GO UP

Singapore's very own Marie Kondo in the making

Musician Amanda Ling is better known as the keyboardist for homegrown rock band In Each Hand A Cutlass.

Now, the 35-year-old is also Singapore's first KonMari consultant-in-training.

The KonMari method of simplifying and organising your home was created by Japanese tidying guru Marie Kondo, star of the hit Netflix show Tidying Up With Marie Kondo and author of best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up (2014).

Kondo offers consultant training seminars, including a consultant certification course. KonMari consultants are officially certified to help tidy homes using the KonMari method.

In April 2018, Ling attended a three-day consultant training seminar by Kondo in New York that cost about US$1,700 (S$2,300).

But to get into the programme, she first had to "KonMari" her apartment and submit the photos.

While the course is mainly conducted by Kondo's apprentice and her top consultants in the United States, Kondo appears on the first and last day to give speeches.

After attending the seminar, Ling started offering tidying consultations and corporate workshops in the KonMari method.

As part of her consultant certification course, she has to conduct 10 sessions of about 30 hours with at least two clients in Singapore - including one complete house clean-up - as well as submit reports for evaluation.

She is one examination away from becoming a certified consultant, but says she is "in no hurry".

The online examination covers concepts and potential scenarios she will face as a certified consultant.

If her application for certification is approved, she will have to sign the KonMari consultant contract and pay an annual membership fee of US$500 for the certification.

Ling, who admits she was "never a neat or organised person to begin with", says she first read Kondo's book in 2015 as she was going through a period of transition, including moving to a new home.

"It had a surprising effect on me and led to me making decisions a lot quicker and shifted my thought process in general," she says.

The strategic way of dealing with physical items through the KonMari method also helped her ascribe value to relationships - personal and professional.

During this time, she also founded Align Origins Holistic Wellness - a practice that offers yoga sessions, sound healing with Tibetan singing bowls and music production for meditation.

Ling, who was a former member of local rock band Electrico, adds: "It puts you in a position to discern whether it's material or otherwise, what sparks joy? Does it make you happy and does it contribute to the life you want to create?"

She uses this guiding principle to kick off her client consultations.

She says it is not just about having fewer things or getting rid of them, "but spring cleaning, decluttering or tidying with more intention".

"In the KonMari style, instead of approaching it first as 'I want to get rid of things that I don't want', it's about looking at 'What are the things that I want?'"

Her one-on-one consultations with clients in their homes typically run in three-or five-hour blocks and, depending on the size of the home, can involve five to 10 sessions over several weeks.

A consultation is also dependent on the client's availability, how quickly he makes decisions and how much stuff he has.

She charges $150 for a three-hour session and $250 for a five-hour one, which she says is half the price of what she would charge as a certified consultant.

With Chinese New Year around the corner, it is common for homeowners to do spring cleaning.

But Ling feels that instead of decluttering out of habit or during certain seasons, there must be a purpose or goal for doing so - whether it is making space for a new television set or a new addition to the family.

"Everything falls back on what you want for the year - whether it's peace at home or more family time, for example."

But beyond getting rid of physical clutter, the experience can provide emotional declutter as well.

"There's so much over-identification of memories, people and situations with our belongings, so as a consultant, I take them through that process of unhinging all these emotions," she says.

This was the case for Ms Renuka Singh, who did two sessions totalling nine hours with Ling in the room she shares with her siblings in her HDB flat.

Ms Singh was intrigued by the difference she felt before and after the sessions, saying: "I never knew that clothes and other items would have such a great impact on me."

"I had a heaviness whenever I opened my cupboard, but after two sessions, I felt light as I let go of things that had negative emotions and experiences attached to it," she adds.

As for sentimental items, she says Ling was "extremely patient with me".

"She let me take my time to let go of things I had to, and for items that I was willing to let go of, she taught me to show gratitude as they have served me for some time."

Other than entering people's homes to help them physically go through their belongings, she is also there to "bring them clarity on how they would like the year to be for them".

 

Written by Anjali Raguraman for The Straits Times.

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