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Kehler Counseling Blog

Life Changing - Kondo Style

There are times in life where something grabs you and shakes you up.  Moments of 'light bulb' awareness where several thoughts, events or situations all line up like an eclipse.  
I had that happen last month and I'm just getting started. 

Please take the time to read this through - I hope to convey the 'magic' of this process.  If you are a parent of a 'lost' child, an 'addict' child going through your own life changing events: empty-nest, retiring, divorcing, lost a significant person - take the time to read this - then get this book:  the life changing magic of tidying up. by Marie Kondo. 

First I want to emphasize that this book is less about organizing, cleaning, purging, minimizing, or buying 'stuff' to get your home 'in order'.  That is where many aren't 'getting' it.    The title is perfect.  Remember the title through the entire process.  
The author is a young woman from Japan.  Know that Japan is known for tiny housing, origami, and 'Zen' and many of their practices embrace the 'sacred'.   In this book the word and experience of JOY  is the main decision maker.  
It is that very simple yet profoundly dynamic word that shapes all the rest of the process.  JOY. 

The first step is to journal, scrapbook, research,review what you would want your home/environment to reflect.  What do you want to FEEL when you walk into your 'space'?  Is it family? Serenity? Quiet? Activity? Reflection? Creativity?  Ponder what you want others to experience about you in your space.   NOT what 'Martha Stewart' would think.  NOT what would be 'magazine' ready.  NOT what would impress your friends or family.  Just what YOU would feel best in.  

Now you are ready to begin the process.  That has some interesting strategies that make a lot of sense as you move through them.  I started it already and can see how and WHY it works so beautifully.  I will be blogging as I move through it.   Here are some of her 'rules'. 
  • Sort by CATEGORY - NOT space.   She understands 'clutter' more than anyone I've read - if you do 'it' by room or space - you don't experience 'abundance' -you just chip away at the problem or 'stuff' and never really get to the core of why you have it or being able to let it go.   Just doing one closet at a time - you really just do a 'review' of 'stuff' rather than a 'life changing'. 
  • Start with clothing.  ALL clothing.  Every single piece of your own clothing.  No one else's.  (another point I will make later)  You can do categories within categories - like all tops, all bottoms, shoes, purses, accessories etc. but ALL - remove from all your totes, other closets, drawers, attic, storage areas.  I mean ALL.   This is necessary - and put it ALL in ONE place - she says floor - bed is fine too - but in one space.   You NEED to see - feel and experience the abundance!!  You need to feel and visually see the mountain of 'stuff' - so that you feel the experience of having ENOUGH.  You can experience having plenty.  Then its easy to 'let it go'!   
  • Then you go through books, papers, then 'komono' or 'smalls' and not until 'the end' do you sort through memorabilia and photographs. . . that will be much easier to sort through after you have practiced with the thousands of items before that. . . 
  • You must TOUCH each item - and ask the question to yourself - does it give me JOY.   Seriously.   Does it give you a positive or negative experience?  Do you have a positive feeling seeing it - touching it - or negative?  Does it evoke a good memory? A time you felt positive about yourself? Do you love its texture? Color? Style?  or does it remind you that you failed? gained weight? got stuck with it? Wasted time? Wasted money?  If so - thank it (yes thank it for what it did- to let it go) then put it in a trash bag and REMOVE IT from your home.    You can do anything you want to get it out of your home - but it must removed.  
  • In removing things you cannot just pass them onto others who 'might need them' - THEY need to chose them.   They need to do the same thing - they need to decide for themselves if it gives THEM JOY.  If you are deciding that - you are missing the point!!   It is better to send the items off to a charity organization where consumers can select for themselves.   This process is also not about making or raising money.  That would distract from the 'life changing' process!   
  • You must do the selection process QUICKLY and the entire process from start to finish should take no more than 6 months.   Personally I'm finding that I can't wait to go through it - to get to that final 'place'!    But it is a process.  She shares about the fact that when we are surrounded by clutter - it is stressful - and because we feel the stress of it - reminding us that we need to 'clear it' - we 'escape' by leaving our homes - shop(!) - bring more into our homes - and we never get to the core issue!    
What was interesting to the author is that she herself focused on the 'purging' side of the process -although all was done with the foundation of 'joy' - but what she was finding is that her clients were giving her positive feedback about major changes in their lives after having gone through her process.   Remember she's in her 20's.   Many of her clients - as she notes throughout her book are in their 50's.   Even she won't really 'get it' until she gets to her 50's!   
What she does understand is that this process is a practice in what -as a counselor - I have as a mantra - BE TRUE TO YOURSELF.   I repeatedly say that.  We also say 'follow your gut' - or 'your intuitive self' - this process is absolutely the clearest way to practice that process.  

