Why I'm done with Minimalism- Erin Flynn of Cladwell

My husband often tells a story about how his cat bit him near his eye when he was a little boy. Sad, right? Well, kind of... that is until later in the story when you find out that he loved this little cat so much that he would squeeze it until the cat, who was clearly being tortured and couldn’t breathe, bit him one day. 

His love for the cat was unintentionally suffocating it. Now granted, he was three-years-old and had no idea what he was doing. Let’s all forgive the guy.


Like with any new thing or concept that we truly love, it seems even as adults we take it to the extreme. Just look at what we did to pumpkin spice or poor Damn Daniel. We have a habit of squeezing something so tightly that it turns around and bites us in the face. Okay, so maybe not literally but you get the picture?

Minimalism started out as such a good thing. But somewhere along the way the love that we once had for this concept turned into an obsession. It became less about what minimalism stood for and more about the word “minimal.” We started using it as an excuse to judge others, including ourselves, for every clothing purchase or thing we owned. It became a race to own nothing and an alternative vice.


If we look back at the purpose of minimalism, it wasn’t necessarily to be minimal. Although yes, that was and still is a valid side-effect. Instead, it was intended to help us pursue a very personal, purpose-driven life, one where we focused not on things but on what’s important to us as individuals—so we could find meaning, joy, and freedom.

The hard work isn’t in getting rid of a bunch of junk in the basement (though that is a lot of work). The work is in figuring out what it is that we truly value. If our focus is only on having less things, one could argue that we are in no better place than when we started becoming minimalists, which brings me to the crux of this story.


Growing up, I would often hear my mom say “everything in moderation”, normally after eating a few peanut M&Ms. I have never truly understood that phrase until now. So, to clear up any confusion, maybe it’s time we change the word minimalism to something less fuzzy?


Using our reason in our lives to decide what is valuable and what is excessive is the very thing that minimalism has often come to ignore. Practicing "reasonablism" isn't actually all that different from what practicing minimalism once was. However, you can be too focused on being minimal, but it's much harder to be too focused on being reasonable. 

I love clothing, but I don't think owning more of it helps me live a more meaningful life or makes me anymore stylish. But I also don’t think it’s reasonable to own only 15 items of clothing or live in a tiny house if you have a family of 7.

Let's try buying less  knowing that happiness cannot be bought  and discovering more so we can figure out what we truly want in this life.

Sound reasonable enough? I think so.

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The Italians Kitchen

When you're a single-parent chasing around 2 busy teenagers, keeping your home in ship-shape can often come dead last in the priorities department. Between work, lacrosse practice, dog walking and tending to her elderly mom, my client (ML) felt overwhelmed with the idea of cleaning her kitchen. She asked CURATE for a helping hand.

Throughout this post you'll find several Before and After Pictures, all of course taken and shared with the permission of my lovely client. The After Pictures were taken at our one month check in, where we determine if everything is still going well.

My sessions always begin with the client and I having a good chat. It's hugely important to understand why the client has sought out my services, and to understand what bothers them most about their space. I ask questions that help the client visualize what the end result will be, and we decide what matters most to them. It usually only takes a couple of minutes to get on the same page, and then we start to tackle the clutter! 

The Hutch: ML's beautiful hutch that was bursting with papers and linens. After sorting and discarding she was able to store her tea-cup collection and the china from her wedding. She actually left the hutch doors open for several days afterwards just so she could see them and smile :)

What mattered the most to ML was that she wanted her family to fully enjoy their kitchen. She felt that her kitchen table and large island had spiraled into a catch-all for junk; everything from dishes, school work to lacrosse gear littered any flat surface of the kitchen. Her cupboards bursted with things that she didn't use (and didn't particularly like) and there were many frequently used things just left out on the counters for lack of space to store them.

The Cupboards: The Before picture is in the center, with the after pictures on either sides. You can see her poor teacup collection crammed in on the highest shelf, and the odd mix of mismatched dishes on the others. ML kept only what sparked joy, and the result is very pretty, simple to access the pieces and to keep them organized.

