Preloved and parting

I am a self-confessed pack rat, and I’m trying to change that.  It’s not only a move to get more organized, but I’m at that juncture in my life where I find myself having to reevaluate what I want to keep and let go.

Being in the process of a major life change, I have made up my mind to change as much of what I can to start afresh, and keep only that which is essential to the real me.  So much has happened in the last 3 years (going on 4) that I find a physical need to actually change my surroundings to get rid of the old and move forward.

Some of it is a necessity being that I have changed sizes in the last couple of years, and it doesn’t pay to wear something that looks frumpy even if you have only worn it a couple of times.  It’s time to make room for the new, beginning with my closet.

I used to be the type who would keep something even if in an obviously bigger size because I told myself, it fits– why get rid of something I can wear?  But coming across the concept of a “capsule wardrobe” which wouldn’t work for me, I was reminded of how I had so many pieces I hadn’t worn or touched in some time.  They have been relegated to the darkest corner of my tiny closet, collecting dust, unworn.  While I am nowhere near paring my wardrobe down to 37 or so pieces (I have a dozen skirts at least, for one!)– I recognize a need to declutter and find a new home for those pieces that are still wearable, just not by me.

During my trips home to Manila last year, I took the bigger clothes and left them for others.  My luggage came back with outfits in my current size and style.  I send a balikbayan box home occasionally and have already sent more, but I haven’t really systematically gone through what’s left here with me.

They said the rule should be to sort between keeping and giving away.  Generally, anything you hadn’t worn in a year should go — whether they are too big or too small.  I have read that keeping something in the hopes of “shrinking” back into a size that’ll see it fitting you again isn’t being realistic, unless you are already just a teeny weeny bit away from being able to wear it again.  I have a couple of those I keep because of the brand or the original cost of the item.  They went into the “giveaway” box this time.

Obviously, there are the pieces that have just gone out of style.  The thing is, what might not be fashionable here might be wearable back home, so I folded those suits and made sure to pack them in a plastic bag with the matching trousers.  There are t-shirts that have some sentimental value or other — such as shirts from the companies I had worked for in Manila which I wear to bed during the colder months.  Even those have gone into the donation box.   In the summer, I wear cotton nightgowns from the tiangge in Greenhills which also need to be sorted.

I must say the act of actually putting any piece in the “to give away” box has been a source of relief– as if I was “shedding” or saying goodbye to an older, former version of me.

I wore this loose fitting shirt over the weekend which I bought the summer before last.  It was a size bigger than what I wear now from that particular store.  It still looked good on me but it hung very loosely over my frame, like one of those shirts that was good to hide under.  If I could get that same shirt in the smaller size now, I would get it, and if they had it in a different print even back then, I would’ve gotten it.  But it is way too big now.

So I put it with this weekend’s laundry and washed it, and as I was straightening it up after drying, I made a decision to say goodbye to it.  Instead of hanging it back in my closet, I folded it and put it in my giveaway bin.  Another preloved piece which I know can make someone else feel as good and comfy as it did me.  Taking it out of my closet signified a commitment to stay healthy and be healthier, and not giving myself the out to slide back and gain weight again.  It was also an acceptance of the me that I am now — more confident and comfortable in my own skin, hitting the age of 50.

I wish it was easier to sort through everything and make the decision to let something go.  I tend to be very emotional about what I have and own.  There is always that thought at the back of my head that I might regret the decision later, forcing me to take the safer choice to just keep it — “just in case.”  I used to tell myself, “(but) I might want to wear that sometime some place.”.. or “I might lose enough weight to fit into that again.. ”  (Which has never really happened because I planned it.. but rather because I lost weight with other things in mind.)

This time, though, I’m determined to shed as much as I can — to make room for an even better and healthier me.  Four suits packed, so many shirts and pants set aside.  Parting can be difficult but can be a literal sigh of relief.. It actually is a very tangible unburdening that can help one to focus on letting things go.  Parting this time, is nothing sorrowful — but on the contrary is literally sweet joy.

Decluttering

I am reorganizing my life by starting to reorganize my closet.  The last two weekends saw me going through my things, sorting by size, and getting rid of the bigger items.  I ended up with a huge pile of slacks– in the bigger size I kissed goodbye a few months ago —  some barely used, and some still with tags.  I set them aside to give away.  Even now as I think about it, there’s a little voice saying maybe I can just have them repaired.  I am almost sure I wouldn’t want to solve the problem by simply wearing a belt, because I’ve moved away from looking “frumpy”.  While that would make the pants wearable, I wouldn’t be too happy with the look.  Decision made — off they will go to my “to give away” bin — in the balikbayan box heading home to Manila sometime in the next couple of weeks.

I already gave away a quarter of my closet during my last trip home.  I even managed to hand out some pocketbooks I had sworn never to part with.  Yet in simplifying my life the last few months, I have learned to detach my emotions from things that I know I will never use again.  Instead of throwing them away, though, I think of others who might find a good use for them.

