Tidy Your Mental Space

Tidy Your Mental Space

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Ok, full disclosure. Kathy and I never actually did a full Marie Kondo. In case you just crawled out from under a pile of old t-shirts and regretful purchases with the tags still on, Marie Kondo is the ethereal Japanese organization guru and the author of the best selling books The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy.

Last December, all within a few weeks, my beloved father passed away, then a few days later my husband was suddenly hospitalized with a rare infection, our long-planned family vacation overseas had to be canceled, oh, and I had to have a root canal.

Life was spinning out of control.

But then on New Year’s Eve, I stumbled upon the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, and toasted to a healing night of binge-watching. That’s when I had a life-changing insight.

My life was ultimately out of my hands. But my underwear drawer didn’t have to be.

Leaping up with iPad in hand, I closeted myself and streamed Marie while flinging the mess that my life and drawers had become onto the floor and sorted the good from the bad. The outgrown from the glorious.

Binding, scratchy, who-am-I-kidding lacy things: “Thank you for servicing my hopes and dreams,” I whispered to them in gratitude as I bowed and placed them in a black plastic trash bag.

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Taking my new, cotton, high-waisted panties in hand, I smoothed my palms lovingly over their soft, reassuring surface before folding them into neat origami packets. I smiled as I stacked them into orderly rows, anticipating a day when my life would go just as neatly. Zing!

But this was nothing compared with the spark of seeing my favorite plaid, flannel pajamas folded where I could actually find them. The top and the bottom spooning each other in wedded bliss.

Drawer by drawer, I wrestled my life into a curated, color-coded, seasonal arrangement of stuff that sparked joy.

Photo: RealSimple.com

Photo: RealSimple.com

And then I stopped.

I wasn't up to the hanging clothes. Or the books and kitchen stuff for that matter. The garage may or may not ever happen.

Because I'm learning, happiness is not about doing it all. At least not all at once. Healing grief is not something you can just tackle and tidy top to bottom. It happens, as this taught me, by accumulating quiet moments of joy and gratitude and one-by-one letting go of things that no longer serve me.

Sure I still have a few messes left. But who knows, one day I might even get to tidying up the garage.

Four grown children later, Kathy said goodbye to her well-loved pregnancy overalls. “I’ll never be pregnant again and I’ll certainly never wear overalls again!” she says. Splashing words across her chest no longer sparked joy for Kathy. “A plain white or black t-shirt is a much tidier look.”

Four grown children later, Kathy said goodbye to her well-loved pregnancy overalls. “I’ll never be pregnant again and I’ll certainly never wear overalls again!” she says. Splashing words across her chest no longer sparked joy for Kathy. “A plain white or black t-shirt is a much tidier look.”

Where to Donate:

Dress for Success Worldwide is an international not-for-profit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.

Downtown Women’s Center is the only organization in Los Angeles focused exclusively on serving and empowering women experiencing homelessness and formerly homeless women. They need clothing, accessories,household items, even knitting needles and crochet hooks.

Vietnam Veterans of America offers scheduled pickups at your home. VVA is the only congressionally chartered, national organization for “Vietnam Veterans, their families and those serving in harm’s way.”

Where to Sell Finer Items:

Poshmark is the popular fashion site for selling gently used or never-been-worn clothing from brands such as Michael Kors, Coach, Lululemon, and Banana Republic for cash. Just snap a photo on your phone, upload and post.

The RealReal is the addictive consignment site for fashionistas to sell and buy, buy, buy gently used Gucci, Hermés, Chanel and other ultra luxury brands.

Top Photo by Henry & Co unsplash.com

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