When it comes to being tidy, the one person who always comes to mind would be the queen of organising — Marie Kondo. Not only do you pick up the habit of tidying but through the KonMari Method, you would also see life in a whole different light.
Take Rebecca Jo-Rushdy as an example of this. Before becoming Malaysia’s first certified KonMari consultant, she confesses: “I’m a reformed shopaholic!”
The life of a young nomad
To begin, the 33-year-old is known as a typical third-culture kid as she grew up around the world. Her whole life, Rebecca never had the feeling of “home” and the notion of it has always been about a feeling and where her family physically is. She told us how she was born in Los Angeles (USA) but raised in Japan, Hong Kong, Shanghai (China), New York City (USA) and has at least attended 9 different schools growing up due to her father’s work.
Assuming she would always pursue a career in Fashion Merchandising, Rebecca attended Parsons School of Design in New York City and majored in Design Management — the business of design. However, upon graduating in 2008, the world was hit with a financial crisis and so she took a detour in her career and ended up at an Events and PR firm that was based in Shanghai. As time went by, the job in Shanghai eventually led her to a role in a luxury retail management consulting for a few years in Hong Kong. Shen then realised that every job she had was a blessing in disguise and it certainly made her who she is today.
As she was pregnant with her first child, Rebecca took a leap of faith into entrepreneurship and went ahead to launch a gifting platform for newborn babies.
Passion in organising
When asked about her love for organising, Rebecca told us how she had been exposed to a variety of tidying methods from a young age. Her mother was quite a minimalist and made sure everything at home was neat. What makes this more interesting is that her mother was also a certified consultant but of a different Japanese method. However, Rebecca was more drawn to the KonMari Method as the principles of it resonated deeply with her.
But what really made her fall in love with the whole idea of sparking joy was when she found out that KonMari’ing isn’t just about keeping a room clean and organised. Besides that, the said method can also help an individual to reshift focus on what truly matters in their life as well as keeps the individual align with their core values. In a way, it may sound like a difficult thing to do but Rebecca assures you it is not, as KonMari is made for everybody and anybody who is committed to change.
That said, before stepping foot into the KonMari world, Rebecca was known to be a shopaholic and would habitually turn to retail therapy. Eventually, as she peeled back the layers to get to the root cause of the problem, she realised that mindless shopping was just a way to numb herself and used it as a coping mechanism instead for the predicaments she had in her life. Hence, that’s where she appreciated the magic of KonMari even more.
The path of self-discovery
At that point in her life after launching her business, Rebecca’s personal KonMari journey began. It truly had a life-changing effect on her once she finished reading Marie Kondo’s, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
“The process of self-discovery led us to KonMari’ing the city we lived in, and we decided to take our young kids (at that time 9 months old & barely 3 years old) around the world on a year-long family sabbatical to do some soul searching and figure out where we wanted to raise our young family. We didn’t know where we would end up but decided that life was too short, and it was important for us to spend precious time with family and friends spread across the world,” she explains.
Following her parents’ nomad lifestyle, they ended up visiting every nook and corner of the world. “Spending on average a month in each place – it took us to Taiwan, Japan, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, Kenya, and we spent a few months in various parts of the US, road tripping along the coast of California, and spending time in South Carolina and Montana.”
The life of Malaysia’s first KonMari consultant
One of the many benefits of KonMari is that it helps the individual to develop what they personally define as joy and in turn, it builds confidence in decision making. Solely because of that, she’s very passionate about instilling these principles in young kids hence why she hosts parenting workshops as well, so she could help other families too.
For the unfamiliar, the KonMari Method™ was founded by organising guru, Marie Kondo. In her #1 New York Times best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and award-winning Netflix show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” Marie took tidying to a whole new level, teaching that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again.
Fun fact: Her kids have been KonMari’ing since they were 2 years old.
After discovering the magic of KonMari’ing, Rebecca has shifted her focus to doing just that for the last five years and according to her, it can be really therapeutic.
Gratitude is the foundation of the method – by showing gratitude for your belongings, even the items you are letting go – it rewires your mindset and outlook. – Rebecca Jo-Rushdy
When asked to describe the role of a KonMari consultant, she explains, “My role as a consultant is similar to a personal trainer, sometimes you need that extra push and accountability buddy to get you to the finish line.
Adding to that, “KonMari consultants are not there to force you to do anything, everyone is on a different pace in the journey of life and we are simply here to guide & cheer you on. Ultimately you have to draw upon the confidence and courage to let go of things yourself, and we provide the support and best practices to set you up for success.”
How to become a KonMari consultant
KonMari HQ is the only organization that can provide you with the certification. Previously, before the world was hit with the pandemic, the interested individual would have to go and attend a 2-day course either in the US or Europe. Due to the changing times, they have just launched their first virtual consultancy course this month.
“I encourage anyone with an interest to participate in the course and to go through the process of getting certified (requirements include minimum 30 hours of practice clients, submitting reports, taking a very tricky test and phone interview),” she told us.
