Cut­ting clut­ter to free up space, minds

A best­selling book and hit Net­flix series are lead­ing to ti­dier clos­ets.

Tampa Bay Times - - Front Page - BY LANE DEGREGORY Times Staff Writer

She opened the closet in her up­stairs bed­room and stood, hands on hips, sur­vey­ing her clothes.

On the left, dozens of dresses she’d worn over the last decade. On the right, a row of blouses, an­other rod filled with skirts and slacks. Shoes in the cen­ter. Plus, a pile of purses.

Diana Blinkhorn took a deep breath, then pulled ev­ery­thing out and threw it on her bed.

Just like Marie Kondo says.

“I did it three years ago, af­ter a friend gave me her book,” said Blinkhorn, a Tampa mom who writes a blog and home schools her three young daugh­ters. “But I just can’t keep up with all our stuff. The new Net­flix show in­spired me to go around again.”

So on a re­cent week­day, while her hus­band was at work and her par­ents were down­stairs watch­ing her girls, Blinkhorn started sort­ing. “This time,” she said, “I’m go­ing full-blown KonMari.”

•••

Marie Kondo’s best­selling book, The Life-Chang­ing Magic of Tidy­ing Up, en­cour­ages peo­ple to go through their pos­ses­sions and dis­card ev­ery­thing that doesn’t “spark joy.” She wrote in her na­tive Ja­panese, and it was trans­lated to English in 2014. Since then, it’s been pub­lished in 30 coun­tries.

In Jan­uary, Net­flix de­buted a series star­ring Kondo who, through a trans­la­tor, helps fam­i­lies con­trol their clut-

la­tor, helps fam­i­lies con­trol their clut­ter.

The eight half-hour episodes each have mil­lions of views. The show sparked a del­uge of be­fore-and-af­ter pho­tos on so­cial me­dia, peo­ple doc­u­ment­ing their at­tempts to fol­low the Kondo method. In the last month, more than 1 mil­lion peo­ple have men­tioned her on Face­book. The site’s Mar­ket­place re­ports a huge in­crease in peo­ple sell­ing things they no longer want.

Across Tampa Bay, Good­will has seen a 3 per­cent in­crease in drop-offs through­out its 10-county re­gion — an ad­di­tional 5 mil­lion pounds of clothes, fur­ni­ture and other items in just one month. “Our do­na­tions de­part­ments keep getting calls from peo­ple say­ing they’ve been in­spired to clean out their clut­ter,” said Good­will spokesper­son Chris Ward. “At our Wes­ley Chapel store, do­na­tions have tripled.”

•••

Blinkhorn bent over her bed and un­tan­gled a web of hang­ers. Ev­ery­thing that was in the back of her closet was now on top of the mound. Some of the clothes, she hadn’t seen in years.

That orange skirt was from col­lege. She’s 35. That striped dress she wore when she was preg­nant. Her youngest daugh­ter is now al­most 3. She touched each item, just like Kondo says.

She didn’t thank them for their ser­vice but sa­vored the mem­o­ries. That for­est green dress used to make her feel so fancy. But it was pre-kids and doesn’t fit any­more. It’s got to go. That flow­ered sun­dress? She for­got she had that.

“I used to al­ways think, what if I need this again? So I could never get rid of any­thing,” Blinkhorn said. “Now I ask, ‘Do I want to bring this into my fu­ture?’ I don’t think it’s healthy to hold onto your past.”

Her hus­band cleaned out the shed. She did the kitchen cab­i­nets. Clear­ing the kids’ room was hard­est, she said. She didn’t want to get rid of the crib, or baby swing, or even a pile of stained one­sies. But she forced her­self to “be in­ten­tional about what I kept” and al­lowed her­self just one keep­sake box for each of her girls.

She sold some items on Face­book and made $400, which will help pay for gym­nas­tics classes. Other things she do­nated to a women’s shel­ter. “Getting rid of all this stuff makes me feel lighter,” she said.

About an hour af­ter she started, Blinkhorn hung the last dress back in her closet and closed the door. On her bed were two piles: One to give away, one to try on. Her old­est daugh­ter, Lu­cille, walked in and started ri­fling through them.

“Hey, Lulu, don’t cre­ate more mess,” Blinkhorn said, pick­ing up a sweater the 6-year-old had flung to the floor. “This all has to go to some­one else.”

While Blinkhorn folded un­wanted items into a bag, her daugh­ter stepped into a pair of sil­ver heels, wrapped her­self in a black shawl, pulled out ev­ery dress that sparkled. When she found a peach one whose bodice twin­kled with crys­tal beads, she stepped into it.

“I wore that the night your dad and I got en­gaged,” Blinkhorn said. “Look how tiny it is. I’m sure I could never fit in it again.”

She had planned to give that dress away. But now her daugh­ter was wear­ing it, danc­ing in front of the mir­ror.

Spark­ing joy.

JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times

Tampa mom diana alinkhorn cleans out her bed­room closet, Marie Kondo-style. It was the sec­ond time in three years she’s de­clut­tered.

JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times

Diana Blinkhorn gets “help” from her 6-year-old daugh­ter Lu­cille as she cleans out her bed­room closet Tues­day in Tampa. She draws in­spi­ra­tion from de­clut­ter­ing ex­pert Marie Kondo.

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