Tidying up time with Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Art of Tidying up! Welcome to Take the Upgrade Episode 33 - a special book club edition of our podcast! Leanne Peterson is your host and she’s joined by Natalie, Carolina and Rachelle to talk about how they applied this book to their lives.
Decluttering just feels good. And, it’s no wonder, because in the act of decluttering and tidying up you adopt some new habits that extend to other areas of who you are, lightening and upgrading your whole life. Listen in to learn how to get started and how to overcame obstacles that may pop up!
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We’ll be back next week with another dose of soulful guidance!
Here's the transcript of today's conversation:
Leanne Peterson: Well hello everyone and welcome to our Book Club today. I am so excited to talk about our book today, The Magic Art of Tidying Up. Today I’m joined with our other book club members, we have Natalie my podcast producer and tidying up expert. She loves cleaning and we’re so happy to have her on the call, and hopefully after this she’ll fly to Houston to help me organize my life. Then we have Carolina. She is a yoga studio owner and a mom who hates tidying up and really needed this book. And then we have Rachelle who is a mom of four and she is also needing this book to help her get things in order in a way that she hasn’t before. So today I ask everyone on the book club call what their biggest takeaway was from the book and what project they worked on from the book and put into their life. So I’m so excited for you to hear what they have to say as everyone shares their experiments and their takeaways.
And what I ask all of our book club members to do is apply some of the principles they learned in The Magic Art of Tidying Up to their lives, and to let us know how it went applying these. This is actually a perfect time for this book because there’s a Netflix series that just came out with the author and she’s tidying people’s houses so I can’t wait to watch that. I don’t know here has watched it but I can’t wait to watch that and just see this kind of in action because when you’re reading about it, it sounds really like, “Yes!” but then some things are really confusing, like I still don’t know how to fold my clothes right, so I’m needing like a more hands on tutorial. So anyway I want to hear from everyone what you applied, what your biggest a-ha or kind of takeaway from this book was and then how it went when you put it into your life. So who wants to get started?
Rachelle Young: I will. So a year ago I read the book. My husband and I went through all of our clothes and that’s about as far as we got. And he still folds all of his things vertically, and I almost immediately reverted back to what I had always been doing. And so needless to say it didn’t really stick, but I didn’t go through all the steps. Like to be fair I didn’t give it a full-on effort. But this time around I decided to re-read it and then I read Spark Joy and then I binge-watched all of the episodes.
LP: So you’re our resident expert on this book?
RY: Well, I mean, I can’t call myself anything close to an expert but I have immersed myself in all of her content. So I decided that I was going to give it a good solid effort and go at a pace that made sense for my family, because it stresses me out a lot to pull everything out of closets and you know all of that, and so I decided that Saturdays are going to be my days that I do one thing to focus on my tidying and not feel like I’m drowning in this effort all week long because it just got to be too stressful to think about pulling everything out and going through things. So I just started in one area and I think the reason I was so grateful for the Netflix series is because it was something that my children were able to watch with me, and they enjoyed seeing the transformation. And that’s who I’ve had the hardest time previously getting to reduce clutter is my kids. My five-year-old son, he loves having his drawers organized and everything vertical and he’s kept it that way really well. So yeah I started with my kids this time, and I did it with them so that they could help determine what would spark joy for them and to kind of realize that as much as we’d like to keep everything that ever entered our lives, it’s just not practical. And so that has helped a lot. So my biggest a-ha moment has been seeing my kids kind of catch on to the idea that having a clutter-free, organized space is going to make their lives easier. And in turn make my life a lot easier, which obviously has been good. And so we’re not completely finished yet. I’m saving my hardest kid for last. So my daughter is, I’m telling you she just has a hoarder mentality, and so this Saturday is when we’re going to jump in with both feet in her room and see what we can do. So…
LP: Good luck for this Saturday.
RY: Yeah, yeah.
