Killer Moths, KonMari and Cash

Last week I discovered we’d been invaded by stealthy killer moths.

The nasty little beasts ate their way through my (I thought) carefully stored wools and cashmeres—and even had the audacity to nibble on my favorite 1920’s vintage silk scarf.

At first, I thought it was confined to my closet. And then we discovered them in my husband’s closet. And the coat closet. And finally, nestled in with the linens.

The only permanent cure is to remove every last item and dry-clean it, wash it or freeze it (twice). Then come the exterminators and the carpet cleaners and the disinfectants. Every. Single. Surface.


But here’s the thing. Those damned moths FORCED me to look at every piece of clothing and every last speck of linen. Did I love it enough to invest in dry cleaning? Did it still fit? Was it right for the life I live now? Did it bring me joy?

Which brings me to the KonMari Method. I’d heard about Marie Kondo’s book on the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing: “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and figured now was as good a time as any to read it. Between bouts of laundry and trips to goodwill, I devoured not only that book, but her follow-up as well. (Tip: if you get into her method, you must have her “Spark Joy” book if only for her folding instructions.)

The lightbulb flashed in neon. What good was any possession if it didn’t make me happy? What good was having so much if it kept me from seeing what really mattered?

Now I have to admit cleaning out my closet had been on my mind for awhile—my Chicago winter clothes I never wear here in LA and more than a few fashion items past their prime had been nagging at me. But I was both exceedingly busy with my work, and more than a little stymied about letting go of my beautiful clothes.

It took the killer moths to get me moving and KonMari to give me the framework (joy) to make the changes I needed. We are 29 recycle and goodwill bags and counting into this process with I’m quite sure many more to come (for you KonMari aficionados, we have just finished the book stage).

So here’s where I’m going with this. It’s not just about closets and “stuff”. Our businesses need this same brand of diligence. What sparks joy? What work or clients should we be spotlighting?

And what has already served its purpose? What are you ready to let go (or gift or sell to someone else) that will allow you to focus on what has the deepest meaning for you?

And yet the problem is, we tend to do this kind of house-cleaning—of soul-searching—only when we’re on the verge of crisis. When something is so bad (think killer moths eating through your favorite beauties), we are forced to it.

Don’t wait until you can’t ignore it.

Because here’s how the universe works. The second—literally the second—you start on this sort of quest, the energy and dynamic around you shifts.

In my case, I had just finished the first round of KonMari and had jumped out of the shower when I grabbed my phone to check messages. There was an auto-message that I’d unexpectedly sold a product—one I hadn’t promoted in over a year. Yep—cash. The next day my husband got word he’d been granted a never-been-done-before off-cycle raise. That evening our celebratory meal was comped when the restaurant made a mistake and the manager wanted us to enjoy ourselves.

Coincidence? I think not. More like fuel to keep using joy as our yardstick. For stuff. For work. For life.

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  • I periodically review “things” for removal, recycling, refreshing as necessary. I still wish you did not face such pests and loss of dear things. No doubt you took a lemon and turned into not lemonade but a nice champagne.

  • Sorry you had to deal with the little beasties, but you are so right in that clearing out is very helpful. I try to do it periodically, but sometimes get forced to by outside forces (like spilling a tea cup on a desk full of stuff). When clients tell me they are “stuck” I often recommend cleaning out closets and the home office. This seems to move the energy around for us and force those “ah ha” questions and moments. Hope even more good comes your way.

  • Rochelle

    Thanks Karen–I’m SO glad I’m not the only one who cleans closets when she gets stuck 🙂

  • So true! Great connection to our professional lives.

    I would say “sorry for your loss”, but I’m more inspired by your constructive outlook. I can’t label it a loss, but rather, an opportunity. Now you only have to care for only exactly what you want.

    • Rochelle

      Too true Mary–I’m now past her “book” stage and almost done with her “paper” stage. It is unbelievable to me how much business and personal paper I’ve allowed to accumulate…

  • Great post. By contrast we haven’t moved since we arrived in LA 23 years ago because we have so much stuff accumulated that the thought of having to move it terrifies is.

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