Acceptance

Downsizing, again.

photo: Vivian Johnson

photo: Vivian Johnson

Goodbye and thank you 100 year old craftsman style home. Three years seems to be the maximum amount of time I can live in one place.

All the painting I did (!!!???) — has to be chalked up to being therapeutic, as most of it is being painted over with Benjamin Moore’s White Dove.  

Thank you Farrow & Ball Paint — I thoroughly enjoyed your yellows and pinks. But I know different colors won’t sell a house. We might meet again, but I will try my best to live with white walls. For now. 

 

xoxo
Jane Diaries
2018_05_01

Donating vs. Selling - getting rid of the things that don't spark joy.

Photo by  Jazmin Quaynor  on  Unsplash

When we're decluttering & organizing, getting rid of the things that don't spark joy isn't exactly easy, because what do you do with it?

Do you put things out with the trash? Recycle them? Pass things to friends & relatives? Donate? Sell? Just thinking about what to do is overwhelming! But you haven't actually decluttered until the unwanted objects are out of your life. (Shoving things in a closet doesn't count.)

Some things are obvious - the broken things, you recycle or toss; the things your friends love and want, you pass along to them.

But what about the rest? Donate or sell?

The case for selling: it makes back some of the money you spent buying all the things, and who doesn't appreciate an extra money in their pocket?

The case against selling: it takes a lot of time, and energy - you have to deal with listing, shipping, and lots of trips to the post office.

The case for donating: it gets everything out of the house in a couple trips, if feels good, and there might be a tax write off.

The case against donating: finding organizations to donate to can sometimes be tricky, especially for less common items.

So, which should you choose? Instead of trying to logical it out, try asking "which sparks joy?"

Would you get joy from selling your things and seeing them go to people who very much want what they're getting, acknowledging and being ok with the fact that it might take a little longer to get everything out of the house?

Or would you get more joy in donating the things you no longer want, passing them along to a charity and trusting the things find their way to people who want/need them?

Marie Kondo answered this question in an "Ask Me Anything" on reddit, she says, "I am sure there are several different ways to get rid of books, by selling them or donating them. You should figure out which way sparks joy, makes you happy. If it sparks joy to sell them one-by-one, go for it. But it takes so much time and energy, if it does not spark joy, maybe you can donate them to a library or sell to one organization."

I think it's amazing that the question "does it spark joy?" is so telling, and can be applied to so much more than just deciding what possessions to get rid of and what to keep - it can also clarify how to declutter in a way that works and feels good to you.

To be organized, is to be free (Thank you Marie Kondo!)

Photo by  Paul  on  Unsplash

Photo by Paul on Unsplash

If to be organized is to be free, then to be organized once and for all is the dream.

I have been on a mission for more than 6 years to understand "stuff," why we have so much, what do we really need, what stuff do I want—from minimalism, to voluntary simplicity . . .  when does having too much stuff negatively impact our lives.

In late September last year, a friend mailed a New York Times article about Japanese home organizing expert Marie Kondo. Marie Kondo's book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing" walks readers through the KonMari Method of organizing your home once and for all.

It took me a couple of re-readings of the article before I realized I would be crazy not to purchase the book—I am in the organizing business, after all—it’s research!

I read the book twice, at least. There were nights I could not sleep due to excitement, - these were ideas and answers I had been waiting my whole life to learn—they were the missing pieces (I know that might sound weird, but it’s true).

I have been on a mission for more than 6 years to understand "stuff." Why we have so much? What do we really need? What stuff do I want—from minimalism, to voluntary simplicity? - When does having too much stuff detrimentally impact our lives?

Back to Marie Kondo, I used self-restraint and followed the directions in her book exactly—she is insistent that one must do exactly as she says for maximum results. Basically, you won’t be doing her method if you don’t fellow her steps exactly.

Unless I trust them completely, I usually want to rebel when someone strongly suggests something— for some reason I trusted Marie Kondo—through her book, she convinced me that, her whole life, she had been trying to understand the underlying problems people have being organized.

For me, the desire to be organized is something about wanting to be at peace with what I have and what I use—it feels as though, when I am “organized” I will be free. By that I mean, I will be free to stop looking for the "right way" to be organized. The excitement of find Marie Kondo, and the KonMari Method is that it does provide the possibility of being perfectly organized - once and for all.

The organizing is a one time event - centered around eliminating everything that does not "spark joy." It turns out that most things we hold on to don't "spark joy" and can be gotten rid of - which makes organizing what's left exponentially easier.

How strong is the desire to be organized?

How strong is the desire to be free of stuff?

How strong is the desire to be FREE?

xoxo

Jane

The Difficulties of Describing, and the Inherent Contradictions of Wabi-Sabi

Photo by  Cater Yang  on  Unsplash

Photo by Cater Yang on Unsplash

How do you describe or explain an aesthetic that is inherently contradictory?

Perfect imperfection is wabi-sabi's inherent contradiction, and as an aesthetic that embraces life's imperfections, wabi-sabi also embraces life's ambiguities.

So, maybe the best way to describe wabi-sabi is through other author's writings and quotes.

