If you've been here awhile you may or may not know that I am ALL ABOUT THE TIDYING. Actually the more I think about it, the more you may not know that. So here's the deal...ready?
I hate clutter.
I mean, no one LOVES clutter. No one openly thinks, "yes, more clutter please, on every surface with extra piles, thank you." But some people tolerate it better than I do. This blog has seen me through many life stages... college, moving across the country to live with my boyfriend, getting married, sending my husband off on two deployments, moving our belongings by myself twice, buying a house, setting up a house, having a kid and now preparing to have a second kid.
A lot has changed during that time. (Thank God.) But one thing that hasn't changed is every step of the way I have loved getting rid of stuff.
And yet. Despite the many moves and despite the fact that I'm decently ruthless about getting rid of crap, it still accumulates or (more likely) it still sits because we now have the space. This past year though, between capsule wardrobe and revamping my office to fit my new work lifestyle and hobbies I have made a decent dent.
So I was very interested to read Marie Kondo's book and make the final uphill climb to full tidiness (I realize saying that makes me sound insane). It finally popped in my library queue and I read through it over a few days, skimming parts and detail reading others. Let's get one thing out of the way first...this is a SUPER extreme method. I uttered the phrase "OCD, much?" a few times. But I actually think much of it is realistic and helpful (if you're in a place where you want to go through your stuff. If not you'll be stressed out of your mind).
I had a lot of "eye-opening" moments but probably my favorite was the question (and I'm paraphrasing) "do you want your home to be a place of rest or a storage unit?" AHHHHHH! Not a storage unit. I don't want to live in a storage unit. I don't even want to own a storage unit.
Kondo has a very specific method and order that she recommends following to clear out your home. I paid close attention and actually wrote down all the things she suggests to go through, but they I attacked them in a totally different order based on what I had time for. It took me parts of three days to go through the entire house and then another few hours to do the garage. (We've only lived here two years so it's not crazy.)
It's recommended that you tackle categories, not rooms which is brilliant. I went through all the bathroom toiletries at once. All of the books in the house at once. All of the cleaning supplies at once. This helped me find duplicates and stay in the zone. When I was done, all of our cleaning supplies were stored in one place in the garage. All of our medicines were stored on the top shelf in the kitchen. (Ellerie still had toy baskets in three rooms.)
The biggest areas of our house that needed going through were the kitchen and my closet (yes, again, ugh).
Our kitchen is good-sized which means we have been able to store a lot of stuff that we never use and don't need. I got rid of things like the punch bowl we registered for (because I thought I'd be throwing a lot of parties?), a toaster oven that's sat on the bottom shelf for two years and coffee grinder that we upgraded from last year. I rearranged like a crazy person and moved around the pantry shelves to create a flow that makes sense for how we eat and cook. I cleared off the counter tops almost completely. It took forever but made a wonderful difference.
And then the closet. You'll remember I'm three seasons into a capsule wardrobe, which means I wear a small collection of 30-40 pieces each season. I have been storing my "not in season" clothing in big plastic bins in my closet which, according to Kondo, is a bad idea. I thought this through and... I agree.
The clothing in the bins is not being treated great. It comes out rumpled and smelling a bit stale. It bums me out to open the bins, much less wear the clothing. So everything came out. And everything got sorted. I held up each item and tried on a few, asking over and over the recommended question "Does this bring me joy?" Not "did I pay a lot for this?" Not "do I wish I wore this more?" Not "will I wear this again?" Not "can I live without this?" But "DOES THIS BRING ME JOY?"
It's a different question than I have ever asked and it's an interesting one because it disregards all the other crap. It doesn't ask if you have happy memories or if in six months you'll be sad you tossed it. It doesn't ask if you already have four white t-shirts. It just asks if you feel a rush of happiness when you look at it or touch it. That question helped me be the most ruthless yet. (I sent some of my clothing to ThredUp and donated some to Goodwill.)
So now, on the right side of my closet I still have my capsule clothing (which is about to switch to a summer/2nd trimester maternity friendly capsule) and then on the left, I have everything that made the JOYFUL cut. In my dresser drawers I have a drawer of capsule bottoms and then a drawer of everything else. Plus a drawer for undergarments. (My socks are still balled up.)
The biggest cut though was to my toiletries. I have maybe 30 pieces of hair/makeup/skincare products now...total (including nail polish and lipstick). (I'll have to do an updated post on my favorite skincare products.) It wasn't that I was using more than that, it's just that I was storing them. I had, for example, the three eye shadows that were mixed onto my eyelids at my wedding ... and haven't been used since. No joy there. It did it's job and now we can move on.
After the big clean out, I was in the kitchen fixing a snack, humming to myself and I was overwhelmed with a feeling of peace.
"I've had this feeling before..." I thought. I remember vividly this exact peaceful feeling that but I couldn't remember WHEN. And then in clicked...
When I was 18, I moved into my college dorm room. It was a nice big room with light blonde wood furniture. I unpacked my clothes, books and bedding. I hung my beloved mementos. I turned the room into "my space." My first, very own (shared with sweet roommate) space. I sat down on my bed and felt at peace.
Everything in that dorm room I loved. I had taken only my favorite things from my childhood home. I had stocked up on "college essentials" at Target. I had packed and unpacked them with great care. I had carefully decided where in the room they would fit best. And now we were here. In this space that was ready for the next adventure.
THAT. That was feeling. That's what I have finally created again (12 years and four homes later) in our San Diego home. Not everything we own is perfect. But everything we own is loved. Everything was chosen. Everything that remains is here because it brings us joy. It's got a place. We have a space.
Ready for the next adventure.