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project purge

This project is taking way way WAY longer than I ever anticipated. We are all feeling the effects. Henry said I'm done with this Marie Kondo lady (blasphemy) and Andy B. has abandoned his regular sized cocktail for a tall water glass. I recently caught him eyeing the flower vase as a potential vessel for bourbon.

If you happened to read my last blog you now know I am a superfan of Marie Kondo, author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy. She is an international phenomenon and a best-selling author who is so famous in Japan that there is a made-for-tv movie in the works about her life. Like the OJ Simpson happening here in America. With a different ending of course. Two can play this game Japan.

Even for someone like me whose main form of entertainment is organizing (and yes I realize how truly sad that sentence is) it is taking a long time to accomplish a full-house overhaul. Why? The answer is simple: I live with too many people who have too many things.

The point is working on my own things – clothes shoes papers purses and various komono as Kondo calls it (another word for stuff) took days because apparently my schedule doesn’t lend itself to tidying much less finding magic. And don't get me started on how long it is taking me to (a.) convince the other Blackfords to get on board (b.) not lose my shit every 90 minutes when I find old Halloween candy shoved under a child's bed and (c.) continue to bathe myself and others, take care of my clients, quiz someone on spelling words and cobble together something resembling dinner all on a regular basis (especially the bathing part).

I feel like I have been on a bender with the folks from The Rolling Stones before they got sober and really old. My body is tiiiirrreed. My eyes burn. My brain is set on low. I have lugged so much junk that I had to use my out-of-town neighbor’s can so I wouldn’t get charged extra by the trash company. Packing up and delivering donated items now counts as a workout.

Here's what has been happened thus far:

My closet including shoes and bags. After getting everything sorted and hung back up in its proper spot. I then bought black velvet hangars and took everything back out and re-hung it. Because that's a good use of my time. And money. This is when Andy started in on the water glass.

My books: Full disclosure, I didn’t get rid of books. A small sampling of the books I am keeping. Others on shelves throughout the house. Marie would be disappointed but Marie doesn't like to read as much as I do. Marie likes to fold. I did lend some out but I can't just give books away. Feels like a sin. Like Fahrenheit 451. My parents paid for five years (school in New Orleans is not conducive to studying so it took me a smidge longer...but I can tell you the best place to find a shrimp po'boy and give you directions to the drive-thru margarita joint) of private education and an English and Communication double major degree that has nothing to do with my line of work. Except of course for this blog you’re currently reading which perfectly combines the two so thank you technology.

Five year-old Georgia's (stage name: The Hoarder) drawers and closet and books and toys and dolls and crayons. The crayons! The crayons haunt me.

Kids bathroom drawers - Caroline did her own because she digs this stuff; Henry's was already perfect because he spends forty minutes a day gazing at himself in the mirror and fifty minutes a day in the shower so he has a lot of time in the bathroom. I tackled the other two because my little bookends” James and Georgia are the messiest of the bunch.

My office drawers including all the design magazines I tagged and saved for inspiration. Trashed. Client receipts I have been filing in case an item has to be returned (Dear clients, you are keeping everything I have ever bought you whether you like it or not.) and a lot of other random stuff including some strange hair oil , bits of envelopes with addresses I need to put in my database and a lot of gum.

What I have found so far:

$36 dollars in cash from old cards sent to me by my grandparents and even my great grandmother who was one of the scariest people I ever knew but clearly loved us all as noted in the her cards but not this photo:

$150 check from my father who died over three years ago. Reading the notes and cards from my dad was by far the most emotional part of this journey. It's when I too decided the tall water glass would be a nice place to store Sauvignon Blanc. Jewelry that I had been missing and a favorite lip gloss (found in Georgia's room and Caroline’S room on two different days). Tons of sample sized hair and skin products that I planned on taking with me when traveling but never ever did. Gone. A lot of single socks that have been reunited with their significant others. Others are reunited with the recycle bin. Notes from high school that remind me how much fun I had and how unimportant school work really was to me. So many clothes that we don’t need. Clothes that are now serving others as highlighted in this lovely email from a neighbor who volunteers with the hungry and homeless (my number one charitable soft spot because for those of you who know me it's definitely not animals).

“I just wanted to thank you again for all of the clothes. Are you sure you have anything left to wear? That was a huge amount. The people at the clothing bank went through everything sorted and hung it up and then I saw several people come out with huge grins on their faces feeling so fortunate to have found such nice things. Thank you"

An obscene amount of Barbie shoes, baseball cards, hair ties, coins, chapstick and pens.

I will tell you this process is life changing. I feel quietness now when I walk in my closet or put my clothes in my drawers because every single thing in there is something I love or need and will wear. I don't have that guilt that used to come from seeing so many things that I bought and should wear but don't want to wear but should wear.

I've had lots of talks with my children about our need for less stuff and more time. The three older ones have each picked a day to do their own laundry and have been taught to fold the KonMarie way.

We shall see. I have donated items including toys and books and furniture to those who can benefit. I have kept things that I truly cherish and appreciate while learning that what I really cherish and appreciate is time and energy that can be spent doing what I love which is going to bed early and reading a magazine. Oh - and also working with the very best clients possible playing Barbies (shoes and all) with my littlest who will be in kindergarten next year and gazing at my tidy drawers. Helping even a little bit those in need. Spending time with my children and my husband (and his water glass) and really listening to them instead of that constant voice in my head that is reminding me of all the things still left undone.

I know when this is all over it will afford us peace and happiness and space to just be. And while that's not the American way these days it's going to be the Blackford way.

Remember that song “I'm Turning Japanese?” It was an 80s hit by The Vapors. Maybe their only hit. The lyrics include this line “I'm turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so. Well it's happening. I really think so.

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