Life changing magic.

My untamable hair sort of sums up the reality of my housekeeping.
My untamable hair sort of sums up the reality of my housekeeping.

Anyone who knows me well knows that, in the words of my friend Gila, “You guys are ALWAYS cleaning your house!” True, and unfortunately our house is still usually in a state of mild to severe chaos. In other words, messy. During the dark days of founding the bakery, when it was sometimes difficult to determine if I had actually slept or not when the alarm went off at 2:57 a.m., our house was scary messy. Truly, deeply, scary. There wasn’t even a pretense of trying to keep order back then- our level of overwhelm was so high that making sure we neither starved nor misplaced our children was about as high as our standards reached.

the midcentury sunflower yellow couch and chair that inspired the name Starlight Lounge.
The midcentury sunflower yellow couch and chair that inspired the name Starlight Lounge.

Fast forward to the year of our Lord 2015. The Bakery no longer consumes our life. We all brush our teeth regularly and even have sleep schedules that include enough sleep. During the past four years or so we have been working to bring our house back from the abyss.  We have had some moments of sparkling beauty.  I emptied all four closets and painted them white in 2011.  In 2012 My studio was  reclaimed from the chaos with the helpful intervention of my friend Betsy, who flew here from Colorado to wrestle the studio from the horror that had consumed it. Her fearlessness in the face of the monstrous task was truly inspiring.  We carved out what has become known as the Starlight Lounge, an oasis that has housed many guests and a few housemates- and became my healing bower during chemo treatments.

“Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?”                        Marie Kondo

And yet we have repeatedly relapsed into chaos- though every battle has resulted in a deeper underlying order, we have continued to struggle to keep the surface tidy.  Our family chore schedule enacted last summer has been a HUGE improvement, but not the whole answer. And then a few weeks ago, whilst at my friend Brooke’s house after a healing session, Brooke offered to show me her newly organized dresser drawers. I was awestruck. They were miraculous. And just like that I happily fell into the clutches of what may well be a cult of cleaning. Inspired by the book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up” Brooke is transforming her home into that magical land where every item “Sparks Joy” and has a clear place to belong.

I am very inspired. Last weekend I listened to the whole audio book version on youtube whilst beginning a cleaning frenzy of my own.  Marie Kondo, the Japanese author of the book, has spent her life organizing and tidying up.  Her ideas come in part from her Shinto belief system in which all objects have a spirit.  The idea is to go through your house thoroughly by category and discard anything which doesn’t “spark joy” for you. You take time to appreciate and thank each item you discard. What remains is clarity and beauty.

The antique handwoven rug now visible on our bedroom floor.
The antique handwoven rug now visible on our bedroom floor.

This brought to mind the idea I had while under treatment last year to thank my cancer-ing cells. It seemed to me that those cells were trying to do the right thing, just that they were broken, and could no longer function as they ought. My meditations focused on thanking the tumor cells and letting them know that they could be recycled by the body as healthy cells if they died. Thanking them for trying so hard to help me, and for waking me up. I promised not to forget them. This allowed me to fully embrace gratitude towards those cells, even though I was working to let them go, using the life saving magic of chemo and targeted therapies and traditional chinese medicine.

So this idea of going through my house item by item and letting things go is really resonating. Ms. Kondo promises that if you follow her directions to thoroughly, completely and even to perfectly put your house in order your home will never descend again, and your life will change.  I am swilling down the KonMari method kool-aid in ernest.  I have long had the fantasy of having a house where everything has a place, and everything has a story- which is something that sparks joy in me.

Mr. Sparky in his favorite place to sleep on the messy side of the studio.
Mr. Sparky in his favorite place to sleep on the messy side of the studio.
The fire hose desk I made in the clean side of my studio. I have been really enjoying hanging out down there all month.
The fire hose desk I made in the clean side of the studio. I have been really enjoying hanging out down there all month.

The first step is to visualize the life you wish to have. The next step is to ask why you want that life. Asking why until you have a well rounded and deeply felt idea of how tidying up will help you achieve that life you dream of. The key to turn the fantasy into an achievable goal is to begin to purge out all the items that do not serve to spark joy, with reverence and gratitude.

My heartfelt vision is for a life with rhythm and order. First step is our bedroom. Marie Kondo says to start with your clothes. I am seeing our bedroom as an oasis of calm and relaxation- where we can sleep, meditate and journal. Where getting dressed or putting away clothes is a joy. I’ve given myself this week to dive into the whys while beginning the purge process.  This feels like the clear next move of my transformation.

Wishing you clarity and the sparkly house of your dreams.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Sharyn says:

    Oh Iris this so resonates with me!!! When I get back from Illinois I really need to tackle this process! Sending energy to you toward your journey, and resolve to myself to follow in your footsteps.

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