I bought new sweater hangers to take care of my fall and winter wear during these sweater-weather months.  I am getting rid of the suits that may fit me now in my new size but which are definitely no longer fashionable to wear.  I have a few old reliables which were tailored in the classic cut, so those, I will keep.  My cardigans are now folded neatly to make the design visible and easier to pick through when pairing with my outfit of the day.

I have some memorabilia stashed away in the higher shelves of my closet which will need some thinking about.  I’m a sucker for nostalgia, but reminiscing these days does not always bring me down the giddy happy moments of the past.  Some of those moments are now wrapped in not-so-happy and even heart-rending discoveries and realizations better left untouched.  And I need space for other things that I need to make room for.

We always think of decluttering in the physical sense, but decluttering our mind and our heart are just as important.  How often do we find ourselves clinging to old memories or emotions which contradict what we have or not have now in the present?  I used to be guilty of that.   But when you go through an emotional upheaval that turns your world upside down, you find yourself picking up the pieces again.  It is then that you get the chance to sort through the things that haunt you unnecessarily.  In sorting through all that emotional rubble, you find yourself defining the things worth hanging on to for the lessons they have taught you.  There are memories and feelings that you anchor yourself on to stay focused on the positive.  You see the world in a different light once the dust settles.

It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t overnight.  But it can be done.

I was once at that point that I clung for dear life to what I thought I had– churning out evil plans and being constantly deluged with angry and hateful thoughts.  And then the realization hit me that I didn’t have what I thought was mine.  That no matter how I clung to what I thought could be mine again, it just wasn’t happening.  So I let go.  First, loosening the grip, then before I knew it, my hand had let go.  Had I known that doing that would also find me letting go of the anger and the pain — or releasing most if not all of it — I would have done it sooner.  But it wasn’t easy, and it still takes some effort to stay on track, but I’m in a better place.

So I’ve started getting rid of the useless pieces that hold some form of once happy memory, but which no longer give me that warm and fuzzy feeling when I look at it now.  Just as I look at a piece of clothing and ask myself if it is part of the “happier me look”, I look at the thoughts and worries that keep bumping around the walls of my mind and heart,  and ask myself if this is really something I can actually work on or am I worrying myself to oblivion without even any power over how that thing goes.

It’s all about letting go.  Whether it’s that favorite t-shirt you wore when your bra size was two cups smaller — and which won’t accommodate your voluptuous beauty now.. Or just trying to shut out the negative even when the temptation to let anger and hate in again is so strong.  You make room in your closet for the things that matter and are relevant and make you look good — those are the pieces you keep.    The same should hold true for your mind and heart and your life in general.  I know, easier said than done.  But like most things, it gets better with some practice and focus.  You just need to want to let go.  You need to tell yourself that shirt has to go because it’s occupying precious space in your closet.

Let go of the people who bring you down.  Stop going back to what used to be and focus on the now and tomorrow.

These days, I focus on the “happy”.  I look at my little guy and I know I’m set.  I think of dessert and that’s a happy thought I can smile about all day.  I think of a happy song and smile.  I am getting there a day at a time.
 

Pistachios on a Friday afternoon

I have a huge coat closet in the office which houses some coats and jackets and shoes on one side, and my boss’s personal fridge and our other sundries on another. With summer finally making its presence felt (almost 80 degrees today!) I dug into the my shoe rack to find a pair of flats that would be perfect for this warm weather. It was a pair that had hardly seen any wear during the winter months, so I had to go to a portion of the closet that had been covered by another big box.

Pistachios on a Friday afternoonWhen I opened the box, I found a stash of things I had bought a year ago which I had meant to send to someone celebrating a birthday. 4 bags of pistachio nuts, and maybe 10 bags of assorted flavors of beef jerky. There was also a rain coat. I remember now that some clothes I had put in that bag had been sent home to Manila to my sister eventually. The birthday had come and gone and these things had gotten stuck with me. I figured it was better off left in the closet, and I had ignored it the few times I remembered it was there. Today, though, I checked the expiration date of the pistachios and seeing that they were good until July, I opened a bag and I’m having them for a snack.

They freed up quite a space that I realize now had been misused all this time.  I could’ve had the pistachios sooner. 

But the pistachios were associated with something I had wanted to do back then which I no longer want to have anything to do with now.  I pushed them to a place where I wouldn’t have to be bothered by the memories associated with them.  For a time, I thought I’d eventually send them, but that time never came.

Little things have a way of occupying big spaces in our minds (and in our hearts) sometimes.  Unlike the pistachios in my closet, though, they are not as easy to dispose of.  But a lot of things have changed.  I have noticed that focusing on other things is easier now.  So it’s not as bothersome or painful as it used to be.  Acceptance, or sometimes even hate and anger, are effective means of blocking such intangibles from crowding our heart.  A “negative” will cancel out a “negative” and turn it into something “positive”.

What to do with the beef jerky now… That’ll have to wait another day.