LP: I love what you’re saying because in the book she talks about, I really like what she says, like, don’t focus on other people’s stuff, like really focus on your own stuff, which I like that idea of like, instead of trying to reform everyone else, like reform yourself. But like you said when you’re living in a family, like I wanted my husband to watch the show with me because when you’re living in a family you kind of want people who like understand the method so that you can have almost like partners in it instead of…because like you said, if you’re doing your stuff but if the rest of the house is overflowing with other people’s stuff, like, it’s hard to have that feeling of peace in your home and joy in your home. So…
RY: Well and speaking to that specifically, I have been on decluttering kicks in the past and the reason they didn’t work is because I was the only person getting rid of things and I never got rid of anything that wasn’t my own, you know? And so I’m getting rid of things and I’m looking at my things and I’m thinking, “Okay.” I used to have a lot of, you know, sewing items, and I got rid of that and pretty much gave up on sewing as a hobby. And I got rid of this and I got rid of that and I got rid of this, and now I’m down to bare bones and I still feel like I’m drowning in clutter because it’s other people’s clutter. And so I started to feel resentful toward my husband specifically because he has a lot of his hobby items and then his brothers decided to get rid of theirs and gave them to him. And so he is just amassing this stuff. And I’m looking around and I’m going, “Gosh!” Our guest bedroom closet is completely full, floor to ceiling, of his stuff and I don’t have anything anymore. And so I started to feel resentful and then I thought, “Hmm, it’s not fair for me to feel that way because no one told me to get rid of my things, and I haven’t really expressed to him how important it would feel to me to have everyone focus on eliminating some of the bulk of the items in our home,” and so that I really had to kind of, okay, you can’t even be mad about this.
RY: And so I think that’s why the Netflix series specifically has helped, because let’s face it, there’s no way my husband’s going to read those books. I can ask him to and he can tell me he’ll get around to it at some point, and we’ll never go anywhere. But you know, watching a 20-minute episode he was fine with, and you know caught on to it, so it’s been good.
LP: That’s awesome. I do love it. It’s true because we are part of a family, like, I just think of my little son he has so much stuff, and luckily he’s too little to protest if I start throwing things away but it takes up a lot of space, all his stuff.
RY: Yeah, baby stuff takes up so much space.
LP: Mm-hm. And like you said even the closet, like there’s, my husband’s side is overflowing so like I really I think it’s nice when it can be a joint effort with whoever’s in your house.
RY: Yeah that’s how it’s been for me.
LP: Perfect. Well thank you for sharing, and I love your way of doing it too, because you know in the books she talks about doing it all in one day or all at once, and like you said, that just feels so overwhelming to me. And I get what she’s saying, like, don’t drag it out, but if it prevents you from doing itI don’t know, like it’s hard to find a whole weekend just to organize. Like there’s so much going on that I can just see it turning into stuff everywhere and then oh I have to go run and do this, I have to run and do that, I come home there’s piles of stuff that feels overwhelming, like, it’s a lot to pull all of your stuff out. So I like how you’ve broken it down into a really manageable piece.
RY: And I feel like I got that from the Netflix series because she would give each household an assignment, and that was their assignment for the week, and so it took them several weeks. And so that was kind of an a-ha moment to me, and I thought, “You know what, if I’m only doing this and making sure I’m making progress weekly, then it doesn’t feel so intensely overwhelming.”
LP: That’s very helpful. I love that idea. If you’re listening, you know think of it like that, give yourself those assignments, you know, pick your day and find your assignment for the day and just commit to that and do that fully and have like a Done stamp on one piece of it and that feels so much more doable than just a house overflowing with things out of closets. Perfect, thank you. Carolina I’d love to hear what your biggest takeaway from the book was and what project you started out with.
Carolina Vennie: Sure. So I have to admit that I wasn’t super excited about this particular subject matter, and when I showed my husband the book he started laughing because, you know, organizing would not be what I consider a strength of mine. You know I have the default excuse that I’m a creative and so I like to just live in my own creative mess. However, I found the book really enlightening in a lot of different ways. You know obviously the tangible things that the book was talking about, like actually decluttering and whatever were helpful, but I also thought it was really interesting what came up for me as I was trying to follow this and it was deeper stuff than just the surface-level, you know, getting it done, so I’ll explain a little what I mean.
