Confession: I Don’t Know What To Keep

I start with the bedroom closet.  

First going through the dresses, weeding out that black dress that is too long, the blue dress that never really hung properly.  The one with the floral pattern that still has the tags on it.  Do I even like floral patterns?  What made me buy this?  Moving onto the tops (still more floral patterns, this must stop), skirts (I can’t ever have too many), blazers (with all of the shoulder pads sloppily cut out; I hate shoulder pads).  Then the most difficult task: confronting the denim pile.  Discovering which pairs still fit, and which must be sacrificed to the greater good.  The significance of this portion of the ritual feels enormous.  The pile defines my success and my failures.  This year, it dwindles, 2 pairs leaving my closet and heading towards someone else, someone who did not eat too many Christmas cookies, or eat popcorn at the movies.  This year, I fail.

This ceremony alternates between deeply nostalgic and completely unsentimental.  I remember finding the fitted red wool dress at a vintage store in Brooklyn, imagining myself as a Mad Men-esque character, even though I had never watched the show and know now the decade was all wrong.  It makes me feel old-fashioned, sexy and ladylike, and is reserved for special occasions only (this stays).  I cringe at the shirt I wore on the final, awful date with an ex, the pain of that heartbreak almost palpable in the horizontal stripes.  The stripes which seem to mock my naïvete for not seeing the end coming (that goes).  The jeans, oh the joy and pain of those jeans.  I can’t even bring myself to look at them all.  Yet other clothing get released with no memories at all.  Maybe I loved them at some time, maybe they were the best things I ever bought.  Now they’re just strangely shaped pieces of cotton, or rayon, or cashmere that I have no attachment to, happy to relegate them to the Good Will bags and satisfied by the empty space they leave behind.
I love the empty space.
I do this every December, move from room to room in my small home, choosing what to toss and what to keep.  I love the feeling of accomplishment and anticipation that arises when I see all of those full bags, leaving my closet (my life) uncluttered and fresh.  Ready to be filled with new favorite things, new favorite memories.  But I usually keep a little too much, not wanting to face that feeling of longing for a dress given away too soon, a pair of shoes sold on eBay that would have been just PERFECT for this outfit, if only I had kept them.  It is this way for me always, wanting to make space for the new but clinging to the old.
How do I know what to get rid of and what to keep?
My astrologer & healer friend Danielle mentioned on facebook that Friday’s full moon is the last full moon of the year, and that “full moons are a time of manifesting what you want in your life” and “letting go of what no longer serves you”.  She suggested making a list of what you want to get rid of, and then ripping up that list.  Replacing it with a list of what you want to bring into your life in the new year.
I like lists.  They make sense to me, so concrete and organized.  It’s easy to start; I know many of the things I need to release this year, that I have begun to release already: 
Expectations of perfection
Freeing up all of this space in my head, in my heart, is allowing so much more to come in: empathy, support, LOVE.  
And still…it scares me.  Because where does it end?  After all of the bad habits, all of the old destructive patterns are ripped up and thrown away…what if there is not enough left?  What if the essence of me disappears with them?  How do I know when to stop stripping away, and when to just let it be, to let me remain?
Today I looked back at the journal from my first two yoga workshops, back in September, which feels like a small lifetime ago.  In so many ways it was.  I barely recognize much of what is written, as if I picked up someone else’s thoughts and cannot make sense of them.  One of the exercises strikes me though.  Titled “I Will Remember…”, it examines this very subject–when everything else is stripped away, what do we want to remember?  The repetition of these thoughts, almost identical, in both workshops makes clear to me just what I need to keep.
I am smart.
I am kind.
I am worthy.
Seeing those same words, written in New York, written in LA, then written again later in Ojai and in Bali, reassures me: there will be enough left.  Enough of what matters, enough of what is important.  Enough red dresses that make me smile in spite of jeans that are too tight.  Enough to keep.

18 thoughts on “Confession: I Don’t Know What To Keep

  1. Great post, Katie. So real and honest. And so much of what many of us feel.
    You should write those personal qualities you will always remember about yourself on a piece of paper and carry it around with you every day!! It will be a constant reminder of where you are NOW and how much you really are loved, how kind you are, and how worthy you are.
    Your writing and honesty is truly inspiring. Wishing you the happiest of New Years. You’re off to a great start!!

    • Thank you Nancy. You are so incredibly supportive and empathetic. I have always known this about you, and it’s so nice to be reminded so much lately. Wishing you the best New Year as well!!! xx

  2. Fantastic post. Inspired me to go through my own closet but so far I just stare without action. Maybe tomorrow 🙂 Yes you are LOVE and an awesome writer!

  3. You know you’ve happened upon a talented, authentic blogger when she leaves her reader feeling more and more exposed with every post. This reader is feeling a bit MORE naked. Kudos, Katie! (I think…) 😉

  4. I can easily let go of those ‘things’ in my life that no longer serve me, such as clothes, scarves, shoes, books…What I have trouble with is letting go of those things IN ME that no longer serve…like fear, like that time I failed, like seeing the fat girl when there is really a strong girl, anger, depression and sadness. I am filling my vision of the new year with a much lighter (mentally) image of myself.

    Thank you for your posts. They are helping me realize that all of those happy shiny people are really just as f%$#@ed up as I am! ❤

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