Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Forty in forty

I may be the last person on the planet to know about this Lent phenomenon – 40 bags in 40 days.  I love everything about it.  Everything.
The idea is that during the forty days of Lent (which begins February 22nd this year)you remove forty bags of stuff from your house.  What is my definition of stuff?  Trash, junk, useless items, broken things, those projects that you know you will never get to (and only depress you to look at or think about), old newspapers and magazines that are all available on the internet, hand-me-down furniture or trinkets that you’ve never really loved, clothes you haven’t worn in 2 or more years, toys and clothes that the children have outgrown or over-loved, etc., etc., etc. – I could go on.  My preference is that it is removed responsibly; not all of it should be trashed and most of it can probably be sent to Goodwill or at least recycled.  But just ridding your home of years’ worth of things can help you appreciate and really use those items that remain (the true treasures) and realize that your family doesn’t really need all of that other stuff to be happy.  Ahhhhh, can’t you just feel the de-cluttering now?!

I read about the 40 bags in 40 days on one of my favorite blogs (Clover Lane) around Eastertime last year; 30-something days too late to participate in it then, but I have been giddy with excitement to get started this year.  I know.  I need to get a hobby.

In all honesty, I knew my only roadblock to complete and utter 40-bag-euphoria would be Will, Mr. Sentimentality.  Will would prefer that we hold on to things and I would prefer to see them out the door as soon as possible.  So when I found out about the Lent project, I also knew my negotiation skills, debate tactics and likely some good old fashioned groveling would come into play if I was ever going to see 40 bags of anything leave this house.  When I ever-so-gently explained the idea to Will, the conversation went something like this:

Me:                 See, there is this Lent thing-y that a lot of people are doing …
Will:               Hmmm … (with a look that said, ‘great, whose blog have you been reading now?’)
Me:                 Whatever, hush up, but I mean, it’s a great idea.  During Lent you remove forty bags of things from your house.  Trash, junk, things you aren’t using, toys, clothes, etc.
Will:               Oh, well that doesn’t sound so bad.  I think we could do fourteen bags of things during Lent.
Me:                 Um, no.  It’s actually forty.  Four.  Zero.
Will:               FORTY?!!!

Ultimately, Will convinced me that we probably don’t have forty bags of stuff to remove mainly because I have been on a de-cluttering mission since stopping my law practice almost a year ago.  He’s probably right but I wasn’t going to let rational thinking get in the way of a good Lent idea (and yes, I am well aware that I need to work on my groveling skills – I still can’t believe Will won this debate.  Shoot.).

So, I’ve tweaked the 40 bags in 40 days to meet my own household – I have decided to clean 40 rooms in 40 days.  Obviously we don’t live in a castle (don’t tell Frances though; she’d be crushed) so I’m cleaning 40 areas of the house in 40 days.

I realize this schedule is highly ambitious and will likely be adjusted during the 40 days.  But I think even if I complete only a small portion of the entire list, it will feel so good to have scrubbed some of the areas in the house that I seldom get to focus on (and probably de-bag some of the rooms in the process - yipee!).  I’m a firm believer in the philosophy that we rarely need new things to make us happy (or things at all); we just need to take care of and appreciate what we already have.  If you just spend a day (or even an hour) cleaning, organizing, restructuring or rearranging a room you would be surprised at how satisfied, happy and peaceful you feel once it’s done.

So, I will now come down off my soap box before I get a nose bleed and start practicing what I preach.

Happy Wednesday everyone!


  1. Lucy, you must send me your list - my house is tiny, but if I just did one project like "wash 2 windows and dust the blinds" each night, I could get through a list as long as yours and have a very clean little home!

  2. Karen - I will send you my list if you promise not to laugh at it : ) And is it wrong that I've already started some of it a month before Lent just so I can start checking the "DONE" box?

    PS - you're so sweet to read and comment! I love hearing from my friends who live much cooler lives than I do.