Sparking Joy

Just like last year, April was one BUSY month, and I hope I get to write all about it before I forget!  However I’m here today to update you on where I last left off on the blog – the 30 day closet experiment. It probably does not come as a shock it’s gone bust. It was going well for a while, but I was feeling quite uninspired. See I REALLY love getting dressed, and I suppose for a while I loved the challenge of getting dressed with a pre-selected group of pieces. But something wasn’t right.

It may sound trivial to you, but getting dressed is my form of self-expression, my “art” if you will. Even when I had to wear a Catholic school uniform, I found ways to get around the monotony. Whether it was sporting my multi-color daisy stud earrings (since we couldn’t wear dangly ones) or wearing shiny teal gym shorts under my skirts for P.E.class Shoot even as early as 1st grade I was layering two pairs of socks – pink and purple of course – with my sneakers. I’ve also never been one to nail down one specific LOOK – and I applaud you ladies (and dudes) that do. It’s just that getting dressed is so fun for me, I can’t pick just one! I rely heavily on a good fit n’flare dress – give me pastel hues or a big bold print – doesn’t matter. The next day you might find me in ripped shorts and a flowy white boho top. When I’m feeling bold I’ll thrown on some black pleather skinnies, Chuck Taylors and a purple lip.  Getting dressed – that and running – it’s what I do.

So during this busy April, a curious thing happened. I was reading some blogs here and there, and one run-blogger I follow mentioned in a post Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Not less than a week later, an former Austinite & fashion blogger posted on Instagram that she was reading it as well. By this time I realized Kondo was the author that popularized the idea of our belongings needing to “spark joy” – a term which I’d heard of before.

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To make a longer story short, I picked up the book and was halfway through it in 2 days, and finished completely in a week. The book got me so pumped! This seemed like a great solution to not only clean out my closet, but to get rid of all the unnecessary STUFF we’ve acquired over the years as couples do.

THE BOOK

I want to be clear — I had some very mixed emotions about the book. I still do. I’m 30+ years old now, and never really been the type to take some stranger’s advice because she sold 3 million books. Then again – she’s sold 3 million books.

Some of the book made me feel really crazy for even picking it up (ex: thanking your items out loud for their service before you discard them). However parts of it really resonated with me and seemed to make a fair amount of sense. She talked about how as a child, when she was stressed, she would clean her room as a way to be able to exert control over a situation. The whole time I’m reading this and thinking “OMG ME TOO” (and I know there’s some of you doing the same thing – you know who you are). She also talks about going through your items by category rather than room, since an object (like books) can be scattered across several rooms, so it’s a more complete way to handle it all. There’s also an specific order to follow when going through the categories (clothes first, sentimental items last). All this makes A LOT of sense to my brain.

So I plunged headfirst into the “tidying” challenge (a real misnomer if you ask me – it’s more like decluttering), a task that Kondo says should take about six months (!)

Disclaimer time: I really hope you don’t think I’m some sort of pack rat or that my home is a contender for “Hoarders” because it’s really not. I’m actually quite fearful of that ever being my life so I guess that’s why the sense of urgency to purge.

As the book dictates, I began with my closet and that alone took me three days as I had to split it into subcategories. I’ll tell you what though — I’ve felt REALLY good about this. I’ve been wrestling with how to much I want to disclose about the purge, and what the “after” looks like, but I will share at least these two things for now. Removed from my closet (and home) are: 4 regular size garbage bags of clothes either sold or donated, 3 (copy-paper-sized) boxes of handbags and shoes that were also sold or donated, and 2 extra large trash bags full of stuff straight to trash.  My closet and drawers are so much neater now. Kondo’s “crazy” folding system that will “allow you to touch and appreciate all your clothing” really does make it easier to navigate and outfit plan since I can see all the things with ease. So all this is great, yes, but what really brought me here today is to say – this brought JOY back into my outfit planning. I’m not trying to be cheesy, but it really has. Sure the 30-day / minimalist closet had it’s perks of reduced decision making and improved packing skills – but I was SO. BORED at the end of every month. Now I look at my closet and see only things I love. I don’t waste time forcing myself to use an item in an outfit. Nor do I feel guilty about not wearing that Banana Republic tank that I bought for job interviews, but was never really my style.

