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  • Writer's pictureJacqueline Loiacono

Cleaning Out My Closet

I wanted to transform my small walk in closet to have a workspace to call my own. I’m not the type of person motivated and creative at a kitchen counter or on the couch. When we moved I struggled with writing lesson plans and grading because I felt like I was misplaced and not comfortable enough to work at the pace I wanted to. I was struggling with anxiety and depression, as I did my whole life, but this time was a little different. After the year I had, a small haven to keep for myself was a necessity for my mental health. Planning a wedding, moving to a different state, trying to forgive myself and redirect the aggression and disappointment with my job was a burden I carried with me like a cross.

It seems as if our world is not moving forward the way it should be. Mental illness is still like a Scarlet Letter. It burns bright on those who live with it every day and creates a barrier between them and society. Society also could be the people of your inner circle of close friends, family and coworkers that don’t understand what you are going through. It seems people always try to comfort you with the words of “it could always be worse,” or ” look at what we’re all suffering with.” This was especially so during the time of COVID. I hated to get mad at the projections of others. It only added to my anxiety and anger. I promised myself that with this DIY project, I was starting anew. I was leaving my profession to begin a new one, to start a dream of mine that was being supported by my partner.

If it weren’t for my husband, I don’t know if I would’ve had the drive to even start the project since I was in such a dark place. I used to think that I was my own knight in shining armor and I was. I fought through many battles up to this point and manifested the perfect partner to compliment my soul’s dreams of creating a family, living a simple life and doing what I love. No amount of money should ever make anyone choose between their health and happiness or job security. I have plenty of people in my life that love me and support me but will say the complete opposite. “Do the safe thing, get the pension, use the benefits etc” but to my ears I hear “play the game to get money and be miserable, suffer until you get sick but you’ll get paid.” I choose not to do that anymore. Once I found my teammate in life I knew it would be ok. No matter what we did, what mistakes we made, every day would be a fresh start. We will always be ok if we trust in God, the Universe and most importantly, each other. My life is not meant to be lived by others, it is meant to be lived by me. The rest are all noise in the crowd.

When I started the office closet project, I felt the anxiety creeping up on me. I was about to be featured in an interview on why small businesses matter in an online newspaper from our new hometown. I was rushing to get it done because I wanted to be prepared and settled if I received any new clients. I had been in contact with clients from home in Queens and family referrals, but my new environment was a whole new world for me. I had searched endlessly through Pinterest for the perfect color, wallpaper, storage ideas and decor. But I remembered my own motto of using what you have organize and just purchase a few things to spice it up. I wanted to carry the dark green and gold theme from our bedroom into the closet space to make it flow but still having its own look and feel. I don’t know what it is about those colors but it reminds me of Emerald City from the Wizard of Oz. It’s such a source of comfort and peace when I enter my bedroom so I used the same Benjamin Moore paint color called “Salamander” and gold flowered peony wallpaper from Amazon to define the space. The peel and stick paper was only 28.99 for 28 square feet and we wound up needing two rolls with some pieces leftover to line my the exposed shelves of my bedroom dresser that was also another diy furniture piece.

My biggest tackle was to confront my habit of clothes hoarding and pull a Marie Kondo if it didn’t spark joy anymore. She teaches to acknowledge that the clothing served a purpose, thank it and to let it go. If only it were that easy to do with our past memories! I was able to put together five garbage bags full of clothes and shoes to donate. I couldn’t believe I actually did it. I felt lighter after doing so as if I cut my hair or lost weight. After all, it was an emotional weight that was let go. I also went through all our drawers and bedside tables and rearranged and let go of clothes in there as well.

I rehung our clothing on space saver hangers that allow five pieces on one hanger as well as a space saver for pants. We had them on our wedding registry from Amazon and they were only 12.99 for a ten pack. The pant Hangers also held five pairs and were a pack of five for only 19 dollars. Now that we had less clothing, the closet bar hung our new shoe space saver from wayfair. Holding 30 pairs of shoes hanging vertically, it was a godsend for storage and we got it for only $32.00. It allowed me to take away the huge baskets of shoes we had lining the floor making the space seem cluttered and small.

After a homegoods happy trip, I added some dark wood and industrial black decor pieces to match the dark hardwood floors. I had framed out my desk space with the green paint and wallpaper. I screwed in the hanging shelf organizer and the file holder as well as placed a rattan basket with a faux plant and a Himalayan salt lamp shaped like a crescent moon. I bought a black and gold clock as well as a retro gold fan since it is a little hot in there in the summer months even though there is a window. On the window I hung a tension rod and used the two beige sheer window panels I bought as well since I didn’t want to block any light in an already darkened closet space.

I also found beige, canvas storage boxes and put them inpside a diy shelving unit I made. Anyone can do

it! It was only a Home Depot cut piece of plywood on top of two wooden crates from Michaels that I stained with royal

Walnut from Minwax. Instead of building the wood corner shelf my husband originally started with, we decided to pull it out after I realized I didn’t want the storage to be stationary in case we wanted to change it up when we started a family and needed a place to store baby clothes/supplies. That’s why I love diy projects, because you can redesign, repurpose and reimagine your home in so many different ways for your ever changing life.

Our hatwall was hung with farmhouse hooks and my old faithful gold mirror has a new home. It always reminds me of Alice and Wonderland when she steps through the looking glass. The hat wall and gold mirror remind so much of a different era I would’ve love to grow up in. My husband loves his cowboy hats and fedora even though I laugh when he tries to pair them with basketball shorts. We bought new foldable cubes for clothes that can be rolled up from amazon and a hanging shoe space saver from Wayfair. It really doesn’t take too much to organize your possessions. It’s an undertaking that takes some time to think about, lay it all out and purge, and then put the rest in bins and organize those.

The sign I found above the dark

Wood amazon folding desk says “every day is a fresh start”. As of lately, I am truly beginning to believe it is. Even spray painting my old stapler, tape dispenser and picture frames gold made me happy. It’s so easy to transform old pieces into something new.

The gallery wall holds wedding pictures of us and our dog Arya, as well as my mother, brother, father and grandfather. My dad is a huge factor in my new venture. Although he passed away 3 years ago, I still remember so much of what he taught me (both directly and indirectly), my parents were divorced and he was a both a carpenter and self- employed owning his own closet company. He always wanted me to take the safe road, get the pension, save, save, save and never rely on anyone to support me (even though they “should” and be able to).

I don’t know if he would’ve been supportive of my business venture then, but I feel him around me when I work on my projects and I know in my heart that he approves now.

- Jacqueline xoxo

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