I’ve been purging.  From my closets I mean. 

It wouldn’t be a stretch to think that in moving through progressively smaller places – from a two and a half storey house with a full basement, to what is now a small one bedroom condo with two closets for storage – there couldn’t be much more to purge, would there?  However, four bags of clothes, plus two more bags of coats went out the door to a donation bin, as well as another five bags of “stuff” to the garbage or recycler.  AND, there is a section of my larger closet that I’ve not got to yet. 

Last night I got to thinking about why I hung on to these things.  It wasn’t all THAT bad; with some investment into storage pieces, I could have accommodated a lot of that stuff it in a much more sensible and meaningful fashion than I had until now.  I won’t tell you what non-sensible and non-meaningful looks like, but it's not pretty.  But I think the hanging on to stuff is a measure of self-burdening.  Why someone would justify self-burdening is beyond me but I'm working on it.

I’m sure I’m not the only one.  Some bits of clothing you look at and decide you are NEVER WEARING THAT AGAIN.  There are the buying-on-a-whim mistakes.  And those things you so wanted to look good in, but much as you wanted to, an honest look the mirror would not return a favourable picture.  There are pieces of clothing that look nice on the hanger and match other pieces perfectly and are a great colour – but not a great colour on you.  “I think I look good in red," but when you walk around feeling like you look about as attractive as a mud puddle, it becomes apparent that you don't look good in THAT particular red.  There are the old favourites – so favourite and for so many years, they look tired of life and are begging for eternal rest, only you’re not ready to let them go. 

Then there are the items saved for certain creative projects.  One of those un-started creative projects came with me from Windsor, seven and a half years ago.  I still like to partake in creative projects, but the main one is writing.  I also like to photograph and paint and journal.  These are the things I do all the time; so items related to projects I’d not started in the years they were stuffed in closets – gone. 

And the papers, oh the papers.  Bills and paperwork needing to be destroyed or filed.  Stacks of paper that had graced my kitchen table right before guests were coming so got put onto a bag in the closet. Bags. Evil, multiplying demon bags. 

My name is Jennifer and I will am ready to come clean with a problem:  I have spent HOURS these past evenings sorting, destroying and pitching paper.  Hours people!  And it's not finished!

I’m fifty.  Will I ever become one of those people who sorts and files mail when she gets it?  One of those people who thinks “big picture” when she’s adding an item to her wardrobe?   Holding on to found items because they’ll look great in a collage one day? 

Not bloody likely, but in the meantime I’m feeling about 300 lbs. lighter.  And the feeling of lightness is not only related to order and space in my closet and dresser.   It’s coming from the knowledge that the clutter, and the resulting “to-do” things – both creative and not – at the root of the clutter, are things that live like little thwarting demons behind the walls.  Demons that impede me from doing the things I need to do and want to do, like writing, and cooking. 

When I’ve got the extra weight of clutter and disorganization weighing on me, I find it difficult to move forward.  I procrastinate and hesitate and in the end get nothing done because I don’t want to make time for the mundane tasks in favour of the fun and more meaningful activities.  Funny thing is; whenever I get down to a purging, decluttering effort like this – it is enjoyable and very satisfying. 

Last night I laid in bed with the closet left open on the clean side, just so I could bask in the Zen. 

(That Zen – beautiful thing number 71.)


  1. Reply
    The Querulous Squirrel October 29, 2011

    At sixty, I’ve reached the point in life where I don’t think I will ever really need more clothes. I love the clothes i have. I tend to own about a dozen each of different items because the styles work on me in lots of matching and contrasting colors, and so deciding what to wear takes no time at all anymore and I always like what I am wearing. Between your age and now, I can’t even count how many garbarge bags of clothes I gave away. Easily a hundred. I don’t miss any of it. Stuff related to art projects, though, that’s hard. I no longer have any trouble dumping paperwork immediately. At work, I am surrounded by offices inhabited by paper hoarders and I shudder whenever I pass. I also have a few patients who are full-fledged OCD hoarders, and an hour with them can straighten anyone out. It’s heart-breaking. Things just aren’t that important.

  2. Reply
    Jennifer October 30, 2011

    Gee, I imagine it must be heartbreaking, to witness the life of an OCD hoarder. Being trapped under things.
    It’s the paper that is the most pressing issue for me, I suppose. And it’s more laziness than wanting to keep it. They say, deal with mail when it comes in. File or destroy. But for me it piles up so much that dealing with it becomes such a bloody production.
    I think the OCD hoarders, or thinking about them, should be my impetus to change some habits.

  3. Reply
    Little hat November 2, 2011

    Jenn, that last bit is very funny – leaving the closet door open. It says a lot about you. Kinesthetic, visual, life liver. Can’t say I’m much good at throwing things away although i can live insmall spaces like a campervan or a tent for weeks at a time.I’ve got a collection of broken tools on my bench under the house which I would like to pull apart and see if i can fix them – but I never will.

  4. Reply
    Jennifer November 2, 2011

    For the record – I haven’t finished the other side of the closet yet. But the clean side still is still giving me pleasure. I’m still hanging on to the feeling of letting things go – I’m itching to get rid of more. Should do before the feeling flys off.
    If I still had my house, Steve, this would be a different story. If I had a house – ridding myself of things wouldn’t be such a necessity. But that fact doesn’t negate the continued Zen value of the purge.

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