The KonMari Method: Books (Part 4 and DONE)

We did it. We made it through the books category without killing each other or ourselves. (Or having the kids kill us.)

TW went through all of the cookbooks last night. I went through them after her — twice. Elly indicated she wanted to go through them and then she didn’t. Turns out she wasn’t attached to any specific cookbook (though she probably is and we were smart enough to feel joy for those anyway) but was attached to the idea of all the cookbooks, always and forever, amen.

Which is pretty much how we feel about all of our books, which is why we really did need to take each one off of the shelf and hold each one in our hands and THEN make a decision about a book.

It worked well and here’s our final talley:

We have a total of eight full-size billy bookcases. Five have height extenders. We also have two corner Billys with height extenders. There are five small bookcases upstairs in the girls rooms. Before we started, all of the shelves were full plus we had books stacked in other locations around the house. And, a big rubbermaid bin full of books.

Now, we have 13 full-size Billy shelves that are completely empty. There are four corner Billy shelves that are empty. The bookcases in the girls rooms upstairs are mostly empty. There are no piles of books anywhere (except in boxes and bags to donate, lol) and the rubbermaid bin is empty of books. I have one stack of magazines that bring me joy.

The donation pile/recycle pile looks like this.

5 kitchen-sized garbage bags were recycled.
33 grocery shipping bags were filled.
14 boxes full of books (most are UHaul book boxes but some are amazon boxes of different shapes and sizes, a box for copy paper, and a flat for some sort of fruit or veggies from Costco.

I’m really pleased with how well we did. I also think we’ll be able to discard some more when we pack out next year. I don’t think we’ll discard a lot, at that point — but some more things will go.

One other note — there are 12 shelves of OLD books/series that mostly bring us joy. They’re sentimental favorites and so we did not really touch them at all during this phase of KonMari. We will revisit them at the very end of the process, though I suspect most, if not all, will bring us joy.

KonMari Problems: We Just Can’t Let Go

We’re pretty much through all of the books and magazines — though I’m very sure there are some lurking in corners and drawers and all the places that we will stumble upon later — and I’ve learned a lot from this exhausting process.

There are some things that bring us joy, things we just cannot let go.

Children’s books, obviously. We knew that going in. I, however, was more ready to let go of children’s books than TW was. I was more likely to keep books that I knew my children loved, because they’ve said so or because I have strong memories of them reading those books (or asking me to read them aloud.) TW was more likely to keep children’s books that brought her joy… whether they brought the children joy, or not. I let go of a whole lot of Newberry winners that brought ME joy but never brought my kids any joy at all. TW retrieved them from the discard pile because they brought her joy. I get it. That was me the last time we discarded a lot of books. lol

I had trouble letting go of orange books… but not nearly as much as I’d expected. I love orange. I love Penguin books. Turns out I was ok letting go of a whole lot of orange that really didn’t bring me joy except that they were orange and they were Penguins. Hah. I can always buy more Penguins later. ;-)

We both had a whole lot of trouble letting go of non-fiction. Anything about women or children or minorities in general, we seemed to keep. Anything American history related, we seemed to keep. TW has a fondness for math and science books — me, not to much lol. Children’s non-fiction, oy. Don’t even get me started. I think we’re going to have to weed some more of those out later. How many visual dictionaries do we need?

Poetry. I was more likely to discard poetry anthologies but TW plucked them right back off of the discard pile. We have all the poetry in the world. If you need it, we have it.

Last, but not least, lesbian fiction. The good, the bad, the ugly — we have it and we are keeping it. It’s hard to let that go. You never really know if a library will have lesbian fiction, and certainly not old lesbian fiction. There’s also the question of what would happen to those books after we donated them. I’m ok with the fact that once books are donated, anything might happen to them. They might be recycled, they might not. I just don’t want to think about all of these lesbian novels landing in a recycle bin or worse. All of the Naiads, oh the Naiads. Sometimes you just want to read lesbian fiction. Sometimes you just NEED to read bad lesbian fiction.