So I tackled my closet, that seemed like the easiest thing to start with, and I was like, “You know, this should be pretty easy.” I really, you know especially now as a yoga teacher, half my wardrobe is yoga clothes. I barely have time to go shopping. I don’t feel like I’m really that attached, and yet when I started doing this I literally got rid of like one thing, you know what I mean? I was like “No, this one, this shirt, I got when I started teaching so it’s really special to me,” even though I’ve never worn it. And this one was when I taught at Rice University and that was another chapter in my life. And so you know the first go-around was really, holy crap, I’m so attached! But to stuff that doesn’t actually matter, and so I kind of went back and reassessed and went back to kind of her original thing which is, “No, this is why it makes a difference to actually pick up the piece and really connect with the thing’s energy,” which I know sounded super woo-woo at first, but I think it does make a big difference, right? When you start looking at things that way and not necessarily looking at the thing as representing the memory and knowing that even if you throw that away the memory’s still with you.
And yoga really is the practice of non-attachment right, so this is why it’s like funny that as a practitioner of yoga this was so hard for me. I was like, “I’m failing at yoga!” But so anyway it was just really interesting to see just how attached I was to certain things, because it’s that fear that if you let go of the thing you let go of the memory. And so her approach of just saying, you know, “Thank the thing for having served its purpose, and then let it go knowing that you’ll still always have the memory of, you know, your first yoga class or whatever, and you don’t necessarily need that object to have that in your heart.” I really like that. I think that, then when I went on to declutter Lucas’s room, you know just like Julian he’s too young to protest, and I still had a hard time because it’s my attachment to his baby clothes because he’s never going to be little again and so again it’s that process of saying, “Just because I throw away the piece of clothing doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate that time in my life.” I actually can let it go, knowing that I’ll always have that.
So anyway I really liked that as theme for so many other things in my life. Right, where we’re afraid to let go because we feel like we’ll never get those moments in our life again and flipping that and saying, “No, those things are with me regardless,” and so I can literally just get rid of my entire everything, live like a hobo, and still have all those wonderful memories, and so I thought that was really useful, not that I’m planning to do that. But yeah so I really enjoyed sort of that aspect of the book, the overarching like deeper meaning of what it means to let go of stuff and how attached we are as a society to things.
LP: I love that reminder you had, and like you said it’s just so funny how it’s like, “Yep everything here brings me joy, we’re good, I don’t need to go any further!” Like gotta get rid of that one shirt and then take it to that next level, it’s like, “Ohh.” Because I think that’s the thing, at first glance a lot of us think like everything we have is needed and justified, and when we really sit down with it it’s like, ooh like maybe not. And I know in my own life there’s pieces in my wardrobe that are like the person I want to be that are not me, and I just need to let them go but I’m like, “One day I may want to wear real pants and not yoga pants,” like, that may happen and I need to save these pants for that day.
Natalie Pyles: I thought you were going to say like a denim mini skirt or something. [laughing]
LP: [laughing] That ship has definitely sailed but I had my heyday. Regardless I have not done my closet yet because I know I have this whole bottom drawer of all these pants that I used to wear, that I thought I’d wear, that I have not worn like since I moved to Houston over three years ago, and running shoes that I’ve never used and I’m like, “But maybe one day!” Again I’ll decide I want to wear pants again and maybe one day I’ll decide I don’t wear flip-flops like, it hasn’t happened let it go.
CV: And I think it’s funny she kind of talks about all those, like she hit it spot on, like all the excuses we end up coming up with in our heads to not get rid of stuff, right? Like Rachelle said that brother not wanting to get rid of things so just passing them on to the family member, or you know, “Oh one day I will wear it so it’s a waste to give it away if I’m then going to use it.” I think it’s funny like she called us out on the exact thought process why we’re not getting rid of things.
