Interview by Chelcee Johns. Photography by Eric Michael Ward.
“Keeping your ideal lifestyle in mind, walk me through a perfect day:”
I wake up in my bright, beautiful room around 6:30 am. It has plants, art made by myself and friends, and aromatherapy. Music is playing as my alarm clock. I rise and journal (morning pages) and then meditate for 20 minutes. I make myself tea and start my morning meal ritual. I read to learn. I review my goals for my day, established the afternoon/evening before. I work for a couple of hours, enjoy a healthy snack, then work out at the gym/yoga studio. I enjoy a tasty lunch to refuel, spend an hour on social media, an hour e-mailing, and then work for a few more hours. I set my goals for the next day, after feeling accomplished. I spend the evening in quality time with my partner or with friends, or catching up with family and friends on the phone. We make a healthy meal together and listen to music. I close the evening with a wellness ritual: a chakra activity, meditation, gratitude list, etc. I settle into bed comfortable, at peace, and fulfilled. – Lauren Ash
It's a Tuesday evening in Chicago when For the Love of Tidy LLC founder Kristyn Ivey arrives at BGIO founder Lauren Ash’s home prepared to help bring more intentionality, gratitude and mostly joy to her physical space. I'm dialing in from Detroit, with my closet and ears open to see how I might further clear out my own space as well. In a five-hour session, Kristyn walks Lauren through practices of gratitude, letting go, and visualizing her ideal life. A practice we all may benefit from if you’ve ever felt anxiety from your personal space and seek more joy in and beyond your home.
While you may of course know Lauren, Kristyn is the first certified Chicago-area KonMari Method tidy consultant. The KonMari Method is based on the #1 New York Times best-selling book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. The book took the globe by storm, literally published in over 41 regions and countries and 5 million copies sold worldwide. Kristyn takes the heart of the book, deemed the KonMari Method and helps walk her clients through a 6-month process of tidying up their homes once and for all. Lauren is just getting started.
On a scale from 1 to 10, Lauren laughs as she mentions her tidy nature might be around the 1 level. Lauren, no stranger to mindfulness and intentional practices, spends this morning with guided journaling provided by Kristyn.
"My apartment, mainly my room, is a source of stress and anxiety. I feel as though I don't have enough space for everything I own, but then I realize that I don't need to keep everything I have. I have an assortment of random things that I don't need and want to ultimately create my bedroom to be a haven and source of restoration and beauty, rather than stress! I work a lot and want to be greeted with peace at the end of my work day. I also want to be an advocate for more mindful living in one's home space for other women of color," writes Lauren.
So, about 7 hours later we all connect digitally for the hands-on process. A practice that most assuredly brings our bodies joy, by creating joy in our physical spaces. If you've been inundated by your personal space, dreading the spring to summer closet fix, or simply desiring more joy our talk with both Lauryn and Kristyn is sure to help you not only visualize your ideal life, but actualize it as well.
“It’s kind of like raising the bar a little for the things that surround you and focusing on the things you keep that bring you joy rather than thinking about how much you need to discard which is kind of a negative action, right?"
"We’re shifting the perspective to: let me make sure the things that surround myself are things I love,” says Kristyn who has a background in interior design and engineering. She describes herself before undertaking the KonMari Method as a mostly organized person, but going through the process helped her notice that her clutter was a symptom of being unfulfilled in her previous career.
“It moved me in the right direction, inspired me to finally make that big move to Chicago and it also uncovered some behaviors I’ve tackled and shifted like buying clothes online and not necessarily paying attention. I found about $300 worth of tagged clothes in my closet and realized I had a small shopping problem. Since, I’ve been more mindful of my purchases as well as other areas of my life such as health, finances and relationships. It really jump-started things I had visualized, but not actually actualized.”
And visualization is the first step in the KonMari Method. Kristyn helps her clients understand how vision-casting their ideal life affects how we layout and tidy not just our homes, but our overall lives.
“I am a huge advocate of visualizing and visioning what your ideal life looks like. I’ve done this before and even coached other people through it, but of course when it’s turned on me it’s like ‘oooohhhhh,’” Lauren holds a high-pitched squeal and continues, “It’s great because once I wrote it out, I saw how realistic it actually was, how attainable it was! Then, having a third person whose role is to literally guide me through it and remind me what this process is about has been convicting because I’m like, ‘Okay if I’ve shared that this is my vision with Kristyn then I should actually let this thing go because it’s not aligned with my vision.”
