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The Lifechanging Art of Tidying....Me

Examining what brings me joy

By Judey Kalchik Published about a year ago 4 min read
Top Story - January 2023
author selfie

Because nine Facebook pages, a weekly blog, and writing for both Vocal and Medium aren’t enough non-work-related typing for me, I also write book reviews.

You’ve likely heard of the book that was the subject of one of my first reviews: the life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo. A small sweet-looking book, I thought it would be an easy read and a quick review.

I was almost right.

The book can be read in one sitting, and I enjoyed writing the review. The problem was, I kept going back to re-read parts of it. Then I started acting on what I was reading.

What a disaster.

This was supposed to be a review, not a life-skills learning opportunity! Marie Kondo truly believes and teaches that a person only needs to tidy their space once. To do it only once means following her process (which is really very simple.) If a person doesn’t follow her process she says they will work on it forever and not see lasting improvement in their standard of living.

EVERY ITEM a person owns must be picked up and considered in light of a simple question.

Does it bring joy?

If so, it stays, and must have a permanent place; one that it will always be placed when not in use.

If not- out it goes. Every. Item. She estimates it will take the average person 6 months.

I can only speculate that I will not be the average person. This is going to take some time to complete.

The small part that I have accomplished, though, lets me know I am on the right track. I keep going back to one section in the book, it’s a section that discusses why people keep too much STUFF that doesn’t bring joy.

She says it’s for two reasons:

  • Clinging to the past
  • Fear of the future

Some people have one or the other as their reason, some people have both.

Now, there’s no doubt that I love me my stuff.

Give me more than 5 minutes in any place and I start to nest. What rang true for me, though, is that weight is also stuff.


  • It is stuff that does not bring me joy.
  • It is stuff that does not bring me joy and that I have not yet thrown away.
  • It is stuff that does not bring me joy and that I have been tidying up for 40 years.
  • It is stuff that does not bring me joy that I have been working on for 40 years and have not seen a lasting improvement.

So, which is it?

Clinging to the past or fear of the future- or both? Well, fat is certainly a way of clinging to the past. The past is actually not only clung to by a person- it clings ON a person. Every mouthful can easily be relived by looking into a mirror.

Fear of the future?


My grandparents had a LOT of stuff.

As the years went by the STUFF grew and grew, boxes piled on boxes, half-used bottles with dregs of whatever were tucked carefully away: They might NEED it someday.

  • If they needed it, well, if they saved it there it would be.
  • If they threw it away they might not be able to get it again.

To discard it would be a waste.

I’m not sure what would have happened if someone had asked them if the things they kept brought them joy.

Joy wasn’t the point.

Joy wasn’t the motivation.

Joy wasn’t what they thought about.

Joy wasn’t how they made their decisions.

At a basic level, fear of not having what they needed in the future drove their actions. Clinging to the things that once met their needs was safe.

It must be the same thing for me.

I need to change the reasons I keep the things that do not bring me joy. Once that meant donating nine bags of towels, sheets, blankets, and clothes to local shelters and drop-boxes in one emphatic moment to put the THINGS I’s accumulated to new use.

Those things once brought me joy but they had fulfilled their purpose. No more moving them from one drawer, from one bin, from one box to another. No more tidying. It was time to let them go.

Time to apply that to me and the weight that has been lost and found over and over. This year I have tidied some weight off.

But I haven’t examined it; I haven’t determined what brings me joy. I am convinced that must change.

I’ll repeat this “self-tidying” over and over if I act out of fear and not joy.

This January I am grateful for the changes made over the past twelve months. I’m also grateful that I have twelve brand new months right around the bend.

Bring on the joy.


I've written about a lifelong preoccupation with food before. You may enjoy these Vocal stories:

You may also enjoy visiting me on Medium-

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About the Creator

Judey Kalchik

It's my time to find and use my voice.

Poetry, short stories, memories, and a lot of things I think and wish I'd known a long time ago.

You can also find me on Medium

And please follow me on Threads, too!

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Comments (21)

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  • Barbara Bell10 months ago

    Marie Kondo did change people's lives with her first book, and I hear she has written a second one that deals with the challenges of being a mother of small children (she was 24, married, and without children when she wrote the first one.) I love the idea of getting rid of stuff I don't want. I still have a problem with stuff I really need but don't have room for. But it is an ongoing process (one must view it that way) so what I "really need" today may be what I "really don't want" in a few weeks or months. Hold everything loosely.

