A New Path Is Often Paved with Self-Doubt

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Beginnings are hard.

I took a birth doula training session last week, and at times, I was acutely aware that I don’t quite fit in. I’m a former litigator. I’m feisty. I’m pragmatic. I’m not opposed to modern medicine. I’ve had three C-sections. And I’m at peace with that. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows over here.

I struggle with what I could possibly have to offer; I recognize that familiar self-doubt that greets me at the start of anything—that fuels me to want to work (too?) hard to get to the point where I’m good, not new. I resent that that drive is infiltrating this new path. This is supposed to feel right.

Can I do this?

But then.

Then I read this.

Then I run into a mom during preschool pickup who asks me to write her an e-mail assuring her that she’ll be ok as a mom of two—that things WILL (of course) get easier. She’s three weeks postpartum. She’s picking up her toddler, one of her hands holding his while the other carries that god-awful heavy car seat. In it, her perfect newborn is protected from this “spring” weather we’ve been having.

She’s a rockstar. But somehow it helps her to hear me say that. Nothing means more.

And she’s not just any mom.

She’s The Mom.

The Mom who helped me realize I wanted to do this in the first place.

You know how you have those conversations that unintentionally shape who you are? That leave a profound impact? That just…stick? Usually, you don’t see it coming.

For me, it was in a parking lot. Almost exactly one year ago. At the time, we were relative strangers. I had my four-month-old strapped to me in the Ergo carrier, and I was on my way to a parenting discussion group after dropping off the older boys at school.

She had just lost her second pregnancy at 26 weeks. There we were, crossing paths. Something made us stop and talk. She opened up to me. I don’t know why. Neither did she. But I will be ever grateful. And even though it wasn’t her intention at the time, by telling me her story, she helped me.

She let me be there for her. She let me try to find the right words, and find when there were no words at all.

She let me comfort her. She let me show her she already had the strength she so desperately needed.

Listening to her that morning, I realized that’s what I want to do—listen. Be there. For women who are pregnant, or struggling to get pregnant, or were pregnant but then all of a sudden weren’t anymore. For women as they are becoming mothers, or struggling to figure out how to breastfeed, or how to feel comfortable not breastfeeding, or how to hold and soothe their newborns, how to get them—and themselves—to sleep, how to trust their instincts, how to grow into this new identity…as Mother.

And beyond…how to mother in the context of the rest of their lives, how to juggle a job along with it all, how to negotiate new relationships with partners, with parents, how to embrace the joyful chaos of managing multiple children, and maybe a career, and maybe challenging family dynamics, and maybe…maybe…you just need someone to help. To listen. To hold your baby and give your arms a break. To tell you you’re doing alright. That you’ve got this. To be that objective outsider who knows you’re doing better than you think, that you’re going to be ok, even when it may feel far from it. To be your inner voice when it feels like your insides are turned out. To help you see the magic in all the mystery–to find the beauty in this new path. Even if it’s paved with self-doubt.

We parted that morning, that Mom and I, and I walked quickly on to my parenting discussion group, giddy with purpose.

We need each other. We all need someone. We can’t do this alone.

I want to be that OTHER—another person, another pair of hands, another voice, another reassuring presence. I will be your company. I will be your confidence.

Everyone is a different kind of doula. Everyone is a different kind of mother. And there’s a doula for everyone.

I want to be there when that mother is born. Telling her she’s everything she needs to be, everything her child needs.

Just as she is.

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Stranger Things Have Happened

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As you may have guessed from my latest Scary Mommy post, there is little I love more than the kindness of strangers.

So I’m setting out to create a new category on this blog dedicated to chronicling the random acts of kindness that help you get through the day, make you feel better about humanity, or at least put a smile on your face. Small acts that have a big impact. Ways we’re making the world smaller. Maybe if we document how much of this is going on, we’ll start to notice it more, because we’ll be looking for it. Maybe we’ll even start to do it more, because we’ll be thinking about it.

I find that carting my brood around town often lends itself to opportunities for others to help me navigate through my day. But we ALL have those opportunities–both to give and receive kindness. Expecting nothing in return.

