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There’s been a decade of buzz about minimalist living, capsule wardrobes, hoarding, and how to live with less.
New careers have been built on it: organizers and declutterers, authors addressing every aspect of the problem. A simple YouTube search will find you hundreds of video tutorials. The author Marie Kondo went from one book to nine, translated into 44 languages. Clearly, it’s not just an American problem.
I decided to go it alone. Since people can have 5-10 books about decluttering buried underneath their piles of clutter, it seemed to me that having someone else do it or following someone else’s rules wasn’t working for many people, and wasn’t working for me. It would have to be my job, something that I had to work on, from the inside out.
It’s been a weird journey, cleaning my closet. I truly have always had enough clothes for a small country. I’m realizing that it’s been more about how I feel about my body. Even when I was thin, I thought I was fat (and ugly).
And now, at 64, I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been, and am ready to accept me.
I am letting go of everything that isn’t comfortable. Comfort is first. I am looking in the mirror after it passes the comfort test: making decisions for work clothing and for relaxation. I expect to eliminate 90 percent of my clothes.
Some decisions are really, really hard. So, I’ve placed those in a separate box to process later.
I guess I’m writing this because I’ve just spent an entire vacation struggling with this process, this introspection…and I’m not impressed with who I allowed myself to become.
I’ve done retail therapy most of my life, maybe all of it.
I’ve kept my doors closed to friends and family due to my shame about my messes.
I’ve scoured thrift stores and stopped at every rummage sale, looking for “treasures,” while ignoring all the treasures that weren’t things.
I could dwell in a pity party, beat myself with cruel words, and I’d deserve them. But instead, I’m doing the harder thing; I’m forgiving myself and changing what I can, as quickly and efficiently as I can, as well as I can, with as much mercy and grace for myself, as I can muster.
I know I’ll make mistakes. I know I’ll never be perfect, but I’m forcing myself to see, to be intentional, to be kind to myself (but also firm), and utterly truthful.
This is getting long, I know. I just want to add how I’ve gotten here, to this point of acceptance:
>> I watched many many many video tutorials.
>> I worked hard at awareness of why I wanted to buy something.
>> I examined the items I want to keep: how they fit, why the piece was comfortable, and how I felt wearing it.
Slowly, I began to understand what was comfortable for me to wear, what made me feel good, what made me look good. Lots of things surprised me, and probably will continue to do so.
Be proud of yourself if you’ve started this journey sooner. Be proud of yourself if you will start later. Be proud of yourself that you can even begin.
Be kind to yourself. Don’t give up.
When I moved from one house to another
there were many things I had no room
for. What does one do? I rented a storage
space. And filled it. Years passed.
Occasionally I went there and looked in,
but nothing happened, not a single
twinge of the heart.
As I grew older the things I cared
about grew fewer, but were more
important. So one day I undid the lock
and called the trash man. He took
I felt like the little donkey when
his burden was finally lifted. Things!
Burn them, burn them! Make a beautiful
fire! More room in your heart for love,
for the trees! For the birds who own
nothing—the reason they can fly. ~ Mary Oliver