RY: Oh, absolutely. And the other funny thing is, she warns you. She says, “After you’re completely done tidying, there’s going to be a time when you think of something you got rid of that now all of a sudden you need, and you have to prepare yourself for that time.” [laughter] And you have to say, “You know what, it’s okay if I need this down the line, if it really truly is a need, I’ll be able to fill that need again.” It doesn’t have to be this specific item. And we can be grateful for, you know, the space that we created in our home during that time that we didn’t have the item and things like that, and I just thought it was funny. So mentally I’m preparing myself for that, “Oh man, I shouldn’t have got rid of that.”
LP: I love that reminder because, you know I can see if she doesn’t say that, we’re like, “We should never have tidied!” And it’s like, for me it could be like three years from now, I’m like, “I did need pants!” but three years from now like, dress pants are going to change style, like, it’s not like my pants from ten years ago would have been so in. Yeah she even says about buying bulk like you don’t need to buy in bulk. It’s taking up space in your house. Just buy it as you need it.
CV: Costco is the devil.
LP: Okay, I would not go that far!
CV: I’m totally kidding. I’m a member. I just thought it was funny.
LP: It is, but it’s just that reminder because I grew up and my dad loves to stockpile things. I, in my house, there was once a sale on V05 shampoo, and if you know that shampoo it’s like a dollar all the time, a dollar. And it was on sale, I want to say it was like 50 cent shampoo. My dad bought like 30 V05s and I had to use V05 shampoo for like, three years, and we were not allowed to use any other shampoo until that stupid shampoo was used up.
NP: I wanna meet your dad.
RY: It’s a culture thing in Utah, wouldn’t you agree Natalie?
NP: Oh yeah.
RY: To stockpile things.
NP: Yes we’re very into emergency preparedness.
RY: Yes. [laughing]
NP: I think it’s because we’ve been told our whole lives that there’s going to be an earthquake at some point—
NP: —a really, really bad one. Even my parents grew up being told there will be a very bad earthquake because we live on a fault line, and it just hasn’t happened yet but we’re all like, every single day we’re all just waiting for it to happen.
RY: I remember feeling stressed about that as a child.
NP: Oh yeah.
RY: And part of it’s the culture where we’re at to always have emergency preparedness stuff, so we’re stockpilers in Utah. [laughing]
NP: Yeah that’s true.
RY: Like canned goods, and like, you know….
NP: It’s not just the earthquake; it is like a culture of self-reliance.
NP: And I think part of it is spiritual self-reliance but then also temporal self-reliance, we really value being able to take care of yourself or planning ahead.
NP: It’s hard for us to get rid of things that we could need because we all have basements here too and it’s like, well why not just save it?
RY: And all kinds of food storage setups. Like food storage is a big deal here.
NP: Yeah. Well lots of people in Utah strive to have like a year of extra food in their basement in case something happens like a financial crisis or a natural disaster. So we always have to be rotating our food, which is a huge responsibility and so like rotating our stuff and rotating our food is kind of always on our mind.
CV: Interesting point. Like where is the fine line? You’re being smart, right, because you don’t want to be caught empty-handed, and at the same time weighing the effort that it takes, not just like the money that originally invested in that but the effort of rotating your things, keeping them well, having to manage that inventory in any way shape or form I feel like takes so much energy. You know, is it truly worth it, like where is that balance between, you know, not being stupid about it but also not spending your whole life preparing for something that might never happen?
CV: [crosstalk] …answer to that, but that seems like the question.
LP: You know I could have a stockpile and in Houston like a hurricane’s coming and I’m like, “I’ve got to go to the grocery store and stock up!” like, “I need more!” I don’t feel like I would be like, “Oh, like whatever, I have my supply,” I’d be like, “Well, maybe we need more water, maybe I need more canned good, who knows how long, maybe…” you know what I mean? It’s just awful like this mindset. I read this book that was really interesting and this woman talks about this scarcity mindset that we all have, and just that scarcity mindset of like “there’s never enough” so I feel no matter even how prepared you are there’s still that thought going on like “Do I have enough? Is this enough?” Because like the markets might crash, everyone in Utah might go run out and go buy more stuff.
