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Helping You Organize Once + For All :: The Magical Marie Kondo Way

When you take back your space, you take back your life.

Jane Dolan

Is there anything more thrilling than staring at a blank canvas? Is there anything more terrifying?

What about when that blank canvas is your home?

After you've sorted, and questioned, and culled. And tossed, and recycled, and donated. After bags and bags of stuff have left your life. After everything has been put in it's place, and labeled. Everything has it's space. Everything has it's place. Everything is set up. Everything is waiting for you to make the next move.

After you've taken your space back. Then it's your turn.

Organizing your home isn't the ending, it's the beginning.

"The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” -Marie Kondo

When you take back your space, you take back your life, and after you take your life back, it's time to start living it. How do you want to live your life? What will you print on your blank canvas?

Ideas for Displaying Trinkets

Jane Dolan

102.Gurdjieff So you've gone through all your stuff, sorted everything, held each piece, kept the things that spark joy, and tossed/recycled/donated/sold the rest.

What do you do with the trinkets that spark joy?

Display them of course! Displaying trinkets that spark you for you, lets you decorate your home without cluttering it. Win-Win!

You could… - use tins & things as storage on your desk or in your kitchen. - combine small light trinkets, photos & paper into hanging collages. - gather similar things together on a shelf, mantle or bookcase. - spread them in little joyful groupings throughout the house. - get some shadowbox frames and hang more than just your pictures. - get an antique letterpress tray, hang it, and put smaller trinkets in each compartment.

For more ideas, check out… Creative tips for displaying collections from decoist.com.

This IKEA hack to make a cool shadow box.

Freepeople has some great ideas for displaying sunglasses, which can be translated to other things.

And then for even more ideas, there's always pinterest.

The KonMari Method deals with the parts of tidying that are actually difficult.

Jane Dolan

Quote_59_Buchwald Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing is a brilliantly & concisely written - no extra words, no fluff, no filler - she gets straight to the point. This makes for some great quotes, and I do love a good quote, so I've gathered together some of the best and most poignant ones.

These are all from Marie Kondo's book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing."

  • “Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong. Therefore, storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out.”
  • “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”
  • “No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important."
  • “The true purpose of a present is to be received.”
  • “Visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder.”
  • “The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.”
  • “Imagine what it would be like to have a bookshelf filled only with books that you really love. Isn’t that image spellbinding? For someone who loves books, what greater happiness could there be?”
  • “People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.”
  • “Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order.”
  • “The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

Interestingly enough, some of the best parts of her book aren't about tidying itself. Instead the best bits have to do with addressing the psychological hurdles we need to overcome in order to tidy. As Bourree Lam wrote in this article in The Atlantic, "...I think the reason Kondo-mania continues is because she has actually hit upon some good solutions to deal with these pervasive mental fallacies."

We all know that tidying isn't inherently difficult, it's a pretty simple process - get rid of things, and then put what's left away. But in reality it's much harder, because of these "pervasive mental fallacies" and the reason the KonMari Method works is that it deals with the bits of decluttering that are hard - the internal bits.

7 articles about the KonMari Method that you might not have read yet

Jane Dolan

  Koren Wabi Sabi Pair Down Quote

I love the KonMari Method of organizing because it actually works. Go through all of your possessions in one go, keep only what sparks joy in you, and discard the rest, then everything gets a spot, and your home is tidy once and for all.

But I'm not the only one who loves Marie Kondo's methods. Months ago I wrote a round up of 10 articles about Marie Kondo (perfect reading for us organization geeks) - so if you love organizing and reading about organizing, here are 7 more articles about the KonMari Method for you to enjoy.

 

1. "Japan’s ‘queen of clean’ promotes benefits of a tidy home" in The Globe and Mail

2. "12 Rules for Getting Your Clutter Totally Under Control" on Cosmopolitan

3. "How KonMari’s phenomenal book can help put your house in order" in Japan Times

4. "No more unwanted baggage; the golden rules of tidying up to de-clutter your home, mind and life" on Stylist.co.uk

5. "The Psychological Benefits Of 'Kondoing' Your House" from the Huffington Post

6. "KonMari Trendy New Organizing Method" on Martha Stewart's website

7. "A Therapeutic Approach to Closet Cleaning That Actually Works" from WhoWhatWear

Happy reading!!