Best decision for this little family
During their one year sabbatical, the family decided to make a week-long pit stop at Malaysia. After having spent a few days in KL and a few days out in the tranquillity of nature, they decided that moving to Malaysia would be the best decision for their little family. One thing that they hold close to their heart was to raise their kids in a place where they could learn the Chinese language — granted, Malaysia was the best choice.
Enthusiastically, she shared, “We love the diversity of Malaysia and everything it has to offer (especially our weekend roti canai family tradition!)”
Share with us something about yourself that you’re working on improving? And how will that help with your goals?
Prior to the MCO, I was absolutely petrified of public speaking. I’m glad to say that its something I’ve worked hard on to literally take on any speaking engagements during this time to practice and have dismantled negative thought patterns that were blocking me. I’ve been able to host numerous corporate workshops during this time and I am so thankful for the support and opportunities I have received to help conquer my fears.
Do you have any life-defining moments that have shaped you into the person you are today?
My mental health – I have had anxiety and depression since I was 11 years old. I did not want to be dependent on antidepressants, so through many years of therapy, finally developing healthy habits and also having a loving supportive husband and family/friend network, it’s taken me a long time but I now feel confident with the tools I have on hand to face and climb out of dark moments. My daughters have been my biggest inspiration for me to keep on choosing life, learn from mistakes and to always try my best.
What’s your favourite thing about Malaysia? What local dish do you really love?
We have been here for 2 years already and honestly feels like home. I love the warmth, vibrancy and diversity of the cultures here and am so grateful to be able to raise my daughters in such a beautiful country. I love Malaysian food, it’s so cliche but aside from the lush tropical landscape and climate, the food is absolutely my favourite – it is divine and something that truly brings everyone together. My favourite dish is the Nasi Kerabu at eat x dignity Cafe, a student-run restaurant of Dignity for Children, where I volunteer at.
It’s no doubt that this CMCO period has been challenging, how are you and your family coping so far with things?
It’s been a roller coaster ride as it has been for so many of us. If 2020 has taught us anything, its to be adaptable and open to change. My husband has been back at work for a few weeks now and the transition was not easy as I am with the kids and juggling work, but we communicate our schedules and share calendars as well so that if I need extra support he will do whatever it takes to make sure it happens. The kids are actually enjoying being at home, and I have been reflecting on how the most important thing we hope the kids can take away from this experience is resilience, adaptability and also using this time to lay down the foundation to teach virtues. It all starts at home.
Do you still accept clients at the moment? Also, if people are interested in sparking joy in their homes, how should they get in touch with you?
I am currently taking on virtual clients, and have clients from around the world. I have set up a calendar for easy bookings and welcome anyone for a chat to learn more.
How can someone rearrange and declutter a living space with the KonMari method without spending money on organisational tools?
One of the fundamental rules of KonMari is to not get tempted and buy organizers. She actually calls these tools objects that encourage hoarding. We must declutter first, and you will see precisely what you need so you won’t end up with items that are the wrong dimensions etc. Oftentimes with my clients, they always say upon meeting me that they need new furniture or storage, and are amazed when they finish decluttering that they have actually created ample space without the need to buy anything.
Once you are able to see clearly what you own and have a mental audit – this actually provides you with the capacity to be mindful of how you are spending as you are less likely to fall back into old spending habits.
Does asking if an item sparks joy before discarding it work?
Absolutely. There is a lot of positive psychology infused in the method – rather than focusing on the negative of what to discard, we are flipping it around to focus on only keeping joy in your life. It helps you to align you with your true and personal definition of joy, not defined by anyone else but yourself.
How do you stay true to yourself?
Speaking your truth in an authentic voice. I often work with clients who are very hesitant to define what sparks joy for them, because their happiness had been contingent on other people’s happiness for a long time. For example, even choosing a restaurant to eat at, sounds very simple but for fear of making the wrong choice or saying the wrong thing, those decisions can be pushed onto others. I understand deeply as I had my voice suppressed for a long time, which is why I was petrified of public speaking, it was debilitating to the point where I would burst into tears at the thought of it. Aligning yourself with what matters most and what you hold true to your heart will open those doors wide open.
What’s your definition of success?
Your own definition of success is the one that matters most. My personal definition of success is finding contentment and to be at peace with yourself. It’s not about the awards or accolades, but success is what you can achieve through helping others and impacting lives. We all have that ability within us.
What can you say to people who can never organise to save their lives?
This is a method that anyone can do even as young as 2! Wanting to change and committing is the first step and to remove those self-limiting beliefs. I often get many people saying to me they wish they can KonMari or wish their kids would tidy, and they want to have a decluttered home. Wishing and having hope is fantastic, but the hope isn’t a plan. We need to make it happen. For people who are self-starters, I have a Facebook support group if they want to get started with all the free resources to guide you, and I am always rooting for everyone – you can post up questions or just share your progress for some cheer!
Pictures by Erica Knecht of That Wild Road