I’ve joined a cult. In a span of less than two weeks, I have become a devout follower of Marie Kondo, author of the New York Times Best Seller “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” I ordered the book on a whim after a friend mentioned it in a conversation, but let it sit on my cluttered countertop for more than a month before I opened it up and got sucked in.
I read the first few chapters one morning while I was sitting in a parking lot letting the baby sleep in the car. After reading page 1, I knew Kondo was talking to me. And I knew what she was saying was truly going to be life-changing.
The book is a step-by-step guide to decluttering your home using the KonMarie method for simplifying, organizing and storing. At first glance, this book seemed beneath me.
As a self-proclaimed minimalist, anyone who has been to my house would not consider it cluttered at all. My house is almost always tidy, though with two children my standards have lowered drastically. I’m a neat freak and always have the important chores done.
The opening page of the book hit the nail on the head with my problem: “Have you ever tidied madly, only to find that all too soon your home or workspace is cluttered again?”
YES! Every. Single. Day.
The premise of the book is that if you follow her method to tidy your home with this once-in-a-lifetime tidying event, you will never revert to clutter and tidying repetitively again.
About halfway through the book, I realized the KonMari system is pure genius. The method for tidying works, and I am fully confident my house will be tidy forever once I have completed my work.
The “magic” of this book has so little to do with having a clean house though. In the 10 days since I opened this book, my life has changed. It sounds extreme, I know. But the results have been so extreme I cannot deny the power of what tidying my house has done to my life.
Kondo says it best when she says, “When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and past in order too.”
I never realized how much of my stuff has been holding me back. As I’m working though my belongings, taking each and every item I own into my hands and asking myself, “Does this spark joy?” I am realizing how much negativity I have brought into or allowed to stay in my home. From hand-me-down clothes to gifts from loved ones to items I feel like I should want to keep, I have been discarding so much so that I am left with only things I love.
Today’s tidying uncovered a pregnancy test circa September 2013 from when I found out I was pregnant with now-10-month-old Preston. It’s been in my bathroom drawer, exactly where I put it 19 months ago, this whole time. Why?
Why would I keep a stick that I peed on for so long? I’m not sentimental. I am known for throwing out everything. My children will have my photos as mementos of their childhood, but not much else. But when I saw the test, I immediately thought that I couldn’t throw it out. I actually posted a picture in a KonMari follower group with the caption “Why is this so hard to let this go?!”
I got a barrage of responses ranging from “gross, it’s pee!” to “I keep mine with the umbilical cord!” Ewwww. One response in particular really made me think:
“This object is hard to let go because you have imbued it with meaning. Does this object spark joy for you or does it freeze you in time or hold you back in any way?”
I held the test and asked myself “Does this spark joy?” and was flooded with a rush of negative, sad, scary and unwanted feelings. No, that old pregnancy test did not spark joy. It brought back the memory of seeing those two pink lines and knowing that they were no guarantee of having a baby to hold in my arms. I’d been there, done that and have another pregnancy test just like it sitting in a little blue box next to my baby’s ashes.
After the initial excitement wore off, I tucked the test away in that drawer…just in case.
Kondo says, “When we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”
I left this disgusting, peed on stick in my drawer for a year and a half out of fear and anxiety for the future. I was scared for what could have never been and scared for what I could not control. The sound of sweet baby giggles and little hands tugging at my ankles quickly snapped me back to the here and now. I am done letting fear control my house or my life, and in one swift, life-changing event, I threw the stick away.