Her kitchen was gorgeous- big dark wood cupboards, granite countertops and a beautiful apron sink, that was sadly always filled with unclean dishes or organic food waste. She felt a little overwhelmed with the idea of starting the project, but once she started, it was full steam ahead! It was awesome to see how quickly she caught on to deciding if something sparked joy, and if it was worthy of keeping.

The Sink: The most important part about any kitchen is cleanliness- you want to be able to easily wipe down all surfaces, especially around the sink. ML can now do this easily since we were able to find homes for all the things that lived around her sink.

An amazing attribute of the KonMari method is the staying power. Once we had finished sorting and discarding and had moved on to storing her things, ML had decided that she wanted to place a beautiful bowl on her counter as a piece of art. Before we started her sessions there were several bowls in the kitchen, mostly filled with an assortment of fruit, nick-knacks and forgotten things ("Junk Bowls" if you will). I was honest with her, confessing that I was concerned her beautiful bowl would turn into a junk trap. She assured me, saying that she disagreed, and felt that since we had done the method properly, the bowl would not lapse into a junk bowl. 

The Island: The large island and counter-tops are now so easy to keep clean, and so inviting for her family to use.

We also unearthed a lot of paper during the sessions (either in her cupboards or her hutch) which we placed in totes for her to sort though at another time (as those familiar with the KonMari method will know that Paper is a category on its own!)

I am happy to report that when I stopped in for a quick visit with her and her family over a month after completing her kitchen, her dining table was still clear (and adorned with one of her favourite table cloths), her sink was sparkling and clean, and her bowl still sat on her counter- beautiful and empty.

Click on the images below to scroll through some more After Pictures, taken at the one month check in.

The Italians Kitchen was a huge success. As always, I'm exceedingly honoured to be welcomed into my clients home and to help them on this journey. It really is life changing, and I feel honoured to be involved.

Click on the image above to see more After pictures

Headed for the Frisco Bay

When I embarked on my flight to San Francisco for the KonMari Consultant Seminar, I truly had no idea what to expect.  Aside from a brief but very encouraging email exchange with a newly certified consultant in British Columbia, I was going in blind. All I knew was that I had totally drank the proverbial KonMari Kool-Aid and I was itching for more. Armed with my journal (and a pen that sparked joy) I gathered with 62 other "Konverts" in the Hotel Kabuki, awaiting the start of something exciting.

Kondo walks among us as we share ideas at the conference in San Francisco.

Kondo walks among us as we share ideas at the conference in San Francisco.

We were greeted by Team KonMari and then had the absolute pleasure of being addressed by Ms. Marie Kondo herself. Despite her diminutive frame and gentle demeanor she had us all in complete rapture. Clearly, we were a captive audience-- I later learned that many people had flown in from all different parts of the world to attend. This was only the third seminar hosted in North America, and there were delegates from as far away as Germany, Poland, England, Australia and of course Canada (represent!) During the morning session Kondo covered her history and the origins of her signature method. She, of course, spoke in Japanese, which was translated for us by a translator. She handed the session off to Ms Mitsugu Ando, the lead of the Japanese Consultant Association, who conducted the bulk of the next 3 days. 


At the end of the seminar I was asked by a friend if I was "a folding expert yet". I actually laughed out loud when she asked, because, although I had no idea what to expect from the seminar, I was pleasantly surprised that we spent no more than an hour discussing the minutia of folding. Although an important component of the method, folding was not high on the list of important topics covered. Most importantly we learned about how to work with people. How to listen to people and how to try to understand their feelings and beliefs around their belongings. In order to help someone declutter and reorganize their space and their life you must truly understand their emotions and motivations. 


Also incredibly interesting was having the opportunity to listen to the knowledge and suggestions from the other delegates. In addition to being from many different countries, the people in attendance came from a plethora of different backgrounds. Of course, some were already professional organizers or home staging experts, but there were managers of tech companies, sales people, retired bank managers, young moms, website and graphic designers... it reinforced my belief that many aspects of Kondo's method are universal. 


