Karen L. Kehler, MA,  MSHA - Private- Professional- Affordable Counseling Services
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Kehler Counseling Blog

Kondo Processing Week #1 Is it Really Life Changing?

Well I started.    I really want to go through the process to experience it as Marie Kondo expresses.    I got an initiation last weekend when I went through the 30 year T shirt collection with my boyfriend.  Don't fret - he did the selecting!   I showed him the folding technique and it does have a true satisfaction -that even with an added laundry event - is being maintained.   Neatness is definitely contagious.  

So this weekend I planned to start sifting through ALL of my clothes.   Know this 'project' has been going on for the last year -and I already discarded almost 10 black garage bags of clothing and shoes before I had this strategy! (Back story: I moved from a 19 room house to a 6 room house 12/2009).  Its absurd what a woman can accumulate over 30 years - and yes I had items that were being stored (not worn!) for that long!    
Anyone who knows me  knows I'm a 'clothes horse', 'fashionista' or value clothing for a vast amount of reasons and the first thing  I did when I moved to this location is take one of the bedrooms and convert it to a 'walk in' closet - racking all the walls with bars and shelving.  I depended on 'rolling racks' in my previous home. 

What gives me JOY is the experience of walking into my clothing room (not closet) and feeling like its a store.  I absolutely love - feel JOY - when the hangers are uniform, spaced, items are hung by function, then color and everything has a place.   I worked in retail - clothing for at least 5 years - so folding, hanging, arranging and 'colorizing' are ingrained into my mindset.  As I said, this presentation of my clothing gives me JOY. . . 
Problem is - I've collected, accumulated and stored the same items, always adding on each season (and subtracting)- of course - I have to look at least somewhat tuned into the latest trend - even fad - and then changed as many as 5 sizes in the last 8 years - and got 30 years older in the process. . .  So before initiating organizing the 'Kondo' way or "marikondo" way - I knew it had reached a point where it was no longer giving me joy to walk in.   Most of my view was of items that I wore in my past life, past lifestyle, past careers, past men and of course past body!    What is absolutely necessary to this process is to keep reminding yourself - the past is DONE - and what you keep - keeps you in the past!   If you retain the past -it's evidence that you don't trust  the future to be better!   You can put this into the 'Law of Attraction' paradigm, prayers being answered, God blessing you or 'letting go - letting God' - whatever works.    Bottom line if you hang on - you are also pessimistic - not optimistic!   That alone was enough for me to discard.
   
Quick Tips: Have a large roll or box of Black 'Yard Waste' or 55g bags handy to start-they must be solid and sturdy.  Once you put items in them - not being able  to 'view' them again is very helpful.    The other issues I ran into that add to the challenge is interruptions, pets and music.  
It is really best to have NO ONE at home - including pets!  If someone else is around you will get interrupted, you will consider their activities and appetite, they may note what you're tossing and want to keep it or question your intentions.  

  •  Pets are another distraction, especially curious cats!  I have 2.   They will be into every new space, every box, climb into opened up areas, jump into new shelves and enjoy your boxes as you empty them.  Keep going - it adds to the JOY process - but can also slow you down!    
  • When you come across items that are in a different category -put them aside - assign another area for each category -as you got through the entire process.   I'm beginning to see how my house will be messy  for a while until I get through all the categories.  But really try to relocate and stay focused on the specific category you started with!   While I was sifting through clothing I ran across boxes of papers, photographs, costume jewelry, loose change, parts of hair equipment, bedding, and laundry items.   Quickly shift it to the side - then take it to its assigned 'accumulation zone' when you get a break or at end of 'session.'   I have boxes piling up of books and mementos/photographs that are waiting for the next phase.   Staying focused does make it easier - as the 'sort' thinking is more specific to each category.  
  • Music was another challenge - I usually love blasting music for this kind of activity but quickly found that the music lyrics or triggers were distracting - just as she remarked in the book - so I switched to Pandora -on a portable speaker through IPhone - and listened to 'relaxation' genre selections and could focus better to the task at hand.   You want the censoring of JOY to come from touching the objects not the music!  


