We had visited the trendy new jazz bar/restaurant months ago, and swore we'd make reservations and come back some day. So some day had arrived. Dinner was set for 6:00 on Saturday.
But I had nothing to wear.
Now, of course that is not to be taken literally. Like most women who utter these words, I have a closet that is completely packed with clothes - and more clothes live under my bed and in the attic and front closet.
I love to shop. I admit I have used shopping therapy to ease the pain of life pretty much every week for, oh, the last ten years or so. And as I sat on the edge of my bed that Saturday, gripped with anxiety, completely unable to make a decision, I decided something had to change.
My daughters had stopped by and made an attempt at putting together some outfits from what they had found in my wardrobe, but not before complaining (rightfully) that I had so many things they could barely sift through to find something. They were right. A lot of this simply had to go.
I spent some time thinking about my shopping "addiction" and why I loved clothes so much. I realized that many things fueled my actions, but ultimately decided the why of the past didn't matter as much as the why/how/and what of the present.
One of my sons, who is very clothes conscious and stylish, had recently gone through his closet and eliminated a substantial amount of his belongings. His reasons were primarily spiritual. He is serious about his faith, and he took Jesus' words to heart: "If you have two shirts, give one to the poor."
He said to me, "Mom, why should I keep these things, especially if I am not using them, if someone else needs them? After all, they were never mine in the first place. Everything we have belongs to God."
I'm nowhere near ready to pare down my wardrobe to one of each item, but his words had an impact on me.
The next step was letting go of guilt. I had spent A LOT of money on these things over the years, so I should keep them, right? And what if I needed them someday? Wouldn't I regret getting rid of them?
I decided to take it slow. I would start small, get rid of a few things, and think about what I really wanted in my life. Things didn't exactly work out that way. True to my all or nothing nature, here's what I did instead.
- I looked at my closet in disgust. My only regret now is that I did not take a before picture. But it looked something like this.
- I took pretty much everything out, and started putting things back in that fit me well right now and look good. The obvious garbage (stained, ripped, faded, worn out) went in the trash.
- I made two piles with what remained: things I definitely don't want, things I might want in a different season or because I'm just not ready to let them go.
- Then I subdivided those piles. The discarded items went into three piles: ones that my daughter or friend might want, things I can resell (at a thrift store or our family's upcoming garage sale) and things I will give away.
- Then I put all of the rejects in bags or boxes, and removed them from my room. Now, they have not all left my home as of yet, and guess what? THAT'S OK. I don't have to follow anyone else's rules for this! I am making progress in my own way.
- Then I took a good long look at what remained: items that I really liked that told more about my style than I could have imagined. I discovered that I like classic items with a bit of an edge. I like gray, a lot. I have some really beautiful things.
I also discovered a sense of freedom I have not felt in a very long time.
Next time I'll share what I did next. It surprised me more than a little.
There are lots of surprises in store whenever we take a risk, right? Let's do this!