If Marie Kondo tackled PD

Several months ago, when Los Angeles was hit with much needed rainfall and I was at home more than usual, I spent some time cleaning and rearranging things.  I even managed to watch one episode of Marie Kondo’s Netflix show.  Unless you have been hiding under a rock the past few years, you can’t escape the influence of Marie Kondo, organizer extraordinaire, whose book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up  has transformed homes around the world.   Her signature phrase when determining whether or not to keep something is “does this object spark joy?”

Her KonMarie method is everywhere, in the office, at school, and even in politics.  A quick search found that a writer for an Israeli newpaper asks is Marie Kondo can ‘fix the Israeli-Palestinian mess.’

So how does all of this apply to People with Parkinson’s?  There is some merit in decluttering. Getting rid of those things that just take up space is a good thing, right? One less thing to trip over. One less thing to keep clean. It is also supposed to make our lives easier. In the book, she has a number of lessons that we should adhere to. Or maybe not…….

1. “Nostalgia is not your friend”.  Kondo says to go through one category of stuff at a time.   When going through all of those boxes stashed away for a rainy day, you may find yourself being drawn in by something that detracts you from your goals. Unfortunately, it is all too easy for that to happen to us Parkies. Finding something that was once meaningful may send us off into a different direction than originally planned. Or we get so absorbed into a project that we completely lose track of time and forget about other upcoming obligations.

So I decided to move a lot of photo boxes full of prints, negatives (remember those) and even photo CD’s, from a downstairs closet that I needed for those things I had removed from my book shelves in a first attempt at the KonMarie method. 20 boxes of photos are now sitting on my daughter’s dresser, waiting for someone to go through them and put them away. And another 4 have been sitting on my dining room table for weeks. I started to sort them, and found some family gems. Who says nostalgia is not your friend????? Those photos brought back so many memories, of times when PD did not get in our way and slow us down. I have now spent many hours sorting and resorting. I can’t get rid of these photos, even if I don’t know the people in them. Inertia has set in and neither Mr. Twitchy nor I can get past the nostalgia and finish the job. Those boxes will probably sit there until I need to use the table for other things, like eating.

2. “Does this object spark joy?” Of course it does, or I would not have bought it in the first place. My oldest daughter always asks, when she comes to visit, why we have so much stuff? “Get rid of it!” she says. “You don’t need it”. My response to her is always: “but you got that for me.” That usually quiets her for a little while. Besides, that object “sparked joy”, simply because she thought of me when she was traveling and brought me something that “sparked joy” in her.

I decided that maybe she is right and there is too much stuff on display. I removed some of it and put it in boxes which now reside in the 1/2 empty downstairs closet, with the goal of rotating things in and out, like in a museum. Then promptly forgot about them.

3. “Start tidying by category”. Which one? Many of us have been in our homes for many years and things are all over the place. With PD, it can be hard to focus on just one thing. So I thought, lets start with the photo boxes. Need I say more……..

This past weekend there was an article in the Wall Street Journal titled “The Joy of Clutter: What Marie Kondo got Wrong”. The author argues that we are in danger of de-cluttering our ways to empty lives. Yes, getting organized is important, but keeping some of those meaningful objects around becomes richly autobiographical. For those of us with PD, whose dying neurons are slowly robbing us of who we once were, keeping those things becomes ever more important because they remind us of who we still are. And that is a good thing.

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