RY: I had a lady in my neighborhood who had amassed this massive collection of food storage and preparedness items and for her, she’s a single woman, and she said, “Look I’m not doing it for me, I’m doing it so that I have the ability to help others, you know, in the event of a crisis.” And that was something that brought joy to her so great for her, but I couldn’t live that way.
CV: Part of the problem is that it, and again I’m not saying that some level of preparedness isn’t a good idea, right, I’m definitely the kind of person that’s going to be kind of caught totally naked in the storm because I don’t prepare, but—
LP: We’ll be at that lady’s house like, “Hey!”
CV: Thank god for your help. You know even almost as I’m listening to that I’m just getting a kind of uncomfortable feeling of, oh my gosh, living an entire life, setting up your whole routine, making your choices, everything based on fear because that’s really what it is, right, it’s fear of not having enough at one point, doesn’t seem like the way to have a happier, more fulfilled life. Like maybe if there was more faith in the fact that if something happened you could use your own two hands and your acumen and your kindness to help out and it didn’t have to come from having hoarded things. You know now I sound like I’m preaching and I’m not saying that one way’s more right than the other but it does feel like if you completely go that direction you are living a fear-based life and that doesn’t, that feels very trapping.
RY: I think for her, it’s not based on fear, that’s what brings her comfort is knowing she’s prepared for anything.
LP: But there’s that root of fear, right? Like that root that something bad is going to happen, but it doesn’t matter because I’m prepared, but there’s that underlying like, “when the bad thing happens.”
NP: I think an earthquake would be fun. I’m kind of excited about it. It’s like a hobby! [laughing]
CV: Okay Natalie let me break it down for you because I lived Chile.
RY: You know how bad, you know how bad they’re predicting the earthquake in Utah to be right?
NP: I know, but I don’t really live on the fault line. No I’m sorry I’m not—[laughing]
LP: We will take that part out for everyone in Utah who is ready to go test Natalie.
NP: Carolina, you said you lived in Chile?
CV: Yeah I lived in Chile for a long time. So my parents actually lived through the worst ever recorded earthquake in history and see, and they were fine and they didn’t stockpile things so, there you go.
NP: There you go.
CV: They had to live in, like, out of a car for a week right, because everything went down. I think all of your canned goods in your basement are going to be crushed under the rubble.
CV: So I don’t think this is the right strategy, you can take this out of the podcast too. [laughing]
LP: We’re going to get all of this out of the podcast but I do love this conversation. [laughing] Carolina that is so true like everyone’s stockpiling in their basement and [crosstalk] and you would die getting your stuff.
CV: It’s not worth it for SPAM. I’m sorry.
RY: What do you do when you’re not home?
NP: Yeah. Oh my gosh.
RY: Like oh yeah, I’ve got 50 gallons of clean water at my house, I’ve got a year’s worth of food, and there’s an earthquake while I’m clear across town.
CV: They’re so unpredictable, right? Like they could literally happen anywhere.
RY: That’s why I try not to worry too much about it. I have like minimal preparedness for stuff [crosstalk] like very minimal, so I’m like “Yeah I’ve got a 72-hours kit for, you know, for each person in the household, that’s good enough.”
LP: There you go. It’ll get you the neighbor’s. [laughing]
RY: I live within walking distance of my parents’ house and they’ve got, you know, a better setup, so I’m good.
LP: Yeah they probably come to your house and like while you’re busy they go downstairs and look at your setup and they’re like, “Oh my goodness, add cans to the list!”
CV: You guys need to move closer to that lady.
RY: Oh yeah I know.
CV: That’s the right strategy, right there.
LP: Oh my gosh, that is awesome. All right, that was great. Natalie, I’d love to hear what your biggest takeaway was from the book and what you have put into place?