There you go, a look into which books bring us joy… and why.

The KonMari Method: Books (Part umm 3?)

This must be part three, but my complicated numbering and labeling system is complicated and I’m glad we’re almost done with books!

We finished the 2 non-fiction shelves that are in the family room. I forgot to track specifically how many bags we filled because I was so focused on trying to even FIND bags. haha.

We’re up to 33 filled bags, one large cardboard flat full of books, another box (I think it originally held a ream of paper) full, and our entire dining room table is covered in books that I need to box or bag. I suspect we’ll be close to 50 bags once I manage to find some bags.

I also think we’ll be donating the bulk of our books to Books4Cause since our FOL can’t handle this many books. These folks will come pick them up or we can throw them in the car and drive them over — they’re really close to us and it shouldn’t be a problem to do that, if need be.

Next up: Magazines. (Cookbooks won’t be far behind … I just need to clear space for TW to go through them and find some more bags, sheesh.)

The KonMari Method: Books (Part 2)

I’ve decided Marie Kondo is right, you should really KonMari your house all at once, rather than doing a little bit at a time.

I said I was going to do like one bookshelf a day and that started off well but I found myself with a half a bag of books to discard and felt the need to just fill the bag, so I moved to another shelf. Which led to having another not full bag and so it went.

Before I knew it, we had done all of the bookshelves in the office! That was a lot of books and we got it done in just a couple of days. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough grocery bags to pack them all up. I never thought I’d reach a point in my life where I did not have enough grocery bags. That’s just nuts.

We’ve got 24 bags of books ready to go. I have enough for another three or four bags full stacked up on the dining room table, because I think I can scratch up enough bags for those. Then, we’ve got a flat box that came from our last Costco visit filled with books — that’s probably another three or four bags worth of books.

This leaves us with 2 Billys (no height extenders) full of non-fiction books and another Billy (no height extender) of cookbooks plus another two or three stacks of mostly cookbooks to go through. I’m trying to hold off on doing those because we have no bags to put the discards in but I’m feeling the urge to just do it. And, I know TW is also feeling the urge.

Maybe I can hold off a bit by jumping to magazines, though I’d kind of thought about doing magazines on Friday when I have a day off of work. That would be fun for me to just relax in bed with a huge stack of magazines…

Who knows… I just keep changing my mind, lol.

KonMari Method: Books (Part 1 Revisited)

nkotbPoop. I knew it was going to be hard to NOT find joy in every single one of the children’s books, but I didn’t know quite how hard it was going to be for TW.

I felt no real joy for a whole lot of books that I had previously felt joy for. I was ready to let go of all sorts of books. TW was not.

So, I’d guess we maybe 1/4 of our children’s books didn’t bring joy. Maybe a 1/4. I’m probably being generous with that guess.

We have four bags to give to our wonderful former barista, Melisa, who is getting her own 3rd grade classroom next year. And, 11 bags of books to take to the children’s book donation drop off next week.

I stumbled across another problem with this modified KonMari method… The books that bring us joy have to go back on shelves somewhere… and that’s a pain, since our books are shelved by color. I’ve got them just shoved and stacked every which way right now. Not ideal and it’s making me just want to get the adult books DONE so that I can rearrange the shelves properly.

Or, maybe we should just run out and get some book boxes and pack them up in preparation for our move next year? Maybe that’s what we’ll do.

The KonMari Method: Books (Part 1)

IMG_7943I’ve changed my mind about the books again.

Last weekend, the little girls went through all of the books that were upstairs in their room and in “Michelle’s room” and that was freaking interesting as hell.

RJ has always been a heavy reader. She’s like her mom and me and always had her nose in a book. Always. She wanted to bring her book to the dinner table. She didn’t want to go anywhere or watch TV, she just wanted to read.