So, dear readers, tell me random acts of kindness that either a stranger or friend did for you—or that you did for someone else. Share your story in the comments section (below) or reach out to me directly via my Contact page (above). Then I will compile & share on the blog (feel free to request anonymity). Tweet about it and use the hashtags #strangerthings or #makingtheworldsmaller. Maybe this’ll take off and become a regular (weekly? monthly?) CKCT series, “Stranger Things,” or maybe it’ll be a big ol’ flop. But, like most everything, it’s worth a try! (And if nothing else, I love a good pun.)

I’ll kick us off:

  • Last week, a man on the street stopped and asked me if I needed help as I unloaded items from my car to be donated to a thrift store.
  • The woman behind me in line offered to let me use her Rite Aid card to get a discount on my Mr. Clean magic eraser sponges.

(See? They can be really small things.)

  • Another mom offered to walk my preschooler from the parking lot in to school so I didn’t have to unbuckle and unload my two little guys, who were headed on to a joint doctor appointment.
  • My neighbors, four days postpartum with their fifth child, offered to store some of our stuff or host some of our kids during house showings. (We didn’t take them up on it!)
  • My incredible handyman paid a special emergency visit at no charge on the frantic morning of our first house showings when, inexplicably, the powder room door got locked from the inside !

So let’s do this. Let’s get out there, see the good, and be good to each other. …And then tell me about it ;)

So Long, iPad! (Sort of.)

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If we’re being honest, my kids get too much screen time.

It started innocently enough. When my oldest was two, we were having a particularly hard time getting him dressed and out the door in the morning. Add to that a newborn and a demanding, full-time job, and I resorted to changing him in front of a short video clip on the iPad–an animated rendition of Itsy Bitsy Spider or anything on KidsTV123.

Around that time, a friend of mine found herself in the same predicament and reached out to me for advice. I shared my “secret.”

She was grateful. Actually, her exact response was:  “I could marry you — our household is SO much happier now.  Mornings go so smoothly, and [daughter] is so much happier without feeling like she has to throw tantrums every AM.  Yay!”

But like many things that begin harmlessly, our clever fix eventually led us down that good old slippery slope. And lately, we had slid too far. Somewhere in there we had a third kid, until very recently, I was still working many hours, my husband works many more, and I often found myself muddling through on my own with three little boys–and our friend the iPad, who made more appearances than I care to admit.

What began as a brief daily video vignette turned into longer and longer stretches. Often it would bleed into breakfast. Sometimes it became videos before dinner, or (gasp!) during dinner, or just before bed. It became a crutch. A habit. The quality of the programming steadily deteriorated–along with my standards.

I got lazy, or maybe I was just cutting myself some slack.

Whatever it was, I hated that this was how we started our day. The familiar din of Fireman Sam or Thomas videos started to sound like the hum of my failure as a parent.

Then I read a blog post “blaming” TV for all sorts of things, including negative behaviors in today’s kids. It really resonated with me. I’d noticed my oldest had gotten far more aggressive and impatient in recent weeks and in turn, so had I. Too often, I didn’t recognize the words coming out of my mouth or the tone in which I was speaking them. I was not parenting the way I used or intended to. I wasn’t taking time to acknowledge his feelings, yet stay calm, but firm in enforcing my reasonable demands. It had all gone to shit.

It was time for a change.

This morning would be different.

When my oldest woke up and found me in the kitchen, I was ready. After a quick snuggle, I offered crayons and paper, books, breakfast…no, no, no. He “needed” videos. Things were devolving fast. He was heading to where we keep the iPad, fully defiant.

With my resolve nearly gone, he finally said something reasonable.

Mom, can I just watch *one* video? 

Okay, one video. Like any addict, he needed to ease off, not quit cold turkey. I get it.

Immediately after the video ended, he turned off the iPad with little more than a gentle reminder. He joined me at the breakfast table. Soon after, his younger brothers woke and joined us too. The whole morning was joyful. We laughed more. The older boys resolved their conflicts creatively and on their own. The squeals were happy ones, not resistant whines.

Mid-meal, the older two cooperated to form a “bench” out of three of our kitchen chairs, leaving a spot for me in the middle. After doling out waffles and changing the baby’s diaper, I climbed in between them. As the 3yo rest his head on my shoulder, my oldest told us a story. It was the story of this morning. I smiled and said I thought we were having such a good time because we weren’t watching videos and instead, we were spending time with each other. “We should do this every day!” came my son’s earnest response. We high-fived on it.

