We Embraced the Life-Changing Magic and This is What Happened

A few weeks ago I started reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and here is what happened…

After our first official weekend of tidying Marie Kondo style, we had five garbage bags full of stuff to take to Goodwill..


…We had another pile of stuff to sell on Varagesale (a Craigslist-like website where you can buy and sell items without the fear of being murdered)…


…Our garbage and recycling bins were filled to the brim…

….Our “Junk Room” made a large stride toward actually becoming the Hobby Room we’ve been dreaming about…



…And Husband Sean said he had never felt more connected as a married couple.

When I tell people our story, these are the questions I get almost every single time:

I heard the author is completely crazy. Did you really follow her methods?

Yes! The author is completely crazy. And Yes! We did follow her methods.

Marie Kondo is a Japanese Guru for crying out loud, not an adorable Texan doing home renovations in Waco. Of course her methods are not going to be conventional to American standards.

For anyone who has known me a second, you know it’s VERY unlike Danielle LaSelva McGrath to blindly embrace emotionally charged, over spiritual and downright crazy advice. So if I can embrace Marie Kondo’s methods, anyone can.

The truth is, if I had not embraced the crazy methods, I would have probably discarded only about 1/3 of the items you saw in the photos above.

I’ll give you an example. Marie Kondo says that clothes are not just things we wear, but many times they have sentimental value. Because of the sentimental value we hold on to these items even though they don’t fit, are out of style, or we just don’t like wearing them anymore – so far so good. Nothing crazy yet.

Here’s where the crazy starts…Marie Kondo also says that by keeping that shirt, dress, or whatever it is in your closet, you are doing that item of clothing a disservice. Keeping a meaningful item of clothing tucked away in a drawer never to be worn again is not a good way of thanking it. Instead, you should verbally thank the item and then set it free so that it can possibly take on a second life and continue to fulfill its calling by being worn again by someone else…”worn again”….that’s funny. #christianjokes

Ok, so practically…I still had the shirt that I was wearing when I met Sean. Although the shirt has a lot of sentimental value, I don’t particularly like it that much. In fact, I don’t think I’ve worn it since then…which was almost 3 years ago. So I took the item out of the drawer, thanked it (out loud) for what it brought into my life, and then put it in the Goodwill pile.

If it wasn’t for Marie Kondo’s methods, that shirt would still be in my drawer. I see Sean every day. I don’t need to keep the shirt to keep the memory. And I actually feel better knowing that some Goodwill shopper out there may be showing off her “new” shirt to her friends right this minute.

If you only kept the things you LOVED, did you have anything left?

Marie Kondo also says that when it comes to clothes, household items, etc. you should only keep the things you LOVE. And I don’t mean the things you love. I mean the things you LOOOOVE! That is the standard for what stays and what goes.

So time for some honesty. As 2/3 of my wardrobe sat bagged up in the car waiting for its trip to Goodwill the next day, I started to panic. I knew I didn’t LOVE the bagged up clothes, but I couldn’t show up naked to church the next morning. I know they say to “come as you are,” but there are limits!

The next morning I pulled out a dress that I LOVE but rarely wear because it was hidden behind the things I didn’t LOVE. Because it was chilly I knew I needed to wear the dress with a pair of high boots…and since I only had one pair left, the selection process was pretty straight forward. Then I needed a long sweater, which I now only had three of those. So I picked the one and only long sweater that would match the dress and boots, even though I had never worn that combination before. I was feeling like I wanted to wear a scarf and sure enough my drastically reduced scarf collection included one that matched the ensemble. So there we go…four items that I had owned for at least two years yet had never worn together.

At church that day a friend asked if I was wearing a Stitch Fix outfit. If you don’t know what that means…it means that she asked me if I was wearing designer clothes pieced together by a professional stylist.

Ha! Far from it! I was wearing a dress and and sweater from Old Navy, boots from the clearance rack at DSW and a scarf my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas one year.

It was like I accidentally built my own capsule wardrobe but instead of building it out of 30, extremely versatile pieces, I built it out of the items I LOVED.

Once you discarded everything, did you have any regrets?

The next morning as I sat in church wearing my “new” outfit, my mind kept wandering to two dresses that were left hanging in my closet. I knew I didn’t LOVE them and that I should not have kept them.

I was so bothered that as soon as we got home, the first thing I did was take them out of my closet and put them in the Varagesale pile.

So yes, throughout this process I’ve had regrets, but not about items that I discarded, only about items that I kept. Just one week later I have a hard time even remembering the specific items I discarded.

How did you get Husband Sean to buy into this?

Crazy Marie Kondo says that when it comes to tidying, you shouldn’t concern yourself with the habits of the others in your household. Instead, you should only worry about yourself and your own stuff – talk about unconventional!

According to Marie, once others in your household see what you’re doing, they will magically want to jump in and tackle their own clutter.

When I read this, I laughed. This may work in Japan, but she doesn’t know my Sean. My Sean is a few bad decisions away from a TLC hording intervention. We have purged his wardrobe three separate times in the last year and yet still clothes are bursting out of his closet.

But like I said, I was committed to embracing these methods no matter how crazy, so I started with my clothes as Marie suggested. Going through my clothes took almost two weeks because I could only dedicate an hour here and there.

After days of watching the mound of clothing to discard grow and grow, Sean asked if we had any plans for the upcoming weekend. I told him that we did not and to my complete shock, he asked if he could put time on our calendar to start going through the “Junk Room.” I smiled to myself and told him that we could.

When Saturday came I decided to finish cleaning out my clothes before we officially started working on the Junk Room. About an hour later I walked out of our bedroom to find a large pile of Sean’s clothes in the hallway. All on his own, Sean had started discarding his own clothes and asking how he should decide what stays and goes.

So how did I get Sean to join in? By starting to discard my own items and by keeping my mouth shut.

Now, Sean is more excited about discarding then I am.

What’s next?

Well, we still have a LONG way to go. I do feel good about what we’ve accomplished so far, but Marie says this whole process takes about a year, and I believe her! We still need to tackle the kitchen, bathrooms, guest room and garage. There is still plenty to be done in the Junk Room as well.

Have you tried Marie Kondo’s methods? What advice do you have for someone wanting to give it a try?




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