Forty Ways to Be Guilt Free

Mardi Gras, a day of covetous activity before the temperance of Lent. But I do not have an overindulgent personality, nor am I a drinker of too much wine, so on this day of grabbing for the gusto, I felt pretty good about myself … until

I opened my exploding closet. It seems I partake in gluttony of another sort.

And on this day of eating cake, I decided to ask myself an honest question.

Why do I have so much stuff?

A few reasons …

a) It was a gift

b) Someone I know might need it

c) It could come back in style

d) It was on sale

e) Guilt

The last point is an excuse that gives the rest their weight, and that is one thing I don’t need more of.

Why do I feel guilty if …

I don’t use or like a gift, I don’t have something that someone needs (when I know perfectly well if I don’t have it, somebody else probably does), I get rid of something and it comes back in style, I discard something I never use even if I bought it on sale?

I needed courage to resolve my guilt, so I did something radical. I cleaned out my closet. And my pantry. And my basement. And in honor of the upcoming forty days of Lent, I chose to get rid of 40 categories of stuff.

What’s so special about the number 40?

For forty days and forty nights rain fell on the earth during the great flood of Noah’s time.

The Children of Israel wandered the desert for forty years before arriving in the promised land.

The Prophet Elijah walked forty days on his journey to the Mountain of God (Mt. Horeb or Sinai).

Jesus Christ spent forty days fasting in the wilderness in preparation for his ministry.

He also spent forty hours (3pm Friday until 7am Sunday) in the tomb.

As I consider the significance of the number, as I clean my closets and symbolically clean my soul in preparation for the next forty days of Lent, I am jubilant in a way that has nothing to do with Mardi Gras. My guilt is abolished. I am free.

Here’s the list, in no particular order, of what I lost to gain my focus on God’s gift, a much better thing.

1.  purses (I kept four plus two evening bags)

2.  although I’m loathe to admit it, cassette tapes

3.  several small kitchen appliances (a grease encrusted waffle iron, electric knife, ice-crusher, and a broken thing-a-ma-jig that warmed tortillas because at one time somebody thought I needed that!)

4.  little tubes of half-full hotel supplied shampoo and conditioner

5.  blue eyeshadow. Oh! green eyeshadow too. Actually, lots of colorful eyeshadow. Sorry. (Egads! Guilt returns so easily!)

6.  a sushi kit

7.  diet books

8.  stacks of old magazines

9.  old eyeglasses

10. at least forty half-burned candles

11. flip-flops that dangerously became slip-slops

12. chipped plate chargers with fingernail polish painted over the chips

13. fingernail polish

14. body lotion (it seems to reproduce in the closet!)

15. a mish-mash of unmatched drinking glasses

16. lunch bags (one still had an unwrapped granola bar inside)

17. wide-ruled notebook paper from when my children were little

18. stretchy fabric book covers, so essential for elementary school (someone will snap those up fast)

19. the last one reminded me to discard all stretched-out panty hose (does anybody still wear panty hose?)

20. spices older than a year (goodbye nutmeg dust!)

21. unfinished crafts (like the cross-stitch I started in the ’90’s)

22. pillows, all shapes and sizes, so cute and inexpensive, but now I can see the sofa!

23. the hair brush drawer (still have the heebie-jeebies from the bit-o-hair nest found in the bottom)

24. a collection of cleaned out peanut butter jars

25. crayons

26. two scales, one broken and one that’s so old it’s growing some

27. too small hats and mittens (see number 17.)

28. paint samples, quarts, and gallons ready for my county’s hazardous waste pick-up

29. how many pairs of yoga pants do I need anyway?

30. expired food (do cookies ever expire or are they the reason God created hot tea?)

31. did I mention stretched out panty hose? Oh.

31. stained, unmatched, and really thin linen (pillowcases and sheets)

32. chip and dip serving plates (but the one handmade in Santa Fe stays)

33. belts with holes that are big enough to fit my fingers through

34. a box of adapters for electronics that were donated years ago

35. I really don’t like to watch movies over and over again anyway …

36. plastic flower pots

37. two boxes of maroon hair dye (don’t ask)

38. a whole chicken beer roaster, used once on a Sunday, so it’s good

39. those plants with thorns and leaves that fall off even when they’re treated right

40. uh … feeling the need for inspiration … what would you suggest?

Okay! Now that that’s done, I feel ready and able to focus on what really matters; the season of Lent may inspire you to give away a few things too.

[ctt title=”What one thing can you give away today?” tweet=”Living with less makes room for so much more.” coverup=”HTd69″]


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