Reads: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up


I am an avid reader – so much so, that the library attendants now recognize me when I come to pick up my books, usually 3-4 books per week. I pick up everything from business, to mentorship, to fiction, to autobiographical and devour them all.  Several months ago I picked up The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and it really was magic. I read it in a few short days and over the course of the next few months (it’s still ongoing) I followed the method outlined and was able to rid our home of an astonishing number of items that had just been sitting, clogging up drawers, cabinets and closets. A few of my favorite quotes and reflections are below.

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1. The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.  Marie Kondo talks a lot about imaging the live you want – why do you want this life, what does it look like? It comes down to matching up your possessions with your lifestyle.

2. Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Who knew you could turn organizing into something sentimental? I love this method though because it gives you freedom to keep the things you love, no matter how silly or seemingly useless, and to get rid of the things you don’t love, even if they are functional, perfectly good items.

3. When we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future. Can we say yikes? When you think about this, who constantly wants to live in the past and therefore block future change just by not letting go of things that we have mindlessly collected over the years?

4. We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to be getting rid of. Another “permission phrase” that focuses on the positive side of organizing and tidying and the Kon Mari method specifically. And isn’t it more exciting to know that everything in your home and closet are the items that YOU want to be there? Not because your grandmother, mother-in-law, or a boyfriend gave them to you, but because you like, need, and want that item.

5. Those storage “solutions” are really just a means within which to bury possessions that spark no joy. The premise here is that storage solutions really just provide the appearance of clean. Rearranging junk and items you don’t love doesn’t help you clean your house or live a more tidy life – it just covers them up.

I have cleaned out my closets numerous times, rarely making a dent in the sheer number of items I owned. When I did the first step in Kon Mari (your clothes) and pulled everything out and dumped it on the floor – I was honestly shocked at how much I owned. Seeing all of the clothes together in one place was eye opening. Going through it from a lens of what sparked joy even more so. My collection of jackets remained intact (I sold one that I always found awkward to wear) – but I still have 10, easily, but I love them all. By the end of the clothes portion, I had two huge IKEA bags full of items that I didn’t love, didn’t fit, would never wear, etc. I eliminated my extra storage bins of “off season”clothing because everything I love and wear now fits in my closet. I also realized that I don’t typically dress for seasons – most of my clothing I wear year round with the exception of shorts for vacations. I extend my dresses and sleeveless tops with jackets, tights, and boots for multi-season wear. But most of all, my closet feels like it can breath and I can actually find the pieces I want to wear.

Over the past several months I have been thinking hard about minimalism. I’m endlessly fascinated with the tiny house movement, this article on living and adapting to a tiny space, and this one on downsizing, just to name a few. With that comes an interest in avoiding fast fashion (because really – all those Target clearance items do is end up on the floor, in the trash or being given away anyway), ethical and sustainable fashion practices, and a focus on investment buying and actually wearing and re-wearing (shocking idea right?) your clothes. Even if you aren’t interested in minimalism, the Kon Mari Method is worth reading – because it’s not about living with nothing, it’s about living with what you love and that will differ dramatically for everyone. For us, at this stage in our life, it is about minimalism – how to live more with less. We have some interesting goals (well, experiments are more like it) for 2016 and I can’t wait to share more of them here. For now though, pick up this book and let me know what you think!

What else I’ve been reading:

Reads Dec 2015



Reads: I’ll Drink to That by Betty Halbreich

2014_09_betty-Halbreich-Bergdorf-Goodman-Ill-Drink-to-That-413x287Photo cred: The Woman’s Room. From the Bergdorf Goodman And Michael Kors Celebration of Betty Halbreich’s New Memoir, “I’ll Drink To That: A Life in Style with a Twist” on September 4, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Michael Kors)

I first heard of Betty Halbreich, the director of the Solutions Department at Bergdorf Goodman’s (otherwise known as the legendary personal shopper of Bergdorf Goodman, even though she abhors that title) through the documentary “Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s“. Ms. Halbreich (it seems only fitting to refer to her as Ms. at the age of 86!) initiatied the personal shopping department at Bergdorf’s and has become known for her no-nonsense way of fitting and shopping for clients – and for giving honest, no-holds-barred truths about dressing.

I closely watch their reactions as I show them things they would never put on themselves. That’s what I’m here for – to open them up to new worlds. – Betty Halbreich, I’ll Drink to That

This book is now in my personal collection and I’m so glad to have a piece of fashion history. It’s a very easy read and is something you can pick up and put down and not loose the story line. Before this book, the only things I knew about Ms. Halbreich was her fame as one of the first personal shoppers. I’ll Drink to That was a fascinating revelation of a real human: one who grew up in Chicago to a well-off family comprised of mother and stepfather and a biological father she never knew; a hard and rocky marriage that ended in separation; a cry for attention that ended in a mental hospital; and a bout with cancer. While she herself never relied on clothes as a means of altering her own mood (not that she didn’t love her clothes, she did! but dressing was a careless and effortless process), she knew the inherent power of clothes: “In my business I have witnessed how the superficial cover of clothes can become essential in trying times.”

As a stylist, and when I work with all of my own clients, I strive for them to find love: “That was the magic word. Love. I wanted them to love themselves instantly when they put on a new coat, dress, or whatever.” Having and buying mounds of clothes to purchase a new outfit doesn’t mean all that much – what changes the perspective is when an outfit is chosen with care and someone’s face lights up at that perfect dress, the pants that flatter or the top that brings joy.

