Marie Kondo, like her or not, has spent the last seven-plus years promoting the magical powers of personal organization. Her simple system has drawn us in with the promise of ‘sparking joy’ in our lives (well, that or a passing desire to smash her joy into a million pieces and watch her try to spark it back together!). These thoughts resonated around the globe as the idea of ‘tidying up’ shook us from our core, one way or another, and often to extremes. As much as her intentions line up with so many things I love, there was a time in the process where I didn’t want to go any further. It just felt like too much, physically and emotionally. The initial value I had placed on getting it done, was replaced with a need for balance with things that ‘sparked joy’ outside of My Stuff. My values came in and rained on my ‘ideal Kondo parade’, and I must admit I’m grateful for the insightful interruption. Once I took a break from beating myself up about my unmet intentions (to finish the task I had started as quickly as possible), I started to see my own triggers very clearly. What had initially seemed like a task now appeared as an actual journey and I started to pay attention to my reactions.
I took some time to breathe with my stuff. I asked my soul what ‘sparks of joy’ looked like to me in the real world, and imagined the coolest scenarios I could dream up as the answers. I didn’t follow all of her rules, but I stuck to her basic principles. I couldn’t and wouldn’t let go of my books, even though she strongly suggested I not keep them. Because I gave a lot of thought to what they mean to me, I’ve made a regular practice of ‘using’ and appreciating them ever since. Years later, they continue to be a resource of great value to my work and my creative inspiration as that line between work and joy disappears from my consciousness. As soon as I recognized the experience itself over getting the job done, my ‘ideal’ expectations shifted. Originally, the ideal was powering through it in semi-record time and having everything in its place. When I was ‘done’ (as if that’s a thing) several months later, I celebrated a task complete, but I was more stirred by the roots of my experiences that are now visible as a result of putting my hands and my thoughts (mind/body) on every single thing I own.
Behind the curtain of getting organized, ‘Kondo-ing’ builds self-awareness; and self-awareness, post-pandemic, is best viewed as a ‘calling’. We would do well to hold it as an ideal, not an expectation. I believe this applies to our ideas about ourselves, as well as what we think of others. The more time I spend in awareness of what my values are vs. what my ideal for any situation is, the easier it is to allow myself to breathe through difficult thoughts and ideas. Our bodies absorb the energetic product of our thinking and our approach to that fact has a lot to do with how we feel about ourselves, and where we place value. Also, what we consider to be ideal.
I know many people who sat with a pile of clothing on their bed and decided that the ‘simple’ act of putting them there was unsettling enough for one day. Our emotions are challenged by things like clothing that doesn’t fit, sentimental items, and things we meant to return. Attachments to shopping itself can grab us and pull us into a tangle of uncomfortable thoughts as we ‘meander through the aisles’ of our shopping habits. Mentally, the sight of the pile’s sheer volume can overwhelm us as we wonder how it all fit into the spaces we just removed it from. Adding up the cost of the things we bought and no longer appreciate can lead us into a shame spiral if we don’t make intentional/real peace with our past choices. These types of thoughts can have an immediate effect on our physical environment and make us queasy and uneasy in our bodies. We barely notice that our breathing becomes shallow as our energetic vibration lowers to its baseline operation. That is, without any intentional assistance from our intentions :)
Personally, I dove in head first, but her process suits my sensibilities. I already value order and her soulful approach fit my mood. I am no stranger to envisioning an ideal around reality, so it seemed like a cakewalk. By the way, I won the first cakewalk I ever participated in - amazing! - but the lasting memory was the plate it came on which I ate dinner on for the next several years. It was my special plate; white with a border of flowers and a silver line around the rim. Only at this exact moment do I realize that it was likely part of someone’s table service and probably should have been returned to the school as soon as we finished the cake. My thoughts immediately want to blame my mother for not returning the plate, but who am I to decide what she should have known back then?
I feel a fleeting pang of guilt for the plate owner’s loss, but mostly I smile at the memory of the plate and how much it meant to me, a kindergartener at my first school carnival. Looking back, it was my first ‘trophy’ in terms of how it made me feel like a winner, even though I hadn’t done anything but be standing in the right place at the right time. My skin tingles as I realize the lesson that my 6 year old self got to absorb: you can be rewarded out of nowhere and if the reward is appreciated, its value continues to grow as part of our wisdom and knowledge.
This human journey is a tangle of experience and feelings. The roots of our lives hold the meaning behind the things that we value, as well as the backdrop for our ideal thinking. The soil within that space is fertile and rich, nurturing our passion and purpose underneath our shameful feelings and our judgments. Both of these areas need tending, and are well-served using our human toolkit (H2Om): Water, Breath and Alignment. Our baseline operates naturally, but we can easily raise our own vibration when we maintain a solid sense of our values at the core of our choices. ‘Playing around’ with ideal thoughts helps us keep fears and anxious thoughts at bay, allowing us the freedom to imagine what we want for ourselves, and then watch the steps naturally appear in front of us…over and over again.
As I wrap this up, and move my focus from Values and Ideas to Conflict, I am aware that it is now time for a ‘Re-Kondo-ing’ of My Stuff. Will I tackle it during Conflict Week? I haven’t worked that schedule out yet, but it seems like a challenge I’m prepared for - emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically - even though I know I will come up against my own triggers, known and unknown. Being afraid and judging my own thoughts actions don’t rank very high on my values list anymore, so it’s easier to pull my thoughts to someplace more ideal and/or valuable, clearing the way for me to appreciate every aspect of the journey.