Emotional

Never Forget.

Sometimes you just have to write about what moves you.

18 years ago today, sometime just before 9am, a friend knocked on the door of my dorm room. I’ll never forget the sound as long as I live. I’ll also never forget what I was wearing (pink tank top and white pajama pants with little embroidered flowers on them from The Gap), the unfinished wood of my lofted bed on my hands as I scrambled down, and how wide my friend’s already big eyes grew as she relayed the news: “Someone blew up the World Trade Center.”

I don’t remember anyone screaming or crying, just doors opening all up and down the hall and low voices and people moving as if magnetized to the only place with cable and enough room for all of us: the dorm TV room. The carpet was stiff under my bare feet. We watched the towers fall live. It was horrible.

I do remember being singularly focused on my family, still asleep in California and planning a trip to the Middle East the next week. I called on my roommate’s Star-Tac flip phone, begging them not to go. Of course they wouldn’t go! Nobody went anywhere.

Classes started as planned two days later. According to Princeton University, postponing the start of classes was akin to letting the terrorists win.

Patriotism was suddenly for everyone, and everywhere. My roommate and I drove for hours in her Mercury Mountaineer, looking for someplace that had an American flag left to sell us to decorate our dorm room wall. Every bridge across the highway was hung with homemade signs on sheets and poster board.

I had completely blocked out, until my mom reminded me last year, that I spent days in a cubicle in a Red Cross office somewhere in New Jersey, entering data in a giant spreadsheet. Name, company, phone number, floor, last seen wearing.

I flew home for fall break 8 weeks later, from an echoing Newark airport populated only by very intrepid travelers and very comprehensively armed National Guard officers. It was the first time I had seen an M-16 in person. My roommate and I were brutally hungover (turns out you party a lot when it feels like the world is going to end) and terrified.

Thank you for letting me share my memories of that day with you. If you feel so moved, please share yours in the comments below.

LMW

Organize a Closet for the Present: How To Handle Changing Sizes

Like many women, I hate clothing sizes. I hate how inconsistent they are from brand to brand, I hate how they tell you absolutely nothing about fit or proportion, I hate that only a certain range is considered normal for an adult woman, and more than anything I hate the power they have to affect my confidence and self worth.

I know I’m not alone, because in my years of organizing, the subject of clothing sizes continues to be one of the most delicate, emotional things I handle with my clients. An awful lot of women (and many men!) have a visceral hate-hate relationship with the size tags on the clothes in their closet. 

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Body dysmorphia can come at you from every angle. I’ve worked with thin, fit women who see a much larger person in the mirror and can’t really believe that their old clothes are falling off them. I’ve worked with women who have gained weight suddenly and still try their old clothes every morning hoping against hope that they’ll fit again. And pretty much every woman whose closet I’ve worked in has recited a laundry list of things she hates about her body and how it looks in clothes.

How do I help? I encourage my clients to love themselves now, just as they are, and curate a wardrobe that makes them feel their best today. After all, the entire purpose of organizing a closet is to make sure that getting dressed is an easy and pleasant experience! 

And clothing that doesn’t fit doesn’t exactly arouse pleasant feelings. Clients who have made a weight change that’s positive for them dread a return to their old size, while clients who have made a weight change they perceive as negative feel guilt and shame that that they can’t wear their old clothes.

So, I recommend that if a weight change has been recent and/or sudden, that clients do store a wardrobe of things they love at a size they are likely to return to within the near future. I suggest that they give themselves a reasonable time limit, and if the clothing still doesn’t fit at that time, to donate it.

 However, if the weight change has been maintained for a longer period of time, I do encourage my clients to donate all clothes that no longer fit, even if they were once loved. This process is usually difficult, but it allows the client to focus on the present, and living with and loving the person they are here, today.

After all, that’s what I’m trying to help my clients do: be present!

LMW