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5 magical mind tricks to help you declutter your home

Can figuring out how to fold your underwear help you process your past and trust yourself more? According to Marie Kondo, the author of "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," it definitely can.

5 magical mind tricks to help you declutter your home

I bought this book at the airport. I was drawn to the words "life-changing magic." Turns out that was an accurate description and a good decision. This book was magic.

Sparkly star emphasis mine. Image via me.

What really what sets this book apart is the perspective it has on tidying. Tidying isn't really about knowing your drawer space, tidying is about knowing yourself.


And because of that, much to my surprise, this book taught me about joy.

Here are just five of the joy-inducing, perspective-shifting principles of Kondo's amazing book:

1. Don't blame yourself for not knowing how. Tidying is not a gift; it's a skill.

The author dispels a big myth right out of the gate. That myth? That you should just *know* how to tidy.

"The general assumption, in Japan at least, is that tidying doesn't need to be taught but rather is picked up naturally."

That's pretty crippling, huh? Either you have the gift or you don't. Sorry, messier folks, there's no hope for you! Wrong.

The fact is, you can't tidy if you never learned how. That's the title of one of the very first chapters! And learning to tidy doesn't involve magic, and it's not a gift that the Tidy Fairy bestows once in a generation.

You don't need magic to be tidy. Save it for flying, Mary! Image via "Mary Poppins."

Tidying is a simple physical act, like a dance move. It's something anyone can learn.

Here are the two tidying "dance moves:"

  1. Decide whether or not to dispose of something.
  2. Decide where to put what you keep.

And when you do the moves, you're doing it right. But there's one special sauce to add ... FEELINGS!

2. You can trust yourself and your emotions. They're actually very precise in their wisdom.

The secret sauce of the one-two step of tidying above is ... put a little feeling in it! (OK, put a lot of feeling in it! You deserve it.) When you're tidying, feel your clothes. Then feel your feelings. If you feel a jolt of joy, you're keepin' it.


If your tiny phone brings you joy, hold on to it. Image via "Saturday Night Live."

Your emotions are your divining rod, leading you toward goodness.

"You're not deciding what to throw out, you're deciding what to keep. In your house, but also in your mind and in your future."

And they're precise! According to Kondo, if you really listen to that jolt of joy, you'll wind up with the PERFECT amount of possessions. You cannot fail yourself.

3. No comparing.

This is your dance.

Rihanna gets it.

As Kondo says, "You are the standard." I love how straightforward this principle is. You can't possibly compare your tidying process to anyone else's. Those jolts of joy that are telling you to keep one item but not the other? Those are your jolts and yours alone. They're special!

4. Be prepared for completing, not for starting.

"Storage should reduce effort to put things away, not effort to get them out. "

You'll start that project anyway, but will you be ready for the NEXT start? This doesn't mean you should always be looking toward the future. Rather, it means that the hard part is moving on.

Create a world where you can put what you're doing away and move on to the next phase.


Next adventure, please. GIF via Henrik Nielsen/YouTube.

Finally, the most mind blowing thing ... why tidying in this way really matters:

5. It's not actually about your stuff. It's about YOU.

Kondo talks about sorting through clothes, books, and mementos in a very personal way.

"It is not our memories but the person we have become because of those past experiences that we should treasure."

This is where it gets very "your possessions have a lot to tell you," a la Beauty and the Beast.

GIF via "Beauty and the Beast."

Because you're not just processing your stuff, you're processing your past.

"By handling each sentimental item and deciding what to discard, you process your past."

For example, that book you haven't read isn't a negative representation of your lack of stick-to-it-ness. If you haven't read that book, perhaps its purpose wasn't to be READ by you, but to teach you that you didn't really need to read it.

And by dropping unused things that don't bring you joy in your home, you drop things that don't bring you joy in your life! And along the way, you discover you might just be doing it — aka life — right.

Just imagine all your unused things saying, "You got this," as you toss them into the resale bag. That's right, even your possessions believe in you!

It's as easy as going through your stuff and noting what brings you joy.

And when something brings you joy, in your closet or in your life, KEEP IT. It's as simple as that.

Personally, I needed to learn that. And, not gonna lie, it's kinda working for me! I'm sharing this story in the hopes that you or someone you know gets a little jolt of joy knowing they're not the world's most messy person, but just on a journey of knowledge!

That's some magic.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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