Spark­ing joy with Marie Kondo’s craze of “Tidy­ing Up”

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Marni Jame­son, Spe­cial to The Den­ver Post

“What are you do­ing?” DC calls from the next room. I’ve been in my closet longer than it’s taken Michi­gan to count votes.

“Spark­ing joy,” I holler from be­hind a mound of castoffs the size of a Volk­swa­gen.

“Need some help?” He thinks this sounds fun. “I have to change my life first.” DC’s got­ten used to my idio­syn­cra­sies, which in­clude spurts of ma­ni­a­cal clean­ing, or­ga­niz­ing and re­dec­o­rat­ing, but this time is dif­fer­ent. It mer­its an ex­pla­na­tion.

I had just joined the half of the world pop­u­la­tion who has read Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Chang­ing Magic of Tidy­ing Up: The Ja­panese Art of De­clut­ter­ing and Or­ga­niz­ing” (Ten Speed Press). The quirky lit­tle man­ual started as a spark in Ja­pan, spread as a small flame to the United States two years ago, and is now a world-

wide wild­fire, sell­ing more than six mil­lion copies in 40 lan­guages.

Now peo­ple from Poland to Peru are “kon­do­ing” their homes. Yes, her name has be­come a verb.

Kondo her­self is as adorable as a pair of pearl ear­rings. (I emailed her for an in­ter­view and didn’t hear back, then dis­cov­ered she lives in Tokyo, doesn’t speak English, and only gives in­ter­views through an in­ter­preter. She’s ex­cused.)

At age 32, she has al­ready made Time mag­a­zine’s list of 100 Most In­flu­en­tial Peo­ple, all be­cause she turned her neu­rotic child­hood ob­ses­sion with clean­ing, sort­ing and tidy­ing into a home-or­ga­niz­ing busi­ness in Ja­pan, then a method, and now a phe­nom­e­non.

Since I am at least in the­ory a down­siz­ing ex­pert, as I, too, have a book out on the sub­ject, I fig­ured I should find out what all the Kondo-magic fuss was about.

While my mantra on sav­ing or toss­ing stuff boils down to need, use, love, hers is even sim­pler: Does it spark joy. I de­cided to ap­ply her KonMari Method to my wardrobe, which is where she says to start, to see how the ad­vice worked.

The tech­nique in­volves hold­ing hold ev­ery one of your be­long­ings in your hands – that part is es­sen­tial — and ask­ing: Does it spark joy? If it does, store it with love and care. If it doesn’t, say a sin­cere and cer­e­mo­ni­ous good­bye, then jet­ti­son it.

The ques­tion forces brute hon­esty: Yes, I love the silk pais­ley dress that cost a mint, but it would re­ally look bet­ter on some­one tall, blonde and skinny. Sniff. And those jeans, well, maybe if I were a teenager.

Four bags of clothes later, I felt, if not bet­ter about my­self (Lord, I have wasted a lot of money), at least hon­est with my­self.

As we plunge head­long into the sea­son where we buy and re­ceive more stuff in three weeks than we do all the rest of the year com­bined, I thought this a good time for all of us to re­assess our stuff and our re­la­tion­ship with it – start­ing with me.

Kondo’s book helped me hit my re­set but­ton, and gave me a fresh lens to look through. But be­fore you get the book or give it as a Christ­mas gift, heed this warn­ing: Some devo­tees, called Kon­verts, ex­tend her method to all the junk in their lives and re­ally clean house. They purge dead-end jobs and en­er­gy­suck­ing friends. Hence the “life-chang­ing magic” part.

One woman got rid of her boyfriend. He wasn’t spark­ing joy.

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