Donating Memories: Clothing can bring beauty

Five years ago, I retired on disability from teaching. It was a difficult decision but ultimately the right one. As an educator, I had accumulated a closet full of professional clothes over about ten years.

I initially kept them all just in case I would need to wear nice slacks and a blouse someday. Leaving my career was a major change, and I wasn't ready to completely shed that identity.

However, one day I finally realized that I wasn't ever going to wear these clothes again, and that was okay.

I knew I wanted to donate them, but as with most "someday" projects, I put it off, thinking, I don't have time today.

Then a few weeks ago I saw a flyer for an executive clothing drive. It was sponsored by the local university's Career Services and Sigma Nu chapter in partnership with Bozeman Business and Professional Women.

If I had been waiting for a sign, this was it.

I arranged a Saturday afternoon time with my mom to help me clear out the closet. She would pull an item out on its hanger and ask, "Donate or keep?"

Donate. Donate. Donate. It felt good to release these clothes from my care and even better knowing they might help a graduating student launch her own career. 

However, several items brought back bittersweet memories.

- A pair of white denim pants reminded me of my final day of teaching sixth grade in Idaho Falls, my first classroom.

- A blue and black pencil-skirted dress made me smile like I did when I wore it on Picture Day in my last year of teaching.

- And half dozen pants in black, brown, gray, and pinstripe recalled the giddiness I'd felt when I found they fit perfectly and had bought a pair in every color.

These memories were beautiful, and I had been keeping the clothes hanging in my closet as mementos. But I discovered I only needed to tell their stories - my story - to keep the experiences in my heart.

I decided to let the next owner find her own beauty while wearing these clothes, and I gladly sent them out my door.

What burdens are you ready to release?

How might you donate beauty?


Some Doorways from last week:

  • This weekend we went camping and riding with our side-by-side in the Tobacco Root Range. We were able to follow a trail to the top of South Baldy Mountain, just over 10,000 feet above sea level! It made me appreciate the magnificent size and scope of our world and my tiny part in it.
  • Shawn and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary last week. That night, he was getting ready to go camping the next day, so he didn't have time to bring me the white rose that was written into our vows. Rather than get upset, I chose love. I told him I understood and offered to go pick up flowers the next day. Divine Grace had guided me to forgiveness.


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