Wednesday, 25 May 2016

How the tidiest person I know became even more tidy with the KonMari method.

We all know someone who is tidy, constantly straightening and cleaning up, perhaps obsessive. Maybe this person annoys you. Maybe this person IS you. The tidiest person that I can think of, is myself. I have always been this way. My apologies to everyone who knows me, as I have likely tidied up something that you were still using. Marie Kondo, my new favourite person, believes that roughly 10% of people are naturally neat. As I read this statistic, I will admit that I felt slightly smug, maybe I should stop reading, what could this book possibly teach me? "Preaching to the choir," were my exact words when Husband gave me this book for Mother's Day. Although, being obsessed with the minimalist movement, I had heard wonderful things about the KonMari method and was curious to learn more. I quickly realized that I had much to learn, and was delighted to streamline my thinking into one brilliant phrase, "does it spark joy?"

Marie Kondo is an organizational expert running a world acclaimed consulting business in Tokyo, Japan. Her methods are proven successful, 100% of her personal clients have never relapsed into clutter. The title of one of the chapters in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is titled, "Tidy a little a day and you'll be tidying forever." Kondo believes that people cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking. By tidying everything you own in one large event, you shock your brain into changing the way you view your possessions. It works! Kondo goes against everything else that I have read regarding decluttering and organizing, she recommends aiming for perfection. I really believe that this all or nothing approach makes all the difference! 

This book brought me so much joy, I will not be discarding it, ever. I enjoyed reading Marie Kondo's book so tremendously, that I had trouble falling asleep after reading (I like to read in bed before I go to sleep most nights). My brain was buzzing with ideas and personal epiphanies! Husband did make fun of me as I was too excited to sleep and he looked over and saw that I was reading a chapter titled, "Storing socks: treat your socks and stockings with respect." Ha ha! Honestly, this book is riveting! 

The first thing that I did after reading this book was hug each of the people who live in my house. Luckily, they all spark joy for me, so they can stay. 

The second thing that I did was discard possessions using the KonMari Method. I did the entire house. It was exhausting and exhilarating all at once. The interesting thing is that I have been actively discarding as we have a move coming up, I am not a huge accumulator to begin with, and I still got rid of SO MUCH! Kondo recommends that you discard all at once, intensely and completely. Discard according to category, not one room at a time. Recommended order of decluttering is clothes, books, papers, kimono (miscellany), and mementos last. There are many reasons that this order brings the most success, I recommend reading the book to learn more. You pile everything in a category on the floor, which makes a huge mess (motivating for me), and then pick up each item and only keep it if it "sparks joy." If you don't love it, it's gone. This sounds like it would be time consuming, but I found that this step went quite quickly. Also, for those of you who have difficulty making quick decisions, the more you do, the easier the decisions get.  

Kondo's book is full of wisdom on what to do when you can't throw something away, specific advice to the common pitfalls in each category, and brilliant organizing and storage solutions backed by research. There is a reason that mementos are the last category, these are the most difficult decisions in the process, and you might find yourself feeling nostalgic and taking time to remember your life. Honestly, I really enjoyed going through my mementos. I didn't actually have an entire day or a weekend to devote to discarding (as recommended), so it did end up being in spurts of an hour here or there, which seemed to work fine for me. I can see how if you need more of a jolt to change your ways, an intensive weekend (or 2 or 3) would be the best plan. 

Kondo recommends reducing "until you reach the point where something clicks." This happened! By far, this was my favourite moment in the process. I no longer feel like a fake minimalist. I am the real deal People. I have possessions, but I have the correct amount for me at this time in my life, and I honestly don't feel stressed by what I own. It saddens me that belongings bring anxiety to so many people. Marie Kondo believes that excess possessions are a burden (no exceptions), and I would have to agree. Consumerism is a trap. 

The third thing that I did was put everything away. There was so much less to put away. It is amazing. I had fun trying out different methods of folding and organizing, vertical is best as it uses the least amount of space. There were areas in my home where I have shelves where Kondo would recommend drawers, so I did some adjusting according to my space.  

"Your real life begins after putting your house in order." Many of Kondo's clients made large life changes after overhauling their possessions. Some changed careers, quit jobs, learned to love life with less income, made lifestyle changes in eating and preparing food, lost weight... the list is endless. Decluttering and organizing your things, has a spill over effect to the rest of your life. In general, there is a feeling of simplifying and focus, which is beneficial in all areas of life. "The question of what you own is actually a question of how you want to live your life."

When everything around you in your home sparks joy, you have more happiness. There were a few things that I was hanging on to out of duty or reasons that I can't quite articulate, and I feel a lightness now that I have discarded those things. Everything in my house makes me smile. Most of all the people in it. Reading and implementing this book was a gift to myself and my family. 

Kondo, M. (2014). the life-changing magic of tidying up. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Modern Love with Children (a texting story)

Fourteen Years ago we were married. It was the best decision I have ever made. Through the chaos of life, we keep connected through texts, because technology is romance.

 When you just send each other links to articles. So much of this. Nothing says, "I love you," like a hyperlink.

 Sometimes we send each other photos of the children. We make the most attractive babies. 

 Some nights you have to work and don't have time to speak in person, so you boss your partner around through texts. He is too busy to answer. Obviously this means 100% compliance has been achieved.

 Little updates throughout the day.

As you can see, a lot of our communication revolves around the children. I don't know if you have encountered this, but children are all consuming. They have so much energy because they syphon it out of their parents like tiny gasoline thieves (thanks for sending me that quote Jessica, I reference it ALL THE TIME- it even hangs on my fridge as an oppressive reminder). I don't know what we talked about for the first 12 years of our relationship. I can't remember.

