Thursday 24 January 2019

Declutter! De Clothing! De Chaos!

DammitKaren: Declutter! De Clothing! De Chaos! Decluttering makes me happy. Please don’t look at my desk.

Marie Kondo is everywhere. I mean, I haven’t (yet) watched her Netflix show or read her book(s?), but I keep hearing her name connected to the art of decluttering, and boy, does she look happy on the covers.

Even before her “revolution”, I loved decluttering more than anything else. We have (until recently) lived in homes that are small and/or low on storage, and at least one of us is a packrat…possibly four of us. When kids go to bed or husbands travel, many, many things quietly find their ways to new homes in donation bins, recycling bins, and garbage cans. And this makes me happy.

So, um, this is my desk. I am a beautiful paradox.

We had boxes that we packed for a move across Canada, that sat in our basement (unopened) for three years, moved back across Canada again, sat in our basement again, and then, when the basement flooded, were moved out to our garage. Still unopened. They sat there for four more years. I had little parties out there, reducing ten unopened-for-seven-years boxes down to six, then to three… by the time we moved to our next house, we had only two, well-edited boxes of crap that my husband wouldn’t let me throw out. I see this as a win.

I started sorting through our closets again last week to reduce the overflow, get rid of too-short or Sunday clothes (because they’re holey… get it?) and stop myself from saying “I have nothing to wear” when, in fact, every drawer is full.

This is the handy checklist I used to determine what to keep and what to get rid of:
Have you worn it in the last year? (Note: This one is optional for me. I do have to keep room for different climate- and career-based storage, as my current reality as a writer/personal trainer in London (rainy, low of -2, sweatpants) is a far cry from my senior paralegal/fitness instructor reality in Canada (hot, rainy, snowy, low of -35, suits and heels) and I am NOT going to buy all new suits and snowthings.)
Is it missing a button or needs to be hemmed?
Will you really take the time to sew on a new button or hem it?
Is it full of holes?
That weren’t put there by the designer?
Does it look worn out, faded, or cheap?
But not in a good way, I mean?
Is it so tight that you can see underwear lines through it?
What? You weren’t wearing underwear in that photo? Huh.
Did you wear the item when you were pregnant?
And is your youngest child older than five?
And you’re still wearing it? Really?
The bathing suit too? Really?
Did it fit you when you had lost 15 lbs from a combination of the flu and a really bad breakup, and you looked like a skeleton, but hasn’t fit you since, but you kept it because maybe one day you’ll be wasting away on your literal deathbed and want your hospice aide to help you wear those teeny sparkly jeans again?
My youngest has a much better, quicker method, which she explained to me clearly when she was three. My mom had knitted both girls sweaters, and the five-year-old put hers on and dashed off to play. The little one tried hers on, took it off, and said, “Give it to Carmen.” (Carmen was her best friend at daycare.)

“But,” I said to her, “Your Grandma made it especially for you! Don’t you want to wear it?”

“No,” she said. “It doesn’t make me feel happy.”

The answer to that one question, “Does it make me feel happy?” (with perhaps an exception given for my super-comfy, worn-during-three-pregnancies maternity hoodie), for all of my items-in-question, of course, is a resounding, “No.”

And that was it.

I got rid of a sizeable pile of clothing and shoes, and, while I admit that there is still an embarrassing amount left, I looked at each item, trying it on as necessary, to see if it made me feel happy. If it fit funny, pulled, gaped, squeezed, or required more-than-the-usual-amount of tummy-sucking, it was gone.

Next up: the kitchen counter, which I can’t even look at without weeping.

And don’t even ask about my desk.

Update:  I spoke to a friend about the Konmari principle (still haven't watched the show) and it IS all about keeping only what brings you delight.  Obviously, my daughter is a genius.  ~KH

Karen (Power) Hough is a writer and blogger with an Honours BSc. in Human Kinetics, and dreams about living in an IKEA showroom. Her part-time “superhero job” has been as a fitness instructor for over 20 years. She currently lives in London with her husband, three energetic kids and a codependent dog, and bores/impresses them all with stories about how she used to be a nutritionist, personal trainer and national-level fitness competitor.

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