Beat JENeration #023: Tidying Up with Jen is not nearly as cute

As promised last week, I embarked on applying  Marie Kondo’s KonMari tidying up principles to my own life. 

If you haven’t watched her Netflix series (you should) or read last week’s column (you should do that too) here’s the basics of KonMari:

  • Commit yourself to tidying up (because there’s a lot of time and effort involved. “Tidying up” sounds like a passive, casual exercise in housekeeping, but it’s not).
  • Imagine your ideal lifestyle (like a mental vision board — oh and don’t forget to thank your house in the beginning because you’ll probably say some mean things to it during the process).
  • Finish discarding the things that don’t bring you joy first (because once you put stuff in storage containers or adorably fold them into your dresser drawers you won’t properly assess them for their joy factor — and you’ll probably relapse).
  • Tidy by category, not location (because gathering all like items into one spot allows you to see all the shit you have and the volume alone will inspire you to be more selective in what brings you joy).
  • Follow the correct order: Clothes, books, paper, komono (misc) and sentimental items (because we just have to trust the method in her madness).


I spent a lot of time at work committing myself to tidying up — or more accurately, daydreaming about what a better person I could be if my house was clean. That’s probably a combo of Steps 1 and 2, but you have to understand that it’s hard for me to commit to things I actually enjoy doing — and cleaning, yeah, right.

Since work let us out early for the 3-day weekend, I thought I’d make a bold move into living my new ideal lifestyle by changing up my look too. While sitting in the stylist’s chair having my hair cut and dyed, I further visualized what life would be like as a brunette with lob AND an organized minimalist house.  Oh my gawd, I’d be fabulous!

But when I got home, it was late and my family wasn’t at all passionate about KonMari. The teenagers were too busy and the husband was skeptical, though supportive, about the possibility of walkable space in our closet.

I did manage to cull my underwear drawer though. But honestly, how does anyone find any kind of joy in a sports bra?

I think I thanked the house as I nestled into bed with my iPad to watch the Kevin Aucoin doc.


I had some things to in the morning, but when I got home at 12:30, I set right to work making a playlist.

2:49pm: I piled my clothes on the bed. I had to go to three different rooms to grab them all, but I did it. It was a lot.

The series leads you to believe that you can feel a piece of clothing’s joy-spark simply by holding it. This is not true — sometimes you have to actually wear the clothing to feel anything at all. 

3:30 pm: It also became clear that sometimes you have try on an item of clothing with a jacket to see if sparks joy, but it’s hard to do that when the jackets are at the bottom of the pile.

Sparking joy is so vague. Some things are clearly an explosion of joyfulness (like the disco moment created by a Xanadu-colored sparkle scarf I bought at Urban Outfitters in Vegas ten years ago) and then others, like fifth black cami of the day, are joyful in the future tense. Because you just know that when you are desperate for black cami, there will always be one ready.

Other joys I experienced between the hours of 5 and 10pm: 

Save all the dresses! I think I’m ready for a late-1970s Diane von Furstenberg working woman moment right now. Joy. Joy. Joy.

Maybe the booze has kicked in because my late-aughts-mom-going-out-with-her-PTA-friends sexy tops to go with jeans are sparking a little too much joy when paired with my Britney Spears song selection.

ALL of my pajamas are joyful. This could be because sleeping is my most favorite thing.

10:30pm: One cannot know if one’s socks bring  joy if said socks aren’t paired up. Yeah, that solo sock bin won’t sort itself. The show seemed to skip over all the sock soulmate hook-ups that need to happen.


12:04am: I finished 99% of my clothing. 

What remained was a small box of workout/tennis clothes and bathing suits to be put away (but with so much drawer space available, no big) and potentially some things in the garage. Oh, and my coats in the hall closet. 

