Finding Balance : Making Space : Seasonal Clothing Cleanse

  SEED Find Balance Make SpaceFinding balance | Making space | Appreciation | Clarity | Witnessing truth

This New Libra Moon is all about balance, space, kindness, appreciation, and clarity -- Clear  eyes, minds and hearts. I celebrated the new moon by doing one of my favorite space making activities: a wardrobe cleanse.

This little ritual started a few years ago, after I had realized that almost daily I went through the excruciating decision-making gauntlet that was: WHAT SHOULD I WEAR today/tonight/to this thing I have to go to/etc. I am already painfully challenged with decision making, and having gobs and gobs of clothing options did not help the toil. I had clothing that I had collected from others or for various occasions, or for a lifestyle that just wasn't mine anymore. Clothes were spread across different rooms, and storing them was a total chore. This little bit of chaos made me feel crazy and weak and amplified my indecisive tendencies to a deafening roar. So began the methodical, border line obsession, that is the Clothing Cleanse. Essentially, seasonally I curate a  small selection of clothing, hang it in it's place-in my space, and I put the rest away. Out of sight, out of mind.

This ritual allows me to feel in control and intentional-about where I put my money and what I spend mental energy on in a day.  It encourages me to be creative with what is, and imagine what could be. Having fewer, yet appropriately curated items, means that the things that are showcased are things that I love--that really work for me. I don't have space for things that are just so-so. This brings a deep appreciation for those items that I get to enjoy for a part of the year--I take care of them and treat them well. Because items rotate and new things come into my consciousness a few dedicated times a year--I break free from that graspy feeling of always wanting something else. And, decision making is more or less effortless.

Now, I live in a tiny house, so having the essentials on hand-- and only the essentials in my space-- is, well-essential. Pictured below is the clothing storage that Oliver and I share.  That's not a lot of space! That means I need to be particular about what is going to take up space.

iny House ClothingThe seasonal wardrobe is in the house and the rest of the items are in a small storage closet, in 2 plastic storage containers. This includes all off-season clothing, coats, shoes, scarves, and accessories.

When it comes to "seasonal" clothing, there are plenty of items that are good for all seasons-- this means that I have to store some of those basics so that the wardrobe is manageable. I love this aspect because inevitably I will be delighted later in the year when I "rediscover" some of my favorites. This also means that the longevity of the clothing and shoes is preserved, which is great! Less stuff to buy. Speaking of which, this whole practice  makes going shopping way less interesting as I get to "shop" my existing wardrobe a few times a year. I still get those little "yay--new stuff" sensations when I pull out a scarf or a sweater I completely forgot about!

This whole ritual is incredibly satisfying, and is something that has removed much stress and decision fatigue from my life. You may not be as crippled at decision making as I am--but I assure you that you would benefit from lightening your clothing load.  It clears so much space!

SEED WardrobeAre you feeling pumped about cleansing your own closet?  

Here are some steps to consider:

Set up

  • Make space. You're going to be spreading stuff all over and depending on how much you have to deal with, it could take a while.
  • Have dedicated bags ready for items you are ready to:
    • donate/swap
    • items that need to be cleaned/repaired
  • Have storage containers for off-season items. I have one for "Spring/Summer" and one for "Fall/Winter". I like those plastic rubbermaid storage containers.
  • Most importantly--pour a glass of wine and turn on some tunes! Celebrate this space-clearing ritual. It doesn't have to be a chore!

Then begin to sort!

How do you choose what stays and what goes?

  • Some items will be no-brainers--Get those items out of the way ASAP:
    • Items that are clearly the wrong season (store it)
    • Items that are the wrong size (toss it--unless it is reasonable to believe your size will change in the next year)
    • Items you never or rarely wore when it was in-season (maybe toss it or set aside).
  • Are there some items that you love, love, love--and are really looking forward to wearing?
    • Put the lovers in the center of your space so you can really see them. There are usually a few pieces that inspire the whole collection, or pull the whole thing together.  The pic below has a few items that I was really excited about...and the colors in the floral arrangement just screamed autumn to me and inspired a palette.
  • With what is left, consider the items holistically:
    • What shapes and lines do you like to carry this time of year?
    • What's your lifestyle like this time of year?
    • What are your shoe options for the season?
    • What jackets do you have?
    • Start to add complimentary items to the outside of the circle--so you can see what you are working with!

SEED Wardrobe InspirationBe a sleuth.

