Since we moved into our home 32 years ago, we have been celebrating Memorial Day weekend with a family/friends barbecue on the Sunday of the long weekend. This year I had a unique moment when I woke up on Monday morning after the festivities were over and we had nothing scheduled. No client appointments, no calendar obligations, no doctor appointments— zip/nada/nothing.
After eating breakfast and watching an episode of one of our guilty pleasures, I decided to take a “busman’s holiday.” I took all the clothes out of my bureau in the master bedroom, including unmentionables, camisoles, summer tops, winter tops, socks, scarves and pajamas. Everything ended up on our bed in a big pile, just like on an episode of Marie Kondo’s Netflix series. Except in my case, I was playing the part of both the client and the organizer. And, my pile of clothing was much smaller than what MK deals with on the show.
I sorted through everything, tried on a couple of items, threw some things in a bag for donations, folded the keepers nicely and put the clothes that made the cut back in the same drawers so I remember where to find them. Then I moved on to my closet in the master bedroom, the same closet that my son photographed me in front of when we did our original photo shoot in the fall of 2014. Same routine—everything came out, everything was touched, decided upon, thanked, bidden goodbye and tossed into the donations bag, or kept for another year of use.
The donations bag was getting full. I started a new one and moved on to closet #1 in our home office. This one I knew was going to be painful. It’s where I stored the remaining suits that I could not bear to part with when I did my initial sweep in 2014 after I transitioned from Corporate America to Solopreneur. The same pieces had been hanging in closet #1 for almost five years, and not worn since. Who was I fooling? I counsel clients on this very decision every workday, and it was time for me to take ownership of my own messed up-reasons why I could not let go. The second donation bag was filled within 15 minutes, including several suits, blazers, jackets and assorted outerwear that has not “sparked joy” for me in many years. Thank you for your service, goodbye and good riddance!
Clients share their feelings with me all the time—how they feel about the garments, what the garments represent in their lives and how painful it is to part with things even though they no longer want/use/like/wear them. I was now in their shoes and it reminded me of why I got into this business in the first place. I am helping change the world one closet at a time. And on Memorial Day, Monday May 27, I took charge of my stuff and let some of it go.
How did it make me feel? I felt pride, sadness, joy, pleasure, accomplished and like a 10-pound weight had been lifted off my shoulders. The donated clothing represented the Eileen Bergman from another life, another career and another decade. I insisted that my husband drop off the bags at Goodwill on Tuesday in order to have them exit the house ASAP. I felt relieved and true to myself. I finally gave myself permission to say goodbye to things that no longer belong in my life. Those clothes represent an Eileen that is no longer who I am. My clothing now is more relaxed, casual and less structured.
Thank you for providing me the platform to discuss this personal journey. For those of you who have worked with me, you know how passionate I am about my work and supporting you with your decisions. May 27, was my day to make choices and declutter my space. It felt good, and I thank you for all you have shared with me these past (almost) five years of Eileen Bergman LLC. From my closet to yours…wishing you all a great summer season!
By Eileen Bergman
Eileen Bergman is a professional organizer and a proud member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). Eileen is listed in the resource directory for the Hoarding Disorder Resource and Training Group. Eileen may be reached at 973-303-3236 or [email protected].