9:00-ish am: As I woke up to a pile of the husband’s clean laundry next to me on the bed, I suggested he hold each item before putting it away to see if it sparks joy.  He put one shirt in the give-away pile in an attempt to humor me. He loves that I’m cleaning (he still calls it “Fly-ladying”), but he’s not on board. I explained that he has to thank the stuff he gets rid of and ended up launching into an explanation of animism and Shinto (stuff I can’t believe I remembered from World Religions my sophomore year of college). Still, no.

10:00 am: I got out of bed and started to create a mountain of shoes. So so so many shoes. This earned me a coffee break.

Noon: I’m down to 38 pairs of shoes & boots. Oh wait, I forgot the bin under my bed of sandals, tennis shoes (for actual tennis), and flip flops. Add 9. I did get rid of quite a few pairs though, and that wasn’t easy (because all of my shoes are rad). I had to start thinking in terms of “the most joy” to even make a dent. 

Thanking things as you toss them into the donate pile really helps in letting go. It absolves guilt. This might be the most important lesson I’ve learned.

1:00 pm: Bags proved harder still. I managed to hand down purses to my daughters because I couldn’t stand to see any Kate Spade or Marc Jacobs leave the house.

I am still very conflicted about a fake Birkin (my “F’irkin”) because the guilt of a knock-off leaves me joyless, but that it’s also pretty and big enough to hold my life brings joy.

I filed all my purses into cute boxes creating so much room in my closet that the floor is now completely visible! This makes me feel like a better person. 

6:00 pm: Time for the books!

I love books and my library is a very important part of who I am, but let’s be honest — I’m in my 40’s and as life ticks down I know I’m not going to read all the books. I also have about five large book boxes in the garage, but I couldn’t get to them because the garage can’t be tackled until the komono stage.

7:00pm: I have managed to tackle most of my main bookshelf and there are a lot of books that don’t bring me joy, but most of them do. 

The books in the garage started to haunt me. Is it cheating by not having them all in one place? I decided to go read in bed.


1:00pm: Back to the books.

I started to put them back on the shelves, still conflicted about the ones in the garage. There are so many boxes on top of the book boxes though. I had my kids go through the rejected pile on the dining room table. Some books needed to go back on the shelves. I needed to take a KonMari break.


7:30pm: I went through another small stack of books that were hiding (on a shelf in clear sight) in my office. I was tired and the books in the garage were still mocking me.

9:00pm: Laundry had been done and thus I was faced with more clothes. The husband folded them, but not in the KonMari way. I tried to explain the way we need to move forward, but he flat out refuses to “origami” them. I face a bleak future of refolding things for the rest of my life.

Also, the new clothes proved problematic because my drawers and boxes were perfect as they were and these new invaders don’t fit. I shoved them in, pretty little rows of cuteness be damned. 

Defeated, I went to bed early.


I wore a pair of shoes to work I had forgotten I owned. They are around eight-years old from a Nine West clearance rack, but remain timelessly chic. We’re talking a classic rounded toe pump, gray suede with a red leather toe-cap, worthy of every compliment they received — and we’re talking individual ooohs and aaahs in the double digits. That they have a 3″ heel and yet are still comfortable made me feel like I’d won the lottery. But then mid-day I noticed the inside lining crumbling and the elastic bit in the front had separated from the suede. This is particularly crushing because I missed YEARS of wear ton these beauts.  (They will cost $30 to fix, so now I’m down money on this endeavor).

I put one book from the give-away pile back on the shelf. I thank the others and decide I can’t move on until they get donated tomorrow to the Friends of the Library. Then I sat in bed debating if I should Bookcross them instead.


That’s today and I have to work tonight, so I decided to take a KonMari recess until the weekend.

Honestly, I already feel freaking great because it was easier to find socks this morning and I don’t have flick through the shirts and pants in my closet that I was never going to wear anyway. That’s enough to keep me committed.

It’s just going to take some time. The people on the show got a month, so I don’t feel like a failure….yet.

Let me know how your tidying is going!