A Rollicking Review: Marie Kondo’s Tidy Book and a Messy View

In last week’s post Paring Down and Tidying Up, I referred to Marie Kondo’s New York Times best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up. Her book has sold over 5 million copies and is being translated into 40 languages.  I promised you a review and here it is.

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The Review: The life-changing magic of tidying up, Marie Kondo

“Organize your home once, and you’ll never have to do it again.” Tidying consultant Marie Kondo, who has a three-month waiting list, insists you will never again have to sift through snowdrifts of papers or endure clothes that pile up like a tangled mess of noodles. Just follow her revolutionary category-by-category system.

Kondo’s solution is simple but not necessarily easy, especially for pack rats. Effective tidying, she admits, involves only two essential actions: Discarding things and deciding where to store what you keep. Kondo instructs her clients to pick up items one by one and ask, “ Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.” (60)

Simply put, tackle major categories like clothing, books, and papers. Sort by category, not rooms: Sort all clothing at the same time, then move on to books, and so on.

Her chapter headings are iconoclastic: “Clothing: Place Every Item Of Clothing in the House on the Floor.” Do the same with books. Interestingly, her chapter titles yell in capital letters while her book title sits calmly on the cover, lower-case, in a cloud of blue.

Kondo’s wit and humor permeates her 254-page instruction book. She admits to coming home and falling asleep on the floor without even changing her clothes (195) writing this book. In the Afterword, she confesses that she once had to call an ambulance because the day before she had tidied too much and found her neck and shoulders frozen stiff from “looking into the cupboard above the closet and moving heavy furniture” (255).

Why do clients of the eponymous KonMari Method not relapse? The secret lies in a chapter entitled “Reduce Until You Reach the Point Where Something Clicks.” Apparently, satisfied clients have reached their clicking point! Some have even lost weight and experienced a clearer complexion as “detoxing” their houses has had a refreshing effect upon their bodies. (241)

One of her most valuable bits of advice was the functionality of sturdy shoeboxes to store lingerie and socks. Then, she suggests, use the tops like a tray to keep cooking oils, spices, and odd utensils in their rightful place. I may use such advice moving into our new space.

Marie Kondo’s tidying impulse began at age 5 while reading home and lifestyle magazines. She volunteered to be the classroom organizer in grade school. Now in her New York Times best seller, Kondo enthusiastically promotes the Japanese art of de-cluttering and organizing, a magical system that has become her life’s calling.


Not everyone buys into this magic. Sanford in the TV series, Sanford and Son didn’t, and neither did my father as I show in a blog post entitled Neat Versus Messy. It features a poem “Delight in Disorder.”

Dad's Office

My father died many years ago in 1985. During this Father’s Day week, I pause to give thanks. Though my dad did not give me a love for order (Mother did that), he gave me other sterling values: love of music, intellectual curiosity, and appreciation for the natural world. For those I give thanks.

Daddy in his later years, taking a breather
Daddy, often winning trips and other prizes for top sales, takes a breather. Sign courtesy of Cliff Beaman, 1976

 

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One day soon, we will take what we have curated from our possessions and move it to our next home. It will be very messy for a while.

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What is your take on the KonMari Method? What tried and true tips can you add?

 

 

As we make the transition – painting, packing, and re-assembling in another space, future blog posts may be sparse and my comments on your blogs may be spotty too.

I love our weekly connections here and will miss them temporarily. Soon I’ll be back. Enjoy each summer day!

4 Months, 4 Gifts: A Tribute to My Dad

March 1986:  Mom and Dad Longenecker visit the families of my sister Janice and me in Jacksonville, Florida. We all enjoy Epcot in Disney World, Dad’s chance to see a faux version of the Switzerland he never actually visited but planned to some day. My super-charged Dad seems more mellow now, slower, even takes naps. “Hey, Dad, I see you’re getting a pooch here,” says son-in-law Cliff, commenting on my dad’s weight gain as he playfully pinches his waistline.

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April 1986:  We get a call from Pennsylvania, “Dad has been diagnosed with lymphoma. Blood cell tumors have developed in the lymphatic system. Stage 4 . . . it’s too advanced to operate . . . they can try chemotherapy, maybe radiation after that  . . . .” Like an earthquake, the news sends shock-waves through our family. Why, we just saw him a month ago.

May 1986:  My father is now dying of lymphoma. I leave my husband and children and fly up to Pennsylvania, alone, to see him alive for the very last time. He looks nothing like my image of him in March. His skin, scorched red-brown from chemotherapy, reminds me of a starving Indian. He is wasting away. “I don’t want to live like this,” he says, calling a halt to the treatment. Too weak to climb to the upstairs bedroom, he reclines now almost motionless on the pull-out bed in the living room, a solitary pillow under his head. On May 17 his 71st birthday comes and goes.

My flight south leaves a few days later. This is probably the last time I will see my father in this life. I approach him to say goodbye, and I add: “I love you, Daddy.”

June 18, 1986  Daddy breathes his last, less than three months after his cancer diagnosis. We get the dreaded call and make plans to drive north for the funeral. My mind flits around in reminiscence.  And then leaps forward with prediction: Now Dad won’t be attending the ceremony where I receive my Master’s degree in December. He won’t stand up to be photographed at any of his grand-children’s weddings or get to play with his great-grandchildren any more. At age 71, he has reached his heavenly home.

Had he lived, he would have turned 100 years old this year, like Aunt Cecilia.

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On this Father’s Day nearly 30 years later, I pause to give thanks for the gifts my father has given me:

1. Love of nature  He went on walks in the wide meadows and sun-dappled woods close to Rheems, PA on Sunday afternoons. Sometimes I went with him.

2. Love for music   He played a banjo, guitar, and piano with gusto and bought me a violin. Music has formed the sound-scape of my mind since then.

3. Intellectual curiosity  He perused US News and World Report and The Wall Street Journal, listened to Edward R. Murrow, Paul Harvey, and Lowell Thomas, engaged in conversation about world events.

4. Value of hard work  There was the tomato field, the sweet potato plot, the shop . . . .

Framed needlework above one of the kitchen doors in Grandma Longenecker's house
Framed needlework above a kitchen door in Grandma Longenecker’s house

Exodus 20:12  Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.  (King James Version)

My father’s deep faith in God included honoring his own parents.

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Thank you for your thoughts on Father’s Day 2015. You always make the conversation richer!