Donating vs. Selling - getting rid of the things that don't spark joy.

Jane Dolan

Slow is real
Slow is real

When we're decluttering & organizing, getting rid of the things that don't spark joy isn't exactly easy, because what do you do with it?

Do you put things out with the trash? Recycle them? Pass things to friends & relatives? Donate? Sell? Just thinking about what to do is overwhelming! But you haven't actually decluttered until the unwanted objects are out of your life. (Shoving things in a closet doesn't count.)

Some things are obvious - the broken things, you recycle or toss; the things your friends love and want, you pass along to them.

But what about the rest? Donate or sell?

The case for selling: it makes back some of the money you spent buying all the things, and who doesn't appreciate an extra money in their pocket?

The case against selling: it takes a lot of time, and energy - you have to deal with listing, shipping, and lots of trips to the post office.

The case for donating: it gets everything out of the house in a couple trips, if feels good, and there might be a tax write off.

The case against donating: finding organizations to donate to can sometimes be tricky, especially for less common items.

So, which should you choose? Instead of trying to logical it out, try asking "which sparks joy?"

Would you get joy from selling your things and seeing them go to people who very much want what they're getting, acknowledging and being ok with the fact that it might take a little longer to get everything out of the house?

Or would you get more joy in donating the things you no longer want, passing them along to a charity and trusting the things find their way to people who want/need them?

Marie Kondo answered this question in an "Ask Me Anything" on reddit, she says, "I am sure there are several different ways to get rid of books, by selling them or donating them. You should figure out which way sparks joy, makes you happy. If it sparks joy to sell them one-by-one, go for it. But it takes so much time and energy, if it does not spark joy, maybe you can donate them to a library or sell to one organization."

I think it's amazing that the question "does it spark joy?" is so telling, and can be applied to so much more than just deciding what possessions to get rid of and what to keep - it can also clarify how to declutter in a way that works and feels good to you.

How do you want to live your life?

Jane Dolan

Alice-Walker-Possitive-Change How do you want to live your life? It's a big question, but when you're organizing, it's an important one.

We all want to live in clean & organized homes - living with mess and clutter isn't pleasant, no matter where or how you live. But what "an organized home" looks like for you is probably going to be different than what an "organized home" looks like to your neighbor.

A big part of decluttering is getting rid of things that no longer 'spark joy.' And the things that no longer spark joy are different for everyone.

While strict minimalism isn't necessary by any means, the fewer things you own that don't spark joy, the easier it is to organize what's left. Most of us hang on to tons of stuff that doesn't spark joy, that we don't like, that we don't need, that we don't want - and all that stuff weights us down.

So, how do you want to live your life?

In your idea world, what would you have around you? What wouldn't you?

How to clean your messy desk, and keep it clean.

Jane Dolan

Quote_50_Cage A messy desk is the enemy of productivity - I'm an artist, I know what it's like to need lots of things on your desk while you're working on your projects, but I'm also a professional organizer, and so I also know the power of a clean desk.

Messy desks are often considered a sign of a creative mind - and it's true - having lots of inspiring things around you while you work is bound to spark all sorts of new ideas! At the same time, all those new ideas can distract you from the very idea you sat down to work on.

A messy desk can be inspiring - it can also be cramped, crowded, and distracting.

With a messy desk we're always thinking about "what's the next project," "what else should we be working on."

So lets try a fast & enlightening experiment: working at a completely clear desk.

 

In 15 minutes, and five steps, let's completely clean your messy desk.

Step 1: Get a box - a sturdy bankers box with a lid is excellent, but any box, or bag, or container will do.

Step 2: Set your timer for 12 minutes. No time for dilly-dallying we want this done!

Step 3: Clear all of the items off the surface of your desk. For now, just put everything in your box. Get the stuff contained and out-of-sight!

