closet clean out + other tales of unraveling

Nov 16, 2012 | My Creative Practice, Wear Your Joy™

The aftermath of operation clean out closet and clothes. Looking pretty empty but feels good to let it go.

(a view into my closet post-clean out)
I can feel now how all this work to stay open and tender brings on a sense of fierce grace + fearlessness. I can feel now the power coming back to me, my sense of center being redefined. I can feel how the unraveling is guiding me back.  The last two years of transition, change, and being cracked/broken open have lead me to the pealing back of one layer, then another, and then more and more.  The layers have been piled high on my heart. I can see now that the deeper I go into peeling back the layers with gentle healing, the closer I get to what’s hidden beneath. The center feels peaceFull.  It feels vulnerable yet undeniably strong. Tender but light. Unburdened and free.

It happens often in our lives, I think. Transistions mark our lives, and they mark the unraveling journeys back to our cores. For many it’s loss, divorce, illness that can trigger the unraveling down into the layers. For me, it was the trigger of my birth trauma followed by the remarkable journey into motherhood. This specific change/transition has inspired me to confront all the ways that I was living a half life. This has been the gift of motherhood, of a little boy named True who has given me the meaningful gift of sight, of really seeing who I want to be. I want to be whole.

With all of this in mind, I recently decided to let go of all my favorite clothes that I’ve been holding onto. Considering True just turned two, it’s been about 2 and half years since I’ve been holding onto bins full of skirts, jeans, dresses. They simply don’t fit anymore. I thought they would by the time he turned one, and then again when he turned two. I’m letting go. 
Of course, it’s not about the clothes. It’s about the weight of holding onto the clothes. About the holding on to an older version of me that simply doesn’t exist anymore. About all the space they’re taking up in my spiritual closet, not leaving much room for new breath, new space, new life. It’s about gently letting go and creating who I want to be. It’s about creating another clearing so that my new dreams can be of service. 
I spent a couple of hours one rainy morning going through each piece of clothing. I asked myself one question about each piece: Is it holding me back or pushing me forward? If the answer was holding me back, I let it go. It felt like a ritual. Like I was thanking each piece of clothing for all the ways it served my spirit in my pre-mamahood days, then I gently packed it up in a box with a wish that it would do the same for the next soul and spirit that it would serve. Sounds woo woo, but I can’t help it. There were a few tears shed. A realization that I’m all grown up now and that this new version of me now gets to be reflected in new clothes that fit this new body.

I made piles for donation, piles for gifting, and piles for consignment. Feels wonderful. As my soul becomes less and less burdened, so does my closet. Metaphors everywhere. 

(print available here)

A couple of days later, I created this painting. It all gets expressed. Life is a magical journey, no?

What rituals, and cleanings are you creating? What lessons are you putting to rest? What lessons are you inviting in? I’d love to know. 

Kelly Rae

Sending much love,

Show/Hide Comments (18 comments)
  1. Robyn Griffiths

    I love your style of painting, it’s so inspiring and thoughtful, love all the words,I’m creative too, I actually have a piece of your artwork on my wall, that I received as a bday present, she could hardly believe all that was waiting when she finally opened her 💓. I love it, keep up the great work.x

  2. Anonymous

    Recently major transition marched right into my life and I am in the midst of casting off the pull of things I have stored away due to living in a much smaller space. So much emotion is weighing on me, as I make decisions about what to keep and what to share with someone else-UGH!!! This week is dedicated to creating more space, accepting the freedom of holding on to less and organizing what I choose to keep. It feels so wonderful and is so exhausting!
    You are so right, our things do hold memories of experiences, hopes and dreams. I am trusting those memories will remain whether I continue to hold on to the items or not!
    Here is a link to an article along the same lines–additional confirmation that letting go is a beautiful and freeing thing!

  3. Jane Hinchliffe

    I have also done a major resorting of my wardrobe and also the whole house! I realised that I had been avoiding a couple bags of clothes that I wore pre children. I think I will go back to them and ask myself the same question as you did. Thank you and I love the painting…

  4. Su

    You are my Hero! I so need to do this…I have three sizes of clothes in my closet. I keep thinking and praying that I will get off these yucky meds so I can get back to normal, but like you, I have to create the new normal and who I want to be as I am.
    Thank you for helping me to realize that I only need the things that belong to this "me".

