Why I’m Obsessed with Marie Kondo’s World-Famous Decluttering Method

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The inspirational Marie Kondo

It was a few months ago that I found myself browsing the book section on Amazon (I must confess, I always find book stores – whether online or offline – much like pharmacies or, as the Americans will call them, drug stores. There’s something about spending time in them, wandering around aimlessly, that makes you realise all the things you never knew you really needed). Maybe that’s just me (although I know my sister feels the same about pharmacies: we could spend hours in there.)

So, as I was reading the review of some or other health-related book, Amazon kindly recommended a book to me, titled “The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo. Now, I must confess, subsequent to my having found out that the launch of this book had almost broken the internet and it had reached the number one spot on the the New York Times Bestsellers list, I did have a good chuckle at its title. I mean, really, even for someone as annoyingly OCD as myself (who REALLY prefers if when things are clean and in order), I couldn’t help but think “what are they going to write books about next?”

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The New York Times Bestseller

But, curiosity got the better of me (and I think somewhere beneath that, my neat-freak tendencies were intrigued) so I bought the book. What followed was, quite literally, a life-changing experience. Although I was sceptical about how a whole book could be written about the art of decluttering (as they call it), I found myself absolutely mesmerised by the profound Japanese philosophies underlying the Konmari method (the particular method of decluttering that the book advocates). Yes, there is a particular method.

Although, with all due respect, the author of this book (who is now super rich and famous, so she probably won’t mind my saying so) probably is not the most mentally stable of all people (when you read the book, you’ll see what I mean), her approach to decluttering your life, by decluttering your home, is fascinating and – I can vouch for this – certainly effective.

Marie begins her book by citing examples of how her method has freed her clients to make radical life decisions, whether that be getting a divorce after years of being stuck in unhappy marriages, quitting their jobs, pursuing their life-long dreams or finally taking that holiday. It was almost as if the negative energy attached to all the things in their home that no longer sparked joy, was keeping them in some kind of existential gridlock and blocking them from moving forward or blocking the influx of new energy into their lives. If you think about this concept, it’s very similar to a thought I most certainly often have, namely: “I can’t work properly if my desk is a mess”.

So, sold and motivated, I roped in my trusty best friend, Lara (who, in my opinion, could easily become South Africa’s version of Marie Kondo – without the mental health issues, of course:) and we began the process. We did it exactly as Marie prescribed – no skipping steps and no bending the rules.

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This pic was taken during my and Lara’s BOOK sorting phase, clearly

Eventually, we started discarding (this is the term Marie uses) anything and everything that no longer sparked joy for me (this included unused kitchen utensils, broken or chipped crockery, books I had read and will never re-read, objects I no longer found to have visual or useful value, expired supplements, electronic cords from 1985 that no person alive today would be able to identify, old DVDs I would never watch again, clothing I no longer wore, gunky makeup, shoes with scuffed heels and, of course, photographs in which I didn’t exactly look my best). We donated most of the discarded items and sent the books to old-age homes and hospitals, which added another layer of welcome satisfaction to the whole process.

As the days went by, and we worked our way through the categories, it was as if a weight was slowly being lifted from my shoulders. My wardrobe (although significantly smaller) now only contained items that fit me well and still looked good. I could see everything I owned hanging neatly in my cupboard, as opposed to having to sift through 10 blouses to find the 1 or 2 blouses I wore over and over again. My makeup drawer now contained only those items that I wore almost daily and couldn’t live without.

It was really as if my home had been transformed from a house full of collected stuff – some used and some unused – to a carefully edited home, where I was surrounded by only those things that truly brought me happiness, conjured up good memories and were being used and enjoyed daily. On this note, I want to point out that the measure of what sparks joy is a completely subjective test. For one person, a good kitchen knife, a favourite pair of worn-out socks or a trusty tupperware set might spark just as much joy as a timeless painting or a Louis Vuitton handbag might for the next. This test has nothing to do with an item’s monetary value, but everything to do with how it makes you feel.

The fabulous interiors magazine, House & Garden, in January 2017 published a small and beautiful feature on my home, where I spoke about the magical effects that the Marie Kondo process had had on my living space. They, rather aptly, titled the piece “Bare Necessities”.

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Photo credit: House & Garden, January 2017

Before I finish, and whilst you will have gleaned that I have decided not to go into the finer details of the actual Konmari method (that’s what the book is there for and I’d be ruining all the fun),  I will give you these key tips before “trying this at home”:

  1. Finish reading the whole book, before you start the process;
  2. Get a best friend (or hire someone) to help you, if you feel the task is too overwhelming;
  3. Be as ruthless as you can be: the more ruthless you are, the more liberated you will feel;
  4. Last but not least, refrain from Konmari-ing any of your husband or family’s things – it’s extremely tempting once you get into the groove but, trust me, this does not go down well.