Step 4: Put some elbow grease into it and clean the surface of your desk. Make it shine.

Step 5: Only allow your essentials back onto your beautifully clear desk. Can you limit yourself to 3 essentials?

 

Ok, I just cleared my desk.

Here's what’s left: 1 laptop, 1 clipboard, 1 pen.

Those are the only essentials I need for working on my current project (writing this blog post).

 

Now that you've cleaned off your messy desk, how does it feel? Spacious? Empty? Do you like it? Or hate it? Do you feel focused? Does it spark joy?

 

Once you're done with work for the day, take that box of stuff and pick out only what sparks joy. For every item that sparks joy, find a permanent home for it. Now toss or recycle the rest.

 

Important: From now on, if you want to keep the messy desk at bay - when you finish a project, or when you finish using a tool - put it away! everything should have a home where it lives when it's not in use. 

That will help keep your desk nice an clear - perfect for focusing on the projects you want to be focusing on.

The Intensity of Cleaning Up & Clearing Out

Jane Dolan

"How soon 'not now' becomes never." - Martin Luther We spend huge amounts of our lives surrounded by "stuff." Piles of possessions. Mountains of things: things we bought, things we were given, things we don't even remember how we came to be in possession of.

And we spend so much time with these things of ours, that at some point we stop seeing them. We stop seeing the piles of clutter as piles of clutter - they just become part of a daily landscape.

We know the piles are there, and that they are clutter, and that we should probably do something about them, but that never quite happens.

And at some point, the clutter becomes comfortable - familiar. We get attached to our piles of possessions, so that when we do decide to tackle our piles - thoroughly and completely, once and for all - it's a very intense experience.

It turns out that many of us, don't have lots of experience detaching ourselves from our possessions - that's why it's so important to have support when you do a major clean out. Where that support specifically comes from doesn't matter quite as much as making sure you have it.

Support can come from friends or family members, an online community, a book, or even a professional organizer - we just need someone to help us get all the way to the end.

Cleaning up, clearing out, and taking an honest look at everything we own is an extremely intense process - it's why we work so hard to avoid it.

But the feeling of being free, unencumbered by our possessions is completely worth the struggles we go through to get there.

The Importance of Having Support While You Declutter

Jane Dolan

105.Parker At it's worst, decluttering can be a completely overwhelming and paralyzing experience. But what if it didn't HAVE to be that way?

What if decluttering didn't HAVE to be painful & awful & annoying & boring?

But how could decluttering be anything else? With plenty of support and cheerleading.

Support can come from many places, but the important things that all decluttering support includes are:

1. cheerleading - all of us need cheerleading at some point when we're decluttering, so having someone to give us a little pep talk can give us the encouragement we need to keep going.

2. accountability - sometimes we need someone to stop us from just shoving all our piles under the bed, or in the closet, so having someone to help us keep ourselves accountable in a way that works for us, helps keep us from quitting halfway.

3. clear headedness - decluttering can be an intense process, bringing up all sorts of emotional gunk, so sometimes we need someone to keep a clear head while we mourn the single sock that used to make up one half of our favorite pair of socks.

Cheerleading. Accountability. Clear Headedness. The decluttering support system trifecta.

Where exactly your support comes from, is best determined by you. You could call on your friends, your family, an online community, a book, a method, or even a professional organizer (like me!) - but so long as your support system provides cheerleading, accountably, and clear headedness, you should be good to go.

What do you want your home to feel like?

Jane Dolan

Henry Miller postponement

"Life, is for most of us one long postponement." -Henry Miller

If you close your eyes, and imagine coming home, walking up to your front door, unlocking the lock, opening the door, and stepping inside, what does your entrance-way look like? How does it feel? What do you wish the entrance to your home looked like?

If you were to actually walk into your house right now, what would it look like? What would it feel like?

One final question, what do you wish it felt like when you walked in the door? Imagine it felt peaceful, or inviting, or comfortable. Imagine walking in the door and not feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff, the mess, the clutter, the filled to the brim-ness of it.

