Inspiration · Life Changes · Month 1

Month 1: Days 13-18

Day 13: On the chopping block today: Charlotte’s downstairs toy and book stash. I knew this would be a bit of a challenge since I had already purged quite a few of her toys before Christmas, knowing that she would get some pretty fabulous things from her doting family members. Just because I had already sifted through this area a month ago, though, doesn’t make it exempt. There is always something that can {and should} be let go.  I have an awesome storage system from Ikea that helps keep the downstairs toys organized and semi hidden from view. But the most important feature of the storage unit is that the spaces are limited. Hooray! Self imposed limits… I’m a genius.

Today’s totals: 15 children’s books, 1 puzzle, 6 toys = 22.

Day 14: Today was a really long, exhausting day for me at work. If you don’t know, I am a pediatric speech therapist and I work in an outpatient office of a children’s hospital here in Hampton Roads. Now, you may be thinking “How can someone who teaches kids how to say their ‘s’ sound be exhausted after a day”? That’s only the tip of the iceberg as far as the scope of practice goes for speech pathologists. My job encompasses so many more aspects of communication than saying sounds. In essence, speech therapist’s teach children {and adults} to communicate. We help give them a voice, a picture, a gesture so they can be heard. Autism, Down Syndrome, Fragile X, cleft palate, stuttering, hearing loss, brain injuries, stroke, and on … if it impacts communication they come see us.   My job has a lot of emotional ups and downs; maybe not as many as some other careers out there, but still plenty for me to stress over. I get to see miracles happen, hear first words spoken, watch learning take place; and yet in that same day I have to watch a parent struggle with coming to terms with their child’s disability and all that that means for their family and that the ‘future’ they had hoped for their kiddo starts to look a little different. And sometimes I am just mentally and physically exhausted after 8 hours of trying to empathize with and support parents while simultaneously planning and implementing goals that will  hopefully be successful in improving their child’s quality of life.  So today I came home and did nothing. and that’s ok.

Today’s totals: No physical possessions purged today, but I gave away 8 hours of love and therapy to children who needed me.

Day 15: I ventured into the kitchen this morning to unload the dishwasher and never really left. After I put the dishes away I started digging through each and every cabinet and drawer. There was a lot to dig through. The cooking spatula/spoon container, hidden cabinets above the fridge, the tupperware bin {it’s an abyss in there}, window benches with built in storage underneath, the china cabinet, the shelves above the washer and dryer… so many places to store things.

Today’s totals: 3 more tablecloths, 3 baking pans, 2 serving bowls, 3 spatulas, measuring cups, cookie cutters, 2 vases, 2 sippy cups, 1 to-go coffee mug, 6 ‘side dish’ bowls {you know, the little ones you would put fruit salad in…not sure the technical term for those} = 24ish

Day 16: I am half way through the first month of my own 7 experiment. I am beginning to think that I will not be able to make it through all of the rooms and piles in my house before the month is over, but this is my experiment so I can make it last longer if I want. I am re-visiting Jen’s book, specifically her chapter on possessions, for encouragement and focus. This is not simply a ‘spring cleaning’ task that is done annually. I am doing more than purging things I no longer like. I am purging things that, though I love them, I don’t need them. And it hurts. But I am making space for something much more important. This is a great summary of what I’m doing and why I’m doing it:

“If a fast doesn’t include any sacrifices, then it’s not a fast. The discomfort is where the magic happens. Life zips along, unchecked and automatic. We default to our lifestyle, enjoying our privileges tra la la, but a fast interrupts that rote trajectory. Jesus gets a fresh platform in the empty space where indulgence resided. It’s like jeans you wear every day without thinking, but take them off and walk outside, and you’ll become terribly aware of their absence. I bet you won’t be able to forget you are pantsless, so conspicuous will this omission feel. While that metaphor is in shaky theological territory, that is basically the result of a fast. It makes us hyper-aware, super-sensitive to the Spirit.” p. 161, 7

This may sound like a ‘duh’ moment, but I am feeling 50% lighter than I did on January 1. The crushing weight of my things is beginning to subside. Though the things are still in the garage, I haven’t even given a second thought to any of them, which is definitely different from any purge I have ever done before; places shirt in donate pile, walks past shirt 2 days later and decides to wear it that day, then keeps it.  I think I can attribute the success and magnitude of this purge to my mindset: what is mine is not mine, but God’s. It is easy to share and give away things are not yours to begin with.

Today’s purges were from random places around the house; there was no rhyme or reason, I just made impulse decisions as I went about my daily chores.

Today’s totals: 1 lamp, 1 laptop case, 4 more tote bags {I kid you not} = 6. So close, so I dug through another cabinet and decided I could do without 2 vases, bringing the total to = 8.

Day 17:  We are entering the baby purging zone. I say we because you are, of course, supervising me on this journey and keeping me honest with my goals to “give ’til it hurts”. I have been putting off dealing with Charlotte’s clothing because 1) there are a lot of bins to go through… not a 30 minute ordeal, and 2) I.love.her.clothes.   I’m not kidding, I love them. Not only are they adorable, but each one has a memory attached to it; when she wore it, how old she was, how much sass she exuded while wearing it. It will be difficult to let them go, but there’s no way it can be avoided any longer and in the end…. it’s just clothing.