And we're not alone in our stumbling over an explanation for wabi-sabi, in "Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers" Leonard Koren writes,

"When asked what wabi-sabi is, most Japanese will shake their head, hesitate, and offer a few apologetic words about how difficult it is to explain. Although almost every Japanese will claim to understand the feeling of wabi-sabi - it is, after all, supposed to be one of the core concepts of Japanese culture - very few can articulate this feeling."

From the book description of "Living Wabi Sabi: The True Beauty of Your Life" by Taro Gold,

"Wabi Sabi helps us to see the beauty in imperfection, to discover that our unique flaws also can lead us to our greatest strengths and treasures…. What is Wabi Sabi? A universal ideal of beauty, Wabi Sabi celebrates the basic, the unique, and the imperfect parts of our lives. Wabi Sabi is the comfortable joy you felt as a child, happily singing off key, creatively coloring outside the lines, and mispronouncing words with gusto. On a deeper level, Wabi Sabi is the profound awareness of our oneness with all life and the environment. It includes a deep awareness of the choices we make each day, the power we have to accept or reject each moment of our lives, and to find value in every experience."

And from Taro Gold's book itself, "Appreciate this and every moment, no matter how imperfect, for this moment is your life. When you reject this moment, you reject your life. You don't have to settle for this moment, you are free to steer a different course, but for now, this moment is yours, so be mindful to make the most of it."

In "Wabi Sabi Simple" Richard Powell writes, "Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect."

"If an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi." Wrote Andrew Juniper in "Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence"

And bringing it back to Leonard Koren, in "Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers," "Wabi-sabi is exactly about the delicate balance between the pleasure we get from things and the pleasure we get from freedom of things."

So, maybe wabi-sabi really is best summed up by the phrase "perfectly imperfect." Everything - life, us, our families, our neighbors, our homes, even the description of wabi-sabi is - perfectly imperfect.

The year 2015 is going to be about accepting (and living) Perfectly Imperfect

Photo by  Andreea Chidu  on  Unsplash

At the end of 2014, I discovered Marie Kondo's work, and her book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing" which, along with sparking all sorts of realizations, reintroduced me to the concept of wabi-sabi.

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese aesthetic, which centers around the ideas of imperfection and transience. "Wabi-sabi" is sometimes described as finding beauty in the "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete."

In other words, wabi-sabi is about live being perfectly imperfect. As much as "perfectly imperfect" sounds like a contradiction (especially as when it comes to organizing our homes), it's really not a contradiction, and is a quite freeing concept.

We all know life isn't perfect. Things come up. We fall off the wagon. Not everything stays in it's place. No system is perfect.

Wabi-sabi is living your life by finding the beauty in those imperfections, while embracing impermanence and the cycles of growth then decay. It’s heavy stuff, and also, I think quite liberating. The imperfect parts of our lives, are the parts that make our lives, ours, so why not embrace them (as hard as that can be.)

I’ve decided that 2015, for me, is the year of embracing and living by wabi-sabi, and letting life be a little more perfectly imperfect.

Jane Organizes + Marie Kondo Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

shelving 5 VivianJohnson.jpg

the life-changing magic of tidying up//the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing Author: Marie Kondo

How great is that: the promise to have one's life changed by tidying up! Not only that, it is an art and magic. The author of "the life-changing magic of tidying up//the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing," Marie Kondo, had me hooked. I am always on the look-out for tips + tricks for organizing and de-cluttering.  Check out this New York Times Article for a nice introduction to Kondo's methods, as practiced by the writer, Penelope Green.

I will be looking for beta client testers of such an extreme organizing tactic such as Kondo's -- to give the method a chance to really work, one must be ruthlessly honest with one's self.

We all have different relationships with our stuff, and that relationship serves many causes: keeping memories alive + hopes + dreams. Of course I have had to do the Kondo method first on myself before practicing with clients. As I could not hire myself, I am not finished with the process. I still have paperwork and mementos (few) to process BUT I can say the process has taught me some things, some uncomfortable. There has been something comfortable about always being the the state of organizing--I did not have to face the "what's next" when I still was in process. Clothes? I had to admit that only one item of clothing "sparked joy"*  (and wouldn't you know, it's a red striped skirt made in Japan). Most of my clothes are utilitarian, along the lines of looking for my perfect uniform. Dishes? Again, utilitarian--I am not giving them away until I have found something that "sparks joy".  

The Year 2015: The Year of all things Japanese

The year 2015 is going to be about accepting (and living) Perfectly Imperfect.

It's going to be about the Art + Philosophy of Wabi-Sabi, especially as expressed by Leonard Koren  (I can say, as I met him over weekend, Koren is a fine gentleman--and believe me, I don't toss that term around often, unfortunately.

It's going to be about sharing what I learned from the Magic of Tidying Up Book and why it's the holy grail of getting organized once and for all.

A trip to Japan is in order. I want to meet Marie Kondo, give her thanks for developing a system of organizing I can share with my clients.

But of course, life is never what you think it's going to be  -- most likely a wild ride.

*"sparking joy" is a criteria Kondo advises for keeping an item--part of me questions the reality of keeping only joyful things--as in "what a first world problem" but the other part of me chimes in with why would we not only have things that spark joy? We don't need much in material goods to have a joyful life, why not they