Monday, September 19, 2016

Don't Just KonMari. Do Something Useful.

Having mentioned KonMari (Marie Kondo, properly) in my previous post, I am now thinking about her and her methods.  The most important stuff that I believe about that whole phenomenon, I've already written about and you can read this post to understand:  Why the Marie Kondo Method Doesn't Work.

When I heard about her book, I thought it seemed fascinating.  So, like everyone else, I bought a copy.....okay, maybe not like everyone else, I found the very cheapest used copy available on, and then I waited until someone else listed one at an even lower price.

I actually tried to follow some of KonMari's methods.  As a result, I have done without a summer housecoat (not a small consideration when you live in a place that has Nine months of summer) because I didn't like the one I had, because it was getting worn out, because she said that you throw stuff like that away, and I did what she said.  Big mistake.  I'm not bitter; just annoyed. 

Better by far to have something useful, even if it's ugly and patched, than to have nothing at all. 

Marie Kondo speaks from an attitude that assumes you have money.  I don't.  Since I can't afford a new housecoat, I just have to wait until I can find something tolerable on final clearance markdown (like 90% off and that means more than one unnecessary journey to a store that sells overstock and returns) or I'll have to find the fabric to piece together (I'm sure I don't have enough of just one yardage) and sew.  Wearing my winter polarfleece robe in summer is a constant uncomfortable reminder not to be stupid ever again with useful things.

I am also reminded of a yard sale I went to a decade or so ago.  The man was selling "junk" and he tried to shame me for what I was buying:  a nearly new bathmat, a bag of light switch covers, and a couple of rusty hand tools.   He looked me right in the eye and said, "I guess some people are willing to buy any old garbage."  I looked him right back and said, "Thank you, sir" as I handed him my $2.35.  Yeah, that rankled but this wasn't my first experience with this sort of intolerance (and it most assuredly has not been the last) and I knew something that man probably didn't know:  I knew how to be grateful. 

At the time, I was living in a nearly gutted mobile home, and I had no choice whatsoever about it.  There was no flooring laid in any of the rooms.  There were no curtains, no curtain rods, no blinds or shades.  There were no interior doors at all.  And there were no covers on the switch plates.  I had never had to deal with a situation like that.  I didn't know how to fix anything, so I just had to learn.  Learn I did.

I was so happy with that .25 cent yard sale bag of switch plate covers that I still can't begin to tell it.  They weren't plain white either--they were decorator samples, some appeared to be hand-painted.  I loved them, and I enjoyed them for years until I moved out and then I sold them at a profit.  And I was thrilled to bits with the pretty bathmat that just matched and fit exactly in the tiny mobile home bathroom; I used it until it was literally worn to a thread.  I cleaned up those rusty tools and learned to use them; they are still about the place somewhere, just waiting until they are needed once more. 

My money was very well spent that day.  I hope that the unpleasant man did as well with the $2.35 that I gave him but somehow I doubt it.  In any case, I am eternally grateful that he decided not to throw this stuff in the trash (which these days he might well have decided to do if he had been a follower of KonMari) but sold it on where it had the chance to do something good.

Now, I have no doubt that Marie Kondo means to make a difference and that she has done some good for some people, as well as making her living.  But she is short-sighted when it comes to what is and is not trash.  It's all about how we see things--it's important to cultivate the habit of looking for the potential in an item.

Just for example:  How often do you purchase aluminum foil?  Me, about once a year.  I just don't use it except for when I make fudge (Christmas gifts!) at the holidays and occasionally for wrapping something for the freezer.  I also use foil to shield baking bread but I fold it after use so that I can use it again and again--my current foil shield is about three years old.  KoniMari would tell me to throw that out, and that would just cost me money.

One of the ways that I avoid aluminum foil use is by spending a little money because I buy something very cheaply that other people don't want:   the small metal trays that come with toaster ovens.  People see them as space-wasters.  I see them as money-savers.  I used to use foil every time I wanted to put something under the broiler  (which I do a lot with cheese toast and homemade mini-pizzas) and then I would throw out the used foil.  Finally I realized that it was much wiser to have something I could wash and use again.  That's when I started buying toaster oven pans--usually for .5o cents or less.  KonMari would tell you that this is needless clutter; but I keep these things because they save me money.  It's no problem to make space for them and to put them away in an orderly manner, even in my little kitchen.

KonMari says to throw out all your extra bits and pieces.  I think you can only afford to act that rashly if you have the money to buy again.....and again and again.  That is a fool's economy.

Rather than being a KonMari convert, I am a follower of Amy Dacyczyn's Tightwad Gazette series.  She stopped at three books and apparently hasn't written anything new in years but I keep all of those books right where I can refer to them easily.  I cannot do everything she did but her advice is sound, and it has made a vast difference in my ability to live well and wisely.

We need to use our blessings wisely and we need to be willing to share with others.  We can't do that if we are focused only on getting rid of things.  It is wasteful to throw things away thoughtlessly.  If I didn't keep stuff, I wouldn't have anything to give when it is needed.  It makes me even more grateful to give than it does to receive.

I would list my KonMari book online for re-sale but the market is so glutted with them that I'd lose money by doing so; instead it takes up space on my bookshelf, glaring at me.  It's kind of ironic really, when you consider it:  KonMari's book is doing exactly what she most dislikes.

I am stepping off my soapbox now.
Life is good.....and kinda interesting.

.....and editing to add:  There are no coincidences.

Just after I wrote this post, my phone rang.  It was an acquaintance who has shared bountifully with me before--things to sell, things to enjoy, things to share.  She was cleaning out her pantry and she was embarrassed to ask, she said, but would I accept expired food.  And I told her honestly that, yes, I would surely be glad to do so, although I'd feel worried about things more than a year out of date.  She said that wouldn't be a problem; everything was within the past six months.

She said she would see me the next day but she was at my house within hours instead (even though it's very dark at night here and that frightens her so) because she just couldn't wait to share.

I am so grateful!  God is good.  People are kind.

Some of the items are meat products so that means that I cannot eat them but that also means that I have something that I can share with someone else who has need, and that makes me happy, too.

I'm very glad no one told this nice lady about KonMari or this treasure would have been trash.  Throwing stuff away is seldom the best answer.

Share.  Re-use.  Re-cycle.
That's the way a good life works.


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