One thousand things. Between Thanksgiving 2014 and January 4, 2015, I will be giving away one thousand things. It’s not so much a resolution as it is a private revolution. I’m making room in my life for, well, life.
It began with one of those silly little First World Problems: I couldn’t fit my new yoga tunic into my sportswear drawer. To make room for my unnecessary but oh-so-fashionable find, I began to sort through my running gear. What should go? My black Turkey Trot cotton tee from 2010? The “It’s a Wonderful Run” long-sleeve tech shirt my friend Dottie picked up for me when bronchitis benched me in 2012? How about that “Muddy Sneakers Trail Run” jersey? I never actually ran that 20k and I’m not sure how I acquired the shirt, but it was one of the 16 — yes, 16 — shirts in that drawer.
I was suddenly slapped by a memory that stopped me cold. In 2008, I went on a mission trip to Telica, Nicaragua. Our team spent two weeks building homes for some of the poorest families in the village. (The average salary in that country is $1,790 PER YEAR.) Toward the end of our stay, a pair of teen girls stopped me in the street. Despite my failure to retain anything Senora Piccone taught us in 11th grade Spanish, I understood their heartfelt request: “Tenis?” They were begging for my running shoes, my stinky, ripped, mud-n-sweat stained Asics that I couldn’t wait to toss in the trash when I landed stateside. These girls needed shoes in order to attend school, and they were willing to relinquish their dignity in order to have a chance at an education. Of course, I gave them my shoes, but sadly, I forgot that lesson. Until the dresser incident.
Third-world problem, meet my overflowing swag drawer. I realized at that moment that I just had too much stuff. I didn’t dispute the fact that I needed decent workout clothes; it was the quantity that I questioned. And the irony that it was due to an abundance of YOGA gear couldn’t be ignored.
I began to cull the spandex herd. My base layer stuff was non-negotiable, given this lovely upstate New York climate and the fact that I can’t feel my toes from November to March. I decided that the only time I will need all seven sports bras is if I abruptly spout a six-pack of breasts, so I tossed out the gnarly ones. I kept a few favorite tech shirts, a couple long-sleeved jerseys and my favorite warmup jacket. The fluorescent green and pink shorts (evidently purchased during an endorphin high) didn’t make the cut, either. Bandanas, socks, sweat bands … everything was fair game.
I didn’t stop with the running swag, though. I kept going. I weeded that dresser like a pig hunting truffles. I moved to the closet and plucked out tired dresses, worn suits, pilled sweaters and the dreaded mom jeans. Before I sealed the goodwill boxes, I counted: 56 clothing items in less than two hours. That’s just scratching the surface. I can’t wait to get to the linen closet, garage and basement storage area during the Christmas break.
My initial anxiety about purging shifted into giddy excitement as I realized how liberating it is to free up space, both in my closet and in my head. Possessions can quickly possess us. We spend our time earning, collecting, storing, cleaning and protecting stuff. But it’s rarely the stuff that makes us happy. The Turkey Trot shirt? It’s ugly, but I kept it because it was my first run with my dear friend Kristin. Most of my stuff is wrapped in memories, but it’s the memories that make me rich.
I’ll keep track of my de-acquisitions. Counting old books, coffee mugs and other household paraphernalia, I have no doubt I’ll reach 1,000 things. I won’t count things that I’m throwing out, though. This is to be an intentional redistribution of my wealth. I’m sure I’ll be richer for it. Who’s with me? Drop me a line and let’s compare experiences.
Greece native Teresa Keyes lives and works in Bloomfield, NY. Find her on Facebook and at http://teresakeyes.wordpress.com/