  • Look for patterns in your go-to selections.
    • Are there recurring fabrics or colors?
    • What do you like about these things?
    • Where do you imagine yourself wearing these items?
    • What are you doing in them?
  • Look around at the other items that you own and decide what REALLY compliments the items you have already chosen. Add those items to the mix.
  • Now look over the remaining items. Could you live with out them for a few months? If so, put them away. If no, set the remaining items aside.

Place the keepers in their new home.

Once you have selected what will stay, put them away in your closet. I have a finite number of hangers and drawer space. Everything must have its place or it is too much... This may mean you will need to be a bit more ruthless about what items stay and what items are stored.

Pack away the rest.

Now, for the items that are going to be packed away in the tub:

  • Make sure they are clean and not damaged.
  • Make sure you have tossed a few things that just didn't work so that you don't have to reassess next year.
  • I will also note anything that I wished I had had for that season but never came across. Those items go into a notes app on my phone, in a note dedicated to items to look for when I happen to be out shopping. This makes shopping more purposeful and allows for screaming deals, as you may be the only one looking for certain items off season. Last spring I scored some autumn booties at 75% off. Stoked.
  • Once that is done, toss in a  little satchel of lavender and love note...you will forget about some of these things and will be delighted when you open up your storage container next spring!

Now, things get really creepy!

I think this is my favorite step:

  • Assess the goods that make up your current duds! I love to sketch out the different silhouettes and general outfit ideas I have. For me it is all about creating nice shapes. So fitted tops, big scarves and flowey skirts or boxy tops and matchstick pants with booties. I also assess my color palette and make sure it is still feeling harmonious. One year I might make paper dolls to take this to the next creeptastic level.

Wardrobe SketchAssess what it missing from the collection to take it from great to wow:

Sometimes a new scarf or a jacket will pull all the items together in a magical way. So I keep my eyes peeled for opportunities to pick those up. I don't shop much throughout the year, but when I switch out my wardrobe I usually shop a bit for very specific items: things that are going to work with what I have going on for the season. Shopping in the way feels more gratifying.

And that's it.

This is a commitment, but the time and energy spent up front, make way for clarity of mind and spirit and ease of decision making. Plus, I LOVE not being hungry for clothing items all year. I have never been a huge shopper, but I am certainly no stranger to that desire for "something new"--whatever that is. This little ritual builds in something new a few times a year--and often are items that I already own. I love that most.

Anyhow, if you're feeling inspired--- Give it a try!

Baby steps would be packing away summer shorts, tops, sandals now, so that they don't clutter your closets. You'll be able to see what you have more clearly...and you will have the delicious element of surprise next spring/summer when you pull those babies out again.

Put on some good music, pour a glass of wine, and get down to business. It feels so good to simplify your day to day choices by cleansing your closets, and with it--the angst of decision fatigue!

P.S. It is my D R E A M  to help people to do this. So if you want someone to help you decide what goes, schlep things to storage, or just sit there and drink wine--you know who to call.

 

xo

Denise

Dreams

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Every year on Martin Luther King Day I watch Dr King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. I lose my breath for a second, and marvel at the footage, the crowd, and wonder where they are today. I’m especially curious about the little girl in her father’s arms, face turned away from the camera. Where is she today? Has she seen the footage? Does she recognize herself? Her father? Does she remember?

But I digress.

I also cry. But at a very precise moment. It’s towards the end, when the video pans to the Lincoln Memorial for the second time and Dr. King quotes the Declaration of independence:

Now, I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: - ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’

I think it get’s me because it puts me in the past of the past, but also in the present.Seeing the past reference the past is an interesting thing. Especially when the ideas still feel so modern. It’s the then and now, the them and us. This experience of time is confusing, yet familiar, and oh so blurry. And I feel overcome.

An iteration of a notion that has stretched back for multiple generations. While the specifics may have changed (though, not entirely) it suggests that there is still work to do. And maybe that there will  always be work to do, and maybe it will always be the same work. Likely, that is the point of it all.

And I surprise myself each time by feeling hopeful, when it would be so simple to feel hopeless.

I pulled a few convictions out of MLK Jr’s words that felt particularly affecting:

“To make real the promises of democracy”

"A brotherhood of mankind"

“Make justice a reality for all of gods children”

“It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment”

and

“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.”

I suppose forever was meant sincerely.

It’s amazing  to consider the steps forward that have been taken, and all the steps back that came along with the progress.

But still I feel hopeful.

I’m no Dr. King, but I have a dream too.

I dream of world where we can live in harmony with each other and with the earth.

