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Below is the transcript for this special episode of Talking About Clothes with Holly Chayes. You can follow along with the transcript, and listen to the episode in the player (or your favorite podcast app). Or download the episode directly here.

Everything seems to have turned upside down since the second season of the podcast came out last week. And it is probable that the third season will be at least a little bit delayed from the original podcast production schedule. So I wanted to drop you a little note.

I don’t know how you are, but it is my deepest hope that this finds you and those you love well, or well enough in this very moment.

Welcome to Talking About Clothes, with me, Holly Chayes. Where I talk about clothes with people who wear them.

Trying to write this, I’m reminded of when I used to blog regularly – every week on Wednesday mornings I would write about what projects I was working on. Except on the second Wednesday in November, 4 years ago in 2016 the projects I was working on seemed so far removed from reality. As though I had started those projects in a different lifetime.

So I wrote in metaphor. I wrote about knitting, building, and time – one stitch, one brick, one moment. And then another. And another. And another. That is the only way a sweater can be knit. Or a brick building built. Or for time to pass.

A collection of tiny, intentional, seemingly inconsequential steps. One, after the other, after the other, until a whole thing is built, a whole sweater is knit, a whole hour has passed.

In the moment of this writing, on March 21st, 2020, at very early in the morning, I am reminded of the process of cleaning out a closet.

One would think that such a straightforward afternoon project wouldn’t devolve into chaos. But it does. More often than not. (And not just for you).

You start at the front, with the things you reach for all the time. Sorting them into piles – this stays, this goes, this should probably get hemmed.

Then comes the perfectly usable but never used items, sorted and piled with a little bit of guilt.

Then you uncover the items you said you’d get to one day, and start trying to figure out why you never did.

Then comes the very back of your closet, the place where memories and junk intermingle, and sometimes overlap.

And if your best afternoon of spring cleaning intentions hasn’t fallen apart by now, this is where it is sure to.

If you’re going it alone, this is where your mountain-piles start to avalanche, you second guess your decisions, and either…

Toss it all. The good, bad, fixable or not, baby and bath water, all go fluttering out the window to fall to the ground.
Or.
Shove it back into the closet and try to pretend this afternoon’s experiment never happened. Even though you know it still did.

But if you have help. The kind of help that has no hidden agenda, just support. The kind of help that reminds you of the decisions you have already made. That helps you restructure the mountain piles, poised to avalanche, before they fall.

If you have that help, then this is the turning point.

This is when you trust the decisions you have already made. And you make the decisions that are left to decide.

The clothes that are no longer yours, you release. The clothes to be mended or fixed get the attention they need. The clothes that stay, get rehung with the space and care we all require.

There is a beginning, a middle, and an end to cleaning out your closet on a spring afternoon. And it’s an afternoon with an thousands beginnings, middles, and ends between the start and the finish.

Should you find yourself cleaning out your closet. Two tips for you, from me:

  1. Don’t mistake the chaos that comes from organizing something long neglected for mess and give up on it. The process of unpacking a closet, decluttering it, and re organizing is messy. But it is not a mess until you give up and walk away.
  2. The process of cleaning out your closet gets a lot more muddled when you try and start step two before step one is complete. Don’t start rehanging things before the closet is completely empty. You’ll just confuse yourself.

And one more bonus tip.

When the time comes for a personal reinvention, (in the future that will one day show up): start with your closet, your clothes will do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.

Be well, and much love,
Holly

You can find the transcript for this episode, plus previous episodes of the podcast at WhoWearsWho.com/podcast

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