Kristyn and Lauren start in Lauren’s closet, as clothing is the first area to tackle in the KonMari Method. But before doing so, Kristyn guides Lauren through a Japanese practice of gratitude. A personal way to express thanks before releasing our things.
“Kristyn literally had me kneel and close my eyes and offer gratitude to everything that I have right now and then send out allowance and openness to the path we were about to go into. I thought that was dope because it is very spiritual. Things hold energy and you’re obviously connected to these things because you’ve been around them in your space, it was really dope for me to be lovingly forced to pause. I would say the fact you have to touch every item individually (to decide what to keep or let go) is very important. I sort of stopped doing that when we got to the shoes and Kristyn was like, Are you sure you can just look and tell if you love it?’
We’re in this culture where we are taught to just do things quickly and I think some of that came up for me. It was great to be reminded of the power of just sitting with something intentionally without rushing through it. Creating room in your physical creates room in other areas where you’ve been stuck,” says Lauren reflecting on the first few hours of the night.
From visualizing, touching each item, to intentionally starting with your clothing Kristyn tells me that author Marie Kondo spent years upon years studying the ways we organize our homes. She, essentially, was in love with the process and read every book she could get her hands on. Next, she began consulting clients and while all seemed to be going well, many, even herself would find months later the organizing didn’t stick. It was then that Marie paused and designed her own globally instituted method based off of all she’d learned as well as new tactics she designed. In this way, the KonMari method is a one-time journey to tidying our spaces… and not reverting back to that drunk drawer.
“She realized that instead of tidying by location, you should tidy by category. The reason you start with clothes is because they are not necessarily sentimental in most cases. So, we start there to warm up. Also, clothing is very much linked to your ideal lifestyle because it’s the only thing that leaves your house consistently. Your clothing represents your personality and character so it’s a great place to get started. From there you work on books, paper and miscellaneous items and sentimental items are last considering sentimental is the toughest to work on,” explains Kristyn.
Lauren is spending this five-hour night going through her closet with Kristyn as the coach to see her vision board through. Lauren notes her mindfulness increasing in the time they’ve both shared.
“My mindfulness practice is evolving enormously because a few of the things I spoke about with Kristyn like including a space I could have to meditate more clearly is coming into view. Literally this morning I got up to meditate, but I left my room to do so. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is in my case because I feel I couldn’t meditate in my room do to the clutter.
I also want to create a space in my room, some people call it an altar, for me it won’t really be an altar but a space that has a collection of things that bring me joy. I haven’t been able to do that because I feel cluttered in this space. My desire is to return to my room at the end of a long day and not be met with increased anxiety, but peace and grounded-ness. Being able to have a space that is organized and clear will definitely support my mental health as well,” affirms Lauren as we get ready to close the call and they head back into her wardrobe.
Wondering how to get started?
“I tell my clients: Tidying up the KonMari way is a commitment and should be viewed as a special, one-time clutter confronting event that shocks you into lasting change. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it! Similar to a diet, workout, or finance program, you get out what you put in. Therefore, you have to clear your schedule of any clutter first to prioritize what's essential.
If you tidy a little bit here, a little bit there you'll be tidying forever! Instead, schedule three-to-five hour blocks of time on your calendar to tidy by category to elevate its importance and make your living environment a priority in your life. It may be uncomfortable temporarily, but you'll find it's easier to maintain a tidy lifestyle moving forward,” advises Kristyn.
Interested in working with For the Love of Tidy's Kristyn Ivey, head over to FortheLoveofTidy.com for a free Joy Call, a Virtual Joy Check or an in-person KonMari Tidying Lesson.
Kristyn Ivey is the first certified KonMari tidying consult to serve the city of Chicago. Kristyn is dedicated to teaching others how to let go in order to attract and live a truly abundant life. Educated in both engineering and interior design, Kristyn applies project management experience and creativity in harmony with the KonMari Method™ to transform homes through order and in style. Dedicated to the KonMari mission to organize the world, she “sparks joy” by helping clients declutter their way to becoming Graduates of Tidy and masters of life.