Allison cleans her closets

I promise you all I haven’t forgotten about running. That post will be coming later this week. But for now, I have a story about getting rid of stuff.

Secret time: I have a terrible pack rat habit. Packratting? There’s a good chance that’s not a word, but I’m going to coin it for the sake of the story.

Packratting started when I was a kid. I’m not sure what caused it. Was it a result of my Sagittarius nature rejecting the orderly tidiness of my Virgo mother? Did Toy Story have side effects? Candidly, I have some stuffed animals in my closet I know I should donate to a church or social services, since it’s not like I’m going to have a tea party with them in the near future. But at the same time, I’ve anthropomorphized all my dollies and would feel guilty, like I was abandoning old friends if ever gave them away.

I’m blaming Toy Story for that.

Maybe I have too much Depression-era mentality, like the folks who grew up during that time in history, or raised by parents who loved through it and as a result are afraid to throw anything away “just in case.”

Actually, in hindsight, I did develop a scarcity mindset right when the pandemic started. Everyone was fighting for bread, milk and toilet paper, and it was anyone’s guess when the stores would be re-stocked. My former boyfriend and I were constantly picking up canned goods and hand sanitizer, as well as most household supplies we thought we’d go through and not be able to find more of.

This might have been smart for a family, but two adults and a cat didn’t need that much stuff. Hell, I still have those hand sanitizers “we’re gonna need” in my hall closet almost three years later. You all don’t even want to know what the tampon hoard looks like.

I had so many things in my closets, of novelty cookware I maybe used once years ago and never cared about, and of clothes I haven’t worn and didn’t even remember owning (if I tried to wriggle into them again … Yeah, a snowball would have an easier time traveling through Hades). Even if I didn’t actually see the stuff on a regular basis, it was always there looming over me.

After years of on-off talking about it, this past weekend I took advantage of the three days to de-clutter the closets. I also took down the Christmas tree and got Christmas put away, but that task was cake compared to my bedroom closet.

I have two closets in my room and started with the furthest one. That closet was home to leftover Christmas wrapping paper and boxes I bought a lifetime ago when I had more people to wrap presents for. I definitely didn’t need 75 percent of that for the three I buy presents for now, so to the trash it went.

The next thing to go was the old work clothes. I bought some skirt suits when I first moved out to Columbus when I worked at a more formal place. I haven’t been there in almost seven years and now that I live in sweats and flannel jammies as my workplace attire, there’s no need to hang on to those clothes. They got packed up and stuck in the car next.

I had a ton of clothes that didn’t fit or suit me anymore, and reorganized the shoes and some storage bins in both closets to create a more efficient system. I’m still amazed how much stuff I had amassed without realizing it. Who needs four laptop briefcases when I use a $20 backpack from Dick’s Sporting Goods to carry my laptop to the office?

About half of my closet went to Goodwill on Sunday. The other half from Sunday night’s purging of the linen closet went to Goodwill on Monday. Why I had that many hand towels is anyone’s guess.

So that brings me to today. The main project – cleaning out four closets over the weekend – is done. In between cleaning closets was also volunteering at a race on the other side of town, running errands, attending church, a hair appointment and having a dental cleaning and an eye exam on Monday. There’s still some smaller areas I want to clean up and I’ll do over the course of the next few months, but for now, I’m just glad I busted my tail to get those closets done.

As I was cleaning up and now that I’m finally sitting on my couch after work – who would have thought one day I’d log on to work to relax? – I came to a realization. For the longest time purging closets and dressers was the absolute bane of my existence. Part of it was because the task was always so daunting, but also, there’s a part of me that still deals with the scarcity mindset. Would I rather have something and not need it, or need something and not have it? For a long time, I was the former.

But then I realized that stuff really is just that – stuff. As both Grandma and Grandpa used to remark, “You can’t take any of it with you when you die.” The only thing any of us can really carry are memories and experiences. What would I need those old skirt suits for?

As cheesy as it may sound, I do believe my home is a reflection of how I’m doing mentally and emotionally. When I’m at peace I take pride in my home and want to create a beautiful space to unwind in. When I’m struggling with my well-being, cleaning and putting things back is the first thing to go. Just because it wasn’t out in the open didn’t mean my closets weren’t a cluttered mess. For that matter, my brain can also be a bit cluttered and chaotic as well. The person really did turn into the environment.

So I decided everything around me was getting a good purging. The process was exhausting but cathartic, and my home feels lighter. Calm has been restored. Although I’m still pretty tired. I think Marina and I should go to bed early.

Reader-friends, I hope you all have enjoyed tonight’s post as well as yourselves. The week is young – make it count.

Yours in life,

Allison

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