Ultimately, I believe – in the pursuit of living our best lives – we should make our home our sanctuaries: a place where we feel safe, unburdened, free to think of new adventures, quieten our minds and rest our spirits. It certainly is much easier to get this right, in my humble opinion, in a truly uncluttered environment. So my suggestion is: get the book, get cracking and…you can thank me later. May your inner joy be sparked!

You can follow me @clarewiesewentzel on Instagram to keep up to date with my latest posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I Finally Achieved A Clear Complexion

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Finally, after years of trial and error, I am enjoying a naturally clearer complexion

Ok, so skin problems (especially adult acne or any acne for that matter) certainly don’t classify as a glamorous topic. But, while this blog certainly reflects my love of all things glamorous, it is – more importantly and over-archingly – about sharing helpful hints and life hacks with those that want to look their best, be their best and, ultimately, live their best lives.

I am not a hoarder (as evidenced by my fascination with Marie Kondo and her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”) and it’s thus very much against my grain to hoard information that might make someone else’s life a little bit easier. Last but not least, I’m far from perfect. And, in a world where we often use social media to portray our lives through literal and figurative filters, it’s liberating for me to point out one of my many imperfections, right here in broad cyber-light.

That being said and whether we like it or not, we live in a world where our appearance matters. Not only does the outside world often judge us by our looks, but it would seem that some of us can be our very own worst critics. Whilst we struggle to live up to the unattainable ideals portrayed by Hollywood & the Instagram It girls, most of us nevertheless strive to do so.

So, hopefully, with all that in mind, my story about how I radically transformed the appearance of my imperfect skin (by taking some very simple and side-effect-free steps) can inspire some life-changing magic.

It all started in my very early teens when my face (almost overnight, I swear) went from pimple-free perfection to resembling pepperoni pizza. Not the ‘hot’ kind either. My parents, the wonderful and well-balanced human beings that they are, never wanted to put too much emphasis on appearance and, in hindsight, my first eventual visit to the dermatologist’s office probably came a few years later than it should have. But, be that as it may, the problem was eventually addressed.

PHARMACEUTICAL TRIALS & ERRORS

medicine_pills.jpgAt first, I was put onto a course of RoAccutane (a very strong, commonly prescribed acne medication that comes with a long and scary list of serious side-effects. It can cause birth defects in pregnant women, it’s very heavy on the liver and it can cause dry lips, skin and joint pain). Although it helped clear up my skin at the time, once I had completed the course, it only took a few months for the problem to rear its ugly head again.

The second option I tried, along this very long and frustrating journey, was a contraceptive pill called Diane. Again, this was and is a commonly used method of treating acne, often prescribed by many skin specialists who believe the problem to be hormonal. Although it was extremely effective at clearing up my skin without the drying effects of RoAccutane, Diane’s own side-effects of weight gain and mood swings barely made it worth it.

The third and final (medicated) attempt I made at solving my skin problem (which continued to affect me well into my twenties), was taking a maintenance or low dose of RoAccutane (at one tablet, twice a week). The dermatologist told me “all the models were doing this”. Of course, I was sold:) In practice, this ended up working well for me insofar as it cleared up my skin, without drying out my lips or causing any of the other side effects.

THE SIMPLE SOLUTION

In my early thirties, as my interest in holistic and, specifically, nutritional health started growing, my desire to go off the RoAccutane completely and seek a more natural solution to clearer skin, steered me in a new direction.

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After much of my own research (and I’ll save you the details of said research, as it’s A Long Story), I started cutting out dairy, gluten and sugar from my diet. I am pretty much an all-or-nothing girl, so I stuck to this new regime pretty rigidly. My diet consisted mainly of a variety of vegetables (especially the green kind), protein and healthy fats like avocado, seeds and coconut oil. This was no mean feat but, after two to three weeks, my skin started taking what can only be described as a dramatic turn for the better. It was almost unbelievable. After struggling with periodic skin problems since the age of 13, it was only now in my early thirties that I finally experienced what it was like to have naturally blemish-free skin, without the assistance of pharmaceuticals. Having witnessed this radical transformation first hand, I was in hindsight disappointed that none of the specialists I had consulted, throughout the years, had made this rather simple recommendation to me. I suppose there’s little money in telling your patients to ‘stay away from milk-based products’.

