Mielke: The accidental treasure hidden under the stairs

I, along with lots of clutter prone, disorganized type people, have been watching Marie Kondo on television trying to obtain the much needed knowledge to get our hopelessly cluttered lives in order.

The other night, I found myself lying prone on the chesterfield in my living room, surrounded comfortably by the usual clutter of toys, magazines and the 14 remotes we seem to need, watching the world-renowned tidying expert tell me how things should be done.

I settled in to watch the show, reaching for another mouthful of popcorn and a drink of Diet Coke as I prepared to listen and learn.

Goodness knows, I was ready.

They say when the student is ready the teacher will appear.

Would Marie Kondo teach me to find joy, be organized and, basically, become a new person?

Apparently Kondo’s method of organizing is known as the KonMari method. This method consists of gathering together all of one’s belongings, one category at a time and then keeping only those things that spark joy.

It sounded good. I was tired and I could use a spark of joy brought on by tidying. I settled down to watch Marie tell me how to get it.

After watching one session, I decided to take action. I went into my closet, ruthlessly pulling out sweaters and blouses and jeans.

I held each piece of clothing in my hands and concentrated on my inner self. What was I feeling? Was it joy?

I waited. More often than not, as much as I tried, I felt no joy, so I tossed it.

In the end, I was a little worried about having tossed a little too much waiting for the spark of joy that never came.

Marie Kondro must know her stuff, I tell myself as I dump two large garbage bags full of clothes in the good will bin.

She has written books, for crying out loud. She even has a television series on Netflix and everyone knows how popular Netfix is.

And goodness knows, I have struggled with whittling down my possessions for many, many years.

Just ask my kids!

“Mom, you need to get rid of stuff. You and dad have too much junk. You should have a garage sale and then you should get rid of your garage and your basement.


Apparently, Marie agrees.

She said keeping things for sentimental reasons is wrong, just wrong, unless of course, they spark joy.

Obviously my children’s report cards did not spark joy for them or me.

But when I decided to toss them, it was too late.

My daughter’s teenage daughter discovered her mom’s report card. Her mom, the teacher.

I said nothing. I didn’t have to. The secret was out. Even teachers have a past life that didn’t always involve being model students.

The other day I was blessed with a visit from both my girls.

It was lovely. We had green tea and cookies and sat around the kitchen table and chatted and, in-between times, admonished four-year-old Jacob for spending too much time on grandma’s iPad.

Finally, the girls wandered downstairs to store my Christmas decorations under the stairs for me on account of the fact that they are nice girls and they help out old people.

Minutes later they emerged, triumphant, toting two vintage suitcases that they had found under the stairs.

Actually, I had no idea they were vintage, but, I did use them when I was in college, so anyone reasonably good at math could figure it out.

The girls were arguing over who should get them.

One wanted them for her classroom and one wanted to actually use them when she travels to Hawaii next month.

The suitcases are old and beat up and in serious need of cleaning, but, weirdly enough they did what they were supposed to do, at least for my girls.

They sparked joy!

Treena Mielke is the editor of the Rimbey Review. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.

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