On a snowy Friday afternoon last February, I was curled up on my sofa with a heart full of worry and sadness.
It finally occurred to me that my daughter, who has been my dearest friend, biggest fan and greatest teacher only had one more year left at home.
For a single mom, the meaning is simple. When she leaves, I’ll be sitting in an empty house.
So, what did I do on that gloomy afternoon?
I decided to clean my closet.
My mentor, Martha Beck, says that our living spaces are “three-dimensional portraits of our inner lives.”
I like to keep my house clean and clutter free, but my closet told a different story.
It basically said, “Tonya is avoiding a part of her life.”
When I’d think about tackling my closet clean-up, I’d immediately spin into stories of:
This project is bigger than I can handle.
It will take me forever!
No one sees my closet but me.
I can deal with it later.
Oh, the irony.
What I was really saying was:
Dealing with my daughter leaving feels too big to handle.
I may never get over this sadness.
I can put on a happy face for everyone and pretend this isn’t happening.
I’ll deal with my grief later.
On that afternoon, I decided that I wanted to confront my feelings, one piece of clothing and pair of shoes at a time.
I pulled out everything I owned with tears streaming down my face and piled them onto my bed.
When I say everything, I mean everything. There was nothing left in my closet. Not even a hanger or a spare earring.
An empty closet = new beginnings.
With a mountain of my belongings on my bed, I was forced to deal with the deeper issues that were brewing underneath the surface of my life.
This wasn’t just a closet makeover; it was about my own liberation.
By letting go of things, I was training myself to let go of my daughter. Even deeper, I was practicing how to let go. Period.
Over the weekend, I began to take each piece of clothing or accessory and hold it and ask:
1. Do I love this?
2. Does this represent the woman I’m becoming?
Sounds simple, right?
However, it wasn’t.
Throughout the process, my mind would often say things like,
You can’t get rid of that. It was a gift from your mom.
You paid so much for that dress. It’s wasteful to give it away.
And, the most recurring one was…
You might regret getting rid of that.
Fear can often be disguised as logic, but I was prepared for my mind shenanigans and trusted the process.
The more I let go, the easier it started to become.
By the end of the process, I was excited to get rid of stuff.
Those 2 simple questions guided me to completely transforming my closet into a space I absolutely love, all while learning…
It’s okay to let go.
Yes, I cried as I said goodbye to the dress I wore on my first trip to Paris. I hugged a jacket that I bought in Aspen many years ago. I danced around my bedroom in the same shoes that I had danced in all night in Monaco.
I thanked these items, and then I released them.
They were a beautiful part of my past; they didn’t belong in my future.
I cut my belongings in half, and only the exquisite was allowed to remain.
When I finished my closet transformation, I could sense a new freedom — of space, new choices, new beginnings.
Now, one year later, every item in my closet is something that I’ve deliberately chosen to be there.
And, one year later, I have come to terms that my daughter is spreading her wings to fly.
Life is about constantly shedding, editing and letting go.
It’s ironic how a person resists the very things that will liberate her.
If you’re feeling like your life is out of control, that you don’t have space to breath, or that you’re holding onto things that need to be released…
…head to your closet.
Holding onto the size 8 dress? What are you really holding onto?
Does everything feel out of place? Does your life feel completely out of sorts?
Can’t ever seem to find what you’re looking for? Have you stuffed your mind with so much you can’t hear yourself?
Is your closet full of clothes from 10 years ago? Are you resisting change?
Cleaning your closet (or any part of your home) is about so much more than de-cluttering.
It’s about confronting yourself, dealing with the deeper issues, and developing the courage to let go of what’s no longer serving you and consciously deciding on the woman you desire to be.
A woman can liberate herself, starting with her closet.
Are you in?
Share below: the first step in this process is to get painfully honest with yourself. What are the current state of affairs in your closet?