The Clarifying Power of Decluttering: A Professional Organizer's Origin Story
What if, instead of seeing tidying up your home as a chore, you saw it as a gift to yourself? What if you saw each decluttering session as an opportunity to gain clarity on what is important to you and what is supporting you in your mission to thrive?
Today, I’m reflecting on how I came to be who I am today: a woman who is happily living in Los Angeles where good weather meets culture; who is in the healthiest and most mature relationship (both with myself and with my romantic partner) I’ve ever been in; who makes room for what feels true and authentic; and who feels fulfilled in the business I’ve created to help others clarify their values and organize their homes in a way that serves their lifestyles.
I will admit that when I read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up five years ago, I snickered a few times. I judged her when she revealed that she was the little girl who stayed in during recess to organize her classroom bookshelves. I doubted her when she said that often after a thorough tidying, some of her clients experienced weight-loss or found the courage to leave unhealthy relationships. I was super skeptical, but I was still curious enough to try her approach to letting go.
At the time, I was teaching at an international, independent school in Taipei. I loved seeing the growth in my students, but didn’t love the other circumstances of my life. There’s a certain transient nature to teaching internationally and I felt saddened each time a wonderful colleague-turned-close-friend would decide not to renew their contract. It felt like I was constantly building and rebuilding my support system and was increasingly unsettled by not knowing if I even wanted to be Taiwan long term. I grew weary from the lack of romantic prospects and really resented that I worked within such a grade and image-oriented institution that made it hard for students to feel safe making mistakes. I felt unaligned. When I tried to envision a life that worked for me, my then reality was not reflecting my ideal.
And so I tidied. I let go of so much. I let go of books that I was never going to make time to read, and even if I did, I could always borrow them. I released kitchen appliances that former coworkers had bequeathed to me when they left and I said goodbye to cheapie items I had amassed from all those shopping trips to the night market. And I shed clothes–clothes that had followed me from one corporate job to another in the Bay Area and New York, clothes that I had worn and worn out during my half-year of backpacking around the world, and clothes that made its way out of NY storage and into my moving boxes when I shipped my life to Taiwan. I let go of it, kept only what “sparked joy,” and what was I mostly left with? Yoga pants and backless dresses.
I was perplexed.
“What am I supposed to make of this?” I yelled over the phone to my friend Eloise, who along with many of my other close friends, had relocated to Los Angeles. “What kind of job can I have with a wardrobe of yoga pants and revealing dresses?! I can’t teach high schoolers dressed like this.”
“It sounds pretty LA to me,” she replied.
What felt like utter confusion gave way to clarity.
I saw that I was outgrowing my limiting beliefs about what “success” was. I realized that as long as I was out of alignment with any part of myself, I was not living to my fullest potential. I began to rethink what I wanted work to look like:
I wanted to work with people on an intimate basis and help them get in touch with themselves.
I wanted to work on a variety of projects.
I wanted to create beauty.
I thought about all those qualities that I wanted my work to have and began to see how much opportunity laid before me. All those aspects of work didn’t point directly to a new career in Professional Organizing. Truthfully, it took me a few months to figure that piece of it out. But when that year’s teaching contract was up, I packed up all my things (I had a lot less to pack this time after all that tidying) and moved to Los Angeles, trusting that my inner compass would guide me to my joy, even if I didn’t have a firm plan in place. Now, I spend my time doing what fills my cup, I do it out of love for myself and the people around me, and I do it mostly in yoga pants.
I’ve never felt more at peace.
If you’re open to the potential of transformation through organization and would like help getting started, I’m here to help! Let’s get in touch.