I haven’t always been a Professional Organizer. Like many people, my career paths twisted from one area to another, from Environmental Science work into Human Resources into organizing and massage therapy. I spent 17 years in HR at the same company, and built up a lovely professional wardrobe over those years. When I decided to leave HR and move into organizing and massage, I still held on to that wardrobe since I wasn’t sure what I would or wouldn’t need for my new careers.
Two and a half years later, I have a much better sense of what feels comfortable, looks good and fits well and supports both of my physical jobs. So when I came across a couple of resources (in the same day!) that talked about reducing your wardrobe, the idea resonated with me. The first resource was from Be More with Less, Project 33. Then I came across this excellent post by local fellow organizer Kathy Vines and another on spacious clearing.
Yes, I’m a Professional Organizer but no, my house isn’t perfectly minimalist or like a pretty picture on Pinterest. As a relatively new empty nester, I’ve definitely been downsizing, and this was the next logical step that I was ready for. I think that “ready” is a crucial aspect – if you aren’t ready to get rid of something, then you either won’t do it, or you’ll do it but feel resentful or regretful. We see this happen when a family member wants their loved one to be more organized than the loved one wants to be, and it can be a painful process for that person.
As part of the spacious clearing exercise, I knew that I would need and want to honor my HR career before letting those physical representations go. My HR job allowed me to help others (which is my life purpose), amass tremendous people skills, training and handling challenging situations, and raise my 2 children on my own financially. I was challenged, uplifted, humbled, and my world was expanded culturally. However, after 17 years I also became quite burned out and was ready to move on, and my wardrobe remained the last tangible reminder of that part of my legacy.
An interesting side note is that at the beginning of 2016, I took a yoga class that focused on setting an intention for the year. As I went through the class, two words arose in my consciousness and resonated with me: Simplify and Beautify. Although I hadn’t consciously been focusing on those intentions throughout the year beyond posting them in a few places around my home, I have been implementing these via yardwork/pruning, repainting our master bedroom, and culling my books and old HR training materials. So this wardrobe project has been another piece of that 2016 intention, and I didn’t notice the connection until after I started it!
I’ll tell you more about my process in Step 2, but I certainly, like most of my clients, was apprehensive about getting rid of things, and like Kathy said in her post, “What if…. What if…. What if….”. Some of my concerns included: What if my favorite pair of black work pants finally fall apart? Will it make me feel like I have to fill up with more clothes again to have “enough”? What if I get sick of the pieces I have left? Will I really miss the ones I let go? Logically I knew that I would still have abundance and not be walking around without clothing, but still had to deal with my what if’s.
My biggest challenge wasn’t the clothing; it was my jewelry. I had to look professional, so my wardrobe was pretty tame and classic, so my earrings, bracelets, and necklaces were my way of adding that little flair of Melissa, a faint echo of my gothic-in-high-school, funky alternative taste. How could I let that go? Would I be giving up part of me? Tune in to see how I dealt with that in my next post!