Throughout the morning, I was able to think more clearly about how and when to react without the constant buzz of Peppa Pig in the background. Instead of fighting over whose turn it was, my oldest prepared the iPad with my middle’s favorite video as his “one” for the morning. He didn’t protest once when I helped him get dressed, even saying “thank you, Mom” as I pulled the pant leg over his foot !

It’s easy to find excuses, scapegoats for negative behavior–a more aggressive new kid in his class, the fact that we’re moving in a few months and he feels the stress and sadness of that…

But I also had to look within. Face some tough conclusions. Make a change.

We’re not getting rid of the iPad for good. Please, I’m no purist. Nor am I a perfect parent. Nor do I think perfect parenting means no screens. And I recognize the value, in moderation, of some harmless programs, like Daniel Tiger or Sid the Science Kid, or “educational” games like Snail Bob or Build a Train, especially during the times I *really* need that extra pair of hands–even if they do come attached to a silly pig with a delightful British accent.

Then again, it’s only Day 1. Hold me to this, people!!

This Is Community

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I am fortunate to have friends I would do anything for. Anything? Yep. Anything.

So when two of them announced they were having a baby naming for their newborn daughter at 7:45 a.m. on a Monday morning–a morning (much like every other morning) when I have all three kids on my own and at 7:45, I’m usually still pajama-clad, trying to pour myself coffee without missing the cup while simultaneously tossing waffles at my kids and filling their requests for water and just wishing, wishing, wishing I could clone myself…or at least my right arm…

7:45 on a Monday morning? I’ll be there.

The naming was held in a small room at a local city synagogue. I walked in alone. As I entered the doorway, my eyes adjusting to the indoor light, I spotted a friend and plopped down next to her. And then I had a moment to survey the cozy crowd. Dotting the pews were familiar faces of friends I’ve known since I was an awkward bangs, glasses, and braces-clad tween, clueless and curious, a work-in-progress for sure. They loved me then. And I love them for it now.

The friend next to me? Danced at my wedding two weeks before giving birth to her first child. Her husband sitting on her other side? Gave me the confidence to swim across the lake at our overnight camp in the summer of 1992–the prerequisite for participating in the cherished canoe trip. In fact, he (a counselor then) swam it right along with me, encouraging me the entire way. Behind us sits my friend’s older sister with her four beautiful children. Somewhere, I still have a note she wrote me over 20 years ago. Two rows away sit my former bunkmates. We used to dance around singing Come Sail Away at the top of our lungs as we cleaned our cabin after breakfast, and fell asleep listening to Enya every night, after whispering our deepest secrets into the darkness.

Over the years, when life put distance between us, we spent long hours talking on the phone, and then long hours on AOL Instant Messenger, and then wrote each other long e-mails during college. We shared spring breaks and sleeping bags, clothing and confidences, kisses and cries.

We’ve loved and lost and lived together.

One among our group of friends grew up in a modest apartment building in Brooklyn. When I would visit him there during high school, I always thought, this is how I want to raise my kids. In a building where children, food, and friends flow freely among the apartments, where the neighbors all know one another and look after each other’s kids as if they were their own. I wanted to raise my children in a community of loving friends.

This morning, as I held my dear friend’s newborn baby girl, I thought–this is our apartment building. These are our children. We’ve done it. Sure, things may look a little different–we may text each other to make plans to meet at the playground instead of shouting down the hall; we may buy our own butter; we may hire babysitters instead of dropping the kids off at each other’s homes.

But we’re there for each other in the same way. In the way we’ve always been. And in the way I know we always will be.

7:45 on a Monday morning?

Anytime, anywhere?

I’ll be there.

Finding Loveliness in the Endless Snow

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My inclination upon waking up to yet another snowfall yesterday was to shoot off some grouchy tweet about how much it sucks. (I even almost resorted to a snarky pun like “Snow way I’m doing this again.” I’m telling you–I was in a bad place.)

So trust me when I say I’m with you on this whole too-much-winter thing. The gloves, the hats (yeah, neither of those actually happen around here), the jacket-fights, the slippery walk to the snow-covered car…I’m over it. And I could’ve shouted, or at least tweeted, it to the masses.

But I resisted. Instead, I spent the day committed to finding the good in all this.

Like how my next-door neighbor routinely clears my front walk before I can even get to it–because he knows I’m stuck inside with three little ones and can’t fathom how to incorporate shoveling into our morning.

