I don’t know exactly how the idea came up.
Perhaps having all four kids at home for the holidays reminded me that our house is on track to empty nest status in the next two years.
Perhaps it was simply another way to procrastinate, after my procrastibaking (look it up, it’s a thing) had to be curbed if I wanted to still fit into any of my tennis skirts.
Or perhaps it was just another manifestation of what I’ve come to suspect is a case of midlife crisis.
Whatever the reason, sometime on January 1, 2019, I was overcome with the strong urge to purge (ha!). Having a gloriously unscheduled day ahead of me, I read the news the entire morning, descending ever deeper into the vast underbelly of the Apple News feed. This is where I came across an article by a woman who had made it her mission to not buy anything new for an entire year.
The concept appealed to me. It’s a great way to save, and it’s a contribution – if tiny – to a society less focused on consumption. As a bonus, it would also be a huge time saver, considering that I spend an average of half a day on research about any item I ever I order from Amazon!
But I was doubtful that I could pull off an entire year of no purchases. It’s one of those things I’d sooner or later have to explain to my family, and from past experience I have learned that they can be very judgmental about my failings in regards to such pledges. I am still getting grief from my son about the time I gave up chocolate and alcohol for Lent back in 2011 and relapsed just ONCE during a vacation before Lent had ended. Trust me, if you had sat on that gorgeous verandah of the Stanley & Livingstone Hotel in Victoria Falls in the shade of lemon trees watching elephants at the waterhole, you would have had that sundowner too. And I did add on another day to my time of Lent at the end, but nevertheless the taunting has been merciless.
Buying not a single piece of new clothing for a year, or a book for that matter, seemed like it was doomed to fail. However, that didn’t mean the idea of limiting my possessions had to be off the table. My plan, hatched in a split second that morning, was simpler: Every day of the new year I would purge something from my house. If I did buy something new, I’d have to first purge an item of similar size or value.
I was very excited to start right then and there, because in a flash of inspiration, I figured that I would update my blog readers about my mission, kind of like AJ Jacobs did in My Year of Living Biblically. And thus Project #Purge365 was born. If I have learned something about myself over the years, it is this: I am super competitive and love a good challenge, even if it is one against myself. If I was a teenager, I would have the mother of all Snapchat streaks. But thankfully I’m not a teenager. I get to do much more meaningful work. I get to unclutter my house and tell the world about it. I hope that you’ll find this as exciting as I do!
January 1st, it turns out, was an easy one. Every year I cannot wait to get rid of that ugly tree in my house, which just 3 weeks earlier looked so festive and beautiful. Dragging it out of the house leaving a thick trail of needles, and then vacuuming said needles with a satisfying rat-a-tat sound, is so gratifying it falls somewhere between chocolate mousse and sex.
But wait, does a Christmas tree count, you ask? Is it really purging when you’ll just go right ahead and buy the same thing again next year? Well, aren’t you a nitpicker. But I can assure you that I satisfied the purging rule by getting rid of some ridiculous and ugly ornaments. Also all those ones where the string is broken and my middle-aged eyes have no chance of letting me thread a new one through. But I have to say, who are you to judge anyway? I am the one who created Project #Purge365, so I can do as I damn well please, thank you very much.
Maybe someone has done the exact some project and it’s not a novelty at all. And maybe I won’t be able to see this through, because I don’t exactly have a stellar record of seeing all my grand ideas through to the end.
But for now I’m as excited as a kid on Christmas Eve. I can’t wait to see what all I’ll find every new day, what memories it will trigger, and whether I’ll ultimately have the guts to say good-bye.
One down, 364 to go.
This post is part of the #Purge365 series about a midlife journey through a year of purging a house – and a life – of unnecessary things. Click here to see all posts.