By Deborah Sherwood

Deborah Sherwood; Courtesy of Author

Although I haven’t yet been invited to be a featured guest on the TV show Hoarders, I must confess that I have been negligent in keeping my small apartment tidy. Unquestionably, a bit of organizing is long overdue.

I rummage through a towering stack of books, searching for inspiration and guidance, and notice that one still has some Christmas gift wrap stuck to it. I tear off the rest of the dancing reindeer paper and read the title: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.

I shove a needlepoint cushion declaring “Bless This Mess” (another gift from a well meaning friend) to the floor, then burrow into my squashy sofa while I scan through the pages, curious to see what suggestions Ms. Kondo may offer. The book promises that choosing to keep items that spark joy, and discarding everything else, will offer a stress free life with more joy and prosperity.

Ms. Kondo, the guru of living in a minimalist environment, created the “KonMari Method” a two part approach to tackling your stuff category-by-category rather than room-by-room. She lists five classifications: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous, and sentimental Items.

To determine what makes the cut, Kondo has you start by removing everything from your closets and drawers, the books from your shelves, and all the paperwork from your desk and file cabinets. Each item is to be examined and embraced. If it sparks joy, fold it and return it to its cozy little home. Otherwise, simply thank each item for serving its purpose then fling it into the trash bag or donate box.

Following her instructions, I start with category one – my clothes. As required, I dutifully dump everything from my closet and drawers on to my bed. The items I want to keep get folded, then lined horizontally in drawers (Ms. Kondo discourages hanging clothes).

One of the items I caress is a neon green tee shirt I wore when I was a volunteer with Honor Flight, an organization that brings America’s veterans to Washington to visit their memorials. Before tossing it into the discard pile, I offer a snappy salute and a heartfelt “Thank you for your service.”

After three hours of hugging, thanking, assessing, and folding in a frenzy of fabric origami, I notice the trash bag has gobbled up only a few obsolete items. Some went into the donate container but most sparked joy and were returned to their previous locations.

I wish Ms. Kondo well in her pursuit to rid the world of clutter and applaud those who have succeeded in this endeavor. I chuck The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing into the donate bin, pour myself a glass of dark, red Merlot and lazily stretch out in my recliner.

I may not have succeeded in clearing out most of my possessions, but the things I kept spark joy, and that’s what really matters.

Deborah Jones Sherwood happily resides at River Park in Southwest Washington.

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