How the snowplow driver making his way down our street stops and dismounts to help me dislodge my minivan from the snow heap on which it’s now perched.

Watching the joy on my boys’ faces as they create “train tracks” in the freshly fallen snow.

How sweet my kids look in their boots.

How my three-year-old loves to hold my hand as we walk, so he doesn’t slip on the ice.

How chitchat with the store clerk over the weather becomes more than just small talk and mimics actual bonding.

How drivers are (often) more likely to wave a waiting pedestrian along, allowing them their (due) right of way.

How glorious our return to the local playgrounds will be! Like a warm reunion with a dear, old friend. I’m grateful my kids are learning, by contrast, to appreciate the beauty of a sun-filled afternoon. In the meantime, they cultivate patience, compromise, and creativity to carry them through these long winter months.

How everything inevitably s-l-o-w-s down–because you’re forced to suspend plans, embrace a snow day, or simply move through your hours more cautiously, more deliberately. The typical Tuesday rush slows to a crawl. We give our kids seconds at breakfast and pour another cup of coffee. We controlling, self-important, overly-busy humans are rendered powerless, submitting to the natural reality of our surroundings.

It’s hard to see the good. Really hard sometimes. But if you let it, cold weather can bring with it the reminder that we’re all in this together.

Perhaps the best part about the snow? It’s melting now.

Stay warm out there…

Valentine’s Day, Reimagined

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I admit it. I’m a Valentine’s Day Scrooge.

I’ve long considered it a manufactured “Hallmark holiday.”

As early as middle school, it was an opportunity to blatantly broadcast your puppy love when you’d open your locker only to find a gaudy trinket or (if you’re lucky) a mix tape replete with Billy Joel and Richard Marx ballads.

Even when I was in a relationship, I found it to be an affront to single people–and a patronizing invasion into how and when we couples chose to express our love.

Now, as with everything post-parent, I see things differently. I see it through the eyes of my sweet children.

And teaching them about love? Now there’s definitely something to that.

We’re not one of those families that says “I love you” at every parting. We probably don’t talk about love much at all—at least not explicitly. So when my preschooler presents me with a V-day card he made in school declaring his love for me, his father, and his brothers, I can’t help but turn to mush.

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When guns and violence somehow seep into even Superbowl commercials, it’s a welcome change to have rom-coms flood the airwaves and hearts grace every storefront.

We need not fixate only on romantic love. This Valentine’s Day, I’m going to focus on mother-love, brother-love, on spreading love of mankind…of our fellow neighbor…of the everyday, common things that bring a smile to our face.

In that spirit, here are just a few of the things I love these days:

  • the way my four-year-old will snuggle with me when he first wakes up in the morning (but only then);
  • when my three-year-old brushes his shaggy hair out of his eyes with his little palm after I pull a shirt down over his head;
  • how my baby boy nestles into the curve of my neck;
  • curling up on a cold night under this one quilt Husband and I bought at a Cracker Barrel years ago on a pre-kid road trip down South;
  • the way Twitter is making the world smaller…one tweet at a time;
  • the song Some Nights by the indie rock band Fun. (Playing it on repeat these days, people. I’m hooked.);
  • my afternoon coffee, perfectly complemented by chocolate chip Dunkers cookies from Trader Joe’s;
  • the incredible community of mother-writers out there I’ve only just begun to appreciate;
  • scarves;
  • my four-year-old’s insightful (yet challenging) questions (like—How does your body grow? or Who was the first person who ever lived on this earth?);
  • “guys”—as in the way my three-year-old says “hey guys” to get our attention;
  • watching The Bachelor (though I’m not much of a JP fan), glass of sweet red wine in hand;
  • hearing my four-year-old confidently assure me that he won’t slip on the everywhere ice—because he’s Superman (and he really believes it);
  • the cozy feeling of being at home, my boys asleep, and the snow falling silently outside.

(I’ll tell you one thing, though—I’m still hating on the burdensome classmate V-day card exchange tradition. We’ve done the creative, hand-written, personalized cards for each student in the past. This year, I just don’t have it in me. And you know what? I don’t want the tens of cards from all my kids’ classmates to come cluttering up my house, either. Especially when I’m trying to purge.)

What are you loving this Valentine’s Day? Whatever it is…I hope you’re out there…spreading the love.