So, if you are battling breakouts and seeking a solution free of harmful side-effects, do yourself the favour of changing your diet and seeing what happens. (Of course, everyone is different and some skin conditions are related to serious hormonal disorders or other medical conditions that might not respond to dietary changes alone.)

Icecream.jpgFor me, the biggest change has definitely come with eliminating all sources of dairy. Sugar and gluten are known to cause inflammatory reactions in the body as well, so for maximum results I would recommend limiting those two common culprits too. The only bad news is that, at least insofar as my experience goes, if I have even just one cheesy cheat on Monday, I’ll wake up on Wednesday with pepperoni pizza problems, which will take about a week or more to clear. But, as they say, knowledge is power, which means I can live with the odd breakout more easily.

In the end, life is all about trade-offs and, of course, for the die-hard cheese- and chocolate lovers out there, cutting out dairy (let alone gluten and sugar),  might be too much of an ask. For me, it has been absolutely worth it. Because, simply put, no amount of Chanel or Armani foundation can give you the kind of confidence that a clear complexion can.

HELPFUL HINTS

  • there are many dairy-free foods, treats and snacks (including vegan ice cream) available on the market today, so don’t feel despondent
  • use ghee (a dairy-free, clarified form of butter) or coconut oil, instead of regular butter, for cooking purposes
  • a good skin care routine, including an anti-bacterial cleanser (I use Image’s Clear Cell salicylic acid cleanser) is, of course, essential
  • always wash your face immediately after exercising
  • omega 3 fish oil supplements are widely known for their skin-enhancing benefits (I take The Real Thing Mega Omega Supreme)
  • when the craving for chocolate strikes, go for the very dark kind that contains no milk (it’s so good for you anyway and you’ll get used to it quickly). I love Lindt’s 85% Cocoa slabs
  • drink plenty of water (this is so obvious, but I had to include it)
  • get enough sleep (again, another super obvious one)
  • limit alcohol
  • keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day by eating low-GI foods
  • limit stress
  • avoid oily makeup products and keep your makeup brushes clean
  • high-frequency or blue light treatments (offered at some beauty salons) work very well at clearing up breakouts quickly
  • avoid over-stimulating facials
  • Cetaphil makes a great oil-free sunblock with SPF50 that doesn’t cause breakouts (this popular skin care brand is available at most pharmacies worldwide)

CELEBRITIES WHO SUFFER FROM ADULT ACNE

This part of the post is just to make those of you suffering with problem skin feel a bit better and a little less alone. To name but a few, Victoria Beckham, RiRi and Cameron Diaz have been battling breakouts for years. As they alway say in those cheesy (no pun intended:) tabloid magazines: “see? they’re just like us”!

Makeup Maestro Reneé De Wit Reveals Her Best-Kept Beauty Secrets

reneedesambento1Meet Reneé De Wit, makeup artist extraordinaire. I first came into contact with this insanely talented creature when she painted my face for my 21st birthday party. Since then, I have come to rely on Reneé for many more of those momentous occasions when faces had to be painted, perfectly.

It’s no wonder then that she holds a very special place in my Little Black Book but also in my heart. Believe me, I wouldn’t have let just anyone do my makeup on my wedding day. This self-proclaimed Bridezilla certainly held no prisoners (I still don’t know how she put up with me, one makeup trial after the next, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some mild tranquillisers were involved).

As gorgeous as she is talented (a double threat for sure), Renee’s portfolio is both vast and impressive.  Her work has been featured in several leading international magazines (including Vogue and Marie Claire UK) and she has beautified the cover girls of over 30 print publications (including Cosmopolitan and Sports Illustrated). Last but not least, her magic hands have transformed the faces of serious celebrities like Petra Nemcova, Steffi Graff, Julie Walters and Bonang Matheba, to name a few.

Here, Reneé divulges (super generously, I might add), some of the beauty industry’s best-kept secrets, her personal must-have makeup products and some really nifty tricks of the trade.

What led you to becoming a professional makeup artist?

As a child i was the youngest of four daughters and and I grew up doing my sisters’ makeup for parties and matric dances. My natural love of makeup artistry eventually developed into a career and, by the age of 21, I was spending half of my time in London and the other half in Cape Town, working on fashion editorials and catalogues.

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Makeup by Renee De Wit

Tell us about your big break?

I was 19 years old and working as a fashion assistant to the late Sue Ferrier, then fashion director of Elle magazine in South Africa. Sue encouraged me to follow my dreams and gave me the opportunity to do makeup on an Elle fashion editorial.

Who has been your makeup mentor?

