The Toss 50 Things Challenge

Posted by Dani on January 22, 2012

This was a challenging post to write. I have a hard time parting with things. It’s like I develop a relationship with them. Me and my things, we get along great. At least I used to think so.

I read something a week ago that has been messing with my head. Karen over at The Art of Doing Stuff posted a challenge – throw away 50 things, right now. I just discovered Karen’s blog recently, and have enjoyed reading her clever posts. This one was a little more annoying than clever, because I knew she probably had a point. Karen was passing on an idea promoted by motivational speaker Gail Blanke, who believes that when you throw away 50 things all kinds of great things happen. More energy, greater momentum, etc. etc. – 50 is kind of a magic number that changes your life.

Karen challenged her readers to throw out 50 things and post before and after pics. And she started the ball rolling by doing it herself. I thought about it – if I had to take pics, I couldn’t just gather 50 things from all over the house, which would have been pretty easy. This would have to be 50 things all from the same area. Tough one. 50 seemed like a lot.

Now I’ve always liked to keep my home fairly organized. And I’ve been pretty good about proudly filling a garbage bag or two every time I get a call from one of those charities that pick up used goods from your home, feeling good that I am “decluttering”. But it get’s harder to maintain control as your family grows. There are currently four people hauling things in the front door here – that’s a lot of stuff. And so the number of “black holes” around the house has been slowly growing, places where the stuff keeps accumulating until it gets out of control. Like the kitchen junk drawer, only much bigger.

I kept mulling over Karen’s challenge. I didn’t think I could toss 50 things from one place. What about the things I might need some day? Or things that are still perfectly good? But the idea kept nagging at me, and today I decided to take the plunge.

So I spent a perfectly good Saturday dealing with the mess in a storage unit in my bedroom instead of drinking coffee and reading the paper in front of a nice fire. I dealt with a lot of angst. And horror, actually, when I realized how much I had stuffed in there. All because of Karen. And she doesn’t even know me. Now that’s annoying!

Here goes. This is my storage unit. It is an Ikea Billy bookcase that I use to store clothes and shoes. It works perfectly in my tiny bedroom and really helps given the limited storage space I have. I am not really fond of the idea of publicly opening these doors!

Have a look at my mess:

I thought finding 50 things to toss from here would be a problem. Who was I kidding.

I started by making a few piles on the bed for dumping:
1. Things in different sizes that would fit again when I get myself down to that size that really I need to accept will never fit.
2. Things my girlfriend Cathy, being a good and stylish friend, would never let me wear.
3. My WTF? Seriously? What was I thinking? Seriously?!? pile.

I took this 50 things challenge to heart. And the piles on the bed grew. I found things I didn’t even remember I had. I found things I wish I could forget. And I found two missing pair of Lululemon pants. One of the low points came when my oldest looked at one of my “keep” piles and said “Great, it’s about time you dumped those, mom.” Awkward pause. And then I dumped them. Afterwards, my kids counted for me………..103! I felt kind of giddy.

Here is a pair of pants I actually loved once. Wow.

Here they are paired with a pair of red satin heels my girlfriends all bought from La Vie En Rose for a Valentine’s Day party one year. These brought my count to 105.

And here’s what I used to wear backpacking across India in my 20s. Seriously. These are staying, since the memories are just too good. And I still believe in a free Tibet. Plus my grandkids might get a kick out of these some day.

I folded the remaining things like they do at Banana Republic. That gave me lots of pleasure. And so here is the After Picture. Big difference. I kind of like opening the doors now. In fact I have already opened them about 50 times.

I’ve always considered myself a bit of a pack rat. But today, in the spirit of personal growth, I’m thinking that I might actually have to use the H word. Hoarder. Not HOARDER in capital letters but definitely maybe hoarder (spoken in a whispery voice). At least some hoarding tendencies. Now that was painful to write!

But this toss 50 things idea is pretty big. I had a lot of discomfort doing this. Especially in public. I think I’m going to give it a try in other areas of the house, and I will try to challenge myself to hit the number 50. In fact, I don’ t think I will ever be able to go back to feeling satisfied with just tossing a few things whenever I clean up. Karen and Gail, I hope you’re happy. I am!

3 Responses to “The Toss 50 Things Challenge”

  1. I am! I’m very, VERY happy! Good job. ~ karen!

    • Dani says:

      Thanks, Karen! I did have a moment of joy when i got to choose a shirt from those lovely piles this morning. Almost as good as getting coffee in bed. (But not quite!)

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