Transform U: Till Your Closet

By Auretha Callison

Spring cleaning clears the ground for new growth.
by Auretha Callison

Spring closet clearing is like combing through a garden bed, clearing the old dead growth, and carefully keeping what is still useful and what will bear fruit once again. The prepared soil is the tabula rasa for the foundation of the year’s new plantings and carryover growth!

Like gardening, the process is laborious yet filled with excitement.

Creating space for the new to come into your life is foundational to creating the new self. Old personas (your ’80s corporate suits, your college sweats) and old relationships (the ex’s sweater, your grandmother’s heavy coat) all lay claim to a part of your life as you keep them in your world.

When we face our closets we face our past. We face all the people we once were, whether we liked them or not. Many of us hang onto items thinking that we owe them a space in our life; that getting rid of said items would be, in some way, shameful. That there must certainly be a use… and someday….

All the decisions we make to hang onto things from the past keep us haltingly unable to breeze into the future. We trip over the old things, feel the feelings they bring us, and spend our time and energy stuck dealing with them. Ugh.

Make it easy on yourself to move into your present and your future. Would your grandmother really want you to be burdened by her coat?

Let me tell you that it is absolute liberation to let those things go.

There are exceptions. Some clothing items are of such quality that they can be used every season and may even last a lifetime. Most items, however, will be subject to a clearing at some point.

If you haven’t worn that string of beautiful Morrocan beads from your honeymoon in years, tear it apart and make it useful. If you’ve got wearable art that you’re not wearing, hang it. If the item is usable, sell it or donate it. But don’t spend too much time or energy on any of it.

Have another person help you in this process, someone who will keep you accountabe to the truth of whether each item currently serves you. Most people I work with start slowly, but once the clutter begins to fly, exhileration takes over. All I need to do is stand out of the the path of projectiles headed for the donation pile!

Here are some helpful rules for sorting the trash from the treasure:

Is it pilled? Does it have stains? Does it smell? Does it fit? Can you drive in it? (Touch your elbows together in it) Does it make you feel good or sad, bad, too large, too small, too old, too young, too hot, too cold, too tired, too bored? Does it make you look frighteningly similar to any of your relatives of yours? (You must employ humor, trust me. Make this process as much fun as you can!)

Does it make you want to be a better person? Does it look fantastic? Does it make you feel powerful, attractive, fun, exciting, well-traveled, well-heeled and well-read? Does it communicate the best parts of who you are?

When I finish facilitating a closet clearing, along with the tall stack of donations comes a sparse closet holding three to 10 items that reveal the truth. The truth may be that we haven’t loved ourselves enough to clothe our glorious bodies with beauty and functionality. (Yes, our bodies are glorious, no matter what the gods of commerce tell us! You know that!) The unfortunate truth may be that we have presented ourselves to ourselves and others as someone we are not! We haven’t been dressing for the lead role in our own greatest production!

When this clearing groundwork is complete, the fun begins. To plant the seeds of the future self, we must go immediately to find the clothing that works beautifully for us, the garments that feel best in this moment to capture our vitality and creativity and carry it out to the world!

Auretha Callison is an “image and essence” consultant in Salt Lake City, Utah.

This article was originally published on March 7, 2008.