Plane Friends

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I’ve traveled a bit recently. I often make “plane friends” en route. You know—in-flight companions you bare your soul to and then never see again?

But maybe you don’t know. I’ve mentioned this phenomenon to more than a few people lately only to be met with blank stares.

Here’s how it tends to go down.

You settle in next to each other in your assigned seats. Steal a quick glance. Take in what they’re reading. Make a couple snap judgments.

You instinctively want to keep to yourself. Read your book in peace. Not engage. That tends to be our default, after all. How often do we really let people in? Take the time to make anything more than small talk? We’re usually so talked out from the rest of our lives on the ground that we view travel as a brief respite, a way to relax or escape, which usually involves…silence.

So you start off that way. Shortly after takeoff, you nap together. In a state of semi-consciousness, you try not to “head bob” into their personal space.

You come to in time for the complimentary beverage service, when the flight attendant inevitably knocks your knee as she passes. Something about your beverage choice incites a quick exchange with your neighbor. It’s the first time you get a good look at their face. You’re torn between wanting to bury your head back in your book and not seeming impolite.

What’s bringing you to Cincinnati?

You give yourself over to it. Soon you’re deep in conversation about your families, hometowns, professional goals, travel histories. You realize you have more in common than just your destination. Plane friends always do fascinating, glamorous things. Like design movie posters or perform at NBA halftime shows. You feel like you’re in the presence of greatness. It dawns on you that everyone has a story to tell.

You’re sitting much closer to each other than is customary. You’re stuck. But somehow you no longer mind. You share the stale airplane air–and each other’s confidences. Up here, conversation seems safer, freer–as if the rules that typically govern social interaction are suspended when above the clouds.

You touch down. You deplane, walking in tandem. No longer strangers, but not quite friends. You say you hope your paths will cross again sometime. You know they probably won’t.

Have you ever made a plane friend?

God and C-Sections

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“Did my birth experience make me feel closer to God? Maybe not. But I was overjoyed to deliver my son into a world where humans can do this for each other.”

You can read more about how having a C-section gave me faith in man in my latest on Kveller here.

I’d love to hear how childbirth, an encounter with medicine, or any other life event shaped your beliefs, how you feel about God, or your relationship with your fellow man.

Daysaver: Sorel Joan of Arctic boots

It’s 5 degrees outside. I’m walking in to work (my office never closes). I can’t feel my knees. I’ve temporarily lost hearing in my left ear. I’m walking backwards in sync with the guy next to me so our backs are to the wind. We’re making small talk to distract ourselves from the bitter cold whipping at our bodies–and because survival and adventure bring people closer together.

My feet? Warm and dry. These guys were put to the test today. And they passed with flying colors.

Stay safe and warm out there!

The Closet-Purging Post

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I recently purged my closet. It felt really good. At first, it may seem like something potentially superficial and relatively inconsequential. But it wasn’t. And here’s why.

Shedding things you don’t need, or don’t like, is cathartic. Liberating. You feel lighter in every sense. And clearing space—both literally and figuratively—will allow you to have more room for what really matters.

Only owning things that make you feel good, or serve a clear purpose, infects the way you approach everything in your life– the way you talk to your kids, deal with a co-worker, interact with strangers…if you’re distracted by the discomfort of pants cinching your midsection, or you spent 30 minutes trying to find a shirt you thought you had, but can’t find, you start your day frustrated and irritable. You’re not your best self. But if you feel good in your own skin, you will reflect that wherever you go.

Now, I’m a hoarder. Not diagnosably so, but I definitely hold on to things well after I should—out of nostalgia more than anything else. I have college term papers, rocks from meaningful places I’ve traveled, hospital bracelets from when my sons were born, and (literally) every note ever passed to me during high school French class.

So trust me when I say I know well how hard it is to let something go.

But after reading up a bit on others’ closet-purging experiences, and realizing I really do only wear a small fraction of what’s in my closet, I was inspired and decided it was time—actually, long past time—to finally get rid of the piles of clothing that may have fit me, and my life, 15 years ago, but not today. I became determined to look forward instead of feeling weighed down by my past.

Ok, so you’re on board. Now what should you do next?