Where:

  • People feel good!
  • We have LESS: stress, processed food, pressure to consume—be it resources, products or media
  • we can eat good food
  • we support our communities
  • time is NOT money
  • gratitude and appreciation are second nature
  • nature trumps science
  • corporate greed is recognized and abolished
  • the bottom line is trivial
  • the insanity of genetically modified foods is recognized
  • vegetable gardens and community farms dot every city and town across the globe and provide livelihood and fresh, healthy, sustainable options for sourcing food
  • people eat together and celebrate together
  • we laugh and sleep long and hard
  • we experience the simple pleasures that we have always had, until someone told us what to dream

Maybe it's silly: too simple, too naive, would create unforeseen problems.

But for now, I’m hopeful.

Thank you Dr. King. Happy Birthday.

Lessons In Coping

2013-12-24 21.17.24I had a wonderful day. It is starting to feel like fall here—which means a subtle crispness to the air, perfect light, the time to eat grounding roots, gourds and apples in all their glory. I spent the day hiking with my husband, a bit of a drive away, but worth it. It was a beautiful place, a near empty trail, and now my body feels tired in that “I walked and climbed for hours today” way. Lovely. On the way home we had the radio on, which was brimming with thoughtful inspirational stories on the way out to the hike, and on the way back it was—“the news”. I heard more about Syria, ObamaCare, Mass Shootings in DC, A story about the destructive pattern of media —the onslaught of up to the minute misinformation, a story on the injustice to Muslim Americans at the U.S. boarder, racism regarding the new Miss America…I feel like I could go on and on. And I started to deflate. The joy of the day got clouded over by all of this “information” and I was left with a pit of sadness in my stomach and a feeling of hopelessness and powerlessness that sat heavy on my chest.

Then I was reminded that a few weeks back a dear amazing person posed the following question on Facebook:

“Friends, a sincere question: in the midst of such overwhelming/scary news (an impending invasion of syria, the latest toxicology reports out of fukushima, the growing disparity between haves and have nots, recent killings of trans people, the rise of fascism in russia and beyond…etc etc etc) HOW DO YOU COPE? I’m serious, what do you do with your fear, or rage, or feelings of incompetency? Do you tune out? Take the long view? Act up? Keep it simple? I would love to hear your thoughts…”

And I recalled my response—which I was proud to post amongst the hundreds of brilliant, kind souls that had shared their wisdom on this topic.  Here was my response:

Sometimes I think about what a unique position we are in in “the age of information”, where media is so commoditized that it is nearly unavoidable, and dare I say—violent. Not to dismiss that there are great atrocities in the world, however I believe that there always have been, and because of our “access” to information, we know about EVERYTHING from every media maker, every second of every day. And we especially know about the things that media makers know we will “click on”, because it is profitable and that is pretty much anything scandalous or fear inducing. Ick.

There is this concept in cognitive psychology called “cognitive load”, which suggests that the mind can only hold onto so so many concepts at a time, from the wiki: 

“Another aspect of cognitive load theory involves understanding how many discrete units of information can be retained in short-term memory before information loss occurs. An example of this principle that seems to be commonly cited is the use of 7-digit phone numbers, based on the theory that most people can only retain seven "chunks" of information in their short-term memory.”

And I guess I choose to fill up my “seven chunks” with the really amazing and incredible things that are happening in the world—the stuff that isn’t as profitable to media conglomerates—the people doing beautiful creative things, the acts of kindness that happen everyday, the name of my sweet new neighbor—and hope that stuff goes form short term memory to long. Becomes part of my spirit and my aura and the light I shine, maybe makes it way to the spring in my step, because I feel safe and loved and loving towards human kind.

So I guess in answer to your question, I choose to tune out. Sometimes the heavy stuff gets me and I feel it deeply. I wonder if I can make a difference, I wonder if there is more to the story. But then I recognize the person I am in the world when I allow things to weigh me down—heavy, distracted, grouchy, dimmed. And in the end, when I try to balance it all out, I think I am of better service to the world when I exude light and love. 

After this reminder, in my own words (ha!), I felt a bit better. It’s all about perspective, priorities, patience. At the same time I was reminded that I am not alone in this struggle as the thread had continued to grow over the weeks. One comment I noticed today:

Intone these words: “What can I do about it?” Your inflection may vary.

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." T. Roosevelt.

I love that Roosevelt quote— In matters enormous and small.

Plus, T.R. as a young man looks a lot like my husband, now. Which makes me giddy.

young-teddy-roosevelt

 

So I have to ask:

  • What “seven chunks” did you fill your heart and soul with today?
  • Did they serve you?
  • “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” How might this mantra work it’s way into your life?