Friday, July 22, 2016

Joyful (or not) Clothing Choices

I could have sworn that I had already blogged about the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo.  You know, it's that book that took the best-seller list by storm last year?  The whole idea of taking a few months and physically touching each and every one of our possessions to see if they "spark joy"?  But as I searched and scrolled through my past posts, I saw nothing.  I guess I've just been writing it in my head.  Ha ha.

About a year ago, Rev Guy mentioned this book in a Sunday talk.  He said that when his girlfriend is out of town, he gets messy; lives like his house is a garage sale waiting to happen.  He then talked about Kondo's book and how it was an interesting read.  (As usual, when he mentions a book, I pay attention.  He has also turned me onto movies and shows.  I like to know what he's talking about so I often read/watch his recommendations so that I can be on the "same page" with him more often.)

Clutter and organization is an obsession for me.  I am a clutter-bug and I often fantasize about being organized.  Living in a space with things piling up and undone tasks causes me stress and anxiety.
Sometimes there's a lot of stuff . . . and a lot of anxiety going on in my life.

So I read the book.  I listened to it on audio.  I am currently reading her second book, Spark Joy, an illustrated master class on the art of organizing and tidying up.  What I wasn't doing was the hands-on work.

Kondo's basic premise is that learning to recognize what "sparks joy" in our lives helps us to live deeper and more meaningful lives.  It is no secret that most of us are out of touch with our intuition. Our society values common-sense over feelings, especially ones that don't seem logic-based.

The problem is that when we're out of balance, we aren't able to find the joy.  And who doesn't want more joy???

So during the last school year, I told myself that I would start the process of touching and deciding what to keep and what to let go during the summer break.  And then all of this summer break, I've been thinking, "I really need to start that process!"  (I go back to work very shortly.)

 A few weeks ago, I had some friends coming over for dinner.  They hadn't been here yet and I wanted to show them my living space.

I love my living space.  But there's a lot of stuff in here.  Too much.  And there were some boxes and baskets of clothing that I hadn't put away in a LONG time.  My excuse?  I needed to go through them and find space for them.

So on the day of the visit, I put in a few hours, went through all of those piled items of clothing, gratefully put a lot in a bag to donate, and tucked the rest into the closet.  I knew this was cheating. Kondo's system says that we need to take ALL of our clothes and dump them in a big pile.  In this manner we can "see what we've done", not necessarily as a way to punish ourselves for having too much, but to really see what we have.  Put all the items in one space, pick them up one by one, decide how they make us feel, and then keep only what sparks the joy.  Intimidating to say the least.

About 10 minutes after stuffing all the clothing into my closet and feeling good about my living space, I heard a crash from inside the closet.  One of the overburdened shelves that had a hanging rod attached to it had pulled out of the wall, causing a domino effect and now there was a huge mess on the floor.  Sometimes the universe is NOT subtle.  I really needed to face my clothing.

The leaning and partially detached shelf and clothing bracket.

I have a lot of clothing.  I don't spend much on new things, but am the queen of hand-me-downs and freebies.  I like that I don't have to do laundry all the time.  I love having a lot of different outfits and options.
I am a changeling and there many sides to my personality.  Sometimes I like dress conservatively, and sometimes I like to be wild.  Sometimes I am doing "mom" stuff or "work stuff" and sometimes I'm going to be on stage or the dance floor.

But I am an avoider.   Sometimes it takes me hours and hours to do a task that could be done in 1/4 of the time, because I get bored, distracted or just don't want to deal with stuff for awhile. I need a real reason/motivation to get stuff done.  Having a party in the barn for my birthday caused me to finally finish getting all my stuff up from the barn floor, organized and labeled into bins and up into the loft. I was VERY careful to not just put stuff up there to be gone through later.  Seriously.  I am proud of the work I did.  The bins are numerically labeled and I have a master list so I know where which of my items are.  I can do a good job, once I get started, I promise.

So back to the closet mess.  I bought new brackets.  My sweet roommate re-installed them, without talking too much smack, and now I am off to the races.

Today I started with my coats and jackets.  The ones I love without a doubt are now going back in my closet.  The ones I'm not so sure of are in a separate pile.  And the ones I am finished with are in a bag to be donated.  (Kondo suggests that we say "Thank you" to the items that no longer serve us.  I have been doing this for a few months.  It somehow feels better to get rid of stuff with gratitude than with stress and guilt for having had the items in the first place.)

So I started putting away the jackets and wanted to get side-tracked by the scarves.  Then I wanted to go through my old prom dresses.  (Seriously.  I still have them all, even though I graduated in 1989!) But I resisted.

Instead, I sat down to blog about this process.  I find that holding myself accountable with witnesses is a huge motivator for me, like when I blogged the 40 days of personal Lent last year.  Knowing that family and friends may read this, chuckle a little, shake a head or two or just empathize with my plight gives me the power to push on through.  Plus it was a good way to avoid the task at hand.

Thanks for listening.  Stay tuned . . . I'm far from finished.