As the holidays near, amid the excitement of family gatherings, fun parties, and visitors from afar, I also have the looming fear of my guests getting a glimpse into my messy pantry, my cluttered office, my dirty garage, and my stuffed-to-the-gills closet. I'm an open book, so I'll be honest in saying that life isn't always that glamorous. In fact my life is a crazy, fun, busy mess, and if I'm not careful, the messes can pile up in ways that drive me nuts. With four humans going in a million directions it's easy for stuff to accumulate in every corner of my house. So although my motivation is primarily guilt and embarrassment, I figure, whatever the motivation, the end result will be clear space, organized shelves, an office that fosters creativity, and a closet that makes me want to actually wear cute outfits instead of grabbing the sweats on the first shelf. It's all about "decluttering."
Clutter will zap your creative energy. Its sneaky way of coming from every conceivable angle makes fighting its forces a daily battle of wills. Still if we consider clarity and focus as prizes for decluttering, I say “Bring it On!” To begin with, you should know that I really hate cleaning out my closet. It’s just so damned complicated. For one thing, I don’t have just one closet. (Try to suspend judgement; I am just a girl who loves clothes and doesn’t have enough room to hold all my besties on hangers.) I have my closet, of course, but then there’s the supposed-to-be-shared mutual hang-up area, the coat closets, the (arg) bins in the garage, two closets downstairs, and let’s be honest ladies, the floor. And if you don’t have shit on the floor… you’re lying. As you can imagine.. I've got piles of shoes. It could be considered a problem by some.
I also design jewelry and have a small little business. (Check out my shop on my homepage ... shameless plug). It brings me great joy to create, but last year I literally stopped designing and there were many factors that played into this decision. My dad got sick, my kids needed me around more, my husband needed me for various business functions, but honestly I think one of the factors affecting my decision to take a break was that my office drove me crazy. It was cluttered with paperwork, piles of art supplies, boxes of jewelry from past fashion shows and photo shoots that I'd failed to put away properly.. it had all added up and it killed me to walk into my space.
Marie Kondo, the author of "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" writes that, "When we have a mess in our outside space, it often stems from a mess inside our head space." She also believes in keeping things that only bring you joy. That is something I am trying to work on, but it can get hard when I happen to also be a sentimental sap, and when things like my shoes really do bring me joy. How can I throw away that beautiful card my girlfriend gave me three years ago? How can I let go of that gorgeous little sweater my daughter wore when she was just one? How can I get rid of those Gucci's from 2008? Ugh.. it's really ridiculous and I should be ashamed of myself. It was definitely time to detox my house.
So this week I tackled it all. It was brutal at times, but my God, do I feel good. I started with my closets (plural) and made piles. Here's how I did it:
Pile 1. Donations: This pile is for items that are usable for someone else (think about trendy pieces that really aren’t so much anymore, pieces that no longer fit due to your newly svelte figure or (ahem) have obviously shrunk in the wash…). Pile 2. Trash: This pile is for stained, ripped, unfixable items (if you don’t want these, no one else does either). Also think about non-clothing items such as scratched sunglasses, stretched out bras, extra buttons that come with clothing, etc. Pile 3. Recyclables: These are items you’ll give to a friend or family member, such as expensive items that you don’t want to donate, but know someone who would want them (Hey Mom). Pile 4. Sell or Trade: Again, these might be expensive items that don’t go in the donation pile, but you are willing to sell or trade. Sites like Poshmark, Tradesy, The Real Real, and eBay are great places to turn some old stuff into cash or new-to-you items!
Once you have your things in piles, and let’s be honest, this might take a few days, take action with them immediately. Make that Goodwill run, take out the trash, and give away/sell what you need to. I tend to donate most of my things to the Mission. There are so many people in need, and giving away to organizations who really do help those who are less fortunate is a win/win. These small acts will make a huge difference in your piece of mind, as you’ll be able to get one more thing off your plate. And let’s be real, with all of this newly created space, buying new pieces are completely justified. (Did I really just say that?) I'll hit on closet organization soon, but for that I need the advice of my amazing friend, Kim Brooks at www.kimbrooksstyle, who organizes closets for a living in between styling models for photo shoots and creating editorials for major brands. Trust me, you need her.
I repeated this step for my office which was equally daunting, but my desire to appear like I've totally got my shit together kept me going! Out went the piles of art supplies that were half dried up, missing caps, etc. Out went the piles of drawings I swore I'd revisit in my next collection. Out went the broken jewelry I swore I'd fix. Down came shelves, old pictures, and things I was just tired of. This was cathartic, to the point that I completely rearranged my office, painted the whole thing white, and started from scratch. Now it really does look like I'm some kind of organized adult with purpose and meaning and focus. It looks like a grownup's office and I'm feeling pretty chuffed. In fact, I feel creative again, I feel motivated, and now I feel like I have a sanctuary where I can feel at peace, feel inspired, and hopefully begin designing again.
I'm pretty sure that I should periodically do this type of purging, and not just because I'm riddled with guilt over the state of my closet and the piles of my shoes on my closet floor. I do take pride in appearances, and I also really do believe in the value of organized spaces and my mental state that accompanies them. To quote the tidying expert, Marie Kondo, again, she says, "In essence, tidying out to be the act of restoring balance among people, their possessions and the house they live in.... It's a very strange phenomenon, but when we reduce what we own and essentially "detox" our house, it has a detoxifying effect on our bodies as well." I'm all about detoxifying, I just have to be aware when I "re-tox". This could be problematic during the holiday season, but I'm going to thank my upcoming holiday friends and family visitors for inspiring me to get my shit together and clean my house! Now where's my champagne? I'm feeling so Zen.