One by one - one item at a time - you are creating a world that is completely surrounded by what is 'true' to YOU or in her words - what gives you JOY.    What is so inspiring and profound about that is that once you get through the process - even if you don't finish - you're on your way to shutting off the noise of 'what will others think' -'I feel guilty about letting go of this gift' - or 'my mother/ husband/ sister would be mad'.    If you feel joy - you keep it.  It is not about how many you keep, what you keep, or how you keep it.  Bottom line - if it give YOU joy - you value it, keep it and then assign a place for it. . . 
That's the next step - Assigning a PLACE and that's where folding takes place.    She has a strategy to fold things that creates a visual experience in your drawers that creates a positive feeling when you open a drawer.  You have to do it - to believe it.   You 'stack' vertically properly folded items so that you see all of your selection at one time - rather than just the one on the top - and for T shirt lovers - you get either a rainbow of color, a review of your favorite teams, activities, charities, or logos.   It's like a 'life review' when you open the drawer.  You have to actually do it -to 'get' it.   This is the most contagious step of all.  Show others in your home what it looks like and they will want to do the same!  Believe me - even the 'sloppiest' will want to try it!   But don't do it FOR them!!   
That is the most basic rule - this needs to be done by the owner of the clothing - no one else.  If you are doing it for someone else - you are stealing and controlling their joy!!  That is the light bulb moment I had! 

If you have a 'troubled child' - a 'boomer rang' adult or a 'mess' of someone else's in your home - you cannot do this FOR them!!   This process must be done by the individual who owns the items.   They need to FEEL and select the items for their personal joy.   Not anyone else's!    When I work with addicts - far too often they are in households where 'mom' is doing 'everything' for them - laundry, cleaning rooms, buying stuff, and buried in their 'stuff' - and often purge in their fury.   Too many of these same troubled kids/ adults are also lost. Even more often - the mother has also lost her way - drowning in the daily chaos of their kid's 'crazy' that she can't even reflect or sit calmly and make clear decisions about what is the best decision to make next.   There is no calm.  There is no place to settle and contemplate.   The noise of clutter is often extreme.   That is where this process needs to be done by everyone individually in the household - so everyone begins surrounding themselves with their own joy.   

Once the process is completed - imagine having an environment that has only what gives you JOY?   Imagine having rooms, closets, drawers, cabinets, and counters that reflect only joy?  Imagine a space that no matter where you look - it makes you happy.   Imagine the peace.  Imagine the serenity that it would offer.   Imagine the reduction of stress.  Imagine the lack of that nagging 'I've got to get rid of that'. . . now you can reflect, contemplate, calm yourself easily.   That is really what is missing.  Reflection.    Clutter -especially when it is filled with noise and negative energy and negative experiences - distracts us!   It keeps us feeling bad!  It's a constant reminder that we aren't 'right'.    This process - although challenging - should be inspiring because its all positive!   You fill this time with what gives you joy - prayer, journaling, meditation. . . 

So please check out this book - I got it through Kindle amazon.com - $8.90 - I told local libraries to stock it.   Its what we need in this tight economy, challenging family situations and moving through major life events.    We need a way to ground ourselves and this is one way to get there.   

and I will be following up with my own experience of this process - and doing 'before and after' photos - to inspire.   Thank you Marie Kondo - you will changing even more lives than you will ever know!  
You can also watch Youtube videos - search Kondo - but I found the book gave needed details!!   


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