I love cleaning.
Not toilets or ovens. But my closet, yes. Usually, when I tell my friends I’m about to embark on this endeavor, they get nervous. This is because my closet (and, I’m betting, yours as well) is the physical manifestation of what’s going on in my head and heart. But it’s almost spring, so I’m playing the “I’m-Not-A-Headcase” card and going with the “Case-of-Too-Much-Clutter” card.
And then I got into my closet.
Seriously, why do I still have the New Jersey Devils hockey jersey that my ex-husband got me when I was 16? Tossed. Why did I keep the box of my SonicCare toothbrush long after I threw out the device? Tossed. But those vintage boots I bought in Indianapolis 14 years ago still look fabulous, they stay. This exercise is cathartic, productive and I think it’s fun. Old jeans move to the front of the rack, pilled sweaters get tossed, and I ask myself, “Have I worn this in the last year?” I try on, organize, and reminisce about my clothes, where I bought them and if I got a good deal.
I end up with three piles: garbage, donations, and consignment. For a second, looking at my pared-down closet, I try to believe less really is more… But who am I kidding? Now there’s just more room for me to go shopping.
Before I grab the old purse I found on the bottom of my closet and flee to the mall, I needed to do one more cleaning—my financial house. This is akin to cleaning toilets… A necessary evil. This was the first year in the past 16 that I had to file taxes alone, and single. I also refinanced my house, my accounts went from joint to solo, and so did my bills. I paid off debts, set up online bill pay, and even created three MN College Savings Accounts (still sparse). This was much less fun than finding a 20 in some old jeans, but nonetheless, just as satisfying. I now know exactly how much comes, in, goes out, and where it’s sitting. This was even more gratifying than color-coding my sweaters (a tall order, by the way). Money, like shoes, is something you can never have too much of, but understanding how to manage it and make it work in my life was like finding a pristine pair of Gucci loafers in my size at a thrift shop. Score!
After this physical and financial spring cleaning, my spirit is feeling less burdened, more aligned, and empowered, like it took a deep, cleansing breath. A beneficial yet momentary side effect. I gave up the facade of having any real sense of control over anything a long time ago, because I realize the closet only stays organized for a few days, and the bills are only paid off for a few hours. But the process was the real medicine.
And that process continues: I mess stuff up, I clean it up, and like the search for those size-six-thrift-shop-pristine-Gucci-loafers, I hope I acquire something valuable along the way.
This week I hope you find a Hermes scarf, a vintage Louis Vuitton bag, and your spirit in pristine condition.