I was mentored by Algria Ferreira, widely regarded as the doyenne of the South African makeup world. I first met Algria when, at age 16, I was booked as a model on a knitwear shoot. That day, Algria’s makeup made me feel more beautiful than I had ever felt! I realised then the effect that makeup can have on a woman’s confidence and my love affair with makeup grew even stronger. I am so grateful for my years in the modelling world, where I got to learn the tricks of the trade first-hand, from the best in the business.

What is your signature skill as a makeup artist?

I do a killer smokey eye. My favourite eyeshadow palette right now is Bobbi Brown’s Bobbi’s Cools Eye Shadow Palette (limited edition).

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Makeup by Renee De Wit (note the smokey eye perfection)

What is your favourite mascara?

Sensai 38 Degrees and MAC Extended Play Lash.

What is the best trick for keeping makeup on all day?

Before applying makeup, I always prime my skin with a good moisturiser (by Bioderma or Skinceuticals) containing sunblock. This prevents makeup being absorbed by dehydrated skin.

I finish with a light dusting of pressed or loose powder on my t-zone and a fixing spray like Bobbi Brown’s Face Mist.

What is the most universally flattering eye pencil for green/blue eyes?

Teddy Eye Kohl liner by MAC.

What is the most universally flattering eye pencil for brown eyes?

Either a dark grey colour like Industry Powerpoint Eye Pencil by MAC or a deep navy like Blooz Eye Kohl liner, also by MAC.

What are your favourite makeup brands of all time?

Bobbi Brown, Charlotte Tilbury, NARS and Giorgio Armani Beauty.

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A selection of best-selling products by Charlotte Tilbury. The stuff that makeup dreams are made of.

What is the quickest way to make a tired face look fresh?

Invest in a good under-eye colour corrector and concealer (try Bobbi Brown or Sensai).

What are the best lip colours for fair, medium and olive skin tones?

For fair skin tones | The iconic Charlotte Tilbury’s Lip Cheat Pillow Talk lip pencil and Penelope Pink lipstick are two of my favourites;

For medium skin tones | Viva Vlam 5 by MAC; and

For olive skin tones | Raisin Berry by Bobbi Brown.

With which red lipstick can a woman conquer the world?

Chanel Rouge Hydrabase Crème Lipstick 60 New York Red is the ultimate red!

What is the most common beauty faux pas women make?

Wearing too much makeup. It looks unnatural and ageing. I also detest the “Instagram brow” that is currently so popular.

Which are the three makeup products no girl should ever be without?

Sensai’s under-eye concealer brush, Armani’s Maestro foundation and Bobbi Brown’s Shimmerbrick bronzing compact series.

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Armani’s Maestro Foundation 

Who is your makeup icon?

Pat McGrath, she is a visionary and pushes creative boundaries like it’s nobody’s business. I just adore her newly launched makeup range.

Which famous face would you most love to paint?

Madonna!

Who is your beauty icon?

Monica Bellucci. She is a timeless beauty with perfectly proportioned features.

What is the best makeup advice you can give to women over 30?

Always curl your eyelashes and apply at least two coats of black mascara. It has an immediate lifting effect.

What is the secret beauty weapon in your makeup kit?

Lansinoh Breasfeeding Salve nipple cream – it’s amazing for chapped lips.

When you’re not waving your magic makeup brushes, which other creative outlets do you enjoy?

Baking (especially with my girls) and interior decoration.

A few years ago, you launched a mobile makeup agency called Gorgeous2Go, which has become a huge hit with the Cape Town crowd (myself included). What prompted you to start this business?

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Renee, in her element

There was a demand in the Capetonian market for a high-end makeup, hair and beauty concierge service. We thus offer clients an array of services, including makeup applications (for social events), hair styling, personalised makeup lessons, spray tans and manicures, all of which can be performed in the comfort of your own home.

The artists we represent have been hand-selected and all of their portfolios are available on our website. Our aim is to be a one-stop mobile shop for all things beauty-related. You can visit our website for more information.

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How I Ended Up In Bed With Colin Farrell

With this year’s re-launch of my blog, I wanted to create a category called “My World” – a little collection of posts that are very personal and unique to me and can offer those that might be interested, some insight into, well, my world. This category is where you’ll find “dear diary” scribbles, some peanut-gallery opinions I might get the urge to share from time to time and, generally, just a few glimpses into my life “behind the scenes”.

As it happens, I am very excited to introduce the “My World” category to you by means of a true story about a one-time Hollywood crush of mine, Colin Farrell, and – as the title of this post suggests – how I ended up in bed with the man.

