Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 03/08/2019

Marie Kondo and the whole “sparking joy” thing


Marie_Kondō,_2016_(cropped)The latest rage in television is Marie Kondo. She is an organizational consultant, author and cleaning guru. She was one of Time’s 100 Most Influential people. She’s all about assessing every single item in your home and deciding if it “sparks joy”. If not, out it goes. No warbling, no indecision, no I’ll-have-to-think-about-it. OUT.

I missed my calling. I am a saner version of Marie Kondo. I am an organizational Rock star. My spices in alphabetical order. Yup. I have a folder for income tax stuff. I can literally find anything anyone is looking for. That goes for twist ties for trash bags, passports, paper clips, my eighth-grade yearbook, the nozzle for the outdoor hose, batteries – AA, AAA, C, D and 9 Volt. I know where the dental floss stash is that the dentist gives to me at every appointment, the picture hangers, the spare keys for every car we’ve ever owned, the washing machine troubleshooting instructions, extra check registers and a list of social security numbers for all the kids. Additionally, I can find any book in this house, because, you guessed it, my books are categorized by genre, then alphabetized by author. The photo album is caught up. I am OCD about that. I gave up on recording milestone stuff in the kids’ baby books sometime around the third kid. The remaining five, nothing. Blank pages. I threw all my efforts toward the photo albums to record history. I didn’t ask any of my things if they gave me a sense of bliss. Don’t have any future plans to, either.

My spouse and I raised enough kids to field a basketball team with three subs. I oversaw their organization too. Each kid had a “junk box”. I know, Marie Kondo would need an EMT and paddles. It was my way of controlling the bedlam. But the kids knew that that one junk box was it. They had plenty of toys in the playroom, but this was their own secret stash. Bottlecaps they found in the road. A napkin from a birthday party they’d gone to, little bits of icing still stuck to it. A scattering of toys from McDonald’s Happy Meals. Tiny little Barbie shoes. Rocks. Old keys. Sea shells. There was a time when snail shells made their way into a junk box. The bad news is that the snails were still in the shell. That’s called junk box stench.

“The more stuff you own, the more stuff owns you” says Marie. Sorry, I just can’t buy that. I have stuff. I see no benefit to giving a huge portion of it away. Decluttering is one thing. But just about everything I have in my house has a story behind it. I have an old-fashioned bread board on my dining room table. It is piled high with heart-shaped rocks from near and far, domestic and international. I have 40 photo albums crammed with pictures that highlight our family’s journey for the past 38 years. Baptisms, trips to the park, Disneyland, Christmas, Thanksgiving, graduations, summers in Cape Cod, prom pictures and all the in-between things that when all pulled together, memorialize our lives. The kids come home for holidays and at some point, the photo albums come out and they laugh and remember and reminisce. I love that. It makes my heart happy.

One of my kids is a real traditionalist. She came home from college one weekend and discovered that the yellow Rubbermaid bowl that had touched the heating coil in the dishwasher and no longer had a stable base on it was gone. Still usable. But it didn’t give me joy, because I like my stuff nice, in good shape, but it was one of several similar bowls ,so I tossed it. She was horrified. “That’s the bowl you’d send us to bed with when we had the flu!” She saw it as a keepsake. Me? Out. One woman’s treasure is another woman’s discard, it seems.

We are empty nesters now. We have downsized. Really, we have “rightsized”. Marie Kondo would be on life support if she came into my house. Picture frames of the kids on every surface. A church pew right by the front door with piles of stuff, organized by which kid it belongs to. Books…books everywhere. A dining room with 2 candlesticks from my mother-in-law’s house. On a kitchen shelf, an Italian vinegar and oil set that one of my kids picked up at a thrift store with me in mind. A school-art project dish by the bathroom sink that holds lots of earrings, made for me by my son that says in his third-grade handwriting, “Happy Mother’s Day 2003”. A picture my daughter Margaret drew of she and her sister. It’s a picture of the two of them, leaning into each other, heads touching, in a four-year old’s crude penciled way. A green tinted watering can, sitting on the mantle, dented and rusted in places, reminding me of dozens of Sunday trips to Greenwood, scuffing around in antique stores, kids with hands mostly in their pockets, so they weren’t tempted to touch the merchandise.

All of that stuff sparks a feeling. A slice of a bygone time that still evokes an emotional response. I don’t want a coffee table adorned by a perfectly centered plant. I want to be surrounded by things that bring to life memories…and thankfully, thankfully, there’s no limit to those.

#MarieKondo – #sparkingjoy


Photo By RISE – Flickr, CC BY 2.0

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