The Life-Changing Magic of a Tidy Closet

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After I started reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I couldn’t wait to get started on my own “tidying marathon”. I still haven’t finished tidying the whole house and I started this process over a month ago. But I KNOW it is possible and am so excited about finally getting “tidy”.

I’m not sure how long Marie Kondo’s tidying marathons last, but if she were in the US or I were in Japan, I would love to enlist her services to keep me focused on tidying for however long it takes. As it is, I am doing this myself, motivated by the version of Marie Kondo in my head who paints a picture of me surrounded by only things that bring me joy, sipping tea in my perfectly tidy home and making time to do yoga and take a bath before bed at night.

Following the KonMari sequence, I started with clothes, then moved on to books, then papers, and am currently on “komono” (pretty much everything else – which is a lot!). Today I share my dramatic closet transformation.

The basis of the KonMari method is so simple: put everything from a category in your home in a pile in one place, and pick up each item and decide if it brings you joy. If it brings you joy, it’s a keeper. If the answer to the joy question is no, then it goes.

My Experience of KonMari-ing My Clothes

Closet_Organization_BeforeAs I suspected/feared when I decided to clean out my closet, I had very few clothes that brought me joy. And it was incredibly hard to let go of the clothes that I had to admit did not bring me joy.

My clothing purge (basically closet clean-out) spanned over several days. Partly because I started on an afternoon where I had to stop and do other things, and partly because it was so difficult for me to part with so many things that it probably took me three times as long as it would have if Marie Kondo had been sitting there next to me.

I literally went through the massive pile and held every item in my hands three times each just to be sure. I didn’t listen to music or watch TV, as recommended in the book, because I wanted to be sure I was making the right decision when I was deciding to let something go. It wasn’t difficult to keep things – it was difficult to make the call to donate something, especially for no other reason than that it does not bring me joy.

Why Bother?

Closet_Organization_DuringBy the third day, I had finished reading the book, and that helped me see the greater purpose and vision of what I was doing. The process of letting go of joyless things prepares us for transforming other areas of our lives that are less than joyful. It shows us that there is space to grow and transform and that even though it will be challenging, it is all possible.

I gave all the items I decided not to keep a proper send off, telling them a silent thank you for all that they have done for me and gotten me through. Telling them job well done and trusting in the reincarnation of the positive energy of my things (if you read the book, this might make sense).

After it was all said and done, I realized that the clothes I saved (a fraction of what was occupying my closet before) were pretty much the only clothes I was wearing anyway. The 80/20 rule was definitely in effect.

I found one of those stores that buys back clothes that are in nice enough condition and fashion to re-sell. I ended up making $160 off the clothes that sold (36 items sold), and drove the rest directly to the donation bin.

Down to the bare minimum wardrobe, laundry is unexpectedly more simplified. I know what I have. I change clothes less frequently because I know what is still clean and when I will be doing the next load of laundry. I am definitely ready to live in a tiny home, or at least my closet is.

The Aftermath and Reflections on a Lifetime of Shopping

Closet_Organization_AfterIt has been at least a month since I cleaned out my closet, and I only recently bought a few new items. After seeing how many things I have bought in the past that never really brought me joy in the first place, I want to be sure that things I bring in to my home going forward are things I truly love.

I was surprised that I could remember the specific event that I had bought many pieces for (work-related events, weddings, baby showers, weekend ski trip) but never truly loved them, and in most cases never wore them again. I had bought things because I thought I had to have them for that one occasion at the last minute, and didn’t take the time to consider if they truly brought me joy.

I was terrified of offending people by getting rid of things they have given me in the past, and also feared that I would get rid of so many clothes that I would barely have anything left.

I feared that I would make the wrong choices and have regrets about letting something go, or that I would let go of something that somehow defined me and I would lose who I was. In the interest of change, this is a good thing, I decided.

Despite my many fears, what kept me going was the excitement of creating space in my life for unexpectedly amazing things, for me to be me.

I took notes while I was cleaning out my closet on how I was feeling and wanted to share my feelings here.

What I Was Excited About:

  • leaving behind that sense that there is one more thing to do, one more step to take
  • getting everything arranged and settled once and for all
  • feeling confident and secure in my surroundings and in my clothes
  • feeling good and at peace because everything is in place

Things That Surprised Me:

  • how many clothes I had on dry cleaning hangers that I couldn’t remember the last time I wore
  • how many items I had been holding on to out of a sense of obligation to the person who got them for me
  • how I could think of the version of me who used to wear that skirt or that jacket and how that is so not the current version of me
  • how good it felt to move every single thing out of my closet. It was like I was moving but I wasn’t. That feeling you get from rearranging the furniture in your room as a kid, or the living room furniture in your apartment.
  • how happy it made me to hang up a dress that brought me joy, or to fold a shirt or sweater that brought me joy. Then I knew for sure.

Parting Words for My Clothes:

  • Thank you for bringing me joy.
  • Thank you for inspiring me.
  • Thank you for being a great gift.
  • Thank you for all that you helped get me through.
  • You did a good job.
  • Thank you for your service.

Weird, right? But this step of thanking my clothes totally helped me to let go, and gave me the closure I needed to have confidence in my choices.

My closet is clean! I still want to paint the walls and add some cozy lighting and put up a vision board in there, and will be sure to share when I do. I also have a few loose ends to tie up, like deciding what to do with my wedding dress and what else will go in the closet. In the meantime, I am so proud to say that I am actively continuing to tidy up the rest of our home once and for all and it feels amazing.

This week I’m working on the kitchen and am happy with my progress so far. I can’t wait to share as I continue to move closer to the vision I have had for myself for so long!

Are you tidying? Or do you have any desire to tidy? Please share your thoughts if you would like!

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  1. Kathleen Howell Oct 8, 7:50 pm

    Love this idea and the book is now next on my reading list, thank you!! I’ve read about the concept of space equaling opportunity, interesting..

    1. anniehurley Oct 9, 7:15 am

      Hi Kathleen, welcome to Awaken & Begin! Yes, you will love the book. I completely identified with the author’s quirky yet refreshing beliefs about “stuff”. Thanks for stopping by!


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