So out of the garage and attic I pulled 7 rubbermaid bins full of girl clothing.wpid-20140117_144254.jpg

You don’t have to keep it to yourself, we can say it together: RIDICULOUS! About half of Charlotte’s clothes were hand-me-downs from a generous friend, so those will be going back to her which makes it much easier since they were never mine to begin with. That is actually the frame of mind we need to use in regards to all our possessions; like I said before, nothing that is ours is ours, everything that we have is God’s.

Today’s totals: 2 large bags of baby girl clothing, size 0-9 months = well over 7 items {probably closer to 70 than 7}, and I haven’t even gotten to 9+ month things, oy.

Day 18: Today we are sick. All 3 of us. I don’t know if I can muster the energy to drag boxes in from the garage to continue sorting through Charlotte’s clothing. Blah.

Ok, I typed all that before I had coffee; we are still feeling like ick today but I managed to dig through Charlotte’s closet, dresser, and upstairs book stash thanks to a caffeine supply from my Keurig  {which I am considering getting rid of…………………..}. Charlotte kept herself occupied by picking things out of the donate pile and putting them in the keep pile and vise versa. very helpful.

Today’s totals: too many to really count but I’ll try. 2 baby slings, 2 infant snow suits, 3 decor items from when I was a baby that I had been saving… but when I truly thought about them I came to the conclusion that I would never hang them on the wall in her room {they definitely don’t go with her color scheme}, I don’t actually remember them, and they had been broken and repaired numerous times {unsafe!}… they had to go, 4 books, 20 cloth diaper inserts + 2 diapers {we’ll count those as 1}, 1 bag of clothing and shoes {we’ll count that as 1} = 13.

Are you purging too? Do it. and don’t let something stay in your house, in your life, simply because you have a space for it.

Remember: Few. Meaningful. Purposeful.

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4 thoughts on “Month 1: Days 13-18

  1. This is so interesting to watch. I have been reading each entry avidly. 🙂 I’m weird. I LOVE to purge. It makes me happy. 🙂 We do it constantly. I find so much liberty in getting things out of the house. I hate clutter so much and with 3 kids… OH MY WORD!!! You are making me want to get into the game, but I realize that I don’t have this urge for the RIGHT reasons. If I really had to consider my heart and give things away that I actually do love… hello designer handbags hanging in my closet… that would be very hard.

    See, I am realizing that I always FEEL so virtuous for getting rid of things, but it’s no virtue if I keep the things I love most AND keep adding to the stash. I keep thinking that if I love the feeling of minimalism I get from getting rid of crap, how much more freeing to actually sacrificially purge things out of my life. Freeing both practically but also spiritually. Food for thought.

    PS I have a friend who is also a pediatric speech therapist and her stories never cease to amaze me. What you guys put up with on a daily basis, and how you love your kids, is such an encouragement to me. xo

    1. That is EXACTLY how I have been feeling. This purge is so different from my others, and you said it perfectly – you feel virtuous when you give things away, but it’s no virtue to keep the things you love the most and continue adding to the stash… God has truly changed my mindset over the last few months and it is what has made the difference between this purge and the spring cleaning I do every year 🙂

  2. We have developed the habit of donating the things of our son’s we don’t want to keep to a crisis pregnancy center near us, that has a clothing locker for babies and expecting mothers. I wouldn’t get rid of everything quite yet. I would sort through and set aside outfits of sentimental value, and the things you may want to keep just in case you do decide to have another. Never say never, I ended up having another only a year or two after I gave the last of my baby things away.

    We keep a small chest of our son’s special things, the obvious newborn momentos, some favorite outfits, and some souvenirs from different places we have taken him since he’s been born. Those things I always plan to keep, and give to him when he is older.

    Come spring I will tackle the boxes of clothing in the basement, wash everything and sort it into keep or not keep piles. I will be keeping a good deal of the basics just in case we get another surprise. The rest will likely be going in a yard sale come spring, and what doesn’t sell will be donated.

    I just wanna be sure not to get rid of anything we may have wished we had kept later, so I’m paying careful attention to the things my son seems especially attached to. The random used toys people have given him that he never pays attention to can go, and he would never notice. I will however, never get rid of any of his toy owls, the one thing he seems to adore above all others. (I’ve already had to replace one of them.)

    I guess I am careful of these things, because as much as clutter stresses me out, I am also the child of a mother who mercilessly got rid of anything she thought you had grown too old for. Even my most cherished things were given away, or simply disappeared when I was gone at camp to be sold in yard sales. I aspire to be a lot more careful.

    1. I am definitely not purging all of the baby clothing and toys; I am keeping the basics because we know we want to adopt a child as well as continue to foster. I completely understand wanting to keep some things, I am sentimental as well and already have a keepsake box for some of my favorite things of Charlotte’s – I will leave it up to her to decide whether or not she wants to keep them when she is an adult 🙂

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