The entire seminar was conducted in Japanese through a translator, so technically it took twice the amount of time it could have taken to cover all material. In my opinion this was a good thing. It gave me time to process what was being shared and to really think about my approach. I took so many notes, and had so many "A-ha" Moments.


Kondo returned on the last day for the final session and to award us our Certificates of Completion. When it was my turn to accept my Certificate I completely FanGirled, milking my time with Kondo, thanking her in both English and Japanese. When I returned to my table another delegate jokingly asked if Kondo and I had a lunch date planned next week, because clearly we were now besties.


I left San Francisco on a (shockingly frosty) Monday morning, warmed with the feeling of excitement that comes from being surrounded by people who want to make an impact in other people's lives.  

Kondo and her hopeful consultants. If you look closely you can see Danika, laughing like an goofball (after giving Marie bunny ears for another picture). No surprise there. 

Kondo and her hopeful consultants. If you look closely you can see Danika, laughing like an goofball (after giving Marie bunny ears for another picture). No surprise there. 

What CURATE is all about...

Welcome! I'm pretty stoked that you've stumbled upon CURATE. I'm Danika and I'll be the main voice of our blog.

As you've probably already gathered from the rest of the website, CURATE uses the KonMari method to help people declutter and organize their space and their lives. Don’t know who Marie Kondo is? Crawl out from under your rock and go to this website  Or watch Ellen  or read the New York Times  or Times Most Influential People … Kondo’s books have sold over 6-million copies worldwide in over 40 languages. She’s also 30 years old, and despite having the overall demeanor of a delicate snowflake, she is a total boss and I have mad respect for a go-getter woman.  

So after completing the course in San Francisco and then meeting the requirements from KonMari (through multiple projects and assessments) I will be a Certified KonMari Consultant. There are currently only 4 in North America!

Where the hell did this come from? Go ahead. Ask it. If you know me at all, I know you are thinking it. How did this tornado of a human-being transform into someone who wants to teach other people how to get their stuff in order? I still can’t explain it myself. Before drinking the KonMari Kool-Aid I was so disorganized that in our wedding vows my husband actually declared, "I promise to love you unconditionally, even when you leave your sh#t all over the place." Fact.

To explain this, I do know that this whole thing started through my discovery of minimalism. (See also Do Less  and The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F#@k) This fascination with getting rid of things you don’t need was prompted by several back-to-back moves-- the first being across the country from Nova Scotia to British Columbia. One really starts to understand how much "stuff" you own when you have to jam it all into a moving van. After this I became dead set on the goal of minimizing my belongings, of simplifying my stuff. I started a capsule wardrobe, I donated and sold things often. But something was still missing. I still didn't feel super "good" about it all. Then I discovered Kondo's books, where the focus shifts from what you want to discard to what you really want to keep. When they work through the method, people often still end up discarding a considerable amount of things. However, instead of focusing on minimalism and having to part with things (which I've learned can quite frankly scare many people) the KonMari method insists you focus on keeping things that make you really happy. When I grasped this concept, something clicked, and I haven't looked back.

We live in a wild consumer culture, surrounded by fast-food, fast-fashion, fast-this, fast-that. Easy, cheap, quick, sales, more, more, more. One major plus for us at CURATE after embarking on this little KonMari journey is realizing how happy you can be with less. How happy you can be by being very selective with the things you purchase and the things you choose to surround yourself with. How happy you can be by slowing down and appreciating what’s going on around you.

Clutter in your home = clutter in your mind. At the extreme end of the spectrum clutter can stunt creativity, and make you feel guilty and claustrophobic. 

In our blog we'll talk about the good, the bad and the ugly- we'll address common questions or criticisms of the KonMari Method and give honest feedback on how to approach different scenarios.

CURATE loves helping people escape the weight of stuff, and in the words of Marie Kondo, we love to “Spark Joy!"