KonMari experience: Mara

In April 2018 I gifted myself a Marie Kondo consulting workshop in London and soon after started looking for my first practice clients to get certified as a KonMari™ consultant. Mara – a Swap enthusiast interested in sustainability and zero wasting – volunteered for hours of such fun and ended up becoming my first client that has done all the KonMari™ categories. It was a pleasure working with her and here you have her (very flattering) testimony:

“Given the fact that I have a tendency to accumulate quite a lot of unnecessary things, the 6 sessions I did with Luize as my Marie Kondo consultant definitely ended up making my home a place that sparks joy rather than causes anxiety.

Session 1. Clothes

Our first session was sorting out the clothes (minus the shoes) and we spent 5 hours going through every single item I owned. during the whole process, Luize simply guided me and asked me useful questions like “How do you feel about this item?” “Why do you keep it” or “Does it spark joy”. It made me ask myself if I really needed that piece of clothing and it held me accountable for what I kept. She also helped me notice, as an external observer, that I had clear preferences for piling up clothes of similar colors (mustard yellow, deep blue, coral red etc) and then many of them were in fact doubles. This made it easier to discard items that were superfluous. Because Luize is also very ecologically-minded, she also helped me focus on those items that were of better quality, learning to appreciate the materials they were made of.

My aim with this Marie Kondo reorganization was to downsize, not to make room for new or more, so Luize’s Marie Kondo training coupled with her minimalist tendencies really helped motivate me to think small and end up with a closet which I can easily access.

Regina helped a lot. Especially with bags and boxes…

The result is that all my clothes now fit neatly into my wardrobe, they are nicely sorted in a way in which I can see them easily, I was advised on which clothes go better hanging or folded and by getting rid of the items that were simply there as wardrobe fillers I have managed to gain more access to the clothes I really wanted to wear.

The homework pile: when some clothes were hard to dispose of, Luize encouraged me to take that decision later and/or try to fix them and make them wearable. In this pile there are some that need the zippers fixed, some that I felt too guilty to give away and decided to try and wear them when the season came, and some that are too white and easily stained so I will try and dye them.

Mara’s KonMaried drawer…

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Session 2. Shoes and jewellery

My shoe collection was rather easy to downsize, there were some pairs I was made to realize I had never worn because the occasion never came, the style didn’t suit me, or they were simply beyond repair. With the jewellery the sorting took a lot longer but the end result was a collection of jewellery I decided I wear the most, a bag of things to give away to charity or to bring to the swap Luize organizes 4 times a year. As with the previous session, what helped me the most was the fact that I had company in the process, and that despite my initial fear, I didn’t feel in any way judged for owning, keeping or discarding an item. Luize just asked me questions and never insisted or tried to convince me to do what she thought was best. She just made me think twice and gave useful tips on how to arrange the items I kept and where to properly discard those I no longer needed.

How 15 pairs of shoes became 10…

And the drawer makeover.

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Session 3. Books

Our third session was sorting out my book collection and this was fairly easy, but I received good advice on how to store them and make them more visually pleasing, also how to better keep the books organized into books I need to return and those I intend to read soon. Luize told me about where to sell the books I no longer wanted and I managed to do that as homework after the session.

Session 4. Stationary

This session was an extremely tiring yet productive one, and I can still reap the benefits whenever I look into my nicely organized box of pens, pencils, markers, paintbrushes etc. It took a long time to sort out which pens to discard and which were worth keeping, but with a lot of patience and good company, we managed to arrange all the hundreds of objects that usually were crowded in one place, or invaded the rest of the house. (I’m looking at you, paper clips!). We compartmentalized, thought of smart storing ideas, the erasers got a new permanent home, as did my multiple scissors (some were sent off for adoption). The end result was one complete tool-kit for an English teacher/ amateur painter/ googly eyes-afficionado. The bare necessities remained and the extras were donated to very happy new homes.

Session 5. Papers, notebooks, stickers

Being an English teacher, the part I dreaded the most was the one involving teaching paraphernalia. Having sorted the stationary, I felt like most of it was over…but we still managed to fill 5 more hours sorting my stickers (which Luize did wonders with in terms of organizing and managing to put them all in the same binder. How? Every little thing she does is magic …) My notebooks were also ripped up, keeping those pages that actually meant something, with the promise (and homework) that I would transcribe them. What was left was a series of blank pages inside some visibly thinner notebooks, a lot of paper thrown into the recycling bin, and a firm promise to never end up having 5 different notebooks for the same things. There were of course the host of toys and games, laminated activities and cards that I had accumulated during 5 years of teaching kids.

Yet again with infinite patience and a slightly amused look on her face, Luize stood by me as we separated the items into “to keep” and “to donate” until we had one mentally and physically lighter English teacher and multiple happy teachers who received parts of the activities I no longer use.

Session 6. Kitchen, bath and beyond (misc)

From learning to fold table cloths and kitchen wipes to designating special forever homes for different kitchen items, this session felt a lot easier because it was not so hard to decide what to keep and what to let go of. When we finished that we managed to tackle the medicine cabinet, throw away expired things, sort nail polishes into a nice box, dispose of make up I never really used and decide on a more clever way of storing the creams and gels I want to use first, and have the rest in a lower drawer.

All of this, without a detached observer, is pure hell. So much easier when a wise voice points out the obvious and pulls you out of staring into the void, surrounding by a ton of items you don’t even know where to begin with.

My sessions with Luize were all hard work, but so needed. Despite the mountain of objects that I had to tackle, it all became much lighter and manageable with the help of someone trained in this, and more importantly, someone truly enthusiastic about helping others organize themselves, cut down on stuff and think in a more environmentally friendly way.

I found in Luize a calm, no nonsense companion, someone I could use as a second conscience when wondering what to do, and a well informed Marie Kondo consultant. Moving into a new home and having had this help was priceless!”

Tidying can be very tiring…

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Oh, so much kindness! Thank you, Mara. Also, unwittingly, I think, she managed to give me back a big cup of my own medicine giving me a double lesson not only in how it feels when somebody comes in and helps with something long postponed but also the vulnerability (and later on – gratitude) it implies.

You see, our initial agreement was non-monetary as I needed to practice, but somewhere in the middle of the process Mara suggested that she could come over to deep clean my place with her magic water-filter Storm Trooper vacuum cleaner. We did that once Mara’s process was over, and I got to experience the complete range of emotions starting from embarrassment of revealing my dust bunny farms to a stranger (whom I had been lecturing on tidying, no less), the relief of having somebody beside me determined to carry out all the steps and not allowing me to ignore some of those dark corners, and the final happiness of ‘oh, even the air has become lighter here’. So my thank you is also for that therapeutic intervention.

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What are your relationships with tidying? Are you the person that has no conflicts around your possessions and order, whatever your sweet spot on the austere-chaos continuum? Do you go on individual tidying sprees or do you like to have a buddy for that?

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Luīze

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