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Feb 20th 2014

Let It Go: The Doing of it All

deep breathActually, I started decluttering back in December as part of my New Year’s cleaning extravaganza.  First stop:  my clothes closet.  Now you have to understand that I am a church girl.  More than that, my father is a pastor, which makes me a PK (pastor’s kid), which means I’ve been “on display” most of my life.  Combine that with my current vocation as a pastor, my public work as a political operative, and my life as a business owner, and it means having inspection-worthy, scrutiny-passing clothing appropriate for any and every occasion.  And THAT means a closet overflowing with suits, blouses, separates, and of course shoes.

It was starting to take me too long to get dressed in the morning, which ultimately meant that I wound up wearing the same things over and over just because they were easy to grab.  So, OK, I admitted to myself that some things had to go.

First pass:  anything torn, stained, or beyond repair.  No I’m not really gonna ever dye that top to a darker color just cause I love it and can’t get the salad oil stain out.  Gotta go.  This first pass yielded a few things, but not enough to make a dent.  So…

Second pass:  things that don’t fit now.  This includes things used to fit but then age happened.  Things tend to, um, shift and move as we age, and that sometimes means that jackets that used to fit are suddenly! slumping in the shoulders, or the butt on the jeans is WTH?? sagging … This pass also includes clothes that won’t fit even I lose 20 pounds.  So size 10 blouse, goodbye.  I haven’t been a size 10 since high school;  I don’t even know how this blouse got in my closet!  Really, I don’t.

Third pass:  things I no longer love, or that I can’t remember wearing.

Fourth pass:  things that I like, but that might be loved by someone else.

I know people do that “if you haven’t worn it in two years, toss it” rule.  I just don’t like that rule, so I don’t use it.  Doesn’t fit my life and all its iterations.

When I finished all these passes, I had a pretty good pile, which I sorted into (1) trash, (2) goodwill, (3) Dress for Success – business clothes for women returning to the workforce and (4) consignment – perfectly good stuff that could be resold, and allow me to make a couple of bucks for all my effort.

Felt very accomplished and proud of myself.

Now at the start of this post, I said that I began this in December.  Well, there’s the rub.  Even though I sorted and packed up all this stuff, it didn’t actually leave my house til last week.  Yes, I can see you giving me the side-eye.  This is the crux of the matter:  I had every intention of letting these things go.  Made the effort, did the work, and put a big bow on it.  My closet was emptier.  I could see and wear more of my clothes.  And whenever I opened the closet door, I felt accomplished and good about myself.

But when time came to take that last step of actually releasing it and letting it go from my space, I just didn’t do it.  Oh I had all kinds of good, legitimate reasons.  And ultimately, these reasons took higher precedence than the urgency I’d originally felt for getting the stuff out of my house.  And then I’d turn into the office and step over the donation bags, all while patting myself on the back about my decluttering progress.  It was a total disconnect.

And then, as I nearly tripped over the bags one afternoon, epiphany!   You are not done.  (Seems obvious, I know.)  You’ve just moved the stuff to another place.  Just because you don’t see it in your closet doesn’t mean it’s been removed;  it’s just been shifted.    Sound familiar?  We often shift emotions, redirect habits, rearrange feelings and relationships just so we don’t have to do the hard, emotional, work of actually releasing non-productive things, attitudes, and people from our lives.

I sat there on the floor for a  long while, mulling over my actions and my realizations.  Then I got up, gathered the trash and goodwill bags, and took them to their final destinations.  Made an appointment at the consignment shop and made that delivery.  Clothes and shoes for donation are boxed and bagged and awaiting the reopening of Dress for Success following their renovation.  Now I’m really done.  And learned a valuable lesson about this decluttering stuff:  you haven’t let it go until you’ve actually let it go, released it, removed it so that you no longer have access to it.

Next stop:  bathrooms and linen closets.


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