"…what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life." Marie Kondo, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up"

No one wants to feel overwhelmed when they come home. But more often than not, we do, and it sucks.

Clutter and overwhelm, unfortunately go hand in hand. When we're overwhelmed, we're less likely to organize, which leads to clutter, which feeds the overwhelm, which leads to more clutter piling up. And pretty soon, there's so much clutter that you have no idea where to start.

Clutter isn't usually the root cause of overwhelm, but certainly doesn't help things, and eventually it becomes a source of overwhelm in and of itself.

Having said that, what if we eliminate clutter, so that it can no longer be a source of overwhelm? And if you could walk into your home and not feel overwhelmed by clutter, what lengths would you go to, to keep it that way?

What if we started decluttering our lives by tossing everything first?

Jane Dolan

102.Gurdjieff

"All that I have hoarded is lost. All that I gave is mine." -Gurdjieff

What if we started decluttering our lives by tossing out all of our stuff first, and then brought back into our lives the things we loved the most?

If we start decluttering by asking "what can we get rid of?" we're starting by assuming that we'll be keep most of our stuff.

If we start decluttering by asking "what can we keep?" or put another way "what sparks joy?" we're starting off by assuming that we'll be getting rid of most of our stuff.

"Focusing solely on throwing things away can only bring unhappiness. Why? Because we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of." -Marie Kondo The Life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing

The more "stuff" we have, the harder it is to organize. The more "stuff" we eliminate, the easier it is to organize. And the higher the ratio of "stuff that sparks joy" to "stuff that doesn't spark joy," the easier it is to stay organized.

Organizing your home is one thing. Staying organized once and for all, is another thing entirely.

A new decluttering mantra - 'You only have to do this once.'

Jane Dolan

Quote_51_Rohn"If you don't like where you are, change it. You are not a tree." -Jim Rohn

Most cleaning advice goes something like "toss out five thing every day for 30 days" or "spend fifteen minutes tidying up every day" it's all about cleaning & organizing in small, consistent, continual burst forever and always (at least that's what it feels like).

But the KonMari Method is completely the opposite - in one fell swoop get rid of everything that doesn't "spark joy" and then organize what you're left with. It turns out that most of our possessions often don't "spark joy" and can be gotten rid of - which makes organizing much easier.

Of course, you have to get through the process of going through each and every possession individually first.

If you're anything like me (or most of us) you have a lot of "stuff" most of which doesn't spark joy - in my closet I only have one or two pieces that really, truly sparked joy. You'll also probably have categories of stuff that are much more daunting to get through - for me that was art supplies.

Going through everything you own, just to get rid of much of it can be quite a daunting task. What helped me was repeating "Jane, remember, you only have to do this once."

Do you get overwhelmed by too much "stuff" too?

Jane Dolan

Quote_53_Westwood Too much stuff - it's a common problem.

Why do we have all this stuff? Do we really need all of it? Do we even need half of it? How do we let go of the things we don't need? How do we keep those things from coming back?

When I first started asking myself these questions, I began realizing my possessions were like an outward expression of my inner self.The state of my home, my office, my desk influenced, and also reflected how I felt.

Cluttered with bits & bobs, excess papers everywhere, piles of clothes, and boxes of this & that - don't even get me stated on my inbox & emails! - there's no end to the form that "stuff" can take.

I keep looking for clues to solve the organizational puzzle - both for myself, and my clients.

Everyone has their own puzzle to solve when it comes to organizing, with it's own clues, and it's own solution. No single solution works for everyone in every situation - the best solution is the one that works for you now.

For me, the key to my code is generally minimizing. What no longer "sparks joy?" What can I thank and let go of? What objects can move on from my life?

For me, having lots of "stuff" is overwhelming - I don't think I'm alone in this.

Since our external world reflects & influences our internal world. I find that pairing down my possessions, with intention and focus, keeping things that spark joy, and passing along things that don't - no need to throw things out willy-nilly! - helps me begin to harmonize my internal and external worlds.

Put another way.

When my space feels good, I feel good.

Marie Kondo puts it like this:

The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.