NP: Okay, awesome. Well I love this topic, like super stoked to read about it. I don’t know like I love the less-is-more mentality. I also feel like, okay I have a physical weight like with all the stuff in my house. So I always imagine what it would feel like if we had to move right now, and how much stuff we would have, and I feel like, actually gross about having lots of stuff. So I like to have like a lighter feeling I guess, I just feel good when I get rid of stuff and so when I read her books and watch her Netflix show and actually the first book about minimalism that I really read was called The Joy of Less and that’s where I kind of got started with hearing about minimalism, but I just feel like there’s an opportunity lost when we have so much stuff weighing us down that’s actually like keeping us from enjoying the good stuff that we have, so I like to get rid of all of like the lesser quality things so I can enjoy the higher quality things that I have. So I guess my understanding of decluttering is kind of abstract and very bizarre but I do enjoy it a lot.
LP: Well it sounds like though you’re in tune with what she talks about, just the energy of it. I think a lot of us aren’t noticing the energy of our space and it sounds like you really feel the energy, like you actually feel the heaviness, you feel the weight of your things, and you intuitively understand that joy that comes from releasing because you’ve lived it and you actually can sense that, like, “aah” moment when things are clear.
NP: Yeah. Yeah, and I’m definitely not perfect like, there are areas of my house that are messy and that I can kind of just never get under control, which… you know is a source of stress, but I think overall I do like the feeling of empty space, and I feel like it’s wasting to have more stuff than I need that’s actually like just putting off the feeling of lightness that I could have, so I feel like I’m either wasting my good things or I’m wasting my potential for a clean space.
CV: And to piggyback off of that I think that the reason why I did end up liking the book even thought I was afraid of it at first is because even thought the title is all about tidying up, which is not again a word that resonates in a positive way with me, the book is really about decluttering, and so I’m actually at least from a, in theory I’m absolutely into that. I know that I don’t have the capability to create a lot of the things that I, you know, create if everything has to be in its own perfect little box and space, but again it wasn’t really about that, it was like, if you get rid of enough stuff that’s not necessary, then inherently you will be more tidy and so I can stand behind that. Right, it wasn’t take all your stuff and now, you know, make it look like an IKEA closet. It was just get rid of a lot of stuff and then it becomes a lot easier to keep things in order, and so that resonates way more, right, than “Well, you just have to be more organized.”
NP: Yeah, that’s so true. That’s a big difference. And lots of times the finished products of Marie Kondo’s people on these shows and tidying up, I was like whoa, that does not seem like a finished product to me, but like it was an improvement.
RY: I felt that way too. But she does stress that in the book where she says look, the number of items you end up with at the end is going to be different from person to person. But the ultimate goal is to only be surrounded by things that spark joy, and I like that idea.
NP: Yeah, it’s like I had to take this little business trip a year or so ago and it was only for like a day and a half, so I really packed super light and I only took my like, one favorite pair of shoes and my one favorite pair of pants, my one favorite lip gloss, and I was fine, you know, and I liked the elevated sense that I had on that trip because I was only surrounded by my favorite things. And then when I got back I was like, why do I have all of this stuff, why do I have fifteen coats? Like, again, it was like the lesser quality things that I had were pulling down my average of the quality of my life instead of just like, just operating on the highest level of the things that I love. So, that trip kind of was a wake-up call for me.
LP: That’s such a good way to put it. That quantity of things decreasing your overall quality of life, of possessions, of just everything. It’s like really weighing you down to have all that extra stuff everywhere.
RY: So here’s my problem. I listened to what Natalie’s saying and yeah, I only want you know the quality things in my life, and you know Marie Kondo says only surround yourself with things that spark joy and you’ll be able to cultivate things that really spark joy, and I immediately latch on to the, yes I want quality things in my life, and I want them now, before I declutter.
LP: That is not the process.
RY: That is the problem with me. I’m like, yeah, I should cultivate a better space by buying this—
NP: By going shopping.
RY: —and by buying this that I like better, instead of getting rid of stuff first. So I’ve really had to fight that tendency.
