Empty chair in a closet

The Chair

When I tell you that I am a born-messy, for whom the years have magnified that trait, it is not with joy. Embarrassment would be more like it. Join me as I step into the confessional. 

Empty chair in a closet

Faithful readers of this blog know that I often write about the power of organization to defeat clutter, a subject that has been proven to be a source of both physical and mental chaos. 

First confession

I write about that subject primarily to lecture myself. Writing about it keeps the problem clear, ever present in my mind. Messies like myself can easily slip into denial. We see the problem, but we can quickly move it out of mental view. That makes procrastination part of the equation. Writing makes me think, and that keeps the problem front and center.

The master bedroom in our home includes a spacious walk-in closet with a door. I tell you this so you will understand how easy it is for me to close the door to make my problems disappear. Can’t see it, for now it doesn’t exist. That lets me slip into denial. I’ll do it later. Next weekend when I have time to go through things.

Next confession

In this closet, we have a chair where my husband used to sit to put on his socks. Over the years, my problem has escalated to the point the chair and all of the space surrounding it has become covered, as in “buried” in piles—piles the height of which could be measured in feet, not inches. Clothes. Junk. Horrible. Worse than that. From time to time, I would dig it out, reorganize, and promise to do better. But then I’d backslide into my horrible, old patterns and habits.

Finally, I could not take it any longer. I cleaned the closet. Purged. Did all the things I encourage you to do. But more than that, I gave myself a little talking-to.

My spoiled, bratty child self agreed with my more wise and mature adult self that I would never again drape, lay, hang, or pile anything on that chair. Nothing. Not even for a moment. We did a pinkie promise, a heartfelt, I-can’t-take-it-any-longer kind of commitment. Beyond that, she and I agreed that I would repeat this mantra to myself whenever tempted: Do the right thing, do it now.

As I write, it has been 16 months—24/7 485 days. And I have repeated the mantra 365,876 times. At least. From that day to now, that chair has had nothing on it, around it, or hanging from it. More than that, there has been nothing on the floor. Not even my shoes, not for a moment. 

The mantra has been upgraded a bit. It’s more like, [sweetly spoken] Do the right thing … [then as a drill sergeant] DO IT NOOOOOW!!!! 

Yes, I am ecstatic. The change has been epic. The closet—all of it, not only the chair—has remained as organized as it was on that day I completed the makeover and determined that I’d had enough and would change my ways.

You should expect a follow-up post some time in the future, the title of which shall be: The Kitchen. 

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  1. K. Martin says:

    Congrats! Wish we could see a before-and-after pic — you know, for inspiration. I have such a closet (and a bedroom!), that never seems to get decluttered, no matter how much I determine to do so. 🙁

  2. Marci says:

    Re: The chair

    Mary! What a monumental accomplishment to refrain from even one item left on “the chair”! I won’t put one in my (also) closet with a door. I too would give in “just this once” and set something on it, drape a top over it, etc. I don’t think I have the same perseverance you have. Be good to yourself! Rejoice!

  3. Linda Radosevich says:

    Congratulations Mary on conquering the messy closet! You get a big gold star! And you’ve encouraged the rest of us to keep it up!

  4. Joan says:

    So proud of you, Mary! Great job! Thank you for sharing with your online family.
    You are so down to earth-I just love you!
    My home is pretty neat and clean but my closet has suffered the past few months. Tomorrow, I am going to “do the right thing, do it now!”
    Thank you, again, for sharing!

  5. Cheryl Schultz says:

    My master bedroom also has a walk in closet. I have spent the past week purging. My husband and I think some of the clothes moved here with us from our previous home, 15 years ago! I expect to have a lot more space when we’re finished!

  6. Carol Petru says:

    Congratulations, Mary! Thank you for your example in getting your closet organized AND for being brave enough to share your story! You are AMAZING and I am so happy to be a subscriber!

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