I took Mliae’s January challenge

I have discarded, recycled, or set aside to donate more items this month than I can count. All as a result of Mliae’s blog post on December 31, 2018:  https://lifexperimentblog.com/2018/12/31/happy-new-year-2019/.

Mliae challenged her blog readers to get rid of one item every day in January. I missed many days, but made up for it on others. It feels good to get rid of some clutter. Thank you, Mliae!

I finally got around to shredding my income tax records and bank statements from the year 1999 through 2010. That’s not a typo. 1999.

Think back to 1999, if you can. In those days, the bank sent you a statement every month along with all your cancelled checks. The bank and I have come a long way since 1999:  from cancelled checks to online bill pay.

In some ways, I’m organized. I keep each year’s income tax instructions and paperwork together with a rubber band. In theory, this would make it easy to discard (shred) the oldest year’s paperwork when adding the newest year’s records; however, I never put my plan into practice.

Hence, I hadn’t gotten rid of any of those records in 20 years even though we’re required to only keep our income tax records for seven years. It was time to tackle that box of income tax records! I started that project on Friday afternoon and finished it Saturday night. I thought our poor wee paper shredder was going to blow up!

I am reminded of a line I like from At Home on the Kazakh Steppe:  A Peace Corps Memoir, by Janet Givens:

“… if nothing else, a useful reminder early on that the more I can let go of the old, the more room there is for the new.”

In writing that, Ms. Givens was not referring to getting rid of physical items in order to make room for new things. She was writing about a revelation she had in the early days as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kazakhstan.

Ms. Givens realized that she needed to let go of preconceived ideas and the way she had done things back home in the United States so she could learn the culture of the Kazakh people.

The above quote from Ms. Givens’ memoir struck a chord with me. As I let go of some physical items this month, I made a conscious effort to let go of preconceived ideas.

I want to learn something each day. I want to be open to new ways and new ideas. As my 66th birthday approaches, I don’t want to be “a stick in the mud” or “stuck in a rut.”

Since my last blog post

My vertigo is improving. The things the physical therapist has me doing are definitely making a difference.

Until my next blog post

I look forward to seeing if Mliae will issue a February challenge. Nevertheless, I plan to continue to tackle the clutter that has accumulated.

I hope you have a good book to read. I just finished reading Now You See Me, by Sharon Bolton.

If you’re a writer, I hope writing brings you joy. I hope you have quality writing time this week.

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments.

Let’s continue the conversation.

Are you a keeper of things? I think I got it honestly from both parents. They were in college when The Great Depression hit in 1929. Their young adult years were lean and full of struggle. “Waste not, want not,” must have been what they lived by. I never heard either of them say those words, but they raised their children not to waste anything.

By my parents’ example, I learned at an early age not to throw away anything that I could possibly need or find a use for later. Hence, the stack of printer paper that has only been used on one side. The other side can be used for all kinds of things – like writing the plot outline for a novel.

Hence, the used letter envelopes on which grocery lists can be written on the back while the inside conveniently holds discount coupons. And those twist-ties that come on the bag in which sliced bread is purchased? Yes, I’m guilty. There is a place set aside for them in one of the kitchen drawers.

What about you? Are you a keeper or a minimalist?


23 thoughts on “I took Mliae’s January challenge

  1. How fun to find me tagged in your post this week, Janet. Thank you. And I’m also pleased to read of your January challenge. I did a similar exercise in 1992 or 3, the years do blur a bit back then, but for 40 days. It was the first time I felt a visceral lift from shedding things, actual stuff I’d accumulated in a “just in case” mindset. Congratulations on your 66th. Hope your new year is a great one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Janet, you’ll show up again in my blog post on February 4th when I write about some of the books I read in January. I was happy to mention you and your book last Monday and again this coming Monday. I hope/need to continue this January challenge of getting rid of things. Perhaps if I did it for six months, I’d find myself in a happier and simpler environment. I have concluded that having a basement is a curse and a blessing. It is too easy to just put something in the basement instead of evaluating whether or not to keep it or dispose of it in some way. Thank you for the birthday wishes!


  3. Yes, Amorina, I think you’re right. I’m trying to “nip this in the bud” before I get to the stage your family member is in. Thanks for your comment!


  4. Janet, I realize the tidying up and finding your joy movement is sweeping the world–my wife’s side of the house, for example, — but though I have found my joy in my work and marriage I also love my clutter very dearly–every unnecessary piece of clothing, note to myself, book, magazine, and of course every word I’ve written since college.

    Best wishes

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Janet, you are doing great! How did I not see this post until now? Apologies. I love this post, and it made me giggle at parts because I very much empathize with saving envelopes and printer paper for note writing later. Haha. This is a tough habit for me to let go of as well.
    I am continuing the challenge. I hope you will be my declutter buddy!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m definitely a keeper, and a messy one at that. I’m hoping to get more organized as the years go by. My brother recently got me a shoe rack for my birthday and that’s been keeping me from tripping around my room.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. David, I’m guilty of the same thing as you, but there has come a time when I think perhaps I don’t want to leave all this clutter for my niece and nephew to have to deal with some day. It’s a daunting task for me, and would be overwhelming for them. I’m afraid if it came down to it, they’d just throw up their hands and have the house demolished and all my things hauled away to a landfill. Perish the thought! My desire to lighten their load is (almost) always in the back of my mind. I need to at least organize my bits and paper. LOL!

    Best wishes to you as you work on your next book.


  8. No apologies necessary, Mliae.

    Count me in! If I don’t continue this decluttering, I’ll be buried under paper some day. Thanks for giving me a jump-start with your challenge. Old habits are hard to break, so maybe we can be accountable to each other, declutter buddy!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. From the response I’ve gotten, I think we writers are all keepers. I had to laugh about your shoes because I trip over a pair of shoes about once a week. If I’d declutter my closet, I’d have space in there for my shoes. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. YES! Fantastic! I’m so happy you will be continuing with us! Paper is… unreal the way it sneaks up on you. Accountability is key, that’s for sure. So, we’ll be talking soon, declutter buddy!
    Let’s do this!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m a keeper! It’s hard for me to let go… maybe because I’m a genealogist and enjoy finding papers left behind. I found my in-laws old tax records and kept them… interesting to see what they earned in those times. Wish I had my fathers to see!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for your comment, Jeanne. I’m late responding to you because your comment went into my spam box for some unknown reason. Like you, I love genealogy and I cling to every scrap of paper regarding my family or local history. I have two 4-drawer file cabinets and need another one!

    Liked by 1 person

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