21 March 2014

40 Bags In 40 Days Update: Up, Up And Away

The 40 Bags In 40 Days project, is well under way. You can read all about the details here. The premise of the movement, started by Ann Marie of White House Black Shutters blog, is that during the season of lent participants get rid of one bag of stuff (garbage, recyclables, stuff you don't need, use, want) every day for the 40 days. So that's 40 Bags In 40 Days.

There is a closed group for participants on Facebook that has swelled to almost 22,000 members. That's a lot of people dejunkifying their lives. I love it! The conversations and support that I've seen on that site are amazing. There is so much back up for people who want to take immense steps in their life to quit hoarding and hiding behind piles of stuff and start living again. There is a wide range of participants, some who are quite tidy and just like to clean and get rid of stuff regularly and others who have been buried under stuff in their homes for years. Sharing stories there has helped a lot of group members take greater courage to make changes and take daily steps to improve their lives. It's pretty impressive.

As for me, I don't think I've kept up a bag a day up to this point but over all I'm up to speed. I have about eight grocery bags full of stuff to deliver to the thrift store and have gotten rid of quite a lot of stuff considering what a small place we have. I go through my stuff every year and am still so surprised that I can find things I'm not using or areas that I haven't even realized needed thinning out.

This week I went through my clothes closet and my big bookshelf. I came away with four bags of books to donate and a few bags of clothes and shoes too. I got rid of most of my old travel guides, they're outdated now and I dumped a lot of old business management books too. I am also giving away my paperback dictionary and thesaurus. I have a cell phone and the internet for that. I can't come up with a plausible scenario where I would need either one desperately enough that if the internet weren't available it would be a problem.

I also threw away some shoes that were impossible to fix. My closet has been pretty streamlined for quite a while so it's almost a little too slim right now and I need to invest in some things I really like. Getting rid of stuff that is worn or doesn't fit well makes life a little sweeter.

It's amazing how I continue to find ways to reorganize this place. Wednesday night I compacted down three small boxes in my bathroom into one, got rid of aging, unused products, medicines and supplements. That day I whipped through the big bookcase which took quite a while. I have held onto a few magazines that hold their age pretty well: Real Simple, O The Oprah Magazine and some fun home decor magazines. I have been recirculating them by grabbing one or two when I am heading out of the house. When I have some spare time waiting for appointments, riding in the car or waiting to meet people I enjoy one of my "new to me again" magazines. If I enjoy it I might return it to my small stash and if I feel like it's time for it to go I recycle or donate it when I'm done.

It's been fun to have "fresh again" things to look at and some great articles to reread. It makes me happy not to be getting tons of magazine subscriptions and this has kept me entertained for quite a while with the small supply of magazines I have on hand.  --At this moment I'm looking around my room realizing I have more than I think I do -- hmmm. Okay I'm sizing up my stash realistically it's probably about three file-folder boxes total - not that many and they are stacked neatly in the bottom of the large bookcase and in file boxes in the bedroom, nothing overwhelming. But it might be just the right amount for me not to get too bored and I'm thinning them out all the time.

After I finished up the bookcase, I emptied a basket of the family's magazines. Those went out the door that afternoon to a better home. I also cleaned out the second small square storage ottoman that was used as a toy box. We emptied the other one last week and sorted through all the toys and moved anything we kept to a cupboard in The Bug's room. Hooray, out of the living room. Turns out there was very little of anything of real value in the second ottoman. Lots of paper junk that could be thrown away and small trinkets that could be donated. Most of the toys had been removed to other locations already. I put small fleece blankets that gather in the living room into the two storage cubes and ended up with two empty baskets that had held magazines and the blankets. Now they are stacked together with a few magazines and a big quilt that frequently gets used on the couch in the top one.

Then I tidied up the rest of the room and maybe because it's Spring I wanted to streamline the decor. It's not too cluttered in there on the continuum of home decorating busy-ness but I wanted it to feel even more spacious and simple. So I started by removing a couple of things from the mantle, and went around the room and streamlined all the decor items on the flat surfaces. I arranged two large and two small potted plants on the sides of the fireplace and that really pulled the room together with the very simple mantle decor. It turned the fireplace from wintry and dark to bright, green and Spring-like.

When The Man and The Bug got home Wednesday night they couldn't quite figure out what I'd done that was different. The Man asked if I'd cleaned the carpets. The Bug said she didn't know what I did but she sure liked it. Everyone enjoyed being in the brighter, cheerier, more open living room last night and The Man and The Bug were inspired to do some reorganizing of their own. Things were looking pretty great by the end of the evening.

It's been a great opportunity to gather with this group on FB to accomplish the joyous task of simplifying and downsizing. I'm amazed at the life-changing effect it is having on some of the people in the group. Some have found new courage. Some have found large sums of money. Others have found things they thought were hopelessly gone. Some healed old wounds and let go of emotional baggage. Others have learned they are not alone. Beautiful to have such a movement of positive energy, healing and simplifying of life. If you're interested in joining in the 40 Bags In 40 Days project it's not too late. Still plenty of time to get 40 bags out of the house before Easter.

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