Clothing Swap Love and KonMari Madness

The cats can stay

While planning a clothing swap, I stumbled upon The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I thought it would make the perfect raffle prize for my swap guests. Being spring, I’d already caught purge fever and had several bags piled up in my closet awaiting the swap. But when I started reading Kondo’s book, I was transfixed! Before I delve deeper into the impact of the “KonMari Method,” let me first share a few words about the satisfying act of clothes swapping.

Behavioral scientists say that our eyes crave seeing something new. Once we acquire an object, however, the newness wears off in about three months. So the reason why some clothes get worn to death while others are seldom worn has more to do with how they make us feel when we put them on.

This is the beauty of the clothing swap. You satisfy your need to purge AND satisfy your need for eye candy! I usually end up with just a few new-to-me items, knowing some of them may stay with me a little while and others will be long treasured. Happens every time, and yet there are no regrets. Some of the best things in life ARE free!

What’s better than free? FREEDOM! Freedom from things you no longer want or need. While I already had a pretty healthy attitude about letting go of clothes, the Tidying-Up book helped me apply that to all possessions. Marie Kondo, the famous Japanese organizer, says in her book, “If it does not spark joy, you must discard.”

Sparking Joy

Purge by category starting with clothes – since that’s the easiest – then proceed to books, papers, miscellaneous and sentimental items. Take it all out and put it on the floor/bed so you can see everything. That makes it easy to decide what you want to keep and what can go.

Sent some to friends and the rest to the library

Why keep a perfectly good shirt if you never wear it? Free that shirt from your closet prison so it can live a new life (on someone else’s back). Same rule applies for all that stuff you “might use some day.” Pass it on – don’t let it waste away in your drawer! And when you find true treasures in the muck, put them where you can see them so they bring you daily joy.

The KonMari Method is meant to be a marathon (“all in one go”). While Kondo says it should take about six months, I went KonMari crazy and finished in six weeks. Partly because I have moved a lot and partly because I live in an 800 square foot apartment in SF, I already prided myself on being the Queen of Purge. But I was wrong. Oh, was I wrong.

Every day I spent at least a few hours going through drawers, cabinets, shelves and boxes. One day I spent 9 hours in my husband’s closet! (Note: Kondo does not recommend purging other people’s belongings; luckily my husband was pretty patient with me during this process.) It felt like moving, minus the packing boxes and truck.

At least 4-5 bags ended up in our hallway every single day. I couldn’t believe the volume and the weight of all this discarded stuff. I made daily drops at Goodwill. I lugged 25 pounds of old software CDs and hard drives to a local place that grinds them to smithereens. I donated old pillows to the pet hospital.

I recycled mountains of old papers. A ridiculous amount of paper sorted; so much so that my fingertips developed a painful sensitivity (which thankfully subsided after the sorting was complete).

I never knew so much junk was lurking in our tiny place. My husband and I have always been tidy, at least on the surface. Our apartment looks exactly the same as before, unless you open a closet or drawer. There it’s a whole new ballgame.

My rainbow shirt drawer

I showed my bureau drawer to a friend of mine – all those shirts folded the KonMari way, like lovely little sushi rolls. She snorted, “Somebody needs a hobby.” Why, I think I’ve already found it! Did I mention I’m a Virgo? ? I could happily continue my new-found folding fetish until my dying day.

I met a lot of resistance from friends when I mentioned my purge marathon. Let me be clear, I’m not advocating a spartan lifestyle. My closets and drawers are still full, but I’m no longer drowning in a sea of excess. Now things are really clear because I can see all my stuff. And I only kept what I truly wanted to keep. Liberation!

And yes, “things are really clear” has more than one meaning here. My mind feels lighter without all the clutter. It’s not just the space but what’s in the space that matters. I chose these things, and my sharpened decision-making skills have emboldened me. I’m sparking joy all over the place!

(p.s. – I gave away the book and promptly checked out Kondo’s second title, Spark Joy, from the library. I highly recommend both.)


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