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Having a Client Experience

My sister visited recently. She lives in Sacramento and wanted to escape their lovely springtime for a few days of sleet and cold in Minnesota. (Not sure why she came in March, but she is always welcome!)

She likes to be busy and if nothing is happening she will just start doing something – which was great! For example, as we demoed part of our basement she decided to check the Christmas tree lights and pull any broken ones for recycling. I would have done that next December, but nice to know it is finished!

I asked if she would go through my clothes with me. Like most people I have things that fall into a few categories –

  • Items that cost a bit but I don’t wear yet can't get rid of because I would be 'wasting' the value

  • Relatively new clothes with worn out fabric that I can't get rid of because I feel should last longer

  • Things I love but will not fit into again

While my husband is happy to give me his opinion, I often think he is just being nice versus judgmental. If he says “You don’t wear it, let it go.” I feel guilty and imagine him saying “You spent $80 on that and have worn it twice and you want to get rid of it?!” But my sister comes with a different approach – or at least in my mind she does. Because she doesn't share our household, the laundry responsibilities, or our budget, I actually listen when she says “You don’t wear it, let it go.” She doesn't care what I spent on something or how long I have had it, she just sees the goal of getting my wardrobe sized appropriately for my tiny closet.

In addition to giving me permission to let go of things, her outside perspective pointed out things I hadn't thought of. For example, because I am always seeking clothes that I can move freely in I tend to steer away from things that are not strictly utilitarian. While practical, my Eddie Bauer crew neck T-shirts are not dressy or very feminine. My sister started pairing scarves with them which, while simple, adds a lot of options! Because these are my clothes that I live with every day - I lack a fresh pair of eyes with which to see them.

Unfortunately, I am not the same size that I was 5 years ago. My sister and I created an optimistic bin for things that I might fit in some day if I stick to a healthy diet and exercise regime. Other things, some really cute items that I love but realistically will not fit into again, went with her back to California for my nieces. It is easier to let go of special things when there is someone you care about to give them to.

Spending time in a client's shoes was fun. I laughed at myself as I made the same rationalizations for keeping something that I hear from clients. I would like to say that it renewed my empathy for how difficult this process can be, but really, I already know that it is a challenge. If it was easy, I wouldn't have waited until she came to help. I also know that the level of difficulty is different for everyone. We all arrived to where we are in life through a unique complex series of events - there is no space to judge anyone, but there is always room for helping people live the way they want.

This is an image of items I took out of my closet and donated to a local charity. Thanks big sis! I look forward to helping others get their closet to the right size for them!

(The photo above shows my dog Rufus. He did not really have anything to do with my closet, but I thought this photo of my car with bags in it just is not very interesting. Rufus is a handsome, good dog!)

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