(quoted from an excerpt of Marie Kondo's book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" posted on slate.com)

Our "stuff" is about so much more than just the physical object - so no wonder we get overwhelmed!

And no wonder, that when we start letting go of objects that don't bring us joy, we also begin to let go of the emotional baggage attached to those objects. It's almost like, by taking 1 step towards decluttering, you're also taking 2 steps towards eliminating overwhelm.

So, what's the smallest step you could take towards decluttering, and eliminating overwhelm?

10 Fabulous Articles about Marie Kondo (if You are an Organizing Geek)

Jane Dolan

Jane-Organizes-Marie-Kondo-Quotes-from-Wall-Street-Journal-e1426138185186.jpg

Marie Kondo: We Should Be Choosing What We Want to Keep www.JaneOrganizes.com I'm a huge fan of Marie Kondo, and her organization method. I've talked about her book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" before, and got the chance to meet her in person at the beginning of her US book tour. She is thoughtful, delightful, and full of joy.

There have been a plethora of interesting articles about Marie Kondo and her KonMari method recently, so I thought I'd gather some of them together all in one place.

“Keep only the things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest,” she [Marie Kondo] advises. “When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too. As a result, you can see quite clearly what you need in life and what you don’t.”

Her “KonMarie method”, as she calls it in the diminutive and illustration-free volume, encourages a rapid, dramatic and transformative one-time organising event completed methodically and lovingly in no more than six months. It is not an ongoing battle against clutter.

Kondo sees tidying as a cheerful conversation in which anything that doesn’t “spark joy” is to be touched, thanked and ceremonially sent on its way towards a better life elsewhere, where it can discover a more appreciative owner.

“The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment,” Kondo said,

Like any lifestyle guru, Kondo has rules... The central law of Kondo’s method is to keep items that “spark joy” in an owner and dispose of items that do not.

Kondo's promise is about more than just stuff. It's about intentionality and mindfulness, with a sprinkling of Zen philosophy.

Marie Kondo has built a huge following in her native Japan with her “KonMari” method of organizing and de-cluttering. Clients perform a sort of tidying up festival: time set aside specifically to go through belongings. Each object is picked up and held, and the client needs to decide if it inspires joy. If it doesn’t, it needs to go.

Many experts say to declutter 15 minutes a day, working one room at a time. According to Marie Kondo, if you do this, you’ll be decluttering forever. She recommends that you make clutter clearing a special, once-in-a-lifetime event.

“When we take our clothes in our hands and fold them neatly,” she writes, “we are, I believe, transmitting energy, which has a positive effect on our clothes.” She proposes a similarly agreeable technique for hanging clothing. Hang up anything that looks happier hung up, and arrange like with like, working from left to right, with dark, heavy clothing on the left: “Clothes, like people, can relax more freely when in the company of others who are very similar in type, and therefore organizing them by category helps them feel more comfortable and secure.”

"Although this approach contradicts conventional wisdom, everyone who completes my private course has successfully kept their house in order—with unexpected results. Putting their house in order positively affects all other aspects of their lives, including work and family. Having devoted more than 80 percent of my life to this subject, I know that tidying can transform your life."

"During the selection process, if you come across something that does not spark joy but that you just can’t bring yourself to throw away, stop a moment and ask yourself, 'Am I having trouble getting rid of this because of an attachment to the past or because of a fear for the future?' It’s important to understand your ownership pattern because it is an expression of the values that guide your life. The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life."

 I love finding these articles about Marie Kond0--I am curious if elements of the Kon-Mari Method were lost in the translation (yes), and more importantly: just who is this person whose seemingly simple method has been transforming lives in the United States.

Let's change the question from 'what can I get rid of?' to 'what sparks joy?'

Jane Dolan

Believe What Your Heart Tells You When You Ask, "Does This Spark Joy?" Marie Kondo, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing" Ever since I was first introduced to Marie Kondo's book and the KonMari Method I was enamored by the possibility of organizing my home (and my clients homes) once and for all.

Most of the time we start cleaning/organizing/decluttering by asking the question "What can we get rid of?"

