Lenten Challenge: The Third Weekend

I didn’t accomplish much in terms of cleaning on Friday (there was hair cutting and shopping and dinner and more shopping), but I did finish The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. On Saturday, I did the film festival, hit IKEA to buy the cart I should have bought for my canning supplies in the first place (lesson: cheaper isn’t always better. Instead of buying it once, I bought the crappy, unsatisfactory version and now I’m buying the better quality version, spending twice as much assembly time and almost twice as much money, after six months of dissatisfaction at wheels that were impossible to affix in any sort of permanent or semipermanent way, and now what appears to be a failure of structural integrity (frame warping and bowing) caused by my storing sugar and flour on top of it.)

Saturday night, I finally got to the purging of my closets and drawers, on which I spent the better part of four hours Saturday night and an couple of hours Sunday, if you count hauling stuff to my car and dropping it off at the ARC. Here’s my recap of that experience:

I didn’t do the purging quite the way she said to, getting all of your things out at the same time. I think there’s real merit in doing it that way, and I think that if I had done it that way, I would have gotten rid of more. But I started this after 8 p.m. on Saturday, and I was sorting on my bed. I knew I needed everything put away before I went to sleep because I have animals who punish things I leave out, and if I did get everything out at once, I was afraid, from experience, I’d be up all night Saturday, which hoses me for the work week. So I did my skirts first, and got rid of almost half of them. I did dresses, and got rid of things I didn’t think I’d be able to talk myself into. Here’s my advice: be willing to try things on, as you do it. I had to admit that the newest dresses I’ve bought aren’t as flattering to me as things I’ve had longer, and was able to get rid of them, even though they were newer. (I think the job change is helping me there, because people aren’t as used to seeing me in some of the older things I have, so I’m not as concerned about keeping newer things.) Then I did all the pants, then all the hanging shirts, then dresser stuff. I was much better about discarding things when I took them out of their drawers and off their hangers (inertia works for you, because you don’t want to hang something back up that you’re waffling about), but I stopped doing that, the later it got.

I also didn’t do it with no background noise. I think there’s merit in that suggestion, too, but for me, it probably was never going to happen. She suggests it so that you’re deeply listening to whether each item brings you joy. I was binge-watching Season 5 of “Glee,” which I think kept me on task longer than if I was in a silent room or listening to sound machine noises, as she suggests.

Yesterday, I emptied my sock drawer and refolded all my socks according to her method. I was most skeptical about that step, but I have to admit that I am persuaded enough by the results that I went back and changed the orientation of one of my closets so that the clothes rise from left to right. At a certain point, why quibble? Whether the problem was that my socks were anxious because I had them balled up or just that they were jammed into the drawers in ways that didn’t work and I couldn’t stand to look at, it’s better now. And the rise to the right? Whether it enhances the flow of energy, as she suggests, or not, there is psychological support that people in countries where we read left to right find things that progress from left to right more soothing than things that go from right to left. Filmmakers will have things move from right to left to subtly unsettle you, so why not try her suggestion and see, right? Also, in completely emptying my sock drawer, I found my favorite missing earring, which I haven’t seen in years.

Overall, I donated six or seven bags of clothes— not garbage bags, plastic bags I’d been keeping)— and threw a few things out altogether, but it’s definitely the biggest purge I’ve ever done. I kept way more than I should have (more than 50 percent, in every category and approaching 90 percent in the categories that probably needed pruning the most), but am impressed with what I was able to give away. I suspect that I’ll keep giving things away, as I move into different categories and realize that I shouldn’t have kept certain things. (Like stockings. I apparently have a dozen pair of stockings and tights taking up a third of my sock drawer. I go bare-legged 90 percent of the time (including to job interviews and formal weddings) and wear the same two pair of tights the other 10 percent of the time, so why not donate all but one pair of each kind of stocking? A question for another day.)

I still need to do accessories and underwear and outerwear and shoes, so there’ll be more to come.


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