I decided to do my clothing by category within the category - knowing my volume of items is absurd.  I started with dresses - that I had 'carefully' organized in the past by closet, then by 'popularity' - those I was actually wearing. . .   I took them ALL out of each area and found it much easier than I thought to discard. The mountain or abundance visual makes it real.    Once I realized that my personal JOY comes from buying a special dress for a special occasion - KEEPING every single dress of every special occasion in my adult life was pretty silly.   If it was 'so special' then there are photographs out there.  If there's no photos - then my memory will serve me. With everyone taking photos of desserts I think I have a better chance than ever!  Maybe this is why people are taking selfies - they can discard the clothing easier!     Yes there were some items that had really good memories attached to them but many did not - and if they didn't invoke a good sentiment - then I asked 2 questions - would I actually wear it again? or even easier - BUY it again?   Its easy to discard because for me I prefer NEW.  NEW is my JOY.  So letting go of 'old,dated, tired, ill fitting, too small, ugly, cheap, or no longer appropriate for my lifestyle or career - tossing them into a bag was EASY.    BUT for those challenging pieces - that 'little' black dress that helped me feel like a 'sexy - vibrant - confident' woman - but you know won't work that way again. Its my own mindset that does that more than the dress itself.   Do as Marie Kondo suggests - say THANK YOU to it - then let it go. . .   I was impressed how adding that element helped to truly be able to let the item go. . . and move onto the next item. . . most of which didn't require a sentiment of appreciation - I was actually glad to get rid of not just the item but the triggers with them!   
So I cleared out the dresses - probably discarded (into donation bins) more than 30 (!) kept 10 - that are either those that are fresh for right now or classic and well made and fit my 'now' body! I let go of many high quality, logo and 'fancy' items - but when it came down to it - I KNOW I will never  wear them again - so they're GONE.   
I moved onto my 'Bottoms' closet -that also had 'lounge' and dresses mixed in- and was able to remove many items very easily - either because they made me feel fat, reminded me of aging,cheap quality, horribly ugly, not in style or I just knew I would never wear again.   Keeping in mind that I prefer new is what also made this easier - but I have to add that when a new item is 'just right' and gives me JOY - I wear it to death!   My favorite and well loved items are more often 'let go' because of holes, damages, fraying, and wear than because I wasted money.   For me moving forward I'm learning that I have to pick more mindfully the NEW - that gives me JOY - not just because it's 'cheap' -'on sale' or the fashion of the season.   I also recognized that I appreciate quality and comfort - and need to stay focused on that when I shop.  I prefer crisp ironed shirts or drapey knits -slightly dressed up - not over done - but I'm definitely NOT a "T-shirt" person - something that I have to stay true to when my boyfriend is the opposite.    I need to stick with my love for 'active wear' items while he stays with his t-shirt collection.  Then I know the 'process' is really working.   

The disappointment in this process is TIME.  As much as I wanted to dive in and 'get r done' I had to accommodate meals and clients - so I stopped after completing the dress, active wear, under garments and lounge wear.   If you came into my closet after working for approximately 3 hours -2 in morning - 1 in evening - you may not have noticed anything noticeably different.  My hang bar space is still 'full' - despite removing at least 4 more bags!   1 for dresses.    So I didn't feel like I accomplished as much as I would've liked but it is a FREEING process.  Two days later when going to the same space I noted that I still needed to edit even more and there were items that I -once again - realized that I would never wear again.  I also have to go through my seasonal totes  (5) and I'll see what happens with the items for the summer season.  

I did remove all the bags from my house -direct to the charity bins in my town - and thanked them all again - they did serve me well at the time - but their time is completed and hopefully their new owners get my positive energy from them - or they are made into something new that is useful!    Halloween costumes perhaps??  
So my next entry will be on completing the clothing phase.  "Work" items, Jackets, Blazers, Coats, Seasonal items then accessories, bags and shoes . . .  but keeping in mind at all times - Does it bring me a feeling of JOY.  

Hope you're doing your own 'tidying' and discovering more about yourself - one decision at a time. . . 

Karen 

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