For spring cleaning this year, I have started reading the book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo. It’s a book about, well, tidying. For me this time of year is for cleaning, which normally means lots of scrubbing and washing everything I can get my hands on, pulling out the stove and scrubbing under it, climbing on top of things and cleaning the places no one ever sees. There are a few problems with that method this year. Since my injury, I have some pretty big physical limitations that I didn’t have last time I did spring cleaning, with no husband or roommates there is no one to help and due to of having a more than full-time job I have less time than I normally do. The other reason I’m doing the KonMarie method instead of my normal method is that she is promising lifelong tidiness. While my normal method sure does make everything clean for a while, it doesn’t make things more “tidy” long term. It doesn’t make cleaning for the rest of the year easier. It doesn’t actually make my house all that much more pleasing. Also, I love the word “Tidy”, it has always been one of my favorite words. TIDY, TIDY, TIDY!!!
The idea behind this method is that you go through everything you own and get rid of the things that don’t bring you joy. Then you organize and arrange the remaining things in a reasonable and pleasing way.
This is also the perfect time for me to start on this method because it takes about 6 months and I moved in about 6 months. The KonMarie method will be a great pre-moving event. I can pair down my possession and pack up the things I am keeping at the same time. My friends Issa and Lee got a ton of boxes to me on Imbolc to start packing things. I started reading the book the evening after the Imbolc ritual.
The first step of the KonMarie process is figuring out why you want to tidy. “I want a clean house” or “I want to be able to entertain without feeling too stressed to clean” isn’t enough. You must ask yourself lots of questions to get to the root of what it is you really want from your space and why. I have come up with two answers after several days of thinking about it.
- I want to live in a home that is classy and fun. I want my guests to walk into my home and feel ease and joy, but I also want them to think “wow, this place is clean, smells nice and is pleasing, Everything I see is of high quality, and reflects Kitty’s personality. Kitty must be doing very well for herself financially and emotionally”
Why do I want this?
Well, when I was a kid I was very poor. When I was little we lived in a shitty single wide trailer without running water in coal country of Pennsylvania. It was cold and dirty there, broken down cars and a moldy shack littered what might have been a very lovely woodland clearing. Everything was always covered in black coal dust and smoke. When I was 7 my mother left my father and we moved someplace that I thought was like a palace. We lived in a brand new double wide! With a garden tub! But looking back I know we were still poor.
As a child, I got teased for wearing used and ugly clothes. I was often brought to tears because the other kids said I smelled bad, which now actually seems petty unlikely, I showered every day and my mother was a bit of a clean freak, but also a smoker so I don’t know, maybe I did smell bad. I guess I’ll never know. Once I realized how poor we were I wanted to never be poor again, I felt angry and ashamed that we were poor while so many other people were rich. This started me having a lot of self-hatred and anger about poverty, but that is another post. Anyway, I didn’t want to be poor and wanted to change that. I now know this isn’t something you have a ton of control over, but I have done what I could.
I think I had just about reached “middle class” financially before my husband left me last year. But I never felt like it while with him. When we were doing things with his job I felt like I was super rich. We stayed in nice hotels, we went to cool places, I met important people and ate fancy foods. All of that was awesome, during those times I felt happy and important like my life was going the right direction, like I could do great things. During those times I got a little overconfident about being someone important myself someday, like a writer. All that opulence made me work hard and being someone great. But at home we lived in a house that was a mess inside and out, that was full of cheap shit and clutter no matter how hard I tried to fight that. Living here I have felt like sometimes all I do is clean, working 10 hours a day at cleaning to still wake up to filth. Yes, I get that there are some emotional issue and compulsive disorder things going to be dealt with there.
My ex-husband had many good qualities, but wanting a clean and classy home was not among them. He grew up nearly as poor as I, but with a family that was less concerned with cleanliness, quality and what other people thought about them, which my mother was obsessed with. He is the type of person who doesn’t mind living in a house that needs painting, who doesn’t rush to clean up trash in the yard or tidy the house. And that is ok, not everyone takes joy from the same things. I, however, take joy in a clean home and yard and in being able to entertain guests.
He is gone now which makes me sometimes feel totally broken with sadness even after so many months, sometimes super angry, but increasingly zen I guess. He left me, he had his reasons, that sucks. But it is in the past and I had no control over it happening. It wasn’t my fault he left, but picking up the pieces is my responsibility. I have to deal with that shit and move on.
I am still living in “our” house, but soon for the first time in my life, I will be living in “my” house. A place that is 100% mine. A place that will reflect only my personality and values. I value quality. I value joy, art, and beauty. I value cute things, colorful things, and stupidly adorable things!
I’m not wealthy now, I’m not even middle class with just my income (about $25,000 a year if I keep doing well). But, I would rather have a few nice things than many shitty things. I will be getting rid of all the low-quality and joyless things before or when I leave. This part of my life, this home is dead and needs to left alone to decay.
My new home will merge the aesthetic of a fancy spa and a candy store. There will be many candles and fresh flowers, cute candy jars for art reasons, pastel furniture, lots of bright white filigree, antique china, stuffed animals and doilies. It will be glorious, like Honeyduke’s from Harry Potter if managed by a Jess from “New Girl” and owned by Jackie O.
- I want my home to be a place where I can feel free to relax, engage in any activity or work on any project of my choosing when I am alone.
What does this mean?
To my left as I type this I have my piano keyboard. It is covered in mail, clothing and dust. I want to play the piano at least a few times a week, but I can’t because of effort and guilt. It would take time to clean all the stuff off and put it all away and once I started cleaning I would probably just keep cleaning. If I did stop and try to play the piano I would feel guilty, because for me playing the piano is something you do in a clean house. Knitting is something you do in a clean house. Coloring is something you do when you have done all your chores. Even reading or being able to relax while watching T.V or taking a bubble bath is for people who are done with tasks for the day. I can only let go and truly enjoy my inside hobbies when my space is clean, but because I don’t have a great system my space is seldom clean enough for me to relax. I have tried to take all the things I want to do off the “for a good Kitty only list” but after years of trying I have decided to give up on that, and instead find a way to feel like a good Kitty.
I theorize that If I can get things in order, only having to tidy for 15 minutes a day then I will have more deserved free time to do the things that matter to me. I guess we will see if that’s true.
With these two very introspective, complex and personal reasons to tidy my home I feel confident that I can get this done. I’ve already made a list of 80 categories that I need to evaluate, pare down and organize.
I have done the method for two categories so far:
- from 24 to 18 blankets, throws and duvets
- from 44 to 31 types of tea.
I will try to post here as I work on this so you can see my progress.