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The best piece of advice I heard when I lost my job was this: “Guilt wastes precious time. Guilt’s twin, false ‘productivity,’ eats hours, too.  I hate to break this to you, but you did not quit your career to organize your closets…”

I have steadfastly maintained that I will not clean out a drawer or re-organize the clothing I no longer wear.  The closet represents a step back into the life I left.  I should seal it with duct tape and plastic, shroud it in darkness, or simply lock the door and lose the key.

The other day, seeking something besides yoga pants or riding britches, I ventured into my closet.  As I scanned the racks a strange thought came to me.  By not cleaning out the clothes or locking the door, I am keeping this option alive in my mind.  “I could always go back to that life. I have the wardrobe, I can be  that person again.” The last, huge, step to becoming me, is losing that niggling doubt and admitting that I will never wear that Chanel suit again.  “When I become famous and appear at book signings, I will need these shoes and handbags.” No, when I appear at an event, I will appear in whatever “suit of armor” I choose that day, not the cast off vestiges of the former me.

The closet and its contents served a different purpose.  Now it is wasted space, a museum housing memorabilia from the past. The hangers represent the threads and strings that bind those curiosities from the past to the corner of my mind that hasn’t fully embraced my sense of self.

I started on the left and worked my way, hanger by hanger, around the room.  Three piles grew; one for things to just plain throw away, one for things that I have worn in the last year and one pile for things too good to merely toss.  It’s hard work, cutting the strings and letting go of the doubt.

Navigating Uncharted Waters of Life

Navigating Uncharted Waters of Life

6 comments on “The Closet In My Mind

  1. Maria says:

    It took me years — nearly 25 of them — to finally discard the last of my 15 business suits. The oddest thing about that is that in the 10 last years of my relationship, none of them fit me. But when I returned to my broken home last autumn, 45 pound lighter and with a new lust for life, I discarded about 75% of my wardrobe without batting an eye. It was part of the cleaning process I went through. It’s important to cut ties with a distasteful past to move forward.


  2. Maria says:

    By the way, your photo makes me want to take my yellow kayak out. Hopefully this week.


    1. Hi Maria, it’s tough to do but I feel like I am making progress. My novel is at the printers. Hope to see the final copy this week for approval then the adventure begins.

      Support from folks like yourself who have “been there, done that, means a lot. Thank you!


  3. Cheryl Taylor says:

    You remind of a character in the movie “Bottle Shock” that leaves his law firm to open a winery. When he thinks the beautiful wine has produced is spoiled, he goes back to his firm to ask for his job back. While there, he’ son calls to tell him the wine isn’t spoiled after all. He goes on to win a very prestigious competition in France and to my knowledge still operates the winery today in California. True story.


    1. Cheryl Taylor says:

      Sorry about the typos. I didn’t proof it! I’m in a hurry!


  4. Touring NH says:

    What an awesome piece of advice. I tend to be very guilty (hmmm) of false productivity. But I have different kinds of closets…I have a craft area with hundreds and hundreds of dollars in beading supplies, another area with an equal amount of painting supplies, then the worst are the boxes and boxes of unsold finished projects. For me, cleaning out those kinds of closets seem to represent a type of failure and I haven’t worked up the courage yet to clean them out.


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