As I rejoin the workflow of the new year with a packed calendar and Christmas decorations begging to be taken down, my messages are flooding in with an overwhelming pattern: “Have you SEEN the new show on Netflix? It’s about ORGANIZING!” and “The woman who wrote that book you gave me has a show now! It made me think of you immediately!” The show everyone is so excitedly telling me about is the Netflix Original Show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” that aired January 1st 2019.
So, my weekend has become a bedroom binge watcher’s paradise as I digest all eight episodes of the “new” trend for people that will love the accessibility of a bingeable show about organizing their homes. It’s easy! It’s relatable! It has an adorable Marie Kondo “ching!”ing her way into your heart like a tiny meeping kitten of magical organization techniques! There are before and after montages, soothing transcendental musical intros and outros, modules of instructional techniques on how to fold laundry and store neckties. The show gives a calm, clean, yoga studio feel to the most cluttered and hoarded spaces and that provides us all hope that our messes can be tidied and our disorganization can be banished forever as we start the new year.
My Impression as a P.O. (Professional Organizer)
I am excited for this coverage! I am glad it is reaching people in mainstream masses and causing them to consider their belongings (and perhaps the excess or disorganization of their belongings) as part of their journey towards personal peacefulness and progress. This is IMPORTANT. This is what I do everyday. I also know, from working one on one with ALL of my clients that this movement towards simplicity is a daunting task and while some wonderfully hyper-focused folks will in a month or so declare their homes sufficiently purged and only full of things that “spark joy” and emerge feeling victorious in the war against clutter, others will have some questions. Some will need some help. Some will find themselves a little lost in the process and some will see it as a begrudging task bringing emotional turmoil and self judgement or even worse, the judgement of others, every time they pick up a sweater to see if inspires something positive.
In the long and often emotional sessions I have with clients, their sorted belongings range from the highly triggering to the most mundane necessity in their stationary drawer. For people with diagnoses of PTSD, ADHD, anxiety, depression and painful life experiences such as grieving the death of a loved one, divorce or downsizing living space due to an unexpected lay off, deciding if a thing sparks a positive emotion is often much harder. Emotions are a spectrum, they are as deep and connected as waves in the ocean.
We hold on to physical things because we relate them to important moments that we do not want to forget, sometimes it isn’t joy, but it is important. I experience this with clients regularly. The conversations that the sorting process leads to are just as important as the sorting process itself, they lead to a contemplation of how you view your belongings, how they impact you and how they make you view your life and your ability to live it.
“My house is a mess, so I am a mess.” or “I think I’d be better, faster, more focused on my life goals if my stuff was just more organized.” are things I hear most often.
Sometimes, that is all it takes: a quick sprucing of a room, putting things that have found themselves out of place back in their proper storage, but sometimes, it involves a deeper sorting and deeper reflection. A non-biased party to talk through it while you walk through it. A more mindful and considerate look at how or why the mess has accumulated and a careful double teaming of both the physical along with the psychological. We take each part of ourselves and what we extend ourselves to outside of our physical bodies (our stuff) and we project our identity from there; how we want to see ourselves and occasionally how we want others to see us. Realizing the correlation and sometimes the dysfunction or disconnection is where the change actually starts. This is how we heal. This is how we progress and evolve outside of our comfort zone.
As we grow, our things can hold us back as we visually and emotionally relate to things that are no longer part of our lives and don’t align with our current lives and identities in real time. It can lead to feelings of regret, resentment, unfair expectations of self or feelings that we don’t live up to others’ expectations of us. That is not easy! Letting go of the things that don’t “spark joy” but bring attention to unresolved emotions are often the hardest. Being left to that for a day, a week, a month at a time, on your own (even with family), is a LOT to handle! I applaud the people and families on this show for doing it with minimal involvement sparing check-ins from Ms. Kondo, seriously you guys are the real MVPs.
Does your stapler “spark joy”?
Yet, sometimes a thing is just a thing and it is a thing we need in our lives regardless of how we feel about it. Does your office stapler “spark joy” for you? Probably not- but you need it nonetheless and if you throw it out in the midst of a purge, you’ll more than likely need to get another one before the month is out. Being a Professional Organizer, I find that many times the usefulness of things is not considered enough in the purge, we are too concerned with the quantity of our things instead of considering its need for practicality. We get into the trash bag discarding excitement flow and think, “Just get it out, get it ALL OUT.”
The point is not to suddenly have a yoga studio minimalized or magazine cover worthy home, but a home that feels like Home. Getting rid of things in dozens of trash bags gives an amazing feeling of relief, accomplishment and cleanliness, but what comes next? What happens when both kids have the flu and your spouse is stuck working overtime all week and you just can’t manage folding the laundry into perfect little stackable squares? What happens when you get started and realize that looking at the last ten, twenty or thirty years of your life in a giant mountainous pile in the middle of your living room for the next few weeks while you still have to go to work, take care of your kids and somehow get more than two hours of sleep a night is just too much?
Ask for help.
Watch an episode or two of “Tidying Up” for inspiration.
Read Kondo’s books or any of the countless others out there that help compartmentalize the process into manageable modules.
Call a friend, a family member and/or your therapist for positive guidance and support.
You can also call us at Zen Method Philly, we’re always here, too.
*Ching!* Be well! ☺️
Zen Method Philly
Content in this post regarding the Netflix Original Show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” is intended solely as an expression of professional opinion of and reaction to the show, and Zen Method LLC gained no monetary incentive or any other benefit for doing so. Our mission is to inform, educate and improve our readers’ understanding of the principles and applications of organization and its usefulness in their lives.
Copyright (c) 2019