40 bags in 40 days

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This great article about purging 40 bags of crap for the 40 days of Lent was shared on Facebook by a friend, and I thought I would share it with you guys.  My hubby and I have definitely benefited from clearing our home of the crap that we never use, but we still have a lot left to get rid of.   I LOVE the idea of using Lent as a motivator. Instead of giving up a food (or in addition to), try giving up a bag of stuff you don’t need to someone who does, each day of Lent.

This is such a win/win/win proposition. You’ll have less garbage just taking up precious space in your home, your home becomes more peaceful because of it, you give the items to someone who will use and love them, and you can even claim the donations on your taxes if you want to.  Here’s some helpful hints from the article for letting go of the things you’re reluctant to purge (as usual, my comments are in blue):

On those days when you’re feeling craptastic and “Crap Clingy” ask yourself the following questions:

    1. Do I really, really love it?  This doesn’t mean, “Do I love the person who gave it to me?”  It means, “Do I use it regularly, or does it make me smile when I look at it?”  This is extremely personal.  Others may not understand why I still cling to a whole ton of books, but then I may not understand why they keep a ton of cheap souvenirs from every city they’ve ever visited.  Don’t feel guilty about keeping something that makes you smile, just because others don’t understand its worth to you.  But don’t feel guilty about getting rid of stuff you never use, either.
    2. Would I buy it again?  In other words, is it valuable enough to you that you would spend money to replace it if it was broken or lost?
    3. Have I used it in the past year?  With the exception of seasonal items, I’d dare say things should be used even more often than that in order to merit a place in our space.  But if this is hard for you, try getting rid of everything you haven’t used in two years, then wait a few months, and try to get rid of things you haven’t used in a year.  Remember, you’re keeping these items from being used and love by keeping them in your home for dustcatchers.
    4. Would it be hard to replace if I needed it again?  This is the hardest thing for a lot of people.  I don’t want to get rid of this because I might use it again someday.  Chances are if you haven’t used it in a year or two, you’re never going to need it.  It doesn’t matter if you think it’s a great/useful/ingenious item.  If you’re not using it, it can’t be the great/useful/ingenious item it was intended to be.  This is especially good to consider for small appliances and power tools.  It’s not amazing if it’s just gathering dust.
    5. If I were free from guilt, would I want it?  Meaning, just because it was great-aunt-whoever’s, or was given to you buy dear friend x, doesn’t mean you should be obligated to keep it if you never use it. Take a pic if you’d like, for the memories. Maybe even write a short bit in the caption about the person who gave it to you, and then give it away to someone who will appreciate it.

I know I’ve been pushing the “get rid of stuff” thing a lot, but it really does bring peace to your household.  It’s so much easier to take care of the things you really use and love if you’re not spending all your time and effort shuffling through and caring for the things you don’t love.

And if you’re not ready to commit to 40 bags yet, try just a little.  Every little bit helps, and once you get rid of the first few bags, maybe the added peace and sense of accomplishment will inspire you to do more.

BTW, the pic above was posted on Becoming Minimalist today, and I thought it went well with this article.

How about you guys? What do you find hardest about getting rid of stuff?

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Pope Francis: Church could support civil unions

Talk about counter-culture; he is so different from anything we’ve seen. I personally think that’s a good thing.

CNN Belief Blog

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) — Pope Francis reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s opposition to gay marriage on Wednesday, but suggested in a newspaper interview that it could support some types of civil unions.

The Pope reiterated the church’s longstanding teaching that “marriage is between a man and a woman.” However, he said, “We have to look at different cases and evaluate them in their variety.”

States, for instance, justify civil unions as a way to provide economic security to cohabitating couples, the Pope said in a wide-ranging interview published Wednesday in Corriere della Seraan Italian daily. State-sanctioned unions are thus driven by the need to ensure rights like access to health care, Francis added.

