Renee TarantowskiFeb 5, 2018

How much is too much?

The basement project . . .

 has been a game changer in so many aspects of my life.

Clearing out the old, unwanted, unused, unneeded . . . as I was getting rid of stuff, I was also getting rid of my old habits that were not serving me.  

Through tears . . . sometimes just one and at other times that hysterical ugly cry, the tears were cleansing.  The water that cleans the dishes each night and load after load of clothes . . . my inner water is also cleansing.  

Help from Friends

Many friends have suggested that I read Marie Kondo's book.  So I wrote about it:

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

This is the title of the book my friends keep referencing for me. I thought it was a load of crap but decided to schlep to the library and pick it up. Standing among neatly stacked books, I skimmed a book about achieving a neatly kept house.

The book, was not a complete load of crap, but did not resonate with me. It has worked for my friends but it didn’t work for me and this is why.

How could a single, Japanese woman, living in a tiny apartment offer any advice on how to tidy up. My chef mentor was a Japanese woman — I know how tidy and precise she was and I imagine Marie Kondo (the author) and Tameko Cowen (the chef) had a Japanese mindset that most Americans do not have. Mommason (Tameko) insisted that I do things precisely her way — we worked in a galley kitchen 8 feet by 4 feet. In that tiny space there was no room for anything to be out of place. The walk in cooler adjacent to our work space was much bigger and I would often escape into the frigid cold. Mommason tried her best to teach me the ways of her country but I was too American. She did teach me how to embrace and respect another culture and for that I am grateful.

I am, by nature, a very organized, neat, tidy, person. When I was single living in a tiny apartment, everything had its place. It was a no-brainer. I imagine that both as single women Marie and I would be fast friends. I can also imagine the strain on our relationship as my family grew to six and she wrote a book about my past life with a clean apartment.

Kondo and a Messy Husband

When Marie Kondo did get married, she didn’t have a messy husband. She has a husband who enjoys neat and tidy AND he cooks all the meals. Again, her life and my life are not resonating.

The Kondo Philosophy

This part I like . . . the idea is that you pile up all of your similar belongings, pick up each item, pondering “Does this sparks joy?” If not, express thanks and get rid of it.

Picture this: I load up all of my shirts, some dating back over 30 years from High School and I ask myself do they spark joy. To tackle this job I would need lots and lots of adult beverages! or a match. Why is it so hard? I love the concept but the ringer is I don’t purchase my belongings with this mindset so getting rid of them in this way doesn’t always work.

If we buy something to make us happy . . . our mindset when we get rid of it is that we will be unhappy. We need to change our purchase/buying mindset.

The Other Problem with the Kondo Philosophy

“Does this spark joy?”

This is where Americans get lost. We don’t know what f-ing joy is!!!

We can’t ask a shirt if it brings us joy if we don’t know what makes our hearts sing and our soul dance.

We need to know what joy is. We need to know what a “spark” feels like. We don’t, we are sad, lonely and own way too much shit!! Our joy is buried in the hoard.

Should you Kondo your kids?


The day after my birthday in 2017, the Wall Street Journal published and article by that name. I read it. Finally, Marie Kondo came over to the other side — frigging reality.

“Ms. Kondo says she has realized her method needs a tweak for parents with kids because it is unrealistic.” No shit.

Here is another great quote, “Ms. Kondo says she isn’t the nagging type and values what makes her children joyful. For example, when my daughter is crying, I try to ask her what she wants and fulfill her wishes as much as possible.”

Ok, we all have different parenting styles but just as Marie’s tidying was unrealistic I think her parenting needs a reality check as well. What will bring her daughter joy is stuff that the other kids have!

I did find it interesting that she declined a tour by the WSJ.

Final Thoughts

As we go through life we think we have the answers. Mark Twain has a great quote that says it better than I can:

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

We are all walking each other home . . . Mommason, Me and Marie.

Until we meet again.

The Price of Wisdom

How I Figured Out My Purpose

Server IP: