Now that Marie Kondo is all the rave worldwide, let me share the aspiration I had, some 10 years ago, to become a home stager. Home Staging (a term coined by Barb Schwarz in Seattle, USA) is the preparation of homes for sale. My idea was to become the first Home Stager in Mexico and I travelled to the US to receive training from Barb herself.

Prior to that, during the time I lived in the UK, my favourite TV programmes were all about property construction and transformation. From House Doctor to Grand Designs, I found everything related to property absolutely fascinating (still do), from the process of building, refurbishing or renovating to the areas of conservation and restoration, it was all gripping to me.

So like I said, once I was back in Mexico and travelled to the US to receive training, I came back, translated all the materials, opened a company I called Escenogar (escenografía = staging and hogar = home in Spanish), went to see all the estate agents in my area, arranged to speak during one of the monthly gatherings of the most respected Estate Agents’ Association, organised a raffle with all the business cards I collected at the entrance, held the raffle, rang the winner afterwards, for whom I was prepared to visit the property of his choice on his portfolio and create a report for free, but he made it very clear he wasn’t interested and never rang me back despite several attempts to give my work away for free. I continued to pitch the idea for about two years and even volunteered at an estate agents to see if they’d let me use all my staging knowledge, but after a couple of months I realised they wouldn’t and were in fact, in their mind, just training me to be an estate agent, which was never the idea.

Anyway… I ended up going back to teaching English to adults, which I had trained to do in the UK – a decision I haven’t regretted for an instant – after I was told over and over again, by those who know, that, “in Mexico, my dear, property sells empty… and painted white.” So much for any fantasies of becoming a staging phenomenon (I say this tongue in cheek, I only really wanted to be usefully employed).

Meantime, Barb also talked about the idea of Staging to Live (rather than Staging to Sell) during the training, and I did manage to complete a few projects, mainly to have before and after photos to show the estate agents I was trying to persuade to employ me. Here’s an example:

The fact is that Marie’s Netflix series has rekindled and inspired me this holiday season, as well as  brought back many fond memories of the joy it brings to tidy up a mess, especially if it’s helpful to others. Having said that, my teacher Thay always says that,

“You have to begin with yourself […] When you have not changed yourself it is very difficult to help the other person change.”

So with this in mind I set myself the task of clearing out my office, a little job I thought I’d complete within a couple of hours. Wrong. It’s a tiny office, but it’s taken the best part of four days to clear á la Marie Kondo. Here’s a portion of what I discarded after holding item by item and realising it didn’t spark joy for me:

The result is that I know where everything is in my office now. Not only did I tidy everything visible, on the surface, but I emptied out every single drawer (there are 7 of them) and cupboard door (2), plus the file cabinet.

My goodness, what a difference! The space feels different, even though it may not look very different. It didn’t occur to me to take a before photo, but here is the result:

And the reason it feels different is because, unbeknownst to anyone but your good selves, I have spent the last few days mindfully reviewing every single object and item in this space and either finding a new home for it, donating it or discarding it, and now everything feels fresh and new, clear and useful:
In Plum Village I learnt that if I take care of the present moment, I don’t need to worry about the future. Having set myself the task of creating a happy working environment, I now feel ready and am looking forward to a productive, engaging and rewarding 2019.
May it be so for you as well. Please leave a comment if you have also been inspired by Marie Kondo, or if you have prepared for 2019 in any way ✨😊✨