Soon, I was in the 40/40 flow!

Spring cleaning on fast forward.

Post title: About this writer

I’ve been making a living as a writer for many years, writing about everything from cell-phone chips to city-council meetings to people and their ideas. So, here are the thoughts that enter through my eyeballs and ears and nose and rattle around in my brain for awhile before making their exit.

Post title: Spring Cleaning on Fast Forward

Post Date: April 13, 2014

Some nut job with nothing better to do dreamed up a new challenge for those of us who had enough to do already, thank you very much.

Her challenge: get rid of 40 bags of stuff in 40 days. Since her idea appeared around March 5, the 40-day time frame probably corresponded to Lent this year (Easter is on April 20). Giving up something. And what better time than Spring? Renewal, rebirth. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate that.

But to undertake the 40/40 Project, you do have to be zealous to some extent. Just like a missionary knocking on every door to find converts. Closet doors, cupboard doors, cabinet doors, garage doors — where the lapsed possessions lurk. They don’t need to be saved since they already are, but they yearn for salvation: new life in a new location, Salvation Army filled with Good Will.

Since I’m on a path to create a simpler life, I decided this 40/40 Project was perfect for me. If I grabbed a few bags and opened a door a week and a drawer or file box a day, I could do it!

Letting things go is not easy. It requires 20/20 vision — the ability to see ourselves and our lives clearly and to make decisions quickly. Will we ever wear the pin-striped power suit again? The purple dress? The turquoise pants with black blotches that seemed fine at one time?

Will we ever throw that Christmas party we’ve been planning for 20 years? All those silky green and red lanterns. Napkins, glassware, recipes. The invitation I hand-lettered after I took a calligraphy class.

Will we write the mystery novel we filed away? Will we need the papers we slaved over in high school and college on the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, Shakespearean character development, politics in Germany between world wars? Will we re-read the once-timely articles we saved, the issue of Time magazine dated September 11, 2001? Some decisions are easier than others. There’s no longer any need to save what we can find on our computers or the internet.

Some items with sentimental value are difficult or impossible to discard. My grandmother’s Scottish cookbook and recipe cards, even though they are falling apart. A few pieces of my mother’s china and silver. My collection of old letters from relatives long dead, husband long-ago divorced, boyfriends, other friends. I used to fantasize about sitting in a rocking chair on a front porch in old age and reading them all with good memories. But the closer I get to rocking-chair age, the less appealing it sounds. I’d rather read something current and be in the now and carry my memories inside.

Soon, I was in the 40/40 flow! I filled little bags, big bags, counted an old suitcase as a “bag,” added items here and there to my trash bags. I hung on to a few family items and will gradually hand them over to my sons and daughter-in-law. My file folders are lean and functional, containing only what I’m working on now and a few ideas. My clothes have room to breathe. I feel more ready to make my next move to a smaller home.

Truthfully, it’s 40 bags in 50 to 60 days for me, since I took a vacation and some days have said “Screw It.” But as the inventor of this project said, it’s the spirit that matters and I’m sorry I called her a nut job.

[Post edited for length]

Title: head wind journal | Address: headwindjournal.com

Author: Linda Hutchison | From: La Jolla | Blogging since: January 2013

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