Here’s my advice—take it or leave it:

1. Find a time when you can actually try on each article of clothing in your closet (or dresser, or wherever).

2. Look in the mirror.

3. Ask yourself:  does it make me feel good? Am I happy wearing it? Have I worn it recently? Will I, in fact, wear it in the future? If it’s too tight, too loose, too worn, not your color, no longer your style, lacks a clear purpose in your current life—if it makes you wish your body were any way other than it actually is–it goes.

4. Make a snap decision and move on. Don’t linger or obsess.

5. Organize what you’ve chosen to keep and put it back neatly so everything is visible and accessible, and arranged in a way that’s logical for your life. For example, I have my “work” clothes (i.e. business/business casual items) on one shelf/section of my closet, while my weekend/time-with-the-kids clothing is elsewhere.

6. Donate the rejected items to your favorite charity or organization. Some make it incredibly easy—like Career Wardrobe or Purple Heart. Of course, it feels good to know you’re helping others while lightening your load. You could also consign clothing that’s in reasonably good condition if you want to try to earn a few extra bucks. Just read those consignment contracts and policies carefully to make sure you’re comfortable with the terms.

A few more words of encouragement—especially when you hit a wall:

  • Don’t get discouraged. Trying on clothes that used to fit you before you had kids, or when you were 20 pounds lighter, or were in high school may get you down. To be honest, it didn’t hit home just how much my body had changed until I tried on some of those old tank tops. But think about how far you’ve come since you were that younger version of yourself. Even if those were great times, would you really want to go back? You need things that will work for you in your life now. It’s healthy, natural, and wonderful that you’re different than you were 10 years ago.
  • If something doesn’t look right, or make you feel good, just move on. Let it go. Not every piece of clothing works on every body. You don’t need it, and you certainly don’t need the way it’s making you feel. (As Clinton Kelly of What Not To Wear has said, “If it doesn’t make you feel fabulous; if it doesn’t make you feel beautiful, get rid of it.” Did I just lose credibility? Everyone has their guilty-pleasure shows! Trust me, there’s some value in that one…)
  • You need much less than you think you do. I can’t tell you how good it feels to live with less. And honestly, I could still get rid of more. The trick is to try to own fewer things of higher quality. Madewell has been key to reducing the number of suck-in-my-stomach shirts in my wardrobe that just sit on the shelf, collecting dust. (I know you know what I’m talking about.) Their clothes make you look good—and more importantly, feel good. Which, for a mom who’s been pregnant 3 times in 4 years, is no small feat. Their cuts are somehow just flattering. Now their stuff is not cheap. But it’s not outrageously expensive either. Plus, they have great sales. And remember, you don’t need a lot. Just a few “go-to” items in each category (e.g. short-sleeves, long-sleeves, pants, skirts) that you love and you’re set. (Be bold. Include accessories, handbags, and shoes in your purge. You can do it. And you’ll be glad you did. I promise.)
  • Listen to music. For me, this was key. It made the whole process more fun. Certain songs were just made for blasting during projects like this. Some of my favorites:  Small Town by John Mellencamp, Invisible Touch by Genesis, 1234 by Plain White T’s, Hotel Song by Regina Spektor, Let Her Go by Passenger, and Read My Mind by The Killers.

Still not convinced? Here are some final plugs for why you, too, should purge away…

You save time because you won’t have to wade through stacks of clothes that don’t fit to find the few things that do. (And for a mom of three little dudes, at least one of whom always wakes up before 6am, and well before I’m ready for the day, this is a huge benefit.)

You save money because you know what you have and what you need. And how little you actually wear. And once you’ve cleared that space, trust me, you won’t want to fill it right back up with more purchases. Initially, you may have to plug some gaps in your wardrobe. But then you should be able to resist temptation. And promise me—if/when you do go shopping, you won’t buy something if you don’t love it.

You save energy because you’re not trying on thing after thing, getting exasperated about how “nothing works” or looks good on you. (Which consumes mental energy, too.) Don’t underestimate the draining effect this can have at the outset of your day.

I’ll always remember a dinner my husband and I had just before we left for our belated honeymoon to Tuscany. We were hosted by an Italian doctor my husband trained with to get some tips. “Pack light,” he advised, “in travel and in life.”

We didn’t. We still don’t. I’d like to start to try.

Ok, now you’ve tackled your closet. What’s next?

I would love to hear about your closet-purging experiences. What worked? What didn’t? How did you feel afterwards?