One of my favorite realizations from this book is the fact that Ms. Halbreich started the Solutions Department in Bergdorf’s at age forty and is still running it today. How many times have we felt the career or professional pressure to have it all together at 20 or even 30? How encouraging is it to know that we can enjoy life and its twists and turns and still have room for changes.

Should you read this book? Absolutely! If you love fashion, you will find a fun peek into the manner and style of dressing in the mid-1900’s as well as her more modern interactions with the rise of movies, TV shows (hint: Sex and the City) and wardrobe stylists. If you like documentaries, I would also recommend this book as it provides a unique perspective into the world of fashion.

Want a little taste of what the book is like? Read this great interview in Vanity Fair.

PS – Want more reads? Check out the first installment.

Reads: Creative Confidence

2015.6.22ReadsI don’t just read books, I decorate with them too

Saying I love to read is an understatement. As long as I can remember I had a book in my hand: at family gatherings I could be found on the sofa, head buried between the pages; out fishing with my dad, I would be in the cabin or sunning on the bow with a book; I have spent more than one afternoon starting and finishing a book too good to put down. My books are also quite varied and span young adult, adult, fiction, nonfiction, mystery, sci-fi, girly, etc. I also love inspirational and instructional books that inspire a new way of thinking or doing business (or even just life). To that end, I wanted to start a blog category called Reads. A new post will come up whenever I have finished my most recent book and feel like it’s something I want to share or that will inspire others. Please chime in on this series! I would love to know if you have read a certain book, what you thought and even suggestions for future titles. So, without further ado – my first book!

7_Creative_Confidence_book10603Photo cred: via Creative Confidence website

Creative Confidence by Tom Kelly and David Kelly is based on the premise that we are ALL creative and in this book they outline a series of steps  and methods to help you break into your creativity. Tom and David (brothers that both now work at IDEO, a design and innovation consulting firm) present this information in eight, easy to read chapters that are filled with real life stories and Pinterest-able quotes but don’t let that fool you. Their ideas have been proven to work and they really, quite easy to do.

Creativity is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status. – Sir Ken Robinson

Chapter 1 presents us with the idea of “design thinking” – a different way of approaching problems that takes into account rapid experimentation (“prototyping”) and human interaction (i.e. understanding the human side business) and weights them all equally. They believe that ideas should be both functional and emotionally meaningful.

You can achieve audacious goals if you have the courage and perseverance to pursue them. – Tom Kelly and David Kelly, Creative Confidence

Chapter 2 encourages you to give up your fear of failure, take more shots at the goal, build your creative confidence through a series of small successes, let go of comparison and grab on to “urgent optimism”: the desire to act immediately to tackle an obstacle, motivated by the belief that you have a reasonable hope of success.”

Creativity is always in hindsight…[it’s] trying and failing at a hundred other solutions before arriving at the best one” – Ankit, a student

Chapter 3 focuses on finding the “creative spark” and that to do so, quantity matters. So often, we focus on creating that perfect, quality driven product before putting it out into the world when we should be focused on getting as many versions out there as possible and then modifying it as we go along.

Normalcy is overrated. If you tap into your natural creativity you have a chance to be extraordinary. – Tom Kelly and David Kelly, Creative Confidence

Chapter 4 might have been my favorite chapter as it talks about the “PULSE mindset” – a “do something” mindset that: isn’t content with the status quo; minimizes planning and maximizes action; creates easily testable prototypes (making small changes that were mentioned in Chapter 3); and thriving when forced under pressure. The culmination of this chapter is the theory that to do something, you have to at least do one small thing to get started. That one action of starting will create momentum, but you have to move from ideas and planning to doing.

Do or do not. There is no try. – Yoda

Chapter 5 was all about figuring out YOU – what makes you tick, what makes you feel passion, and how can you translate that into your every day life. Work shouldn’t be work (we all know this right?), it should be, or hopefully can be, something we are passionate about. But I liked that they didn’t chalk success up to passion – you have to also have the perseverance to follow through.

Passion doesn’t preclude effort. In fact, passion demands effort. -Tom Kelly and David Kelly, Creative Confidence

Chapter 6 reinforces the tenets of creative thinking by emphasizing certain questions: does a product create positive emotions? is it fun? does it go beyond customer expectations? It also hits home the idea that when you disagree with someone or maybe just hate their idea – that you are supportive and thinking of reframing the question in a positive way. Example: Like/Wish – saying, “I like that idea…” “I wish that we could do this with the idea…”

Bird by bird… the philosophy that to reach a creative breakthrough, you just need to start and take it step by step. – Tom Kelly and David Kelly, Creative Confidence

Chapter 7 is full of actual, practical exercises that you can do to stretch your creative muscles (Like/Wish from above is in this chapter) and they offered ideas for both individuals and groups.

Staying the same or even moving forward is not enough. Those that thrive are the ones that initiate action. – Tom Kelly and David Kelly, Creative Confidence

Chapter 8 is their summary that reminds you to embrace a bias towards action, to set a creative goal and to surround yourself with a supportive network.

My Summary – everyone is creative! Creativity can be learned, but it must be practiced and practiced often.

Should you read this book? Yes, if you like inspirational and self-help type, business betterment books.

These are my takeaways from the book and not intended to be a literal version of what was written.