There are 7 closets in our 2 bedroom Brooklyn apartment. That’s a lot. But I am using just one of them for my clothes with exception of few outwear items and “in use” shoes that I keep in our entry closet.
So, when I set out to declutter my closet using KonMari method, I did not have to confront the volume because I didn’t have that much clothes to begin with. What I immediately had to confront as I started sorting, was the lack of joy. I would pick up a skirt, try on a blouse, stare at a pair of jeans waiting in wain to get excited. And that was how I felt about 80% of my wardrobe. Don’t get me wrong – I had plenty of nice clothes from Banana Republic and the like that I wore to work day after day and most were good quality. There was just one problem with them — they could not pass the “joy check” and this is the main decision-making criteria of the KonMari method. When I feel happy, I love to wear clothes that make me look youthful, sophisticated but daring with a dash of international flavor and quite a bit of color. That would be a description of my ideal style but I hardly encountered anything in my closet that matched that.
This made me look deeper. I knew I was at war with my own body for a long time now. I never got back into my pre-pregnancy shape after I gave birth to my daughter almost 7 years ago and instead of doing something about it, I chose to feel betrayed by my body that did not miraculously spring back into shape after giving birth at 35. Over time, I lost all motivation to turn things around and with that, the spark of joy in doing shopping for myself was gone too. I would buy the usual work style clothes and comfy pieces for the weekend with only occasional purchases of something fun. I would pass by a pretty dress at Anthropologie (my favorite store) thinking, “Oh, how lovely… but it’s not for me anymore”. It’s as if I told myself that my body did not deserve fun colorful clothes and I could only go with basics, ideally those that cover up the extra weight in all the right places.
This realization was big. Facing a small pile of clothes that survived the KonMari review, I entered my empty closet and there again I had to stop short. My closet, stripped of clothes that did not bring joy, was beautiful: a semi walk-in, with warm eggshell walls, fully customized drawers and rods featuring beautiful wooden trim, it was perfect to host the most beautiful wardrobe. If I only wanted to. My closet, standing there empty and full of possibilities was ready to serve me. If I only wanted to. And I suddenly wanted…
The moment was like pressing a reset button. I felt a sudden urge to decorate my closet with photographs and posters before the clothes I wanted to keep would go back. I mounted four 8×10 close up shots of beautiful blooms taken by my husband, who is an excellent photographer. I taped a photo of me looking splendid on a hand-carved wooden bench in Bali, where we went for our honeymoon.
I hanged my favorite necklaces on a small rack that used to hold my “in limbo” clothes – no longer clean, not yet dirty. That “limbo” clothes was out of site now and only beautiful joyful images and things were on display. I gently hanged the remaining part of my wardrobe, thanked the clothes to be discarded for their life lesson and prepared them for donation.
A week later, I joined a private gym near work and started working out with a personal trainer. I also signed up for a personal stylist using Stitch Fix app. It was nice to have a stranger to hold my hand and send me some clothes she personally selected for me while I was getting back into shopping for myself with joy. As I started shedding pounds and getting fit, new clothes were arriving at my door every other week.
I would keep what I loved and sent the rest back and my small wardrobe expanded with beautiful unique pieces. My changing body and my changing wardrobe were giving me SO MUCH JOY. It was a very visible transformation!
I decluttered my closet 6 months ago in January and this summer I looked and felt my very best in years. I never enjoyed dressing up for work or for the weekend as much as I did this summer. On top of that, I re-organized my daughter’s room (we did it together) and the rest of my possessions in our apartment. Each time I did that, a new dimension of my life would open up for me to explore — relationships, career, creativity and more.
I contacted Kon Mari association and asked how I can become a Kon Mari consultant. In April, I attended a talk led by Marie Kondo herself. It was the first talk designed for those who were interested in getting certified. In early August of this year, I completed the first Kon Mari Consultant training course that was offered in US. I am now completing 50 practice hours of consulting in a quest to get certified and see if I can help others do what I did for myself. Because it truly inspires me.
These days I walk into my closet with a grateful and joyful heart.
What a cool story, Vlada! what strikes me is your point about the ‘reset’ button – it takes so much motivation to get yourself into gear to do something about the problem you identified. That’s more than half the battle. Well done you!!! I wonder if you felt any hesitation when making the choice to go to the gym or shop due to trade-offs when it comes to spending your time? E.g., if I now go to the gym x times per week because I want to lose weight, I then spend less time with my husband/daughter/cooking/input any other activity you enjoy doing.
Thank you, Mila! After being a mom for 6.5 years, I am convinced that finding time for yourself is essential for the happiness of the entire family. Start by carving out some time to do what makes you feel great every day. The positive energy you get from that will return to your family threefold. Things that require in advance planing and take more time, like a visit to the gym, you can identify the best day for that with your partner, so that things can be scheduled around it. And don’t forget to encourage him to do the same for himself!
Thank you for sharing. It helped to know you found it hard to find joy. I look forward to reading the rest of your blog and wish you were near me. (I am not in the US sadly).