Elly read but not like that. I’ve rarely seen her with a book in her hand unless someone was reading a book to her. Turns out, she’s a sneaky reader.

When we were going through her first shelf of books, she swore that she loved all of her books and they all brought her joy. I found that unlikely because I was pretty sure she hadn’t read most of them. Turns out, we were both wrong.

The third book on her shelf, she wanted to get rid of. And all sorts of books I had no idea she’d read — she had. She’s been a closet reader all her life and I didn’t realize the extent of that reading life until we went through about 500 books.

She’s also very much like me and found it hard to discard books she enjoyed reading. She may never read them again but those books bring her joy — so we kept them.

RJ, on the other hand, discarded almost everything. I had to almost beg her to keep some books that I know she loves. I think she was having trouble with the whole keep the things you love part because she’s also heard her parents talk about not storing her stuff in our homes after she’s grown. I thought she understood that while WE (at least) won’t store every piece of crap in her room, we will absolutely store the things she truly loves if she isn’t able to take them with her immediately. But no, I don’t think she grokked that.

So upstairs there are piles and piles of books to discard. I took one bag to the Friends of the Library this week (adult books that were upstairs) but the majority of those books are children’s books. We’d rather donate them to Bernie’s Book Bank and I don’t really want to have to try and just take a couple of bags any time we might drive down the closest drop-off spot. Instead, I’d like to just load up the car and take them all to the main drop-off location and get it done.

So, that’s my new plan. TW and I will go through just the children’s books this weekend and next week when we go to the Navy base, we’ll swing past the donation point on the way.

And, once we finish children’s books, we’ll move to magazines and then we’ll jump to paper while also looking for joy among the adult book shelves over the next month or two.

I’m hoping we have clothes, books, paper and dvds/cds/videos completely done by the end of July… I think we can do it.

The Freedom Summer Murders

This is hard.

I read Freedom Summer Murders because it was on the Cybils shortlist. It was a good book for kids who don’t know much about Freedom Summer. I was glad I read it.

I also got sucked down a hole of thinking about education in South Carolina which led me to spend a good bit of time on Wednesday evening looking at articles about the history of education in South Carolina.

All of that caused me to be somewhat amazed by the fact that I had any black teachers at all… growing up in Charleston, SC. It caused me to think more kindly upon a black teacher I had, who really — wasn’t a great teacher. It caused me to think even more kindly about a black high school English teacher that was a good teacher, though I liked nothing more than to complain about her when I was in her class.

It also caused me to spend more time thinking about how people should know more about Septima Clark. We rarely hear her mentioned when we read about the fight to end segregation. It also caused me to wonder if Crosstown in Charleston was ever officially re-named for her. (It was.)

And shortly after all of that wondering and thinking and stuff… I saw the news about the shooting at Emanuel AME and … how can we be here in this time, after all of these amazing people fought so hard. After people gave their lives. How can my home state and our country still be so steeped in racism that this can happen? How?

Konmari Problems: Books (Revisited)

IMG_7937As I mentioned a few days ago, we have some issues with Marie Kondo’s ideas about books.

TW and I talked out some of our issues about how to determine whether a book sparks joy. Defining “joy” and such like that. I had also pretty much decided that we were not going to move all of the books into one room in order to search for sparks of joy. The act of moving all of the books alone would exhaust us physically so much so that we’d probably not be able to sort them until we’d had a few days of rest, after which time the dogs would have eaten the books — and that would not bring us joy. Been there, done that, we’ve worked hard to avoid that happening.

Think about it… in the office, we have five full size Billy bookshelves with the extension units. We have two of the corner style Billy bookshelves with the extension units. Those shelves are full. Some of the shelves have books on top of books and multiple rows of books. We have books on the library cart. Books on the shelves of our desks. A rubbermaid bin of children’s books is also sitting here next to my desk.

In the family room and dining room, we have three more Billy bookshelves (no extenders) full of books. We have books sitting on table tops right next to those bookshelves as well. There are books in our bedroom. There are books upstairs in the girls’ rooms. There are also board books for JMP lurking in the other bedroom.

