The Skinny – Amy Brunell

2014-05-26 16.48.25The Life Changing Magic of What Did I Get Myself Into?

I have a clutter issue. I’m not a hoarder, I don’t bring in stuff, but I have so much stuff between myself, my spouse, my children, my mother, my in-laws and my in-law family. It all lives in one crowded overwhelmed house. There is no peace here. It is not a sanctuary of any kind. It is a mess and I don’t have many people over because it is embarrassing to live like this.

I don’t like cleaning and organizing. I get inspirations to clean a drawer or even a closet, but just a section. I feel great after I do it and admire it for days afterwards, but that doesn’t lead to a generalized approach for continuing my efforts in other sections. I have to wait for the next wave of inspiration to come. That makes this project unceasing.

So the other day, I actually gave myself a day off and did not have any appointments or obligations for any other person or business. That day was the day to finally, finally start the KonMari method of clearing out my clothes. I have so much stuff I live with.

In Marie Kondo’s method from the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, you first gather every single thing that you wear, every sock, every coat, everything and put it into separate piles. I messed up the first part of this, and started making one large pile of absolutely everything. So then I went back and reorganize the shirts, pants, skirts, jackets, etc.

Here’s my first journal entry:

9:55 am

“I’m nauseous. I just dumped my two dressers of their stuff and I actually feel sick. Just those dressers full and I mean cramped full of stuff. Marie Kondo talks about an average of 160 pieces and I must have that much just in my drawers. What did I think I needed all that stuff for? How did I collect so much stuff? My energy is really headachy now. I feel congestion in my shoulders and my head. I feel sick I tell you.

I understand why a drawer at a time wouldn’t work for me. I’ve done that technique and while it yields results, this is much more profound. I am consciously telling you that I don’t want all this stuff. My life can’t move forward with all this stuff. Seeing just the drawers is too much. What’s going to happen seeing the closets too? I dread this.

I think this requires music. And also water. Must drink water. Dehydrated already.”

My next entry:

10:31 am

“Okay, all the closets are done. Now the front foyer. I am sick about all of this. How did this happen? What Marie Kondo didn’t deal with that is coming to me in waves of anxiety is all the sizes I have. I didn’t realize I kept this much stuff. I have literally 4 sizes in this pile and I mourn, yes mourn, the loss of wearing those clothes that have been too small on me for over 8 years. When do I think I’m going to get back into them? When do I think this is ever going to happen?”


“Re-reading the book, I see that I must add handbags and shoes and then there’s another order to this. I’m following her instructions, so I will get out the bags and shoes. I’m not sure how I will organize the stuff though. Oy. But I see the point. I really do. It will go more quickly once I organize the way she says. I get it.”


“The shoes and handbags are a lot. But the empty shoe boxes are also there. What? How did 6 empty boxes just sit in my closet taking up space?”

In the KonMari method, you pick up each item and ask yourself if it sparks joy. For some reason, this part was quick for me. I knew immediately about my joy. My friend came over and became my packer. She stayed for an hour and 1/2 and when I got stuck, she talked me through it. She remarked how quickly I was getting through my piles. I didn’t keep anything I was stuck about as she helped me let it go. I even started getting rid of every pair of underwear I hated. No more picking out underwear that doesn’t fit! I even got rid of every white sport sock, I didn’t know until that sorting I hated. I only want color socks! They spark joy!

There was something about seeing all those clothes together that really changed me. It is profound when see all the items you hang on to but aren’t wearing, taking up space and energy in your home, making you feel guilty, unattractive and sad, keeping you stuck in old thoughts, places and situations that are truly in the past.

By 2:00 we had 14 filled garbage bags of clothes. We donated it right away and got it out of the house.

After I came home I started the KonMari method of folding and hanging clothes. Kondo says that all tee-shirts should be folded in a specific way and not hung. So I took my ironing board, watched some Youtube videos of the folding techniques and begun my next phase.

When I started to put away the clothes I kept, I put most items in new places. I wanted it to feel very fresh and so many items got new homes. My dresses are accessible. There is actually space between the hangers. They aren’t jammed together coming out of my closet wrinkled. Three other items don’t come along with the one that I need because there is space.

My shirt drawer is amazing. It looks like Japanese modern art. You put the folded shirts in the drawer vertically so you can see each one. Then color code them from dark in the back to light in the front. Every time I open the drawer, I’m stunned at how amazing and dare I say, easy this is? She claims with correct folding there are less wrinkles if any at all. So far, that has been my experience.

