Let it go

April 10, 2014

Last year I did the unthinkable and cut my wardrobe in half.

It was a long time coming and a brutal process, but kicked off a season of purging in my life. After it was underway I realized it was happening across the board, like a snowball effect. The ultimate cleanse.

Prior to getting sick I started to revamp this site. Combing through old content left me tired and, at times, disgusted. The overall theme was buy, cry about how much stuff I had, get rid of a bunch and then start buying all over again. The truth is I owned more clothing and shoes than any one person could ever need, even after repeatedly giving garbage bag after garbage bag to Goodwill. Why was I perpetuating the cycle?

After the stroke I spent the better part of six months laid up on the couch, forced into downtime. Initially I tried to spend some of that time on the computer, but scrolling of any sort left me dizzy and disoriented. That meant no shopping, in fact it had kind of lost it’s flavor. Newsflash: you don’t care about what you’re going to wear when you’re wondering if you’re going to live at all. When I was able to start going through posts again, this time I was exhausted by the frenzy, mass consumption and lack of living. What had I been thinking? Actually I do know what I was thinking: I am frustrated. I work very hard, have a lot of demands on me and never get to take time off. No one respects my boundaries (I didn’t have any). I deserve a break. So basically, rewarding myself with stuff – lots and lots of stuff – was my break. How warped is that?

One day I decided I was going to try selling some things on eBay. After a couple hours I managed to find only one thing out of hundreds that I felt comfortable parting with. Just trying to decide what to get rid of left me confused and panicked. What the frig, was I a hoarder? Why couldn’t I let go of this stuff? Over a series of weeks I kept forcing myself back into the closet, setting small limits on things to sell. First three things, then five, etc. Sometimes I felt like crying, everything seemed to have a memory attached to it. But then after some of those things sold I noticed I felt relieved, lighter in my spirit for having let go a piece of the past. I started to realize the things I was holding onto so tightly were actually holding me back from moving on with my life. It was an epiphany.

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In the process of all this I found a page on Facebook: Becoming Minimalist. The motivational quotes lit a fire and encouraged me to keep going. I realized I had been feeling like the walls were closing in, from all the stuff I had been clutching, for a very long time. I didn’t own it, it owned me.

When I went back to continue working through old blog posts, it was easier to scrap them. A part of me wanted to get away from the person I was, not all of her but definitely some. When I went back into the closets, I couldn’t get rid of the stuff fast enough. I purged for over six months last year. SIX MONTHS. That might be an eternity in purge years. I got rid of 10 flowing garbage bags + sold over 100 things on eBay – and that was just the clothing and shoes. By late November when it started to wind down, I was actually bummed to have to hit the brakes.

I have a secret goal: to own no more than 75 things total when it comes to clothing and shoes.

I have a confession: I’m not there yet.

Who knows? I may never get there, but it certainly keeps me motivated. What are the end results? I live a calmer, more peaceful life. I am acutely aware of what I spend. I save more money, have a greater appreciation for the simple things and am a happier person. I am also almost, almost debt-free. I feel like I’ve returned to myself in a way, back to the person I was when I left the island in Washington. A little older, a little wiser and a lot more back on track. I have to tell you, it feels great.

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  • Reply Nadia May 23, 2014 at 6:14 am

    I just did this too! For so long I felt this attachment to these things, mostly because I know how much money I’ve put towards them. I’m so glad I did it though. I feel as though I am putting more thought into purchases. I seem more patient or something. Still not at the point I’d like to be, but progress. 🙂

  • Reply Jessica April 11, 2014 at 11:49 am

    I recently went through my wardrobe and got rid of 40 pound of clothes. Isn’t that absurd? A lot of it was stuff from my early 20s that wasn’t my style anymore, but a fair amount included things that I thought were cute and were only worn once. I’m embarrassed about it, but it’s been a good kick in the rear to be conscious about why I’m shopping and what I’m buying. If I’m not going to wear it constantly, what’s the point?

    • Reply This Free Bird April 17, 2014 at 12:47 am

      Don’t feel bad (not that you do, but just in case). I had overalls from my 20’s and I kept them…but got rid of a whole load of other stuff I’ve dragged along the way. You don’t really realize until you get down in there. Eye opening for sure.

  • Reply Closet Fashionista April 11, 2014 at 1:55 am

    I really need to start getting rid of more things, but at the moment I do have a huge bag full of stuff, so I’m pretty proud of myself, haha. I just have to to through it now to figure out what to sell on ebay, what to consign/thrift and what to give to good will

    • Reply This Free Bird April 17, 2014 at 12:46 am

      Good for you! You have some good loot, so I bet there’s a lot you could sell.

  • Reply Jen April 11, 2014 at 12:23 am

    I don’t have to tell you how much I LOVE this post!! I’m getting ready for another round myself – spring cleaning!!

    • Reply This Free Bird April 17, 2014 at 12:46 am

      I’ve got a pile going and always think of you when I feel like stopping!

  • Reply Suzanne April 10, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    I am so happy i found you again! I used to read your blog before and then one day i couldnt find it but here you are!! I am glad that you are doing better! I find your humor awesome and I cant wait to continue reading your blog. And oh about the purging yes this is something I really need to do. =)

    • Reply This Free Bird April 17, 2014 at 12:45 am

      Suzanne I’m so happy you found me, too! I have food poisoning or some sort of killer bug or would have answered sooner. Will email you!

  • Reply Kristin April 10, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    I have a friend who is a master at editing her belongings. She has a carefully curated wardrobe and home that always leaves me envious when I look around my rather cluttered house. I was raised on a very tight budget and I think I’ve reacted to that as an adult by collecting things and giving things to my children that I wasn’t able to have. This is a great reminder that it’s the people in our life that matter, not the stuff. I’ll be thinking of you when I start my purge. You’re always in my thoughts lady! 🙂

    • Reply This Free Bird April 10, 2014 at 11:37 pm

      Kristin, I can really relate to what you said. We were always told ‘we couldn’t afford it’ when in actuality we could, but that phrase instilled in me a fear of running out of things – whatever they might be. I think that’s why I freeze when it’s time to get rid of stuff. The memory attachment is part of it, but the fear I won’t be able to replace it (when really why would I need to in the first place?) is definitely another. The more I give, the better I feel and the less I feel I need. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts! I’ll be thinking of you, too, when you hit your purge stride. Always here for you!!

  • Reply Christin April 10, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    You are amazing. Seriously. This is so impressive and I know it is so incredibly hard to do. Taking some cues from you, friend!

    • Reply This Free Bird April 10, 2014 at 11:33 pm

      It’s never too late to start and there’s always something that can go. Good luck to you!

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