, but someone. So I place an ad on Facebook. Anyone willing to take them and sell them can keep a good commission of whatever they make. Thankfully, one friend replies and I decide to give her the dresses.

Feeling elated, I immediately plunk all my trousers, jeans, shorts, leggings and jumpsuits in the middle of my living-room and start going through them.

My findings are even worse. I probably have 25 cheap black pants that I hoped I’d wear in the office but just don’t fit. Same for shorts. Leggings are the opposite. I wear them so much that I keep them all. In the end, I keep only about 50% of my bottoms. The rest goes in a bin bag. I enthusiastically get out of the house to put them in the clothes bin for recycling. It’s full. I look up the closest alternative bin and lug my bags to it. Putting the bags into those bins, knowing or rather hoping that they will be useful to someone, I feel satisfied and I grin like a madwoman. Then I head back home, ready for more.


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.