As my mother and nana tell it, the first word I've ever read was Macy's. I was just shy of 2 and read it by someone else's handbag at a New Jersey mall where we spent most winter Saturdays in childhood. My grandmother on father's side runs a clothing store out of her home in Brooklyn for years. My parents were set up by the two grandmothers after they kept bumping into each other – you guessed it – the wholesale clothing store they both traded in seasonally. One grandmother was shopping for her shop, the other was shopping (probably as abundant) for herself.
I guess you can say that shopping, clothing and collection thing is in my blood. In many ways, it is the adhesive that connects the three women in my family. The joy of acting is something we, three people from three generations with different understandings of the world, can agree on. My mother taught me to see a good sale, my nana taught me to dress. I've brought her to a fashion show, I've let her dress in the name of journalism, but most importantly I've always linked the only action of acting as happy, soothing, and positive.
My home, a decent yet New York City-sized studio, is a reflection of the way I have been raised. When I went into what is now my apartment for the first time, I put in a quote based on the closet alone: A sacred crawl with built-in storage installed by the previous owner. I already had many things and this was the first apartment I had seen that seemed to be within the budget and could fit everything I had bought.
It was five years ago when I had less credit card debt, about 100 percent fewer two bags I never use, and significantly less wardrobe than I have now. When I looked around the closet that once felt like a dream and now reminded me more of a nightmare, I realized something had to be changed.
Marie Kondo has been on my radar since 2014, when everyone and their mother started reading their best-selling book and finding out if their belongings brought them joy. I tried to figure it out myself, many years ago, and quickly found reasons why everything – including socks without buddies ("they come up in the next load of laundry!") Gave me so-called pleasure in one way or another. I immediately left the project to clean up.
Four years after her first book release, Kondo's new Netflix show, "Tidying Up With Marie Kondo," brings the magic of cleaning up principles to life – pushing the agenda as root and root to stress, and a minimalist approach can ultimately lead to a more joyful and fulfilled life. Research shows the connection between root and stress, as well as health benefits of having a neat home. A 2010 study showed that women who had messy homes "expressed higher levels of stress hormone cortisol" than those who did not, according to Psychology Today.
The Netflix series follows Kondo to different homes in different states of clutter. She gives her wisdom, broad principles and calming behavior towards couples and families in the hope of giving more joy to your life. In an episode, a couple learns to appreciate each other without rooting themselves. In another, a couple of carpenters learn how to make their home "their" again.
Perhaps my bloated urge to cleanse not only has to make the show a joy to the senses, but also a commitment I have made recently to make the apartment more a place I want to spend time on. It seems obvious, but as a messy person with anxiety, it took the help of a therapist to realize how stressful it is to get home to a place in disarray. (I know I've developed myself because I asked for vacuum cleaner for the holiday this year.)
But the messy closet, which became my first thought in the morning (I have to go through it to get to the toilet) and my last thought at night, had long been weighing on me as a pile of cleaning stuffed into one of the shelves.
Because my first attempt at the Kon-Mari method did not stuck, I asked a friend to help me sift through emphasize things – something I highly recommend to anyone who begins this journey without the help of Kondo himself. Ideally, there will be someone who lives more minimally than you, and who is not so attached to the cover you had on Bonnaroo 2009 as you are.
We did not exactly look for pleasure from each piece that we made our way through the closet. Instead, we developed our own criteria, where my friend asked me about each item: "Do you do that well? Do you feel sexy about this?" Many times the answer was no. I felt guilty of guilt as I said "no" to the dresses my grandmother had bought for me, T-shirts my mother had picked me up from different travels around the country (if you read this, sorry mum) and things I used well money on what I thought I would love forever, but really stopped wearing a long time ago.
Finally, I increased about 70 percent of my wardrobe, including shoes. Don't get me wrong. I say "I have no clothes" is like your friend with hair down to her butt and getting a trim and sorry she doesn't have any hair. However, I can claim a completely empty chest of drawers and several recently scanty shelves. I can see everything in my closet. There is a nice surplus of hangers now sitting on a top shelf just in case, and I uncovered a favorite bra I thought was lost and gone forever placed on top of the underwear drawer.
My first instinct after emptying the closet was of course to fill it again. What should I do with all this room? But the thought went loose when I realized how calm and quiet the less crowded closet made me. I find myself standing there sometimes – as a less anxious loved one.
Cleanup not only gave me more literal space, but somewhat deeper. I have always used clothes and shopping as a distraction, a way to fill a void and feel self-sufficient. It is a part of me that feels like filling up every hook and cranny to convince myself that I could only fit here – that there was no room for another person, with all their literal and figurative things. Now I start to think I might be able to share.
In 2019 I will spend more time in my tidy apartment, and in an effort to maintain this joyous momentum, I have promised to take a break from shopping and a commitment to buy only vintage when I shop. Not only are things better, it is better on the wallet and the environment. And it brings me joy.
I also recommend the exercise for you as well. Just don't forget that friend – and maybe try to forget about Bonnaroo.