Ten Bags Of Clothes

On Sunday my brain forgot that Monday, as a bank holiday (Queen's Birthday) was not actually Sunday. So there was no Bikram Yoga class at 3 p.m.. Not to worry, the extra hour and a half was a very good reason to do what I had been putting off – finishing up the "Great Clothing Clean Out."

On the bus back from the yoga studio (yes, I actually went all the way there) I pondered why I had been putting off the final stages. If you haven't read my original post, I'm finally getting rid of all the clothes I don't wear anymore, including (gasp!) the clothes that don't fit and the ones I've been holding onto for sentimental purposes.

I did give myself a small margin of error – two tiny cloth storage boxes. In which I deposited a few special dresses, including a bridesmaid dress, the old wool sweater I stole from my Dad when I was in high school, a pair of sweat pants I stole from my Mom in high school (when she reads this she will think I'm ridiculous) and a wool skirt my Grandmother made for my Mom that never quite fit her right, which ended up in my possession. I shortened it to make it a bit sexier – as sexy as blue tartan plaid can be – but it no longer fits.

I also saved a tee-shirt from the publication where the Hub and I worked when we first met. He actually made me keep that one – but don't tell him I told you that.

I had already made the purge from my closets and drawers, but I was procrastinating going through it all again, deciding what to throw away and what to give away, because I knew it would be hard. I am a sentimental person, and also, part of me is kind of sad that I don't fit into the clothes I wore in my 20s. I've been holding onto the hope that I'd get back into them. But regardless of what happens to my body, holding onto a lot (yes, 10 bags worth) of clothes that mostly don't fit isn't helping me in any way. Holding onto things you don't use is living in the past or the future. And that means living in fear. Leo Baubata at Zen Habits wrote a really good post on this recently – about using decluttering as Zen meditation.

But it was still hard. I felt the anxiety rise as I put the clothes in bags to go, but as with all anxiety, if you just hold tight and let it happen – instead of avoiding whatever it is that's causing it – the fear eventually dissipates. And I thought about the people who would stumble upon my cast-off clothes in the charity shop and actually wear them. Even after my smaller cousin went through a lot of them while she was here for the wedding, there were still nice things in the pile that someone else could be using.

I also discovered something else about my procrastination in the process. Whenever I am avoiding something, it's usually because I think it's going to be hard. And I basically run a little film in my head imagining how long it's going to take me and how difficult it will be. So in my pondering on the bus before I got home I decided I was going to change the reel. I started visualizing how I was going to tackle the clear out easily and quickly. I conceded that I might have a few moments of anxiety but I would deal with it OK and I'd finish the project easily before something we had planned at 6 p.m. And guess what… I did! It actually worked. So I plan to now test out my weird 'visualization' technique with other things I'm dreading. If it got me from a messy attic strewn with piles of clothes to 10 bags ready to go to the charity shop, it might just be an effective technique.

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