Throw it Out!

The events of the last few weeks/months have given me lots of time to think about what’s important to me- personally, in my work, in my interactions with other people, my interactions with my community and the world around me, my passions etc etc….many more posts to come regarding that I’m sure.  But it’s also made me very aware of what’s important in general in life, but potentially just as life-changing- what’s NOT important, or maybe necessary is a better word…..
There are so many things I’ve thought were absolutely necessary to my life that I am finding are actually not really very important at all- to ME.  Things like…things to put on the walls of my house, as many research projects/articles/CV bullets as I can handle, saying “yes” to everything I’m asked to do at work, saying “yes” to every social engagment/invitation, an upgrade on my favorite shoes, a new shirt b/c it’s my “favorite color”and so on and so on…you get the picture.  This isn’t to say that I haven’t been aware of these things as potential problems, and it’s not to say that I don’t habitually shop sale racks or that I don’t enjoy spending time with friends doing lots of different things, or even that I don’t like doing research…the point is more that I don’t always evaluate each SEPARATE thing as how important/necessary it is to me that particular day.  Or in light of what I want to do vs what I think everyone else wants me to do (or thinks I should do).  This gets complicated.  I’ve been getting better about that…but lifelong habits and living in a world where a lot of people don’t think that way are hard to overcome sometimes. 

I’m really trying to focus on living more simply, more fully in each moment I’m in, more fully in my life.  It’s amazing how doing that frees you up to spend time on things you actually enjoy- like having a conversation with a friend that you’ve been putting off forever b/c “there’s no time”….or reading a book for “fun” rather than feeling guilty about that b/c you “should” be working (even though you were at work ALL day, all week, all month)….or going for a quick walk- even though it won’t be enough to “burn calories” or “get a good workout in” but it is enough to see a beautiful sunrise or just clear your mind before the next “thing”….

My dad sent me a blogsite called “Zen Habits” by Leo Babauta that is really great for helping point out some of these things with tons of practical information on how to actually implement some of these ideas…small and large.

So in honor of my purposeful intention to try and start living more simply, another item on my list of 36 things to do/goals to reach/things to focus on this year is:
-Give away, throw out of otherwise get rid of one thing every day- big or small.  I purposely left this broad b/c there are so many areas I’m working on this in and b/c to do something “every day” can add it’s own stressors, but it’s actually much easier than you think.  So far, here are the things I’ve done:

-OCT 24 (day 1- my birthday!): got out another bag for goodwill and put two pair of shoes in it.
           – as an aside, another thing I’ve decided is to keep a bag/box for Goodwill going at all times.  I put it in my closet and put things in it as I come across them; as soon as it’s full I put it in my car so that the next time I have 5 extra minutes I can drop it off.  I’m lucky that our local Goodwill is right next to the grocery store we use, but it’s amazing how nice it feels to just have that as my practice, vs collecting stuff forever then having 6 bags that I eventually put in my car, and then they stay THERE for another four weeks driving me crazy…anyway- you get the idea.

– OCT 25: went through out travel coffee mugs and down-sized (as a family of two- we didn’t REALLY need all 15 of them.
              – as another aside- practicing this new idea is going to be tough at times- like when I had a really hard time throwing out the Redskins travel cup b/c of a thought process like this:  Well it’s a good memory of when we lived in DC and Pete got that awesome deal on Redskin tickets and was able to spend time with his friend and we went to a game once and it was a really fun day and also remember that time I had to give that lecture and this was the coffee cup I had and the coffee taste sooo good that day and the lecture went really well….and so on and so forth.  Is anyone else as insane as I am?  I’m still working on getting rid of T-shirts as this process is MUCH harder there…

-OCT 26: “got rid of” several unwanted daily emails by “unsubscribing” to them.  Now I do this often, but sometimes they take an extra step so I don’t do it, or sometimes I talk myself out of it b/c I signed up for a specific reason (despite the fact that I immediately delete it each day) etc etc.  FELT GREAT- and so worth the total of THREE minutes it took!

-OCT 27:  double day!  “Got rid of” or let myself mentally let go of a project at work that had been weighing on my mind and “should” list for MONTHS, AND threw another sweater in the Goodwill bag.

-OCT 28: To be determined….

So far, I’m LOVING this goal- and it’s definitely one of those positive re-inforcement things- the more you do it, the better you feel, the more you do it…….

Anybody with me? Ahead  of me? Thoughts/suggestions?  Some of you already have the “live simply” thing down and are my personal heroes on this….you know who you are…..

4 thoughts on “Throw it Out!

  1. allthingsnew October 28, 2010 / 7:44 pm

    I love this idea! And yes, I am as insane as you are…in fact, I'm pretty sure that 75% of everything I own is only still mine because of similar thought processes. I really loved your last post on kindness too…thought about it for a long time after and still thinking about it.I love you!

  2. Renee November 8, 2010 / 8:02 am

    OK! This one is a tough one. Especially when you are a pack rat by nature. My thought process: "Well I know I don't need it but maybe one of my children need it." Hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but I am trying! Thanks Dawn.

  3. Susan Olive February 19, 2014 / 12:29 pm

    Just found this. I SO need this right now. I am such a pack rat. I so relate to your inner dialogue about throwing out the coffee mug. I thought I was the only person that had crazy thoughts like that! 😉 It’s even worse with kids….. I have kept toys that my son WANTS to throw out because it has a memory for me. I am really bad with clothes/shoes….but .it might come back in style/fit again one day!

    It’s been a few years since you wrote this. Please tell me you were successful and that by just reading this I will be cured too. 🙂

    • Dawn Muench February 19, 2014 / 8:03 pm

      waving my magic wand and “abracadabra” you are cured!! (did it work?)

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