  • Gina Calleaabout a year ago

    Congrats on the top story!

  • Samara Simsonabout a year ago

    So relatable. You are pretty. Nice story.:)

  • Chloe Gilholyabout a year ago

    The dress you have is beautiful.

  • Varsha Kewalramaniabout a year ago

    liked your story....

  • JBazabout a year ago

    A very timely article as this is exactly what my wife and I are doing. Congrats on the article

  • This comment has been deleted

  • P. K. Ganiabout a year ago

    Some great food for thought, I'm sure many of us like to kick start the year with some decluttering. I like the points on why we hold onto our stuff. I'm quite ruthless when it comes to clearing out to the point of needing some of it further down the line 🤦🏻‍♀️

  • Mark Grahamabout a year ago

    Great sharing. I am also a book reviewer, but mostly of children's and young adult books. I have also written them and posted them here on Vocal and a few on medium.

  • Dean F. Hardyabout a year ago

    Yes indeed! Had a feeling this would be a Top Story. Well done Judey! And what a dress!!!!

  • Hazel Rymell about a year ago

    Enjoyed reading this. This relates to me! The things I can't let go of, "might need that" usually don't! Then there are the things I had actually got rid of, "doubt I'd wear that, haven't worn it in years" so bravely it goes to charity, only within a year later, it was the style of clothing I could really have done with! "Oh no!" I cry, I had that long skirt for years and hung on to it. It was just hanging there in my wardrobe, never being worn, so had finally decided to get rid of it. Only to suddenly need it again. "that was the perfect skirt I could do with now, but got rid of it literally last year!" Puts me off getting rid of stuff. After all, you never know, one day, I may need it!

  • I enjoyed reading this and it is an interesting perspective. I agree with much of it. I'm a firm believer in if it needs done then prioritize it otherwise it can wait. I've lived minimalist for over many years. Food, I fast for three days of the month. Simple is good but I do like comfort. I didn't know that you are doing book reviews! That is good to know. I will definitely get ahold of you in the future for that. :)

  • Heather Hublerabout a year ago

    I felt this one so much!! Not only do I have stuff I'd love to be rid of but fat too. I don't like having lots of things, not to say I'm unappreciative but clutter is not for me. Unfortunately, I have 6 family members living under one roof along with pets that love to have stuff. I always needed to keep things in case the next child might need it. I try to sneakily donate as much stuff as I can get away with, lol. Too bad, I can't donate the fat. I love how honest and unassuming you were in this article. You have a wonderful way with being truthful without being rude or hypocritical. Congrats on the very well deserved Top Story!!

  • C. H. Richardabout a year ago

    Wow fabulous selfie! Absolutely love this story. I have been trying to move stuff out too that does not bring me joy! One bag at a time. You just gave me a whole new prospective on it! Also love Marie Kondo. Very cool that you did a review on her book. Congratulations on your top story as well!

  • testabout a year ago

    My grandparents were the same way, being Okies who survived the Great Depression. My mom wasn’t as bad of a hoarder because she mostly lived paycheck to paycheck. But she did have an obsession with having tons of closet space, which I never understood. Both my Nana and mother struggled with their weight. I’ve always been a minimalist, and someone who does not gain weight no matter what. I work as a chakra seer and 100% believe weight gain and hoarding are something that originates in the mind, specifically the conscious mind that is ruled by the Throat chakra, just like the thyroid is. Great work, I have subscribed. :)

  • KJ Aartilaabout a year ago

    Way to go, Judey! I do love this one! :)

  • Congratulations on your Top Story

  • Colt Hendersonabout a year ago

    Seeing as my house just burned down and all I have is the clothes on my back I am left with the fat. All of the fat! Great read.

  • Dean F. Hardyabout a year ago

    Very enjoyable, deserves more eyes on it.

  • sleepy draftsabout a year ago

    Fantastic article!!

  • Cathy holmesabout a year ago

    Great article. This is very nice as well. My Mom is like your grandparents in the "might need it someday." Stuff that will never be looked at, but she won't get rid of. ugh

  • Great post and your selfie is lovely. It is great to keep the things that bring us joy, but you need to have things that are essential to your daily life which don't neccessarily bring you joy, but would cause problems if they go missing , like door keys. Excellent piece and a probably Top Story

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