What can we get rid of? When was the last time we used it? Do we have multiples? Do we really need it?

We focus on the "getting rid of" aspect.

The KonMari Method asks "What sparks joy?"

Does this spark joy in us? - This question focuses on the "keeping & fulfilling" aspect.

What would life feel like if everything in our home sparked joy? How amazing would it be to come home to that? And what would you do to keep that feeling?

Once you have the feeling of walking into a home where every object sparks joy, would you ever again tolerate objects that didn't spark joy?

Let's change the question from "what can we get rid of?" to "what sparks joy?"

To be organized, is to be free (Thank you Marie Kondo!)

Jane Dolan

To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition. Samuel Johnson www.JaneOrganizes.com  

If to be organized is to be free, then to be organized once and for all is the dream.

I have been on a mission for more than 6 years to understand "stuff," why we have so much, what do we really need, what stuff do I want—from minimalism, to voluntary simplicity . . .  when does having too much stuff negatively impact our lives.

In late September last year, a friend mailed a New York Times article about Japanese home organizing expert Marie Kondo. Marie Kondo's book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing" walks readers through the KonMari Method of organizing your home once and for all.

It took me a couple of re-readings of the article before I realized I would be crazy not to purchase the book—I am in the organizing business, after all—it’s research!

I read the book twice, at least. There were nights I could not sleep due to excitement, - these were ideas and answers I had been waiting my whole life to learn—they were the missing pieces (I know that might sound weird, but it’s true).

I have been on a mission for more than 6 years to understand "stuff." Why we have so much? What do we really need? What stuff do I want—from minimalism, to voluntary simplicity? - When does having too much stuff detrimentally impact our lives?

Back to Marie Kondo, I used self-restraint and followed the directions in her book exactly—she is insistent that one must do exactly as she says for maximum results. Basically, you won’t be doing her method if you don’t fellow her steps exactly.

Unless I trust them completely, I usually want to rebel when someone strongly suggests something— for some reason I trusted Marie Kondo—through her book, she convinced me that, her whole life, she had been trying to understand the underlying problems people have being organized.

For me, the desire to be organized is something about wanting to be at peace with what I have and what I use—it feels as though, when I am “organized” I will be free. By that I mean, I will be free to stop looking for the "right way" to be organized. The excitement of find Marie Kondo, and the KonMari Method is that it does provide the possibility of being perfectly organized - once and for all.

The organizing is a one time event - centered around eliminating everything that does not "spark joy." It turns out that most things we hold on to don't "spark joy" and can be gotten rid of - which makes organizing what's left exponentially easier.

How strong is the desire to be organized?

How strong is the desire to be free of stuff?

How strong is the desire to be FREE?

xoxo

Jane

 

The Difficulties of Describing, and the Inherent Contradictions of, Wabi-Sabi

Jane Dolan

Quote-83-Andre-Gide How do you describe or explain an aesthetic that is inherently contradictory?

Perfect imperfection is wabi-sabi's inherent contradiction, and as an aesthetic that embraces life's imperfections, wabi-sabi also embraces life's ambiguities.

So, maybe the best way to describe wabi-sabi is through other author's writings and quotes.

And we're not alone in our stumbling over an explanation for wabi-sabi, in "Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers" Leonard Koren writes,

"When asked what wabi-sabi is, most Japanese will shake their head, hesitate, and offer a few apologetic words about how difficult it is to explain. Although almost every Japanese will claim to understand the feeling of wabi-sabi - it is, after all, supposed to be one of the core concepts of Japanese culture - very few can articulate this feeling."

From the book description of "Living Wabi Sabi: The True Beauty of Your Life" by Taro Gold,

"Wabi Sabi helps us to see the beauty in imperfection, to discover that our unique flaws also can lead us to our greatest strengths and treasures…. What is Wabi Sabi? A universal ideal of beauty, Wabi Sabi celebrates the basic, the unique, and the imperfect parts of our lives. Wabi Sabi is the comfortable joy you felt as a child, happily singing off key, creatively coloring outside the lines, and mispronouncing words with gusto. On a deeper level, Wabi Sabi is the profound awareness of our oneness with all life and the environment. It includes a deep awareness of the choices we make each day, the power we have to accept or reject each moment of our lives, and to find value in every experience."

