Coming Clean

As a self-proclaimed professional organizer, I truly believe that the key to being organized is to only have those things in your home that you love and use. All else is clutter and causes frustration, discouragement and unnecessary expense. Holding on to old stuff and what it represents merely keeps us tied to the past and looking backward - not allowing us to grow and improve.  I’ve spoken about this to groups; I’ve explained this to clients and practiced it myself, except, not totally.

This past year or two, I’ve felt something deep down that was telling me I’m on the verge of a breakthrough of some sort, that something new and better was waiting for me. I struggled with what I needed to do or address or deal with before this breakthrough could happen. I bought a new planner system and put it into place. I floated for an hour in total darkness and quiet. I’ve prayed and meditated. I talked to a Life Coach.   What is it that is keeping me from letting go of some unhealthy behaviors (in my case, overeating) and embracing a better life

I’ve talked and written over and over again about the benefits of clearing out your closet and only keeping things in it that you love to wear because they fit well and make you happy. I’ve talked about not overcrowding your closet so that items are easily accessible. I talked the talk, but didn’t walk the walk. Every time I worked with a client or spoke to an audience about this, there was a small voice in the back of my head accusing me of being a fraud and a liar.  My closet, armoire and a couple of plastic bags were at least 50% full of clothes that no longer fit or I’d brought brand new as “incentive” to lose weight. There were some items still with tags on them. Other items were over thirty years old. I’d weeded out several times over the years, but still I held on to so much that I couldn’t wear.

Whenever I entered our closet, instead of feeling good about myself and enjoying the fact that my clothes reflected my taste and made me feel happy and positive, I felt discouraged and disheartened and a failure.  

Do you see where this is going? Do you see the connection between my cluttered closet full of clothes from past “glory days,” my dreams of weighing what I did in high school or in my twenties and my being stuck now? I finally got it about three weeks ago (there are none so blind as those who will not see). I don’t know why the light bulb finally turned on, but one day while driving to work, I finally admitted to myself that I wasn’t being authentic and it was holding me back, just as if my feet were stuck in hardened cement or shackled in chains. My beliefs were not aligned with my actions.   How many times had I told others that we aren’t able to accept new gifts and blessings when we insist on holding onto stuff, ideas or beliefs that do not benefit us anymore? Yet, I was holding on to clothing that no longer fit me, either literally or figuratively. I think I was afraid to embrace the woman I am now, extra pounds and all, love her and move on. I felt that by giving up on the clothes, I would be giving up on myself and settling.

So, at some point during that twenty minute drive to work, I decided to let them go. I decided that by the end of the year, I’d pull out everything and donate it. I wanted to take my time to honor my past and the memories and hopes that those suits, jackets, jeans, blouses shorts(!) and coats represented. Over the next couple of weeks, I started to look forward to “the clearing.” I was able to start disengaging from the emotions associated with the clothes and just see them as what they were. I was actually starting to look forward to getting that stuff gone.  Except, not totally. I told myself I’d keep no more than five items because they were “too good” to let go - a black leather jacket, a silk suit my mom bought me after I graduated law school, a Pendleton suit, a wool twinset, a pair of jeans - none of which fit!  I was justifying it somehow - just look at everything I’m letting go! Surely it won’t hurt to just keep these few special things, because someday when I’m able to fit into them again, I’ll be a success!

Well, the day finally came.  Sunday December 11th I was ready. I’d gone to an estate sale the day before and scored a large yard bag full of beautiful clothing in my size for only $34. I took this as a sign that I am being provided for and knew it was go time. Sunday before church, I started taking items off of hangers and putting them on the bed. I took sweaters and shirts out of my armoire. I took coats (barely worn) out of the coat closet. I piled on boots that I couldn’t pull on over my calves. I ended up keeping four items back (because they’re “special!”).

I went to church and we celebrated the third week of Advent - Joy! The joy of looking forward to a new life, rejoicing in the Lord because He is enough. And sometime during that service, the Still Small Voice lovingly told me to let it ALL go and that it would be ok.  So, I went home and took those final four items out of the closet. I sorted everything that I’d piled on the bed, folded them and bagged them up and put them in my car. I donated them to Midland Care Findables, a local resale shop that funds a nonprofit hospice here in town.  I didn’t try to sell them because I didn’t want to take the  time and energy to do so. I wanted them out and gone. I ascribe to the theory of self-selection - that is, when you donate items, they will find their next best owner. It’s not our job to do that. What a relief, right?

 

Will my life magically change overnight so I’ll be able to effortlessly attain all of my goals in 2017? No, of course not. I do know, however, that I have proven to myself that I can do something that only three months ago I would’ve told you was impossible for me to do. I do feel better about myself and have just a bit more confidence. My beliefs and actions are more aligned and I have a teaspoon more faith. I actually smile when I walk into my closet now! I have more than enough. I realize that this whole post is one big page of First World Problems, yet it was a problem for me and I’m pretty sure it’s a problem for others. I hope this encourages others to challenge themselves, ask for help and take the next step forward.