No way could we move those into one room and survive to look for sparks of joy.

So, I’d decided that we would simply go pull each book off of the shelf, hold it to determine joy factor, and replace on the shelf if we felt the joy. The non-joy-bringing books would then be added to boxes. This modified KonMari seems like it should work for us, right?

Except, TW pointed out that my back has still not fully healed and she did something to her shoulder on Friday. Neither of us is fit to cart books away to the Friends of the Library folks or to the children’s book collector people (whose name I cannot remember at the moment.) Which means if we do books next, our house would be full of boxes of books for… the duration.

That seems problematic.

TW wanted to skip books and come back to it later. I’m a stickler for process and didn’t want to do that.

So, we’re going to do a little bit at a time. We’ll go through a shelf and when we fill up a bag or a box to the point that one of us can safely carry it without injury, we’ll stop. We’ll take that box to the drop off point and then we’ll start where we left off. This means it’s going to take us a long time to KonMari our books.

This also means that I’m going to take TW’s suggestion and move to step 3, paper, while we are working on the books.

Paper is an equally troubling issue here as we have paper EVERYWHERE. I’ll be collecting it all week as I wander around the house and we’ll sort it completely over the weekend. While we’re slowly working through our joyful bookshelves. Pray for us.

The KonMari Method: Clothes

So, we started the KonMari Method over the weekend. Step 1: Clothes. Hahahaha. That was fun.

I knew we had a lot of clothes, stored all over our house. It took about three days to gather everything up (and when I say everything, I just mean my clothes and TW’s.) We piled it up in the extra bedroom and it was overwhelming. Just the huge number of socks we own overwhelmed me.

I started while TW was napping — pulling out all of the tops, of which we had thousands. T-shirts. Lord, the t-shirts. Once I’d done that, and TW was still napping, I went back into the extra bedroom and sorted the other items into piles and that took all of about 15 minutes. The shirts, the shirts were what did me in.

A photo posted by Denise Tanton (@dtanton) on

TW was STILL napping so I started sorting the shirts into piles. Hers, mine, and the ones that were sentimental in some way. As I sorted, I threw some obvious no joy shirts into a huge box that I’d placed next to the table just for this purpose. It was full before I’d gotten through the initial sort.

TW was STILL napping so I started going through my shirts for reals. What gave me joy? Not much. And here’s where personality traits really come into play here. I have no really strong feelings about clothing. Obviously. If it’s comfortable, I’ll wear it. Mostly.

The things I felt TRUE joy over where not the shirts I would wear. They were the old, old, old shirts so well-worn that they really do need to be tossed out. They were so well-worn because they had brought me joy. They still brought me joy but no, I can’t really keep wearing the long sleeved white thermal style shirt with little lines of pastel colors for the rest of my life. I’ve been wearing it for more than 15 years as it is. Yes. 15 years. Not kidding. When something is comfortable, I wear it forever and ever and ever, amen.

The other things that brought me true joy are the t-shirts made by old friends, the t-shirts that remind me of old friends and experiences with my children. The first Melissa Ferrick t-shirt. The Calliope Fest t-shirt (man that was a great festival, I miss that festival.)


These really are sentimental things rather than plain ole clothing. So many of them went into the “sentimental” pile to deal with last (a la the KonMari method.)

The rest of my clothes — I could give or take. But really, there’s no joy involved in this for me. It’s just not my thing. So this step, it was really hard for me. I ended up with way too many shirts, still. I’ll probably try to narrow it down again at some point. But, I’m super happy with my sock drawer. Those socks BRING ME JOY. Absolutely. Which is pretty damn funny because I actually hate socks. haha.

