Monday's Musings

Monday’s Musings: Week 1: The Purge

turning-amishWhen I visit my Amish friends, I’m usually struck by how pristine their houses look. Of course, there are a few exceptions. But nearly all are usually spic and span clean. Everything in the kitchen has a purpose: a hook by the refrigerator with rubber bands, a strike pad on the wall to light matches used to start a lantern, scissors on a string by the sink.

When you get the chance to go into one of their bedrooms, it’s even more impressive. Most rooms will consist of three things: a bed with a quilt on it, a very small dresser, and a chest (if it’s a girl’s room), shirts, and pants almost always hang on a row of hooks along the wall, although some Amish are starting to buy the over the door hooks for their hanging clothes.

To make it even more pristine, they most likely have only three or four dresses, one being black for worship Sunday.

Thinking about “Turning Amish” inspired me to finally clean out my own closet. Yes, the dreaded purging of unworn, unloved, and unfashionable clothing. For two hours, I worked on my closet, moving the pants to the top rack and shirts to the bottom. That was a tip a closet designer had shared with  me. Surprise, surprise! It did open up more space. I was amazed!

With two tall laundry baskets at my side, I removed everything that was too big or pre-breast cancer sized. Anything that had a small hole in it made its way to the laundry basket. If I hadn’t sewn it by now, it was never going to get fixed. Sweater dresses…gone. Business suits? See ya later!  Everything older than four years? Hasta la vista, baby.

And then came the shoes…

That hurt. Real bad! An 11 on a scale of 10! Like many women, I have too many shoes. I wear lots of boots in the winter and sandals in the summer. I despise sneakers so I only have one pair for when I go for long walks with one of my three dogs or if I go walking with Mom and Tobi.

Two hours later, the clothes neatly folded in the baskets, shoes paired and on top, I took a step back to assess my work. Let’s be honest…I still have far too many clothes and shoes, but I plan to do another purge. I want to have a neat, tidy, and open looking closet with only clothes that I wear. That’s not unreasonable…it’s just a scary thought.  Parting with clothing is an emotional process. After all, I liked each piece that I purchased, I spent hard earned money on it and now I’m discarding it??? Ouch. It’s almost like breaking off an old friendship.

Of course, it does help to know that the clothing is going to help someone else. In fact, the very next day, one of my BFFs took the clothes and HER friend went through it and took 90% of it! That was thrilling to me.  My clothes found a new, happier home!

I’m still going to do another purge in a few weeks. And I’ve adopted a new rule: something new comes in, then something old must go out .

So while I’m not 100% there yet (by any stretch of the imagination), it’s a step in the right direction!

6 thoughts on “Monday’s Musings: Week 1: The Purge

  1. Wow you’ve motivated me to start on my closets too. I have a question Sarah! Although it is said that the Swartzentrubers are alot more strick, I have noticed that there property’s don’t seem to be kept up & wonder about their homes, what is your info on this?????

  2. Sarah: Serendipity (aka small miracles) has been a wonderful force in my life the past few years. One example is coming across the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker on that website named after a river last winter. You (and your readers) might enjoy it. I have no financial, friendship or other conflict of interest; I just found it thought provoking. Excess is hard to kick.

    Here is the blurb:
    “American life can be excessive, to say the least. That’s what Jen Hatmaker had to admit after taking in hurricane victims who commented on the extravagance of her family’s upper middle class home. She once considered herself unmotivated by the lure of prosperity, but upon being called “rich” by an undeniably poor child, evidence to the contrary mounted, and a social experiment turned spiritual was born.

    “7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence.

    “Food. Clothes. Spending. Media. Possessions. Waste. Stress. They would spend thirty days on each topic, boiling it down to the number seven. Only eat seven foods, wear seven articles of clothing, and spend money in seven places. Eliminate use of seven media types, give away seven things each day for one month, adopt seven green habits, and observe “seven sacred pauses.” So, what’s the payoff from living a deeply reduced life? It’s the discovery of a greatly increased God—a call toward Christ-like simplicity and generosity that transcends social experiment to become a radically better existence.”

  3. I think with all this purging you should go ALL OUT and auction off your stuff and then a.) buy me a queen-sized Amish quilt (which I know is never happening,b.) send the proceeds to the Haiti relief fund like the Amish do, or c.) send the proceeds to your favorite charity.

    Oh! And I want to see photos of the mounds of this stuff! Kind of like on “What Not to Wear!” Not only so that we can gawk , but so that you can be reminded: Never again!

    Oh My Goodness….love ya, Sarah!

  4. I recently purged my clothes got 14 boxes full..ashamed I had so much. Was ruthless getting rid of things I held onto forever! Love my closet now. Can actuslly move clothes around. Plan to purge again when I put up summer clothes. I am in process of purging 35 years of collected things. My husband passed dec 2012 so it is keeping me busy. It feels better to have less.

  5. I have conflicting feelings on this…and I don’t wish to come off as one hand what you are doing is inspiring others to purge, what bothers me, is that why Amish don’t have much is because of the Lord. We shall only have what’s given an blessed to us and not more then needed. It hurts me in a way to see this as being Amish, where I see it as being Christian.

  6. I’ve been working on this myself. I found the 333 method to be the most helpful in downsizing. You pick 33 pieces of clothing for 3 months. Basically you keep 33 pieces in your closet and box the rest. If you don’t use them then donate the whole box. You can if need be adjust the 33 pieces as necessary especially with seasonal changes. If the original 33 aren’t working you can open the box and adjust. There are a ton of websites and Facebook pages with this method and variations of it. There’s also the 10 pieces minimal wardrobe method although I personally don’t think I could work with that spartan of a wardrobe particularly in the winter.

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