I was talking with a very wise friend of mine the other day about my attempt to de-clutter my life. She suggested only keeping material things around me that bring me true joy. She is right. This simple concept has been immensely helpful in getting rid of things.
Several years ago, I unexpectedly left my successful government job to care for my firstborn child. I’ve had at least one professional job, at all times since I was twelve…until my son needed me. Just like that, I went from a 40+ hour/week money-earning Health Education Consultant to a 24+ hour/day cuddle-earning mom. That. Was. Weird. and HARD. Not only did I have to adjust to being dependent on someone else for income for the first time in my adult life, but I also had to adjust to a baby being dependent on me for…everything. My wardrobe went from a sharp Banana Republic girl to throwing on whatever Target ‘boyfriend-style’ tee seemed clean paired with yesterday’s jeans. And the shoes went from fun to functional, if I even wore shoes that day. That meant leaving the house.
For over four years, my staunch button-up collared shirts, fancy slacks, tailored skirts and gorgeous shoes (Oh, the shoes!) patiently hid out in my closet, waiting to be coordinated into what was once a very strong part of my identity. I enjoyed dressing the part of a business professional each day. My job that used to be helping with infectious disease control had now morphed into managing TWO tiny humans. My daily triumphs now included keeping the children clean, fed and alive. Those were also my challenges. 🙂
Last summer, I made the decision to train as a skilled Birth Doula and Childbirth Educator. I love being a professional mom, but I also missed that sense of accomplishment and challenges my ‘day job’ brought me. I missed talking to people my height and using words containing more than one syllable. I also missed helping people – grown-up people and families.
Last week, I took a long hard look at my closet and realized that I was never going back to the person I was in my pre-kids life. I think I kept my professional attire around as a safety net, just in case I needed it. I finally realized I’m not her anymore. I’m now a successful doula!!!! As much as I once loved these clothes, the likelihood of me wearing much of this business-y apparel in my present profession is not only impractical, but more importantly, no longer entangled with my personal identity. Can you imagine me offering counter-pressure to a laboring momma in heels and a pant-suit?!? The memories associated with many of these clothes are that of my former life. Do they bring me joy? They used to, but they don’t anymore. My own transformation into motherhood and now in seeing other women transition into motherhood has offered me more happiness and joy than any of my clothes ever did. My new work uniform, which consists of my company logo t-shirt, yoga pants and tennis shoes now bring me the most joy and more confidence than I’ve ever had in a job…aaaaand they are a lot more comfortable.
So, I challenge you to take a look around your home. What items bring you joy? When looking at something, think about the memories this item recalls. What emotions do you feel? If it’s not joy, then maybe it’s time to be enjoyed by someone else.
Next up, sifting through the rest of my wardrobe. Watch out jeans – I’m coming for you! Oh, and in case you were worried, the shoes are still safe. A lady can never have too many pairs of shoes.