A photo posted by Denise Tanton (@dtanton) on

TW woke up and she went through her shirts… like lightning. This is where she and I differ. She will buy something, wear it for awhile and really enjoy it but suddenly, one day out of the blue, it no longer brings her joy. She’ll generally keep wearing it, because you don’t get rid of perfectly good clothes just because they don’t bring you joy… except she did that yesterday.

I was really impressed with what she got rid of. A few things surprised me. Most things did not. I pulled a couple of her things out of the discard pile because I knew she felt sentimental about them and by then we’d pretty much decided that a t-shirt quilt is in our future. She pulled a couple of things out of the discard pile as I was bagging things up, too.

All in all, it went really well. Our drawers are neat and tidy and we have nine bags of clothes to drop off at Goodwill.

Then, I made the little girls go upstairs with me and KonMari their clothes. This was amusing and personalities absolutely came into play again.

RJ mostly did hers herself. Pretty quickly and without a lot of hemming and hawing. She did look up at one point and ask if it was ok that the socks she got for Christmas last year brought her no joy. I said absolutely fine, discard. Gifts don’t have to be held onto. It’s the joy of giving and receiving that matters most. Being saddled with gifts you don’t love brings no joy, for the giver or the receiver.

Elly, however, yelled “Hey, let me see those socks! I want them!” And that sums up her experience with KonMari.

I handed her each item of clothing and if it was a sock or underwear, it brought her joy and it went into her drawer. I think she tossed two pairs of underwear that she wore when she was 8 and the bras that don’t fit. Other than that, regardless of condition — she kept the rest. The kid slays me. She NEEDS and LOVES her socks and her underwear. ALL OF THEM. (Even the underwear she stole from her sister…)

She was slightly sentimental about some items that she wore when she was little. She fondled a few things and reminisced about wearing them. She enjoyed the memory of stealing something from her sister and getting in trouble for wearing it. She pondered whether items like that might still fit… and then she let them go. The only really sentimental item that she kept, I think, was a knit cap that she sewed bunny ears on to. I think she’s going to take the ears off and sew them back on her bunny, though. (The kid is nuts, what can I say?)

She also had pretty clear ideas of things she never loved and things that she’d love to be able to wear but they don’t fit anymore and she let it all go to the discard pile, without any fuss or regret.

In the end, we added five more bags of clothing to the Goodwill pile.

A photo posted by Denise Tanton (@dtanton) on

And yes, we are all feeling pretty darn joyful about step 1 of the KonMari Method.

The KonMari Method and Why We’re Doing It

If you are friends with me on Facebook then you know my new obsession is with Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The thing is, this book came along at exactly the right time in my life.

Last year at about this time I created a timeline of things to do to prepare for our move in June of 2016. I had planned for us to begin clearing out rooms and stuff, starting in May of 2015. We have so much and we’re busy, not young, and also kind of lazy so there’s no way we could wait til next spring and get rid of things + pack + move. It just would not have worked. We need the full year to prepare.

One reason the KonMari Method is really speaking to me is that I remember what it was like to get rid of a ton of stuff in order to move here. It wasn’t fun. In fact, it was the exact opposite of fun. It was painful. It’s still kind of painful now, seven years later. We left behind things we should not have. We left behind things that brought us joy. We did that and moved to a place that we absolutely did not want to move to. We were leaving behind the big kids who weren’t moving with us. We should have brought as much joy with us as possible, and we did not. It was a hard move.

This time around, we’re moving to a place we DO want to move to but once again, we’ll be leaving kids behind. The little kids won’t be going with us. At all. They’ll be at college, or off living their lives, or doing whatever it is that grown-up kids do when they don’t live with their mommies. And, this is the last batch of kids. The last time we’ll do this. This time — that’s it. HUGE life change.

We are not going to make this move any harder than it’s already going to be. We’re going to bring as much joy into the process of moving as we can. We’re going to bring as much joy with us as possible. We can’t bring along the kids who bring us joy, but we’re sure as hell NOT bringing any “stuff” that doesn’t bring us joy. Nope. Not happening this time.

We’re moving with joy.