Have you seen the new Netflix series “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo”? It is one of those unique programs that you either love or hate. The obvious central theme is helping others in the precise arena of “tidying up.” That woman loves to tidy.
That’s Marie’s central mission and has been since she was a child, when she earned the scorn of her family because she was always throwing their stuff away. Marie helps property owners find their bearings amid all their stuff. Huge piles of stuff. Closets and cabinets and drawers of stuff.
For those who haven’t seen Marie in action, even her appearance is a living example of organizational skills and beyond. Her appearance just says “tidy.” She is 4 feet 7 inches tall. A teensy, little twinkle of a woman with a sweet smile and although she only speaks Japanese, you can understand her intentions right away.
She enters the residences of the folks who have asked her to come and she begins her work. Her voice is soft and gentle — like a female version of the television painter, Bob Ross.
She always wears black tights and little ballerina-type slippers (once I noticed that her shoes had small cat ears). Marie almost always wears a short white sweater, and I’ve never seen her in anything but a skirt that “flounces” a lot.
Marie has an interpreter who stays with her and translates for her. When she enters a house she first has to “say hello to the house,” and gets the owners to kneel with her and thank the house for protecting the family and providing shelter and a place for gathering. This is always a rather emotional moment, when you can see the homeowners consider and appreciate their home in a way they haven’t before.
She goes through the house tapping things lightly to “wake them up,” and then begins in the bedrooms by telling the owners they must take everything from their closets and drawers and pile it all on the bed. Enormous piles of stuff begin to accumulate on the bed, and she explains that they have to go through it all one item at a time. It seems to be important to empty the areas first so that each item must be more seriously considered, as the owners are reluctant to put things back, filling the area up again.
Her mantra is “keep everything that gives you joy,” and the rest goes in bags and boxes to take to thrift stores. Some stuff goes into bags to go to the curb. Marie delights in the prospect of returning to that house in a week or two to observe their progress.
A huge stack of clothes, hats, boots, and shoes is quite intimidating. Some people haven’t seen it as a real problem because they can close the closet door and forget about it. But Marie makes them hold up each and every piece and decide to “keep” or “discard” based on how they feel about those clothes. She agrees that some things are sentimental and should be kept, but other things, if not being worn or used, should be given away.
In a recent episode, a woman who had lost her husband ten months before had to go through her late husband’s old clothes. It was so sad to watch her pulling out all those shirts and crying over every single one. A difficult task and yet Marie assured her that she’d feel better when it was tidied.
She recommends creating a nice “treasure” box to put things that are being saved strictly for sentimental reasons. “Things that bring joy” she says are more appreciated when they are narrowed down and stored neatly. Keeping things that speak to the heart is something she advises.
The clients start out reluctantly, and then you can see them get into it when they see all the space their closets and drawers provide. They look forward to Marie’s return because they feel proud of themselves and their families for working toward a goal and getting their life back in order.
I personally have a bit of a problem hoarding books. I have boxes and boxes, and my own Marie — sons Kyle and Chad — told me to go through them all before I move again into a house and donate those books to others.
It’s a show that while not wild or funny, I must admit has inspired me to do some tidying myself. I am never going to win at the game of stuff-versus-me, but it has made me think, and that’s more than most television series do. So now I will thank my house and then take one drawer at a time on my adventure and mission to be tidy. Thanks Marie!