STYLE POINTS

A 23 year-old me bought lots of books on fashion by various people in the fashion industry I admired. Many of them touted the tired old line of “10 items every woman should have in her closet” – the camel trench, the white button down, the LBD (little black dress for my readers who are not in the know). But here’s the thing – those items are not my style. Never were. Probably never will be. Real life example: While at Ragnar, I planned to purchase a lovely grape colored jacket I’d been eyeing from their online store. After spotting it at the merch tent I happily carried it around while I browsed. A few of my team members got the same style jacket but theirs were all gray, each with a different color lettering. For a moment, I wanted pretty badly to get that same jacket with a pop of colored lettering and be happy with it. We’d all have have matching jackets then, and really I “should” get a basic color jacket anyway since all mine are so bright (if not neon). As I was waffling back and forth, a friend – who I’ve only known for a few months said “No get the purple one – it’s so you, and it’s the one you’ve been wanting anyway”. She was right of course. I bought (and love!) the purple one. But it didn’t hit me until days later – as I began my closet purge – how real what she said was. 31 years old, and I was still trying to “fit in” with my clothing choices. It’s not that I liked the gray one for myself – I just WISHED I did. Does that make sense? No?  Well how about this. Someone that had known for me six months was better able to point me towards my true style than I could.

After I looked at my closet to see what was left, I learned a lot. Again, in a curious coincidence, around this same time I happened upon this little cute Instagram quote.

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This girl GETS me.

 

So with all these things in mind, some of the “crazy” things Kondo says in her book make a little more sense to me now. Like: You should thank the items that you only wore once for showing you what your style is NOT. OK so I didn’t actually speak to my clothes (too crazy for me) but you get the idea.

What I learned looking at my new closet was this:  I LOVE bright colors. And stripes  (oh ALL THE STRIPES <3). I’m having a very real moment with high-waist jeans. I may NEVER own the perfect “go to” LBD, but I do have seven little white dresses because I love the shit out of a good white summer dress.

Most importantly I learned I am sorry for none of these things, because they are who I am. As I texted a friend earlier this week, who I am is most perfectly summed up in this one photo – the type of person who owns a large amount of neon or animal printed socks, but also folds and organizes said socks the way some author said I should.

And I’m okay with that.

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5 thoughts on “Sparking Joy

  1. Great read. I’ve had lots of moments where I had to convince myself to buy the thing I really wanted over the thing that was more normal and “work appropriate.” I may or may not have skipped buying a Jack Skellington phone case because I wanted to look like an adult only to regret it a year later and buy one anyway. Loved that case.

    Side note, when will we see a Ragnar post for the sports fans at home?

    1. I can’t tell you how many of the things I dumped that were from my job seeking phase. I kept two blazers and one skirt suit though. Although none are items I would pick up on a normal day, I decided that if I was needing to dress that professional, those would be the pieces I enjoyed wearing.
      Also my current phone case is a bunch of tiny donkey pinatas.

      I need to work on race recaps! I forgot not everyone saw pictures on Facebook 😉 At least it should come together pretty quick!

      1. I saw some on Instagram, but I feel like Ragnar deserves a full story 🙂

        My struggle with clothes are the ones I didn’t buy, which amounts to a lot of polos and button-ups that aren’t really my style and feel. They spend a year in the closet before I give them to goodwill.

  2. I keep hearing about this book…I’m tempted to do this sometime. I have a little shopping problem which you may be aware of. My closet is bursting, and there are things that I don’t wear but just can’t part with. I love colors, prints, stripes…I love a lot of ethnic looking prints…but I still also really love me a LBD…and let’s not even get started on shoes.

    1. It’s really great, I recommend it. My closet and drawers were overstuffed and I truly feel a lifted weight when I walk into my closet now. The 10 days between when I finished my clothes and before I got to my shoes and bags was so stressful because I wanted to finish it out!

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