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The 2006 film was set in Los Angeles, but filmed almost entirely in South Africa

At the time that this all played out, I was in my very early twenties and full of beans, to put it mildly. It was circa 2004 and I had read in a local gossip magazine that Colin Farrell was in town filming a Depression-era romantic drama with Salma Hayek called Ask The Dust. It was apparently being shot at Pinelands High School. Now, just to give you some very relevant background here: at the time, in my little world, Colin Farrell was The One. The rugged good looks, the Irish accent, the bad-boy attitude and general cockiness…it was all just too much for my and my starry-eyed, impressionable self.

So, given the amount of metaphorical beans in my system and the severity of my (for lack of a better word) “crush”, there was really no doubt in my mind that I had to make a plan to meet him. Of course, the ultimate goal was to get him to fall in love with me and propose, but the necessary “pre-goal” was to at least let him know of my existence.

So (…and even I can’t believe this as I am re-telling the story), I decided to grab some random wannabe model photograph of me I had lying around (at least it was taken by a very talented photographer, so it wasn’t a complete disaster), get in my car and drive to Pinelands High School. I scribbled my name and number on the back of the photograph with the intent of handing it to whomever was in charge of casting. Just to be clear: I had no agency, I was certainly no actress and I had never done any work on a movie set before. I was literally just taking a Big Fat Chance.

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Colin Farrell portrayed struggling writer Arturo Bandini

I will never forget, as I arrived at the school, stepping onto the sports field next to the parking lot and bumping – slap bang – right into Mr Farrell. Of course, I pretended to barely notice him and continued straight into the building where I ended up handing the aforesaid random photograph to someone who worked there. He told me they had already cast all the extras they needed, but they would let me know if anything came up.

Six weeks later, I got a call from Moonlighting Films, the local production company shooting the film. They wanted to know whether my hair was still brunette (I was literally sitting in a hairdresser’s chair at the time, about to get highlights) and they also enquired as to how tall I was. After answering their questions, in a state of complete disbelief, they asked whether I wanted to be the the stand-in for Idina Menzel, one of the supporting actresses who played the part of Vera Rivkin in the movie.

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Idina Menzel, in the supporting role of Vera Rivkin

A few days later, I was on set with Colin, Idina and the whole darn Hollywood gang. After the second or third day, Colin and I began greeting each other in the mornings (he knew my name, so I guess my “pre-goal” had been accomplished). Most of the time, I acted extremely disinterested in him (probably not the best way to catch the attention of a Hollywood mega-star), but I was young and it was probably just too much excitement for me to handle. My job basically involved ‘standing in’ for Idina, so that lighting, angles and positions could be pre-determined prior to her arriving for the actual takes.  Seeing as many of her scenes involved Colin, let’s just say, I was often in close proximity to the man. In fact, and, yes this was the highlight, I will never forget having been instructed to lie on a bed that Idina and Colin would share in one scene, and Colin plonked himself down on the bed right next to me. As if that wasn’t enough for my little beating heart to bear, one of the production assistants came around and offered him chocolates, which he, in a most gentlemanly fashion, offered to share with me.

After production had wrapped and Colin failed to show up to the wrap party (to my great disappointment), the fairytale was instantly over. Fortunately, my school-girl crush has in the interim died rather a dramatic death. So – while I can now certainly live with Colin’s departure from my life – I will always relish the memory of lying in bed, right next to my biggest Hollywood crush, being offered chocolates by him (and, of course, politely declining).

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Seeing as I don’t have any actual photos of The Incident, herewith the film’s lead characters, Arturo and Camilla, sharing an intimate moment in bed. My and Colin’s incident wasn’t quite as up close and personal as this, but it was unstaged, spontaneous and certainly good enough for a starry-eyed Capetonian girl.
FUN FACTS
  • Idina Menzel, the actress whom I stood in for, went on to become a massive Broadway star, best known for her role in the critically acclaimed musical Wicked.
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    Idina Menzel in Broadway hit musical ‘Wicked’

    I remember Zooey Deschanel (then an unknown aspiring actress, now the star of hit sitcom New Girl) visiting her father, Oscar-nominated Caleb Deschanel (the rather strict and somewhat grumpy Director Of Photography) on set.

  • More than a decade later, during Marco’s and my recent honeymoon in the USA, I ended up sitting next to world-famous movie producer Don Granger at a private Malibu dinner party. Don, who is known for producing films such as ‘Jack Reacher’ and ‘Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation’ and is a true gentleman, ended up telling me all about this film he’d produced once upon a time in South Africa. Turns out, it was none other than ‘Ask The Dust’.