Tidy up

boots by a doorway

So everyone in the world is apparently decluttering via Marie Kondo and the “KonMari Method.”

This tiny Japanese pixie of a woman is adorably redefining what it means to “clean” as we open 2019.

In her view, we should gather all our belongings together and get rid of all non-necessities that don’t “spark joy.” Note I said non-necessities.

No throwing out all the utility bills and snow shovels no matter how tempting that is.


Kondo is the author of the bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The book inspired the series.

The reason this took off like wildfire when Netflix debuted the video series before the new year was two-fold. People love a “clean slate.”

They also hate to read for the most part because, ugh, it cuts into watching every episode of The Bachelor, so everyone who ignored the book for two years can now watch it on a screen along with other, less educational, fare.

Regardless of how you come to learn it, the goal of the KonMari Method is to have a house full of items that make you or your life better for having them. Hence “spark joy.”

I am a big fan of all of this even as I swear I don’t personally need it. I enjoy decluttering. Organization is my hobby.

One of my favorite things in the world to do is to get rid of things. I see no need to keep things we aren’t using and refuse “clutter coffins.”

That is my derisive term for storage totes for anything other than seasonal holiday decorations and a sampling of sentimental items.

Even then I feel most heirlooms should be used. That is how memories are made.

Few of us would have fond memories of dishes, quilts, or furniture we never laid eyes on until they were passed on to us, still stored in plastic boxes, that had spent our entire memory in the attic or garage.

I almost didn’t need Marie to tell me to only keep and use what sparks joy, but it was nice to have backup nonetheless.


I always leave a place in my life and home for the items that spark joy and sentiment of course. All the bits and pieces of our own childhoods, early parenthood, and endless photographs and memories of the joys shared with our family and friends.

All that is neatly displayed throughout our home like the touchstones of our lives. For the rest of it, I pare my own closets regularly. I offload kitchenware we rarely use.

I keep a permanent donation box poised and at the ready to be filled and dropped off. I’m no minimalist, but we do alright if I do say so myself.

Nonetheless, on the day to day, we just don’t quite always meet the most joy sparking levels of level of efficiency and organization. I aim to keep the surfaces clean but at least 50 percent of the human family members have some magnetic attraction to horizontal surfaces.

That or they are actually repelled by them and feel they must be covered at all times.

Either way, the surface of our dining table is a constant battle zone. Clutter advances and I beat it into retreat.

Some of that just comes from being married, I think. Mr. Wonderful will leave things lying on the table as if the magic filling fairies are coming along to take care of it.

Any minute now, I expect him to ask where some policy or instruction paperwork he laid on the table in 1996 might be found? Bless his heart.

In the kitchen, the space between the dishwasher and sink is always going to be a sort of holding pen for dirty dishes (when the dishwasher is clean but not yet capable of unloading itself).

There seems to be no way around this short of giving up food.

Since nutrition sparks joy for us, it’s a necessary source of clutter I suppose. The bathroom floor somehow breeds dropped towels and socks. They just sit there on the floor, multiplying.

They don’t spark joy at all, but the people who wear them do.

So I will continue to step around socks from time to time for as long as we are all so blessed. I think, like most, I will embrace the parts of the Kondo Method that work well for us, and continue the “Seabolt” method for the rest.

The Seabolt method takes a lot of joy in work boots by the door (work is good!); dishes in the sink (“yay food!); and dog toys pretty much everywhere (self-explanatory).


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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.



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