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Can Marie Kondo cure this clutter collector? Doubtful

Goodwill of Central Florida officials have seen a 20 percent increase in donations this year compared with the first few weeks of 2018, bolstered by “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo."

The Marie Kondo decluttering craze has shaken my world. Friends who used to go thrift store shopping with me to find treasures are now too busy emptying out their houses after watching just one episode of the Netflix cleaning porn show. While I don't quite understand what all the fuss is about, I love a good challenge. So, count me in.

I think my house is pretty neat, all things considered. I have two big dogs who own lots of toys and a husband who believes in the Last In First Out method of storing groceries and leftovers. I admit to owning a lot of books and art supplies and enough knitting yarn to insulate the attic in an emergency. I will also confess to owning more than a few pairs of shoes, but I read that one should not wear the same ones every day, and I took that advice to heart.

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Contrary to Marie Kondo's suggestion to tidy by category — starting with clothing before working your way up to books and papers, then all the other stuff — I decided I should give the method a test run before piling all my clothes on the bed in case I got tired before I finished and wanted to go to sleep. (My husband would probably be able to sleep through the cleanup, but the dogs like undisturbed sleep on the bed.)

"Tidying Up With Marie Kondo" is a certified streaming sensation. It speaks to Americans' complicated relationship with our stuff – and with ourselves.

I started by tidying the handbags I carry around every day. I'm not one of those girls who has a small bag for clubbing that holds only a lipstick and a credit card. (I am not sure what clubbing entails, but I'm sure I am too old to club, and I could never dance holding with a purse.) Even a simple trip to my neighborhood grocery store requires thoughtful packing. When I leave the house, I am prepared for every contingency. Phone? Check. Lipstick? Check. Also: a wallet, sketch pad, Egyptian mummy shaped bag with colored pencils, and a fine point Lamy fountain pen with black ink for drawing. One never knows when the urge to sketch mushrooms in the vegetable aisle will strike.

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I also don't go anywhere far without a few newspapers, a book, an umbrella, a water bottle, an extra layer of clothing and, frequently, my knitting project bag, which holds: needles, yarn balls, embroidery scissors, a stitch counter, a crochet hook and hand lotion.

After I dumped my bags out on the dining room, as per the KonMari method, the pile looked pretty big, and, honestly, I held each thing, and each sparked joy — especially my new lip gloss. Unlike those who can toss their worldly goods into tall paper leaf bags and haul them away after "tidying up," I realized my bags needed more, not less.

Marie Kondo, who has a Netflix show, "Tidying Up With Marie Kondo," talks about how she came to the realization that de-cluttering can lead to happiness.

Who doesn't want to make the most of every minute of the day and be ready for anything? My friend, Marypat, said I was like the protagonist in a children's book called "A Witch Got on at Paddington Station" who had a magic bag that had everything she needed including her lunch. Cool! I want a magic bag. Mine would have Starbucks coffee. And chocolate croissants.

While putting the stuff in the big pile back into the right bags for school, the gym, knitting, dog walking and grocery shopping, I remembered that I had a special travel vest for really long trips, like a red eye flight, or a few hours at the beach. It has no less than 88 customized pockets with special spots marked on it for headphones, chargers and probably spots to hold fishing tackle, a small spinning wheel and As Seen on TV items like a Popeil Pocket Fisherman, a Vegamatic and a set of Ginzu knives. I remember I took it to France, so I know it could hold a small cutting board and knife, right next to the compartment for a baguette. As soon as I took the vest out of the coat closet, it sparked joy, and I am going to start wearing it tomorrow.

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In fact, with all the purging everyone is doing, I bet the Salvation Army stores are packed with merchandise — and joy. And I'm right: I find Ravens jerseys in excellent condition from the first Super Bowl team for $5 to add to my son's collection.

Marie Kondo's method works after all: More great deals for me!

Toby Gordon (tgordon@jhu.edu) is an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, with joint faculty appointments at JHU's Bloomberg School of Public Health and School of Medicine.

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