I knew I wanted a change, but change is easier said than done. I bought Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” a year ago. I’d heard Kondo’s book had inspired thousands of people to conquer their clutter, and I was ready to jump on the bandwagon.

The book remained unopened on my bookshelf until this January when Kondo’s show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” debuted on Netflix. I initially resisted watching the show. I didn’t want to be on the bandwagon with everyone else even if I’d caved and bought her book the previous January. I lasted two weeks before I had to dig in and see what all the fuss was about.

After the first episode, I was hooked. I watched the second episode and then reached for Kondo’s book. Last year, I did manage to read “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter” by Margareta Magnusson, but it didn’t prompt a call to action. Magnusson’s book suggests you need to get rid of the excess in your life so that your family doesn’t have to deal with your leftovers after you die. She also urges you to take stock of all your belongings and realize that while you may treasure your collections of stuff, your family may just toss it in the dumpster when you’re gone because they don’t have the same attachment to the items you held so close to your heart.

It was depressing, frankly. What will become of my key chain collection once I’m gone? I’ve been collecting key chains for more than 30 years. I can’t take them with me once I’m dead, but to think they’d just be trashed immediately following my demise wasn’t all that comforting. But then again, I keep my collection in a series of boxes in a closet. Am I really in love with my key chain collection or is it just a habit at this point? Nevertheless, my attempts at purging my clutter were not all that successful last year.

After watching Kondo help others with far more clutter than myself, I became inspired. I tore through her book. The book goes into the process of how Kondo developed her KonMari Method. It’s more difficult to digest than watching her work her “magic” on TV, but it’s incredibly informative.

Following the debut of her show, there have been dozens of articles about how thrift shops around the country are benefiting from America’s new obsession with keeping only what “sparks joy” in their lives. People are purging things that don’t make them happy and hoping that someone else may benefit from their unwanted belongings.

But after reading the book, I’ve come to realize that the KonMari Method isn’t something you can tackle in a weekend. To truly turn your life around using the KonMari Method, you need to sort through your belongings in stages, and this can take weeks if you are taking time to assess all of your belongings.

Kondo suggests rather than tackling your possessions room by room, you organize your belongings into categories and take a good hard look at everything in each category as you start to discard the excess in your life. For instance, I’ve gone room to room collecting all of my jewelry. Once I felt certain I’d found all of my jewelry, I laid everything on the kitchen table to see what my entire collection looked like.

I found myself looking at things I hadn’t worn in years and things I’d forgotten about entirely. When you see it all in front of you, you realize you have more than you need, and you realize what you once loved can be loved by someone else if you are willing to let it go.

What I find most inspiring about Kondo’s methodology is that it isn’t about getting rid of your things. It’s ultimately about confronting yourself and your habits that have led you to desire and obtain so much stuff.

I hate to be a bandwagon devotee, but this is the light bulb moment I’ve been waiting for. Maybe this is the year I’ll finally get the house in order. Maybe this is the year I finally convince my husband to put his dirty socks in the laundry basket rather than leave them piled on the spare sofa. Maybe just maybe.

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor. Simple & Sassy runs every other Sunday. She can be reached at shartley@napanews.com.