100 Things

“Today is 100 Day!” My early Saturday morning declaration left my husband with a rather confused but amused smirk as he patiently waited to hear how my announcement would affect his quiet weekend.  “100 things are leaving this house today!” Anything that lacked purpose, was not beautiful, or produced unwanted clutter was on my hit list. A minimalist at heart, there wasn’t an obvious mountain of clutter in my home to overcome, so this would be a creative adventure of diving deep into the hidden places; the closets, cupboards and crevices where useless items had taken up residence.

I love clean and open spaces; chaos and clutter are like crushing weights that smother my clarity of mind and threaten any sense of peace or calm. While removing 100 things ordinarily would have felt like a simple task, moving houses a few times had greatly reduced the items that followed me to each new home, and having adult children (one now married and the other who had already downsized his own possessions), made the mission that much more difficult. A notebook and pen in hand to begin my tally, I made my way to the front door and began my mission.

Single mittens, old sneakers, and a broken umbrella were easy first targets as I whisked around from closet to cupboard, to that infamous junk drawer, gaining satisfaction with each stroke of the pen on my tally sheet. I surprisingly discovered that there was much more joy in freeing myself of useless stuff than there was when I had initially acquired each item. Garbage bags were bulging and boxes overflowing as items were prepared to be given away, thrown away, or turned into cold, hard cash with a simple online listing. The result in one Saturday: 100 things, one clean house, and one happy me!

The freedom created by my “100 Day” experiment made me feel lighter throughout the whole week, and when the next Saturday rolled around, I looked at my husband with a glimmer in my eye and made an unexpected announcement. “Do you know what today is? 100 Day 2.0!” He looked worried. I am sure he wondered what I could possibly find after such a whirlwind of decluttering the previous weekend. This time, I was laser-focused on just one room: the basement storage. This was, without a doubt, the most challenging space of them all.

Pen and paper in hand, storage totes piled high in front of me, I began the mountainous ascent. The first ten, twenty, thirty items were quickly checked off and placed in their assigned piles. The euphoria was building! And then, without notice, my rhythmic pursuit came to a screeching halt. I descended into a deep crevice where I became wedged and utterly stuck, for a very long time. Unveiled beneath the lid of one of the totes was a plethora of memorabilia–old photographs, personal journals, my dad’s autobiography, and construction paper cards lovingly crafted by my once little boys. The quest to discard 100 things was suddenly adjourned as I basked in the vivid memories of a life marked by happiness, heartache and adventure.

One unexpected discovery was my personal autobiography, thoughtfully penned by 12-year-old me in 1979. Attempting to read the contents aloud to my husband, I began sputtering with broken sentences as uncontrollable laughter interrupted every word. It became suddenly clear to him that what he had always suspected was true: he had married a complete nerd. Resigned to the fact that he’d couldn’t understand a word I was saying, I handed the ancient manuscript over and he read the title aloud, Future Dreams. “When I grow up, I want to be a professional ventriloquist. I want to entertain people and make them smile.” Then he burst into laughter as he finished with the final reason for my lofty pursuit of ventriloquism: “I would always have someone to talk to!”

De-cluttering your world is not just about getting rid of stuff and uncovering hidden treasures. For me, it evolved into clearing up physical, mental, and emotional space. I took steps to de-clutter unhealthy friendships that were like anchors from the past, weighing me down, rather than a full sail guiding me forward. I started discarding unwanted stressors, difficult memories, and unforgiveness. Even seemingly “good things” were cut so I could make room for the “best things.”

I love how Joshua Becker, author and blogger at Becoming Minimalist, challenges his readers to “fill your life with stories to tell, not stuff to show.” My de-cluttering journey is far from over, and I continue my journey to make room for the “best things” that God has in store for me. I desire to treasure people and experiences rather than stuff that fades away and loses my interest. Matthew 6:21 says it best: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” So, I challenge you; grab a paper and pen and begin your own adventure. Make room for what really matters and free yourself of 100 things. ❧