The Dutch Rush

They're Dutch and Life's a Rush

Have you heard of Marie Kondo and her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up“? It has taken the world by storm this past year, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at just how “magical” some of her methods turned out to be.

At first, it sounded ridiculous. I thought “magic”? Someone has got to be kidding me. The only “magic” would be for us to stay out of the Target clearance section, and off of Amazon long enough for things to subside around the house!

But last fall, I read that little book, and decided to give it a try.

And…things have stayed generally “tidy” all year.

People. This is a miracle.

Because…we live in 1,000 sq feet. Without vigilant attention, things have a habit of piling up.

Also because this year, our home has been turned upside down. We have been through the rigorous process of getting approved for foster-to-adopt…and now those children we prepared for are actually in our home!

Then, to make things extra interesting, just this week we began an addition on our house, (as there is now a ridiculous amount of people in this 1,000 sq feet).

Here’s a little bit of the so-called “magic” for you:

There is actually plenty of room.

The amount of storage space you have in your home is actually just right. I can’t count how many times people have complained to me that they don’t have enough room, but I have yet to see a house that lacked sufficient storage.

The real problem is that we have far more than we need or want. Once you learn to choose your belongings properly, you will be left only with the amount that fits perfectly in the space you currently own. This is the true magic of tidying.

It may seem incredible, but my method of keeping only what sparks joy in the heart is really that precise. This is why you must begin by discarding. Once you have done that, it’s easy to decide where things should go because your possessions will have been reduced to a third or even a quarter of what you started out with.”

-Marie Kondo

It’s true. I have enough space. But…not enough space to keep adding more people (so the state says, and they make the rules), hence, the addition!

So now I have gone through even more “tidying” (at this point that looks like throwing things pell-mell into the trash). Because the garage (my main storage area) has to be completely emptied for the addition.  So we’ll see where that puts us when we get right side up again.

I’m a little surprised that I liked this book. She’s a perfectionist, but I choose to overlook that drawback, and have devised ways of tidying that are a little less-than-perfect for a more family-friendly take on the tidy.

You might also know that Kondo’s second book came out this week. It had a slightly different tone, (less particular/uptight/ocd) since between writing her two books she has gotten married and had a baby.

That’ll rock anyone’s magically tidy world just a little!

Although I would definitely recommend her first book over the second one, reading that second book got me thinking again about the difference between her methods and others I’ve tried.

For me, it was this: when I take out every single item I own in one particular category, and lay it all out on the floor, the vast amount of “Stuff” catches me off guard.

(This is a good place to mention that although she advocates getting rid of a lot more books than I am willing to part with, she also says that if you love your books, keep them with joy! And without guilt. I like that. Because…there are a lot of books around here. And also, I chortled over her section on our sock’s “feelings”. Seriously-laugh out loud insanity!)

I hadn’t de-cluttered by category till I read her book. I had always done a closet or a room at a time. This new way works wonders. You know exactly how much you have of a certain type of thing.

It can be shocking. It can even make you a little sick.

Of course, Marie goes on to say we shouldn’t be sick over it, we should “thank and appreciate our things for the service they have given us”.

Uh. Hmm.

Or…our things could help us to see where our priorities might be a little out of whack.

It could help us see why we seem unable to do other, more important things with our time. Why we’re constantly shuffling things from one surface or closet to another.

As I started the “tidying” journey, I began to feel (for the first time ever) like I was in control of my things and not the other way around.

I want my life to be more than the accumulation, storage and care of things. I badly want my treasure to be in heaven, not on earth.

Some days a look around my house might contradict that desire.

But I think there’s a difference in some “untidiness” of a home full of joyful life being lived, versus a home that reflects a constant desire for more and better of everything!

Unfortunately, both can bring with them too many things for us to reasonably manage.

And along comes the magic of tidying.

Now. The sort of spirituality that comes through in her books? I’m not into that.

But for followers of Christ, our beliefs do come into play-even in our accumulation of things. As we take a good look at what we’ve allowed to pile up in our lives, maybe we hear the words “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions”, or “do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth or rust destroy, or where thieves break in and steal”, or “what is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight”.

I have spent an enormous amount of my life sorting my stuff. I’m ready to be done with most of that. Since I’m a mother, I might never really be finished, but I have a lot of control over what I choose to spend my time on, and what I decide to bring into our home.

So here’s to a New Year of tidying. If you choose to read this book, I hope you enjoy the results as much as I have!

“We profess to be strangers and pilgrims, seeking after a country of our own, yet we settle down in the most un-stranger-like fashion, exactly as if we were quite at home and meant to stay as long as we could.”

-Amy Carmichael

3 thoughts on “Tidying in the Grand “Magical” Tradition

  1. Betty says:

    Hi Mary! I love reading your thoughts about tidying and the process it has been for you. We have a lot more space than 1000sq ft and I am both grateful for it and challenged by it. We can fit more stuff but we don’t need more stuff. Thankfully most of my kids tend to be more on the minimalist side like me and we all feel so much better after we’ve de cluttered. I grew up with lots of order and I need order (not in an OCD way) to be able to think and function. I think my chronic illness also makes things feel overwhelming more quickly and I can not even think if I’m surrounded by clutter. There is such a balance between tidying and making a tidy home an end in and of itself. Thankfully with all our children and my father in law I can never achieve the level of tidy I would like so the Lord has helped me to accept when things are good enough. But it is a continual endeavor. I have not read either book but you’ve peaked my interest. Thanks and blessings on your growing family!

    1. Mary says:

      Thanks for your comment Betty!

      I really get what you’re saying. It is so hard to strike a healthy balance, for sure.

      Hope all is well, and I hope to see you this summer!

      Mary 🙂

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