LP: You know I did it kind of like both ways. So just to normalize that like before I left for vacation and before I read the book, but what made me pick this book was I was leaving for a vacation and I was just, I like looked at like my TV wall and I realized it was so plain and I didn’t like, when did it get like, this plain, and like bad-looking, like, so I decided I was going to mix things up, I had them paint my wall, like, really, really dark blue, almost black while I was out of town, and then I came back and in that process it stirred this whole decluttering thing for me because it’s like, well I don’t want that anymore so I’ll just throw away what was in there and kind of let it go and as I brought in new things that was like, almost easier to push out the old things. So I think you don’t want to add more but like if that’s how your mind works, like “I want quality things” then go to the store and buy that one pair of shoes you love with the agreement that you’re going to get rid of all of the other pairs of shoes.
RY: So the way that I’ve been able to combat that is I’ve heard, you know, that a lot of people have been watching this Netlfix series and so now’s the best time to go thrifting. If you’re going to go to thrift shops this is it, this is when you go, and so I have allowed myself to stop into these thrift stores after I donate what I’m getting rid of and I’m only allowed to leave with an item if it has a specific purpose and a specific place. And so I’ve enjoyed looking through what people have gotten rid of, and I think that’s been kind of fun to see. But I came home with a one dollar set of bookends that I planned on putting on my son’s bookshelf, and a vase that I had a very specific spot for that was really cute and matched the aesthetic of what I was going for, and that’s it. And so it’s been fun to look at those kinds of things but I’m not buying anything without getting rid of stuff first, necessarily. Even though I want to.
CV: Where things can actually, you know, bring you joy just because they’re beautiful but you don’t necessarily have to have them, right? Like it’s also very, I think deeply embedded in, I’m going to say American culture but maybe it’s really for everybody, but where we like something then we want to make it our own. And I find that sometimes, and this is probably not the best kind of distraction in the world, but I find that sometimes if I’m stressed out or if I need creativity in my life or like I feel stuck, I will actually go to an Anthropologie store. I won’t buy anything, right, because I don’t really need anything, or I can’t really afford half the stuff in there, but it’s so beautifully designed, there’s just something so inspiring about the quality of the fabrics and the prints and the whatever and I feel very fulfilled by seeing those things but I can walk away not having necessarily made them my own, if that makes sense. We can also cultivate this appreciation for beauty, you know beautiful things, but not necessarily feel like we need them in our closet to be complete.
LP: I love that idea. It’s almost where she talks about like kind of things having their place and their purpose. It’s like can we just admire things in that place, with that purpose, instead of being like you said, “it must be mine!”
NP: Wow that’s like so true.
RY: So when I need to feel organized I can just go to the container store and then I’m good?
LP: Just look around, soak it in, and walk away. The containers are not the problem!
RY: I tend to be more like Carolina. I can’t necessarily describe myself as a creative type but I grew up with a mother who has ADHD and our house was always clean, but it was always cluttered. I’m just used to that and it doesn’t bother me but now, well until I became a mother. Now that I’m a mom I’m like, “Get rid of it. Everything needs to go.” You know? I want to live this bare-bones life but I have a hard time implementing that, you know? And so I needed this. I really, really needed this.
LP: Right? You know the biggest thing that I took away from this and what you’re talking about too in terms of needing this and kind of figuring things out is the decluttering I get. I mean I need to keep working on it, I still need to tackle things, I keep looking around like, “I know that has to go,” but then one of the things you said that really stuck with me is, everything needs to have its own place. And everything should be together. And you know what I realize with my son, he’s fifteen months and his stuff had taken over our entire house. So like in my room there was some of his things, in the living room there were all his toys, in his bedroom were his clothes and overflow toys, and I’ve had a voice ringing in my ear just saying like, “Everything needs to be in the same place,” because she talks about a family where the kid’s things are all over the house. So I put his stuff back in his room exclusively, I just need again to buy one more bookshelf for his room and then everything will be in his room. So that’s my main project that I’ve been working on, is just getting all his stuff corralled into one place. And the amount of peace that that has given me, to not have his stuff taking over our whole home, is amazing because at night when he’s in bed and I close the door, I have like this really calm space that’s mine. And I think when you do become a mother or even live with just a partner, when you go from being single to living with a partner, if you’re living with roommates, if everyone’s stuff is always all over the house, it’s hard for me to find that peace and that calm in the midst of everyone else’s chaos. So it’s really nice to put things where they belong and keep them there, so you do have that “aah” moment. At least that’s what I’ve found.