I did buy plastic shoe boxes for the remaining shoes. One of my problems in this house is major dust and dog hair (tumbleweeds anyone?) issues and I felt like I needed shoes protected from dust. I did buy clear plastic (not my favorite at all) and I will do something to make those shoes easier to access later.

The other profound, and I mean profound result is that everything I kept, fits. No more going in the closet and mourning the loss of thinner Amy. I don’t have those reminders torturing me telling me that I am not okay. I fit into everything.

Once I started folding, I realized I still have too many clothes I have too many socks, too many pants, but I decided I had to finish the method first and then I’ll weed out as it goes.

Books are next. Wish me luck!

The Actors' Gang


  1. I started decluttering my house using the Marie Kondo method about a month ago. It has truly been life changing. I still have a few more categories left, but my condo feels so much more relaxed. Keep at it! It is totally worth it!

  2. I am glad this worked for you Amy. I, actually had a very different experience. When I tried this about a year ago, my weight had ballooned higher than it had ever been. Because of this, nothing, and I mean nothing, sparked joy in me. My old, “skinny clothes”, depressed me as a reminder of how much weight I gained. My newer clothes, although cute, depressed me more, seeing high numbers on the tags and just made feel defeated. I ended up not getting rid of anything. On the up side though, the experience inspired me to action. I rejoined Weight Watchers (where I see you on most Sundays), and quickly lost those extra 10 pounds that I’d never seen before. I’m still struggling with the rest of my weight, but at least I’m out of the depression and denial I had faced when i first bought that book.

    Just thought I’d offer a different perspective!

  3. Amy, I loved this. You articulated exactly how I feel about cleaning and organizing. Once I get started I hit groove and don’t stop til I’m done, but the process can be quite crazy making. You are an inspiration as always. Keep it up, lady!

  4. Perfect, Amy. I am shuttling between LA and NYC these days, and both places have too much stuff. When I need something in NYC, it’s in LA; when I need it in LA, it’s in NYC. Still, I haven’t lost hope. My Beloved and I are determined to size down and combine and have joy sparking wildly in every room. He hoards clothes. I hoard skincare.

    After learning the gist, and reading THIS PIECE, I just put Marie Kondo’s book on Hold at the NYPL.

    I spring eternal.

    ps I MISS YOU!!

  5. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    The Universe rewards Action not Thought.
    Good for you for taking action!

    And, inspiring others with your example.

  6. Wow, Amy, what a tremendous achievement! Just reading it made me get a little queasy. Just imagining going along on this tumultuous ride of yours. I’m so overjoyed to see that you had the courage and the stamina to see it through (and by that, I do not mean doing it ALL!). Inspiring blog. Thanks so much for sharing. xoxo

  7. Amy, You Go Girl! Way to get over the hurdles. It took me two hours to go through the stack of papers on my kitchen counter next to the computer; the thought of doing my closet (and the stuff of mine stored in the kids’ – now young men and mostly out of the house – closets literally sends my anxiety through the roof. I take heart that you made such headway in one day. Thanks!

  8. I have T-shirts that are souvenirs from days long gone. Some of them don’t even fit me anymore. One of them I got In TJ, Mexico at the tender age of around 18. My best friend and I went down there to explore the real “City of Sin”. Explore we did! Fortunately, the only thing I came back with was a shirt from the now defunct “Blue Fox Cantina”. The graphics always bring a guilty chuckle. Then there’s a collarless shirt I had made in Bali out of a local batik sarong. Unbeknownst to me, batik doesn’t do well in washing machines. However, I kept it long enough for Jonathan to wear it once. Then I washed it. Now the remnants are back in my closet giving me joy whenever I pass over it. Then there’s my favorite T-shirt. On the front is one of those “stages of evolution lines” that culminates with a plumber fixing some pipes! On the back is the evolutionary catch phrase “Survival of the fittest!”. So far so good, right? Right! However, the parts house that produced the promotional shirts for its’s doting customers, then went on to include it’s name above the Darwin quote… “Ferguson”! Needless to say, the shirts were made and distributed long before the unfortunate event that transpired in the town that helped launch the “Black Lives Matter” movement. That shirt will definitely remain hidden in the back of my closet indefinitely! So there you have it. All these shirts (and more) do, however, “bring me joy”! So I guess I will hold on to them until dementia frees me from those joy filled memories and associations…

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