If you know me, you know that I love a challenge. There is something about setting some goals, and trying new behavior patterns for a time that I find invigorating and a doorway to spiritual growth.
In the past I have taken on the challenge of training for and running five different marathons and two duathlons. The training alone was challenging and, as one running friend told me, she likes to think of the actual races as the “victory laps.” My running days are over, I think, but I still love the feeling of coming home from a run (the actual running? Not so much.)
I’ve taken on lots of different dietary challenges through the years, too- multiple 21-day cleanses, juice protocols, a year of vegetarianism (2002), a year of No Alcohol (2020) and, most recently, a year of Veganism (2022).
Right now I am finishing up a version of “75 Hard,” a protocol that demands a strict adherence to a workout-dietary-study-wellness protocol for 75 days in a row. I’m on Day 69, today. (To be honest, I’ll be glad when, on Day 71 I can drop the “gallon of water a day” part of this challenge and resume a more natural 8 glasses per day regime! My bladder is fully flushed, I can assure you!)
In concert with my love of hiking and the out-of-doors, I’ve taken to having a 5-day solo hiking retreat on the Appalachian trail each year, and in 2022 I resolved to sleep outside at least one night per month (a few of those have been in my tent in the back woods but.. they still count! I loved my Jan 2022 camp out in the snow!)
All of this is to say that in the eleventh month of the year, I am already looking ahead to 2023 and setting my sights on the next challenge.
One of the ideas that I have is to respond to both a spiritual and practical nudge that I have been feeling for some time: I want to simplify. I’ve long been fascinated with tiny-house living. I don’t think that is exactly what I (we) need -we’ve joked that if we had TWO tiny houses, we might be able to make it work- but I am interested in cleaning out closets, shedding extra stuff that I’ve been toting around for decades and paring down to the essentials. You’ve probably heard of something called “Swedish Death Cleaning” https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Gentle-Art-of-Swedish-Death-Cleaning/Margareta-Magnusson/9781501173240 and everyone has heard of Marie Kondo’s de-cluttering method that got us talking to our clothes, thanking them for their service, rolling t-shirts up into tidy origami shapes, and evaluating items in our various collections depending on whether or not they “spark joy.”https://konmari.com
I’ve been carrying around a lot of stuff for years. Our girls’ prom dresses (our girls are in their 30s, now). Our son’s bottle collection from grade school. My father’s broken wooden paint box. More than 100 white dinner plates. A crystal cake plate with giant glass dome. Kitchen gadgets that lie, unused, in drawers and cabinets. A teapot collection. Salt dishes. Liqueur glasses. You get it.
If we are ever going to “get small” and “simplify” in our (eventual) retirement, then a year of sorting through, donating, and shedding might be in order. I think of the refugee families that might benefit from a few dozen dinner plates! The young folks who might be able to alter an early 2000s prom dress and get some use out of it. People who are in the process of setting up a household who would benefit from those “occasional” items that we drag out for entertaining: platters, dishes, table linen.
There are some things that I will not part with: my mother’s Tiffany pins from her engagement and wedding, my grandmother’s teapot entrusted to me by my mother, a family heirloom oil painting of Blackhead on Monhegan, my cast iron skillet, my tattered Book of Common Prayer and the bible that got me through seminary. A few things like that.
I’m starting with an easy project. A test-run for what is ahead in 2023’s year of simplifying: the great pocketbook giveaway.
On Saturday I cleaned out the guest room closet and shed 12 pocketbooks, all headed to their glory at Goodwill. I loved each of these bags, but I just don’t need them. I have a lovely new bag that will serve me well for many occasions, and I saved two evening bags (one black patent leather and another pink quilted one) for those nights at the opera or fancy weddings- all of which are too far and few between. I also saved my large brown leather “doctor’s bag” that I bought in Florence more than 20 years ago while traveling with my mom and sister. It’s a keeper. The rest can serve happily in someone else’s good hands.
So, for now, I’m a dozen pocketbooks lighter. Stay tuned for 2023!
One thought on “2023 test run”
Good for you Audrey! When we did a renovation I got rid of lots of stuff although I also acquired a lot when my mom passed away. Maybe you will inspire me.