Are you one of those individuals whose mental state is heavily impacted by their physical surroundings?
If you answered no, let me first say I’m a little jealous.
If you answered yes, I assure you that you are not alone.
Though I wasn’t always able to articulate it, I’ve understood from a young age that when my physical space is neat and tidy, I tend to feel calmer, more contented, and more in control. And, likewise, when my physical surroundings are wrought with chaos, clutter, and disarray, I tend to feel mentally disorganized, irritated, and overwhelmed.**
Let me paint a picture for you. Eight-year-old Sierra is lying awake in bed, when her mother tiptoes in with a freshly laundered and folded pile of clothes. She places the pile neatly on a bare surface and sneaks back out of the room. Of course, young Sierra lies immobile in bed with her eyes closed, so as not to draw any attention to her current state of awake-ness. But as soon as her mother is out of earshot, she bounds quietly from her bed and hurriedly puts away the clean clothes in their designated locations, lest the solitary stack spoil her recently tidied room. Once the clothes are put away, Sierra hops back in bed, satisfied, and is able to drift off to sleep in peace.
Here’s another scenario. I’m playing with barbies and my husband walks in…
Ha! Just kidding. I haven’t played with barbies for
Anyhoo, back to the scenario: I am passing a relaxing Saturday morning in my childhood bedroom, carefully arranging Barbie’s home with her many pink accessories. An 8-inch French door refrigerator stocked with tiny label-less plastic condiments and groups of 4 inseparable hamburger buns (Come on! Is Barbie supposed to eat all of those at once?!). A twin-sized, plastic wicker bed equipped with comforter, recently made, but never slept in. A closet with 1-inch hangers hanging from a 3-inch rod. Hats and purses on display for Barbie’s forever-imminent-but-never-to-materialize trip out of the house.
I place the finishing touches on this curated pink home and sit back to admire it. Now, this is the point when the average child would actually take the barbies out of the box to enjoy said home, but this is also the time when I’d decide I was finished playing. This was the objective the entire time, after all. Design the house. Hang the clothes. Stock the refrigerator. Then, allow it to sit in a perpetual state of order and cleanliness.
Ahhhh, the satisfaction.
Now, before you go diagnosing me, please understand that I have been this way for as long as I can remember. I like order. I value cleanliness. I appreciate an organized, tidy space.
But, that’s not representative of most people’s lives, and it certainly is not representative of my current home situation.
Life is messy. Floors get dirty. Shredded cheese remains under my daughter’s chair at the dinner table for longer than I’d care to admit. Closets grow until they threaten to pry the doors right off their hinges. Our beds actually get slept in.
As I’ve gotten older, and I’ve become responsible for more physical spaces than just a single bedroom or a sprawling Barbie dream home, I have slowly learned that I cannot always control my surroundings to the degree in which I’d like.
I have become more mentally flexible and less focused on physical order over time, which has been absolutely essential to my growth into a functioning adult. But I’d be lying if I said that clutter, disorder, and messiness don’t continue to affect me on a deep level.
Whether my physical state is a reflection of my mental state, or vice versa, I am not positive (I’m no psychologist). What I do know, however, is that these two states are related, correlated, inextricably linked. And, at present, my soul and mind are screaming out for just a little peace and control.
Enter: Marie Kondo. My spirit guide. My sister from another mister. My soul’s Japanese counterpart. The light in me honors the light in her. But in all seriousness, I feel like she and I could talk for hours about the calming properties of a tidy sock drawer. (Only I’d never show her my sock drawer, because she’d be horrified. I’m a roller.)
If you’ve never heard of Marie Kondo, consider this a public service announcement. She is a wildly popular Japanese organizing consultant and author, whose passion for tidiness has taken the world by storm. Her personal tidying method is aptly named “KonMari” (see what she did there?).
Through its rapidly growing popularity, the term KonMari has blurred the lines between different parts of speech. While it began circulation as an adjective or noun (e.g. the KonMari approach or the KonMari Method, respectively), it has slowly morphed into a strange new verb over time (e.g. “I just KonMari-ed the crap out of that junk drawer”). Marie Kondo also recently launched a series on Netflix called “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”.
When it comes to de-cluttering, she is most notable for her unique approach to deciding what stays and what goes. She holds each item in her hands and asks herself, “Does this spark joy?” If the answer is yes, it stays and is given a home in her space. If the answer is no, she thanks the item for its prior service and then dismisses it gently.
I’ve recently become inspired to apply her principles to my own home. I’ve done so partially in the past (after listening to The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up” which was at one point available in its entirety on YouTube), but abandoned the process halfway through because life got in the way. But I’m reaching a season of life and parenthood where I feel I could actually benefit from going through her methodical process again, and perhaps teach my 3-year-old daughter how to better care for her own belongings along the way.
You might be wondering, “Why am I reading about tidying? This is supposed to be a blog about saving money…”
Well, you’re right. That’s one topic I’ve covered heavily since starting See Sierra Save a few months ago. But this blog is also about intentional living. And what could be more intentional than purposefully choosing each and every item that we allow into our homes, rather than passively allowing the stream of incoming clutter to continue without interruption?
With that being said, my personal experience has been that having tidy, organized spaces within your home allows you to know, really know, what you already have and, in many cases, can prevent you from overbuying/overspending. So, while tidying and saving money may not be directly linked, they are certainly indirectly linked. You might just consider tidying another tool in your shed to help you as you build your own financial freedom.
And because I know I cannot possibly be alone in my feeling of mental chaos, or even in my compulsion to tidy, I’ve decided to undertake my own KonMari journey. And, you guessed it, I plan to document said journey along the way. Over the course of the next several months, I plan to methodically tackle my home from top to bottom utilizing the KonMari Method.
Want to join me? Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll be posting my progress as I work through my house area by area/category by category/room by room. I am not assigning myself any rules for this process. I plan to use the KonMari Method for its overarching principles, though I might deviate slightly from the prescribed approach.
In addition, my progress updates may come at random intervals because, well, finding the time to overhaul an entire category of belongings at once may be a little challenging. I’ll have to catch as catch can. These posts may show up as Tuesday Tips, or they may pop up randomly over the course of the week. Consider it a nice, unpredictable, tidy surprise. You’re welcome.
If you don’t want to miss these progress updates, be sure to click that blue “follow” button so you can have them delivered hot and fresh to your inbox as they’re posted.
Now it’s your turn! What’s the biggest area of your home that could use some KonMarification? Share in the comments below!
**Interestingly enough, when I first drafted this post, I had only Marie Kondo’s approach in mind. However, I recently learned from a post by one of my favorite bloggers, The Nonconsumer Advocate, that Gretchen Rubin is releasing a new book entitled Outer Order, Inner Calm covering exactly this topic! I’ve read two of Gretchen Rubin’s books in the past and find her writing relatable and inspiring, so you’d better believe I immediately pre-ordered my copy on Audible when I heard about it. I plan to devour it as soon as it’s released on March 3rd. Perhaps what I read there can be applied here? We shall see!