  5. Susanne from Canada

    I am writing this through tears of happiness, no, the wrong word. Perhaps I should say "enlightenment" I am sure I can't spell. I have been on my own journey for the last 4 years, where I was broken and now I am broken open. Hatching into my better tomorrow. How true are the words you write, help me to see my own journey, with grace and kindness, instead of shame and regret. Thank you for your gifts, of hope for a better today, tomorrow and forever.many thanks for your kindness, Susanne

  6. Jennifer Valentine

    still holding on to 13 year old Eileen Fisher clothes that i will never wear again…and holding on to a woman that no longer exists as well because of it.
    I think its time to let go, but it is one of the hardest things I'll do. I'm right there with you on letting in more by letting go. You are an inspiration.

  7. Polly Hendrickson

    Thanks so much for all of your inspiration, and especially for being so open and REAL, Kelly Rae! This is a great way to look at ALL areas of our lives, I think, and to ask "is this holding me back, or moving me forward?" I, too, am peeling back the layers….

  8. Alberta Art Classes

    Thank you. Thank you, same happening here. I signed up for your ecourse, but found my energies directed at removing the clutter, physically and spiritually before I could tackle the work. I am happy to report I am moving forward. Etsy shopped and website ready to launch, playing with the new printer now! I haven't done the clothes closet yet and as I was reading your post, I kept imagining all those cute Anthropologie skirts in the back of the closet. The ones I wore in L.A. when I worked 16 hours a day, six days a week and ate a piece of cheese and tons of black tea all day that allowed me to fit into those teeny skirts. My life is different now, thank goodness. And thank you for the reminder. On the plus side, the other de-cluttering has left a beautiful creative space and I have been painting, painting, painting. Thank you for your inspiration, Kelly Rae. Xoxoxo.

  9. June Maddox

    This was wonderful and you said it with such knowing and understanding about what you were doing. Yes, things weigh us down, I believe that is true. Inspiring.

  10. Monika Marshall

    Kelly Rae – it amazes me how some messages are sent to us on the days we need them. This post hits home in a very deep way. It's been a few months of 'you need to take a deep breath and shed a few layers so you can find peace and open your heart to new possibilities'. And every time I take a breath I hide myself behind fear and lost confidence. Knowing that I'm not alone – you went through it too – gives me hope. Thank you for always being honest and sharing the deepest thoughts of your soul.

  11. A Magical Whimsy

    Ah…Life is definitely a magical journey. I think the expressions of our soul reflects in all we do. Whether it is our deepest visions of creativity or even the heartaches that come with life in general. All of these come together to make us who we are and reflect in our creativity.
    Thank you for this post.
    You are a constant inspiration in the publications your work is highlighted in. I always look for your art muse!
    Teresa in California
    in Cloth and Clay doll ning
    in MAIDA doll ning

  12. Diane Kelsey

    I am extremely impressed. I keep trying to own size the amount of clothes in my wardrobe, without much success. Your inspiration will hopefully help me to be more positive and ruthless next week.m

  13. Rebecca Renkas

    Very beautiful and touching post. I've done this ritual a few times and just recently did it again. I'm on a roll, my husband and I are doing the basement this week. Love your new art, love all your art. Thanks for the post.

  14. Anonymous

    You write so beautifully and honestly! Thanks for this post, they always seem to come at the right time in my life, how do you do that? 🙂 I went through my cupboard when we moved recently but there is tonnes more I can give away I think!

  15. Anonymous

    "the holding on to an older version of me that simply doesn't exist anymore"
    VERY well put,thanks I needed that.

  16. Steph

    I'm sure you are going to be inspiring lots of women with this post!

  17. Andrea Watts

    I have been working on being happy with ME as I am and letting things flow naturally as they always do if you let them… and trying not to be so consumed with the numbers on the scale or the little things that cause me anxiety in life. I ended up creating a painting as well like you talked about…after we accept these truths in life and it feels wonderful. Amazing how the timing works out, this is exactly what I have been through lately. Thank you! I always love reading your posts, and seeing your art!
    andrea watts


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Hello + welcome!

I’m Kelly Rae Roberts

Before I picked up my first paintbrush at the age of 30, I was a medical social worker. I followed my creative whispers, and today I’m an artist & Possibilitarian. I’m passionate about creating meaningful art and experiences that awaken and inspire our spirits.

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