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Tales from the Motherhood in Batavia: Embracing the bliss of Kondo's tidying up

It’s Holly’s fault: I’m Marie Kondo’ing my life! For the uninitiated, Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing consultant and author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” whose Netflix series debuted in January, has ushered in a wave of spring cleaning never before seen in my home or any other. Holly turned me onto the show. We binged, and now we’re hooked.

Kondo, part therapist and part sprite, her Tinkerbell-esque lightness-of-being impossible to resist, transforms the chore of household unburdening into a veritable liberation experience.

Her humility, reverence and joy-filled spirit inspires a cleaning spree complete with “Thank yous” issued to things no longer needed.

Eager for me to get started, Holly cracked the whip, making me pile every piece of my clothing onto my bed at once for me to consider (seeing the volume of stuff one owns truly is impactful and makes parting with some seem necessary and important), and I got to work. Forget about hanging onto things just in case. For once, letting go was easy.

“Does this give me joy?” No? “Thank you. Into the Hefty bag you go.” Yeah, just thinking about it makes me smile. Unbridled joy, people. Bring it on.

I discovered that I need to tell G-Ma to stop giving me fleece pajamas (hot flashes, anyone?), and that black isn’t my color. Color is my color! Once you get the hang of it, you can’t help but apply Kondo’s methods to every facet of your life. Living large has never been my thing, but, now, less definitely is more.

Once my clothes were sorted, Holly folded everything in her drawers and mine to a fair thee well, a la Kondo’s particular directions. Now I can actually see the clothes hanging in my closet, see everything in my drawers all at once (I know, crazy!), and know I feel good wearing them.

These days I get dressed in a flash, and no longer trip over stuff I don’t need. The energy in my bedroom has shifted, and there’s even daylight under my bed! I love Marie Kondo – and resale shops love her, too. I took my stuff to Paula’s in Batavia, the fabulous new gem in the local clothing consignment scene. (I hear bookstores also love Kondo, and no wonder: I’ve got two bags in my car destined for that other little gem in Batavia, The Book Shop, a purveyor of gently used books.)

Even so, for some, letting go can be hard. One episode of Kondo’s show features a young woman sobbing over a dress her grandmother bought for her.

“Keep the darned thing,” I shouted at the screen. “Why isn’t she telling her to keep it?” I mean, it’s a size 2, for Pete’s sake. How much space does it really need? What a wonderful memory! Come on, people, this isn’t a cult. It’s clutter. A little bit won’t hurt, right?

I hope not, because I’m breaking the rules by holding onto several things I adore in the hopes they’ll fit me again one day – including a shirt I never did get around to wearing that might have fit me for all of 15 minutes that day seven years ago when I exhaled long enough to hit my goal weight at Weight Watchers. Hoping to keep it in the family, I dangled it in front of Holly. She didn’t bite.

“Oh my gosh, but this would look divine on you,” I said, swooning over the sweet gray top with three-quarter sleeves. (I swear it’s not a weird “mom” shirt.)

I also refuse to part with my favorite, green-but-terminally-stained James Taylor T-shirt with tears in the seam. That’ll go into my keepsake box along with my favorite of the kids’ itty bitty duds, including Noah’s lion onesie and Holly’s teeny-tiny, lime-green corduroy skirt that she wore practically every day when she was 4, and the navy blue velvet dress with the butterflies which she wore to her fifth birthday party. Oh my gosh, yes, on the eve of my baby girl’s adulthood, you know it: These little things, they bring me joy.

Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her family. Her column runs regularly in the Kane Weekend section of the Kane County Chronicle. Contact her at

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