A number of Catholic bishops have supported civil unions for same-sex couples, including Pope Francis when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 2010, according to reports in National Catholic…

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Americans united…

This pretty much sums up my frustration with political division, fanaticism, and outrage in our country. Let’s stop being indignant with one another and look for common ground.

See, there's this thing called biology...

We are you know, very united, in spite of what the media and the DC political machine has tried to do to us. When you come right down to it, Americans have a core set of values that we all hold dear. We may disagree on how to solve problems, but we are SO united in what we believe.1511066_647877401914797_1485627215_n

Our politicians, our media moguls, our political parties, have tried to exploit our tribalistic  tendancies, to take advantage of our cognitive dissonance. What a government always fears is a united population because there is strength in numbers. Keep us all bickering among ourselves, viewing each other as the enemy and nobody will ever speak truth to power.

It’s maddening knowing this, seeing this, reading the studies that prove this…and yet being completely powerless to spread the word, to show people the truth. We’re all far too invested in our need for tribal identities, in the…

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The Quest for Enough

The idea of minimalism really resonates with me.  I’m not sure why I find it so appealing, except that I’ve never really been a big one for “stuff”, and it seems to generally cause more trouble than it’s worth.  But here’s the deal: it’s not the stuff itself that’s the problem.  It’s the attitude that the stuff is necessary for happiness.  That we have to own as much stuff as the next guy in order to prove that we’re as successful.  And sometimes we adopt the same attitude with other things in our lives as well.  I need to have not just the stuff, but the prestige, the house, the location, perfect body, the whatever.  And we even compare ourselves to others in completely abstract ways.  I need to be the most minimalist minimalist, the most eco-minded eco-warrior, the most successful, the most surviviest, whatever draws you.

Whatever things or accomplishments we want, we’re never going to be satisfied until we’ve got enough.  The problem comes in when we inappropriately define “enough”.  If it’s always more than what we have, we’ll never reach it.  While I’m not sure I want to pledge to not buy new clothes for a year, this post from Becoming Minimalist really points out our difficulties with contentment.

It might seem like I post on contentment a lot, and I guess I do.  Part of it may be because I struggle with it myself.  But part of it is because I think this is one of the biggest problems in western society.  We are never satisfied with what we have, because instead of seeing how much more we have than others, we look at those who have more than us.  This applies to belongings, homes, cars, spouses, just about everything.  Even primarily internal things (like wanting to be more minimalist) can become an issue if we allow ourselves to become discontent with the level that we’ve reached.

Now I’m not encouraging a sense of complacency, either.  We should be striving to improve ourselves where we can.  The problem occurs when we start beating ourselves up about what we haven’t yet achieved, instead of seeing how far we’ve come.  This can happen in any endeavor.  We can’t be proud of the 10 lbs we’ve lost, because we have another X lbs we want to lose.  We can’t be pleased with the progress, because we haven’t reached the goal.  This is why it’s recommended to break a large goal down into multiple smaller ones, that way we can celebrate the little accomplishments on the way to the big one.

But here’s the crux of the matter, and I know I keep harping on this, but I think it bears repeating (because I know I need to hear it continually):  We need to stop comparing ourselves to others.  I can’t be the best you; I can only be the best me.  You can’t be the best me; you can only be the best you.  It has taken me about 40 years to realize the truth of this, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to constantly remind myself.  I have to be happy with the baby steps that I’m capable of taking today, knowing that even if I’m not speeding towards my goal, at least I’m making progress in the right direction.

So today I want to encourage you.  Don’t look around; look at yourself.  Don’t agonize about how much farther you have to go until you’ve achieved success (no matter what the goal is); look into your own past and see how much progress you’ve made.  If you feel like you’re not heading in the direction of your goals, make the necessary course corrections.  Go back to school, take on an apprenticeship, ask for on-the-job training, join a gym, find a co-conspirator working toward the same goal, whatever will help you reach the goals you’ve set for yourself.  And celebrate the tiniest successes.  No matter how slow your progress seems, it’s still progress.  Keep on keepin’ on.