Dear Jillian,

You know what? I am totally blocked when it comes to dealing with the closets. I think it's a combo of fear of dust and fear of making decisions. I even have the mask for the task, but gah....

Karen


Dear Karen,

I hear ya.  Closets really can be the bane of our existence, can't they?  Just a handy little place to tuck something away, and before you know it you are afraid to open if for what might fall down upon you.  Funny you bring this up, because I was just discussing the other day how oddly amazing it feels to have a clean, organized closet.  That such a small space could create such a feeling of freedom and relief is pretty astounding.

On a symbolic level the closet represents all those thoughts, beliefs, and fears that you don't want to deal with.  And I think you are right on, it is also about fear of making decisions, of moving forward.  And think about that phrase "coming out of the closet", it is about letting go of old beliefs and fears that are holding you back and that are no longer serving you.  Hm.  Think on that a bit.

Especially when you break it down to how each room represents a different aspect of yourself. So I ask you, which room has the biggest closet issue?

Here are my thoughts, on which closet may have which issue lurking.  What are you burying, hiding, or not dealing with?

  • Entry Closet = letting things into and out of your life
  • Clothes Closet = your image of yourself (clothes = how we represent our self to the world)
  • Utility/Cleaning Closet = letting go of or repairing the past (both recent and long gone)
  • Living Room Closet = your social identity
  • Kitchen Closet/Pantry = how you nourish and take care of yourself
  • Office Closet = work life/ career/ life calling
  • Bathroom Closet = purifying yourself, feeling light & free, not bogged down by life (could also represent the spiritual self)
  • Game/Recreation Closet = how you have fun in life
  • Children's Closet = their self & identity in the world
  • Hallway Closet = how you integrate your life and your self

Now, on a practical level!

HOW TO MAKEOVER YOUR CLOSET

  1. Before you begin, set an intention for what you want to accomplish.  For instance:  "To feel the joy of this open, organized closet".  Or what have you.  Whatever it is, keep it in the forefront of your mind as you go forward.  It will help pull you through all of that dust.  Remember, there is excitement and freedom waiting for you at the end of this.
  2. Set aside a few hours to tackle one closet.  I find it best to do it all at once, otherwise you are left with a bit mess, a lot of frustration, and it is easy for things to get even worse.
  3. Take everything out of the closet.  Yes.  Everything.  As you take things out, think about what the closet might symbolize or represent to YOU.  Let it tell you its story.
  4. As you pull things out, sort them into piles of "like" things.  So, if it is the clothes closet, make a pile of all the sweaters, a pile of all the jeans, etc.  If it is the utility closet, make a pile of all the laundry stuff, of all the weekly cleaning tools, etc.  Just think of the groups that it makes sense to you that things logically belong together.  If this is difficult, think about how things are sorted at the store, or in catalogs, to give you some ideas.  This is where it gets the messiest, but don't worry, it is worth it!
  5. Once everything is sorted, go through the groups one by one, and see what you can get rid of.  You may be surprised to find that you have 30 dresses, but usually only wear 8.  Or that you have 5 things of stain remover.  This happens when things disappear into cluttered places, we forget that we have them, so we keep buying more.  This is one of the many ways that clutter costs us money - by making us buy more than we actually need.  It is like those stain removers throw a party, and keep convincing you to bring home another friend, and they think they can just sneak that by you, that you won't notice the extra guest.  So, let go of what you don't need!  Let go of what is broken! (Do you REALLY want to fix it?  If so, do it NOW.  If you don't want to do it now, then you don't want to do it, so let it go.  Simplify your life and save yourself the time and the stress.  You will thank me later.)  Let go of what is stained!  Let go of what is ugly or what you don't really like!  Let go of that doodad that Aunt Martha gave you, that you don't really like but feel you SHOULD keep it.  LET IT GO!  Only keep in your closet what you REALLY need (not think you might need someday...) and what you really love.  If you are unsure about something, put it in a "time out" for a week or two, away from its friends, so you can see if you really need/want it, or if it is just your stuff ganging up on you.
  6. Clean that closet!  Sweep it, dust it, wipe it down, vacuum it, make the magic happen, whatever it needs.  If any repairs are need, now is the time!  No, you won't get to it later.  Push through and make it happen now.  As you clean, make a choice to let go of all those old beliefs in that area that are no longer serving you.
  7. Now!  This is my favorite part.  Think about how you want to put things back in your closet.  This is a great time to go buy any closet bins/baskets/organizers/whatnots to make it all pretty and handy.  Don't do this step until after you've sorted and weeded, because until you know what you are keeping you won't know what you need, and may overbuy.  But you don't have to buy things, you can also repurpose things from around your home.  Baskets, jars, decorative boxes (or even ugly ones) can all serve the purpose of keeping like things together.  This should be easy since you've already sorted everything into groups.  Now you just need to figure out what you want to do to contain those groups.
  8. Okay, so put the lovely things that you decided to keep because they truly enrich your life back in the closet!  While you're doing this, think about the beliefs you want to have about yourself in the area that you've realized the closet represents.  Choose your new belief.  The power of your choice is pretty strong, let me tell you, and the universe will conspire to support that belief.  And so will your closet.
  9. Get rid of all that excess stuff NOW.  Throw it out, recycle it, set it on the curb, sell it on craigslist, donate it to chairty, give it to your daughter or friend (though, hint, she probably doesn't want it either).
  10. FEEL FREE.  Soak it in.  It is always amazing to me how glorious a clean, organized closet can make you feel.  Sounds crazy, but it is true.
Hope that helps your closet conundrum, Karen!  Enjoy!

Jillian

ps: If any of you feel that you need some extra energy, motivation, calmness, or gentle guidance, I am also available for coaching.  I am a closet fanatic, and love creating that magnificent transformation.  I can help you in your own home (in Seattle), or am also available to give guidance via skype - just move your computer camera over the the closet and I can guide you through the tough spots!