NP: I think that having things like in their place also makes it easier, and in Spark Joy she talks about how the point of like a kitchen for example, the point of having a decluttered kitchen is not so that there’s not things on the counter, it’s so that it’s easier to clean the kitchen itself. So like if you don’t have things on the counter it’ll be easier for you to wipe off the counter and you’ll do it more. And you won’t have objects on your counters that are getting like splattered. So like in the rest of your house if all your son’s things are put away then it makes it so that you can clean your house more easily, you can vacuum whenever you want to instead of having to clean before you vacuum.
LP: That is a really hopeful thought, Natalie.
NP: Not that you vacuum!
LP: If I were to ever vacuum I could do it better. [laughing] But I love what you say there’s a purpose behind this and you know one thing that stood out to me, that I still need to work on, is she said we shouldn’t be storing our shampoo bottles in the shower because they get mildewy and like gunky so she said we shouldn’t have those in the shower, we should wipe them off when we’re done with them and put them under the bathroom counter. And I was like, “What?” And like you said it just makes sense, like then you don’t have those rings, and then also when you look in there it’s easier to wipe, kind of like my shower, I don’t know if you know it gets kind of like dusty almost, I don’t even know, so it’d be so much easier to wipe it down. I think it has like big sides to it so anyway it collects dust but anyway it’d be so much easier to wipe it down if there’s nothing there and when you look at it, it just feels like “aah”. [crosstalk] to make it look good, it just looks good. [crosstalk]
NP: Yeah. And then you’d be like, well my shower is beautiful. Your house would feel more like a spa if you felt like your shower was beautiful. And Leanne likes a good spa.
LP: I love a good spa. That is my thing. Once I put my son to bed, and all his stuff, hopefully I’ll be better about keeping it in his room, putting him to bed and picking up quick, I light a candle and I sit in my living room and just pretend I’m at the spa. I love anything that reminds me of the spa and clear, clean surfaces feel much more spa-like than clutter everywhere.
NP: Yeah. That’s the goal. Turn our house into a resort, or just go live at Leanne’s house.
LP: Natalie, I’ve gotten rid of all unnecessary items so there’s nowhere for anyone to stay, but I could definitely refer you to a great hotel and you can come visit.
NP: Fair enough.
RY: I have loved the internet’s response to the Netflix series. About, you know, “I read Marie Kondo’s book and decided to only keep things that spark joy so I’m getting rid of my husband, my toddler, my, you know,” [laughing] “I’m only keeping my books and my wine”, or something like that. I thought those were funny.
LP: Those are so good, I just read one before we started and it said, what is that movie that’s gotten out now, Birdcage? Birdhouse? Bird Box?
Multiple: Bird Box.
LP: Yeah. So I just read this thing before we jumped on and it said, “Instead of doing this method I’m just going to Bird Box my house,” and it just showed like blindfolded running through their house. [laughing] You can clean or you can just pretend it didn’t happen. Whatever way. Awesome.
Well thank you all for tuning into our book club. I hope this has inspired you, even if you haven’t read the book or watched the show, the question to ask is “Does this spark joy?” and the thing to be thinking of is getting out of the scarcity mindset of “I need to hold on to things that aren’t bringing me joy,” and open your hands, kind of giving things to others that might spark joy for them, or just letting them go so you have more space in your life to bring in things that really do bring you joy so that you can come home and feel really good in your house.
So thank you everyone for tuning in and we’ll be back next month with our next book club.
I’m your host Leanne Peterson, thanks for listening to the Take The Upgrade podcast, if you want even more of this goodness check out my website, leannepeterson.com, and sign up for my weekly newsletter. Check me out and subscribe to the podcast. You can always remember to Take The Upgrade.