I Love You, Marie Kondo
by Grace Ann Stevens
I have never had an addiction, at least not until now. But I recently have fallen madly in love with Marie Kondo and her Netflix show Tidying Up.
I have known for a long time that I needed to clean out my closets but have been procrastinating just as long. Immediately upon watching the first episode, however I felt the irresistible compulsion to get the job done. I can’t quite put my finger on how she did it, but I am pretty sure that is how an addiction works.
Over the past month I have binged on the eight episodes of the show with my jaw dropping lower and lower with each one. I kept telling myself the “little” lie—that my apartment was not as bad as what I was viewing—although I knew it was a lie all the time. I was trying to convince myself that it wouldn’t be that hard. I, too, could tidy up by using Kondo’s test: touching everything I had to see if it still sparked joy within me, and then letting go of those items that failed the test. The show planted the seed within me.
Then, while on vacation last week, my friend and I downloaded the audio version of Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and listened to it as we lazed on the beach in Aruba. That did it. I was psyched and ready to go.
Kondo recommends a creating a plan where you approach the tidying process in a specific order—clothes, books, papers, kimono (small categories), and sentimental items—and that you also give yourself enough time to get through it.
I told myself, “You can do it! Just take six weeks, doing one category per week, and add a buffer week for the tough decisions.”
Let me share my first challenge. It is a little over a decade since I came to terms with the fact that I am transgender and first came out to the world. I started to present as a female slowly, baby steps at first, until I fully transitioned in 2011. In the process, I naturally also began to acquire women’s clothes. Like many trans women, I thought that the clothes would help me declare to the world the real me. The clothes kept coming, and although after a few years I understood that I no longer needed them to validate my authentic self, by that time the “retail therapy” was also part of me. Even after I retired and was not going off to work each day—and thus without the need to engage in the workplace fashion show—I still kept buying new clothes.
My closets were overflowing. As Marie Kondo has said, I was caught in the trap of constantly having to create more storage space because I wouldn’t get rid of anything. Until now.
It’s only my second day in, but the magic has taken hold, and my life has already changed. I feel passionate about what I am doing. I can feel what still sparks joy within me, and I have been able to thank each item I discard for the joy it once provided.
I am looking forward to the next six weeks as I work though the categories and provide freedom both for myself and for the items I no longer need. The magic of replacing retail therapy with discarding therapy is taking hold.
I love you, Marie Kondo.
Photos (before and after) courtesy of the contributor, Grace Ann Stevens as well as Micheile Henderson (Rotterdam, Netherlands) @micheile010
Grace Stevens is a transgender woman who transitioned at the age of 64. She is a father of three, grandparent of two, athlete, advocate and author of an intimate memoir of her personal struggle to transition and live her true life authentically as a woman. Grace holds a degree in engineering and was married for 25 years. After four decades working as an engineer, her marriage ended and she returned to school to receive a masters degree in Counseling Psychology. Today she works with individuals and corporations who seek to understand the issues and emotions related to gender variance. Grace is still an active road bicyclist and remains close to her three adult children and two grandchildren who fully accept her journey. Grace resides outside Boston and can be reached via her website at: www.liveurtruth.net.