The Wishing Tree at The Japanese Society, NYC

The Wishing Tree at The Japanese Society, NYC

It’s July-something as I write this and I am headed back NYC for a quick trip; but I missed my flight (not my fault – oversold) and am now tucked away in the back corner of the Delta Sky Club. I am not at all sad. Though another woman missed the same flight (totally her fault – late) and she is way sad. And mad. And not at all nice to the gate agent. But she’s not here and I am and sometimes nice girls don’t finish last.

The last time we connected – months ago, I realize – I was headed to NYC to meet Marie Kondo; I also promised to post something after that meeting, but life and work and children and more work have sucked up all my time (not to mention sanity) and I didn’t have time to write. Or make dinner. Like, ever. Good news: I’ve determined that guacamole counts as a green vegetable. So when you are at the pediatrician and the doctor asks how many green vegetables you feed your child, remember this tidbit.

With the missed NYC flight and the three uninterrupted hours in front of me and a perfectly packed suitcase thanks, in part, to Kondo, I realized it was only right that I use this time to share my Marie Kondo meeting. I was with my mother and my New York-based sister so the trip with or without Kondo would have been lovely anyway. Still, meeting the famed Marie was almost as good as guacamole counting as a vegetable.

The sheet masks that my sister swears by. Frightening. But I like that she stuck with the whole Asian theme prior to the event. These are from Korea (the masks - not the people). I did not partake because I was busy WORKING.

The sheet masks that my sister swears by. Frightening. But I like that she stuck with the whole Asian theme prior to the event. These are from Korea (the masks – not the people). I did not partake because I was busy working.

The event took place at the Japan Society, which is a space that exudes peace and grace and quietness. We arrived on time – a miracle for us – and were ushered into a small room. Kondo’s team broke us into groups and asked us to determine what tidying would mean on a global scale. It was an interesting question – though I will admit that it was so hot in that room I was sort of pondering why there weren’t refreshments. Like water. Or cookies. I think better with a cookie. Everybody does.


Dear New York: Thank you for using English on the Japan Society sign – makes it easier for us Americans to read.


My mother – my first (and best) tidying guru.

But then I started listening to the united message coming through: by simplifying our lives we might achieve freedom on many levels. Freedom with our time, with our resources, with our energy. I know it sounds silly, especially for those who haven’t read Kondo’s books, but managing less physical stuff creates space for more of the good stuff – like rest and rejuvenation and joy and celebrations and time to cook a green vegetable every once in a while.

I encourage anyone to read Kondo’s books and to re-evaluate what is necessary and needed and, equally important, what is burdensome and exhausting. I have been in the throes of some major renovations with clients these past months including one who gutted her entire main floor with the sole purpose of creating an ideal space to spend with those individuals she adores, namely friends and family and two darling little boys and even her husband (I know!).  She could care less about filling her space with things, preferring to fill it with people and laughter and an unbelievable amount of margaritas.

A page from Marie's book.

A page from Marie’s book.

We furnished an entire home that had burned down – my sweet but shell-shocked client lost both her dog and her mother in the fire. And we are in the final stages of a project for a long-time friend of mine who, too, unexpectedly lost her mother to illness and was determined to find a way to include her mother’s beloved and priceless antiques into her already filled-to-the-brim home.

I have the best clients. They have been brave in their own way by trusting me with big and small decisions, pushing through the fear of saying goodbye to things that are no longer bringing them happiness, and digging their heels in when something really mattered, no matter what someone else said. They are all focused on how they, and others, feel in their space. Because in the end, it’s about the life that you want to live and the people you want to live it with.

My time with Kondo was divine. Let me just say she is very small, so now we know why she has more drawer space than the rest of us. Tiny clothes. And – why I was shocked by this I am not entirely sure – she only speaks Japanese! I was set to partake in her first certification event that happens only New York and San Francisco later this month, but I have changed my mind based on time and priorities. Plus, I sort of have the Kondo thing down, with or without the piece of paper to prove it.

My little sister meeting little Marie.

My little sister meeting little Marie.

Still, Kondo’s translator did a fantastic job, and even if she hadn’t I would have gotten the message loud and clear: Clean out the junk in your life and in your soul. Because the good stuff has absolutely nothing to do with stuff.

My good stuff.

My good stuff.

Thanks for stopping by The Neighbor’s House! Please join my Facebook page or forward this blog to your friends or leave a comment or share a photo of your before and after tidying project.  Or just skip all that make some guacamole and a vat of margaritas.