Ladies, this past week was rough. In preparation for our big move from a house to an apartment with much less storage we decided to do what we have been avoiding for YEARS.
We went through everything in our entire house. From the big stuff like the kitchen and closets to the nooks and crannies we've been letting get too messy. We even went as far as to go through all our childhood boxes in the garage.
Yep! You heard that right... We went through everything.
Please excuse all these fuzzy photos and shleppy "I'm purging and my hair is gonna suffer) look. I wanted to be totally real and show you how much we got rid of! I'ts crazy talk!!!! The whole experience was really intense and long (I'm pretty sure we said "This is never ending!" about 40 times) but so worth it.
Both my husband and I own all our college and childhood memorabilia. While a lot of my friends still have a lot stored at their parents, that just isn't the case for us. We have it all, and up until now we've never had to go back and look at it.
I learned SO much throughout this process. I almost didn't write this out of fear that people would judge me. Judge how much we had, judge our attachment to certain items or judge how we got rid of certain items. Also, I know my family will be reading this, and while I know they support me, I was worried they would hear something that they wish I hadn't gotten rid of.
After giving it a lot of thought, I decided that none of that really mattered. My goal is to inspire you while giving you practical advice and useful tips and that's what I'm going to continue to do! We are all in this together, and as someone who loves being there to hear you open up about your closet woes, I realized it was time for me to get real with you.
Here are some of the major things I learned from "The Epic Kluger Purge of 2015".
1) Its perfectly OK to be attached to our items, and it's also OK to let it go.
As someone who helps people clean out their closets for a living, I was constantly shocked at how emotionally attached I was to so many things!
As a former costume designer I still had several boxes of my sketches, paperwork and research from every show I’ve ever worked on. Ummm... That's a lot of plays. In the moment, I knew I didn't need these anymore so I dumped them all (minus some favorite sketches). The next day, I found even more.
This time it wasn’t as easy. I instantly felt panicked. I had this feeling like I had thrown away a huge chunk of my life. I realized I had never really processed the fact that this was no longer a part of my life. While I absolutely love what I do now, it was still sad to think that a chapter that I truly adored was over. I allowed the feelings to come and I moved passed it. All while going through these boxes.
2) Designate an area for memorabilia.
Since we had SO many boxes to pare down, I told my husband when we started that we each could have one storage bin of memories. This was great because it allowed us to know we COULD keep things that were important. It also made it so we had to be selective and really think it through. It REALLY worked. I went from 8 boxes to one.
3) Find new ways to connect to memories.
We sometimes fear that if we let go of an item we won't have the memory anymore. The memory is always there. If this is something you worry about, take a photo and write down the story. The actual item doesn't need to be sitting in a box you don't look at in order to be real. Promise.
4) This is seriously hard and rewarding.
It's ok to be both. While I preach that cleaning out your closet can be a party, I don't want you to think I don't get that it's hard. To me, when we say out loud "Man, this is hard" and acknowledge it, it allows us to not beat ourselves up. When we stay positive even when it's hard, our outlook helps to keep us focused and see the light at the end of the tunnel.
5) It can have a better home.
My dear friend and colleague (and the lifesaver who came over to help us purge) Rebecca McLoughlin always says to think about the items that you are donating having good homes. It can either sit in a closet that you never touch, or it can go somewhere and get used all the time. It is much easier to let things go when you know it's not the end of their life.
6) Family guilt is strong.
Especially NY Jewish guilt. Haha! Both of us were holding on to items because we thought our parents or grandparents would be upset if we got rid of it. NOT because we liked it or it was our style. Here's the thing, your family didn't want it. If they did, they would have kept it. How can they be upset if you donate it, if they gave it away too?
I have to say, your family will try to convince you otherwise. If it's avoidable, do NOT talk to them about these items. Every time I called my family to ask them about something I no longer wanted they (subconsciously) tried to make me feel bad about the fact that I wasn't keeping it. I love them all to pieces but I realized I had to make these decisions on my own.
Both my husband and I both found ourselves in much healthier places when we made the decision on our own, telling ourselves that they would understand. Of course, I did make boxes for my family of sentimental things I thought they would like, cherish and use more than me. So you have to find the middle ground that feels good for you.
7) Giving to your friends is the best!
A week after sending a package of goodies to one of my best friends from college, I received the best message. Not only did all the clothes I sent her fit her, but she genuinely loved them. She also seemed really touched that I thought of her, and really liked all the things I sent.
It was the BEST feeling. Sometimes in the moment, getting rid of an item that once gave you joy can be gut wrenching. If you think someone else you know would genuinely love it, this is a perfect opportunity to give it to them.
That being said, don't take it personally if they say they don't want it. For example, I've been trying to give the entire Hunger Games trilogy to a number of friends and no one wants them. Not sure why I think this is something my friends need, but clearly I need to let it go and realize I'm a few years too late.
Also, I gave a huge box to my best friend full of my daughters old clothes. She's about to have a girl and I loved the fact that I was giving Zoe's amazing and barely worn baby clothes new life. I may have cried pregnancy tears about the fact that my little girl isn't a baby any more.... but it still was SO the right move.
8) Seek out resources to help you out. THIS ONE IS HUGE.
There is no way we could have been as productive as we were in such a short period of time without some seriously incredible companies and apps.
*** We are also planning on sending out our photos to be transferred to digital files. Since we haven't completed this task yet, I don't want to recommend anyone. But, it's important to know these companies exist!
9) Find ways to keep organized as you go.
By designated boxes, areas, and folders beforehand, we were able to put everything we were keeping into its rightful place instantly. Huge time saver.
It also helped to do one section at a time. Instead of thinking about the huge chunk of work you have to do, focus on one drawer, one box, or one section of your closet at a time. It makes it all seem much more manageable.
***I talk about this more specifically in The Confident Closet, my upcoming online course to help purge, organize, and build a wardrobe for confidence and personal style.
10) It can bring you closer together with loved ones.
This was true for me in two ways.
First of all, it was so wonderful to feel like my husband and I were an amazing rocking team of super heroes. I mean, we worked so well together and supported each other in a really fantastic way. It felt good to be productive and working together towards a common goal.
Secondly, by going through all my old memories, I essentially took a crazy trip down memory lane. I was reminded of the weekly letters from my dad, the way my mom taught me to love art and what an amazing twin I have.
11) Procrastinating makes it worse.
We always knew we had boxes we needed to go through, junk drawers to organize, baby clothes to sort through... It was just SUCH an overwhelming thought that we put it off for years. Or we'd start and not complete the project because we didn't allot enough time or give ourselves a deadline.
All I can say is DON’T put it off. For you this could be one room, a junk drawer or closet. This post is not directed only at people who need to purge their whole home. For example, spring is here and it's the perfect time cleaning out your closet. Wink wink.
In all seriousness, I don't want you to end up waiting so long you have an even bigger issue. The time is definitely now.
By doing this purge, it actually became more of a cleanse for me. Even though I'm not fully packed yet, I feel lighter and more focused. Everything feels more manageable knowing where everything is. If you ever start to think you can't do it, that it's too big of a process, just remember that you CAN. It'll feel SO good when you are done. Focus on the end goal, girl. You got this.
With love; from my closet to yours,