Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What goes around, comes around

It usually happens to me twice to tree times in a year- usually when the season changes-. It feels like I get possessed. I look at my closet or at my suitcases, and all of a sudden I get into this rage, this frenzy. I discrimately separate all my clothes in two to tree packs: the one I will keep, the one I will donate and the one I will throw away. I usually end up with this huge pack of clothes to donate. I pack them all in boxes and send them to the nearest donation center or box, or save them until I go back home to give them to my cousins.

I was raised with parents who each had a strong opinion when it comes to clothes. My father is a giver. He would always "clean" his closet, offering clothes he judged that he did not need anymore to his family members or people in need. If you take a peek at my father's closet you would see just the necessary items (shirts, t-shirts, pants, suits and traditional clothes). My mother, on the contrary, is a keeper. If you search inside her overstuffed closet, you would find "vintage" clothing. By vintage I mean clothes that she used to wear when she was still single (almost 30 years ago). My mother is generous but she finds a sentimental value to her clothes. Therefore she keeps them all the while accumulating new ones. She also thinks that clothes always come back in style even her old ones. Therefore, she thinks that it would be a waste of money to give them away.

As far as I understand where my mother is coming from, I grew up hearing my father say : " if you give something to someone, you will receive something even better in return" Over the years I found this saying to be true. Whenever, I gave something to someone, sooner or later I would receive a gift of the same nature. For example, if I gave my best friend a black pair of shoes, I would receive a black pair of shoes. At first, the concept fascinated me. But over the years, I got used to it so much that I was indeed giving away things expecting to have something in return.

However, my giving urge does not have anything to do with the idea of payback. I just give stuff away because I have so much (not that I am bragging). I am a shopaholic. And I find shopping to be a great stress reliever. Therefore, when I have little money, I go into this shopping frenzy. I buy stuff that I do not need and they end up being lost in my closet. For example, I have this pair of brown suede pumps with embroidery that I bought in Australia in 2004. They were a bit tight but the price was so affordable that I just purchased them (even my hubby confirmed that it was an occasion that I should not miss). Well, as much as I love the shoes and find them elegant, they sat in my closet for over 4 years, waiting for a moment to shine. I decided that maybe I would take them home on my numerous trips there. For sure, in Senegal I would find an occasion to wear them. But when I think of the suede being damaged by the dust on Dakar's streets, I always decide against it at the last minute. My best friend even asked me to give her the shoes several times and I just refused. Eventually I found an occasion to wear them during a party at my hubby's company. And I was not even going to do it but my hubby forced me to by saying that if I did not wear the shoes, he would pack them and send them to my best friend in England. The shoes are not the only items in my closet which were never worn. So whenever I get tired of having a dysfunctional closet, I just clean it.

The cleaning up and giving part leave me always refreshed. My closet looks like it has space and I can now find items that I need. Moreover, on the spiritual level, I feel great knowing that people are going to benefit from my clothes. However, from time to time when I think of some of the clothes I gave away, I have this pang of regret. Two days ago, I was looking at some old pictures of my shoes. I came across this picture of white heels that I had purchased at Payless during my working days. They were cheap and slightly worn, but they were nice. And I just gave them away. I am sure that I would not need them in my new lifestyle (stay at home mother). Nevertheless, I like the option of having them. There are other items I regret giving away: a white blouse that would have been perfect for my pregnancy, a red hot leather coat (how stupid of mine), snake skin wedge shoes and assorted bag. I just give and give like I am possessed. And months or years later, when I take time to think about it, I regret it.

Well, this teaches me a lesson, actually tree:
1- always shop for items I will wear (or that I actually need)
2- never wait for an occasion to wear clothes
3- always think it through before giving away clothes

I hope I can stick to these rules in the future.

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