Obsessed with tidiness


Tidiness.  It’s all the rage these days, said no one ever.   Except that it IS the rage!  A tidying obsession is sweeping through households across the country, generated by one petite Japanese professional organizing guru, Marie Kondo, she of The New York Times#1 book list and Netflix reality show fame.  And most recently, of my reorganized dish towels fame.  Thrift and resale shops across the country who have been inundated with donations, especially clothing, are proof that this is the year for tossing and organizing.  They call it “the Kondo effect.”

Perhaps you’ve seen “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix.  If so, my words here are too late to save you--you’re probably folding your yoga pants into an origami crane right now.  If you have not seen Marie Kondo’s show, “DO NOT WATCH IT.”  I’m warning you, like the movie “Bird Box,” cover your eyes!  This elf-sized organizing witch will lead you to tidy righteousness like sinners run to Jesus.  

You will be under Kondo’s spell, obsessed with reorganizing the contents of your home, thinking this is the true path to a perfectly happy domestic life for your family.  You’ll make a mountain from your cluttered closet right there on your bed, forcing you to deal with it or sleep on the floor.  Then you’ll live out your days sorting and folding.

While clothes and clutter can be memory touchstones and carry unwanted emotional weight and value, I also don’t think a perfectly organized house will hold the dysfunctional family together. That’s a vintage wish from my high school home economics teacher, bless her heart. 

Which is exactly what I said when my daughter Kay suggested we watch Kondo’s show after a Sunday family dinner.  Synopsis:  Kondo listens to dysfunctional family’s organization needs and side-bar relationship problems through an interpreter.  Then she blesses the house and assures the family that her organizing strategy will absolve dysfunctional family’s squabbles. 

“This is another example of setting the unattainable expectation of perfection within domestic life,” I said, and then I soapboxed on about social media’s fallacies reinforced by Pinterest and Facebook; mere photoshopped representations of life.  We always striving for perfection.   

The idea of a perfect house is a delusion:  this idea, “if the contents of my dwelling are strictly organized—perfectly—then the chaos within me, my personal struggles and mind clutter, will be tamed.”  This is not Nirvana – it’s a glass castle.  Sadly, perfectionism is a condition of control.  It’s what my grandma used to call, “Clean crazy.” 

Perfectionism is the antithesis to creativity.  Creativity is messy and cluttered and wonderful and sometimes even genius.  And we need to get creative about how we minimize the chaos of domestic life to maximize joy through our love for one another. 

“My good dresses,” my Grandmother’s words, floated back to me while I pondered which dresses to keep while editing my Texas-sized closet.  She was speaking of her spotless and carefully pressed church and cocktail dresses; their full skirts folded into her small pulpwood and paper closet’s hanging space.

This is the guide I use when sorting and straightening my messy closet. I want to make sure that what I keep merits the measure of “my good dresses.”  So, for Grandma, that meant the clothes were clean, they fit, mended if necessary, and she liked wearing them.  Ready to wear. 

Grandma was tidy in the way that each day allowed for a little time spent taking care of and appreciating her clothes and comforting things of her life. Taking care of your things was part of daily life; not an obsessive trend. 

I am not a minimalist. I am a creative and so are you.  Minimalism is the gateway drug to perfectionism. Perfectionism cripples creatives. It’s the kryptonite that can defeat Superman’s powers.

Perfectionism says, “You’re not good enough,” and then it covers you in a steaming pile of “shoulds.”  We must guard our minds against perfectionism.  Too much can make your life seem sterile.

I think we can find balance by making a little time to care for our “good dresses.”  Then we are less bogged down and more grateful for what we have. 

Our Sunday family dinners are messy and disorganized—sometimes there are five dogs running around—but that’s our special time with our grown-up kids, and my precious grandbaby, Violet.  Our Sundays reenergize the legacy of love that the hubster I have created, even when the house is a wreck.  We live in our home and we love in our home.  That, my friends, is my joy.