And from Taro Gold's book itself, "Appreciate this and every moment, no matter how imperfect, for this moment is your life. When you reject this moment, you reject your life. You don't have to settle for this moment, you are free to steer a different course, but for now, this moment is yours, so be mindful to make the most of it."

In "Wabi Sabi Simple" Richard Powell writes, "Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect."

"If an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi." Wrote Andrew Juniper in "Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence"

And bringing it back to Leonard Koren, in "Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers," "Wabi-sabi is exactly about the delicate balance between the pleasure we get from things and the pleasure we get from freedom of things."

So, maybe wabi-sabi really is best summed up by the phrase "perfectly imperfect." Everything - life, us, our families, our neighbors, our homes, even the description of wabi-sabi is - perfectly imperfect.

"Leonard Koren's take on Wabi-Sabi"

Jane Dolan

 

I've written a bit before about the concept of wabi-sabi. Wabi-sabi is the Japanese aesthetic centered around imperfection, impermanence, and incompleteness. Another reason I am grateful to Marie Kondo of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up::The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I met the concept of wabi-sabi years ago, but as things go, I had forgotten there was a term that describes my philosophy in poetical terms.

My favorite writer on the subject of wabi-sabi is Leonard Koren, who writes about design and aesthetics, he wrote "Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers," published in 1994. According to a 2005 New York Times article, the book "explains the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, which celebrates earthiness, chance, unpretentiousness and intimacy of scale."

And in 2010, a different New York Times article said "'Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers,' first published in 1994, presented the Japanese notion of imperfect or humble beauty — you know the look, splintered driftwood against a winter sky, or a single flower past its prime."

From "Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers" itself:

"Get rid of all that is unnecessary. Wabi-sabi means treading lightly on the planet and knowing how to appreciate whatever is encountered, no matter how trifling, whenever it is encountered. [...] In other words, wabi-sabi tells us to stop our preoccupation with success--wealth, status, power, and luxury--and enjoy the unencumbered life. Obviously, leading the simple wabi-sabi life requires some effort and will and also some tough decisions. Wabi-sabi acknowledges that just as it is important to know when to make choices, it is also important to know when not to make choices: to let things be. Even at the most austere level of material existence, we still live in a world of things. Wabi-sabi is exactly about the delicate balance between the pleasure we get from things and the pleasure we get from freedom of things.”

Wabi-sabi isn't about lack or sterilized minimalism, it's about finding the poetry within the essence of life, and the delicate balance between having enough, and having too much stuff.

Leonard Koren advises "Pare down to the essence, but don't remove the poetry. Keep things clean and unencumbered, but don't sterilize."

The year 2015 is going to be about accepting (and living) Perfectly Imperfect

Jane Dolan

Quote_55_Make-Your-Self-Proud At the end of 2014, I discovered Marie Kondo's work, and her book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing" which, along with sparking all sorts of realizations, reintroduced me to the concept of wabi-sabi.

Wabi-sabi is a Japanese aesthetic, which centers around the ideas of imperfection and transience. "Wabi-sabi" is sometimes described as finding beauty in the "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete."

In other words, wabi-sabi is about live being perfectly imperfect. As much as "perfectly imperfect" sounds like a contradiction (especially as when it comes to organizing our homes), it's really not a contradiction, and is a quite freeing concept.

We all know life isn't perfect. Things come up. We fall off the wagon. Not everything stays in it's place. No system is perfect.

Wabi-sabi is living your life by finding the beauty in those imperfections, while embracing impermanence and the cycles of growth then decay. It’s heavy stuff, and also, I think quite liberating. The imperfect parts of our lives, are the parts that make our lives, ours, so why not embrace them (as hard as that can be.)

I’ve decided that 2015, for me, is the year of embracing and living by wabi-sabi, and letting life be a little more perfectly imperfect.