I thought she was asking me if Danielle had an I or a Y, I said I, and now my Starbuck's name is Tania. My sister-in-law taught me about Starbucks names, and I am so glad that I finally have mine. Obviously, when your Starbucks name chooses you, you must alert your Dearest. Romance 101.

When he just gets you.

When he knows exactly what to say.

More with the kids. Texting is amazing because (if your ringer is off), it is silent. This is imperative if you are attempting to force children to nap.

When he comes to you with his queries. 

...this pocket is definitely too low.

When you discuss doughnut murder then suddenly become very formal.

When you share your children's accomplishments.
Pictured: toilet paper wadded up with water and thrown onto the bathroom ceiling

Sometimes you just send out a warning. WARNING.

When the articulateness of your exchange becomes incredible. Is there anything more romantic than accuracy of language? Nothing I can think of. And I don't want to live in a world where sandwiches don't exist.

Now you know all our secrets. Try some of these tactics on your Love, you won't regret it. This level of glamour is worth the effort. If you are on the search for a Love, these might be just the wooing stratagem you have been seeking. Let me know how it goes! I adore a love story!

All love stories are beautiful, but I like ours the best (I must have read that on Pinterest somewhere). To my best friend, this is the truth. I love our adventure together. It's my favourite. Happy Anniversary! I recorded our song. You are safe and sound with me, always. I love you! 

Safe and Sound - click to listen

Safe and Sound
by, Hawksley Workman (thank you for writing this song, I love it so much)

You slept through the last small town
I'll wake you up when the next one comes around
You're eyes are closed, like you truly believe
You're safe and sound with me

No looking back, no turning into salt,
The city was crumbling but baby we're not to fault
When things got too rough, I promised you we'd leave
You're safe and sound with me

You're safe and sound with me- yeah -ah -ah -ah
Just like you always will
Just like you always will be

The wipers clear the windshield of the rain
My shirt sleeve dries your eyes the very same
We fit together like the ignition and the key
You're safe and sound with me

You're safe and sound with me -yeah -ah -ah -ah
Just like you always will
Just like you always will be

The glove box light shines bright enough to see
You read the map like you're reading poetry
And it just might take you forever to see
That you're safe and sound with me

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Thank You Mom

My mom, my dad, my sister Jessica, and me, at the top of Bear's Hump in Alberta.

Dear Mom,

Thank you. 
I don't think that I say it enough, but I love you and appreciate everything that you have done for me. 
Thank you for waking up with me in the night when I was a baby, thank you for all the snuggles and kisses and ensuring that I grew up feeling very loved. 
Thank you for picking such a wonderful partner in life who also provided me with love and security. 
Thank you for my siblings. They have been my friends and my rivals, but mostly my friends. 
Thank you for taking us on family vacations and showing us the beauty of the world. 
Thank you for singing with me and instilling a deep and early love for music. 
Thank you for drawing and creating with me and starting my love affair with the arts. 
Thank you for teaching me how to play the piano even though I cried at every single lesson because it was too intense for me to receive correction from you (because I wanted to please you so much). 
Thank you for reading to me. 
Thank you for taking care of me when I was sick. 
Thank you for keeping me safe and warm and comfortably (and adorably) dressed. 
Thank you for teaching me to have fun. 
Thank you for putting on Cyndi Lauper and dancing with me. 
Thank you for playing opera, symphonies, celtic music, country music, broadway, pop, folk, rock, and Abba (Abba is their own category). I love that our home was always full of music and that we listened to everything.
Thank you for making me beautiful delicious birthday cakes and letting me have fun birthday parties with my friends. 
Thank you for making me beautiful things. 
Thank you for being an example of glamour. Your jewelry, your makeup, and your clothes are always beautiful and this taught me to take care in my appearance. 
Thank you for taking me to movies, to live theatre, to live music. 
Thank you for the countless healthy meals that you made for me. 
Thank you for all the lunches you packed. 
Thank you for doing my laundry. 
Thank you for putting up with my moods. 
Thank you for not murdering me when I was a teenager. 
Thank you for always welcoming my friends into your home. 
Thank you for attending all my performances, recitals, art shows, and award ceremonies. 
Thank you for teaching me to work hard. 
Thank you for teaching me to think for myself.
Thank you for teaching me to be myself. 
Thank you for letting me wear whatever I wanted, even if it was a men's brown polyester leisure suit purchased at Value Village.
Thank you for letting me dye my hair whatever colour I wanted.
Thank you for letting me paint my room whatever colour I chose. 
Thank you for all the times you "shared" your craft supplies with me.
Thank you for forgiving me when I used your craft supplies without asking. 
Thank you for teaching me to go for the expensive items when eating at a buffet.
Thank you for teaching me manners.
Thank you for always standing up for me.
Thank you for teaching me to stand up for others.
Thank you for helping my sister and my friends throw me a surprise 16th birthday party (I was actually surprised and it was the most special I have ever felt).
Thank you for always being there to to talk to when I was a teenager.
Thank you for always forgiving me.
Thank you for loving my partner in life.
Thank you for supporting us when we decided to get married as babies and move far away. 
Thank you for always visiting me wherever I live.
Thank you for surviving your stroke and sticking around, we still need you.
Thank you for saying that I was one of your best friends when you were in the hospital after your stroke and writing me a long letter saying how much you love me. Your writing was all pushed to one side because of your recent brain injury, but the fact that you wanted to write to me when you had so much going on meant the world. That letter is one of my most treasured possessions.
Thank you for being brave.
Thank you for always looking for beauty and humour. It is helpful that you are beautiful and hilarious.
Thank you for loving my children (they love you right back).
Thank you for loving me.
I love you.
Happy Mother's Day.


Me, my beautiful mother, and my lovely baby sister Adrianne, just a few weeks ago when I was visiting Edmonton.