I must be part monkey.  Or perhaps I am still in touch with my inner child, or maybe I am in touch with my inner monkey child.  Just like a kid, when I need to get something done, I turn it into a game.

My latest way to motivate myself is inspired by life coach Gail Blanke.  She has written a book called, “Throw Out Fifty Things.”  Well, I have been throwing out, giving away or recycling 50 things a day for the last few days.  And I have to say, since it is a game, it is very easy to do.  I am not as attached to things, I am able to let go.  My rules are that it does not matter what it is, as long as I get rid of 50 things, I am still in the game.

It started with the bathroom.  Old, never-going-to-use-again products, hair clips that seem to never make sense for me, samples for products that – when I read the ingredient list – makes me cringe…etc.  Done!

Next… kitchen… a couple old corks (compost), and old elastics; all-that-is-left-is-the-wire twist ties and old preserves past their prime that I have not touched for over a year.  Ding!

After that, the office: some receipts, notes, papers; all is shredded and recycled.

And after that, the front entry: some old, I-am-sure-I-will-never-use-this glasses cases, a pair of sunglasses, some bags… not to 50 yet. Ummm, what’s in the closet?  Some clothes I never seem to use…. AND, done!

I am not playing by Gail’s rules.  She has a really cool game going on and I like her motivational talks!  Truly!  For my rules, I count a thing as a thing. She counts a magazine collection as a thing.  I like to count every magazine.  I don’t care if it is a broken elastic, a lost little reject staple or an old never used and disgusting electric toothbrush or a perfectly good vase that I can subtract from my seemingly redundant collection of vases that I rarely use.  My goal is to assign 20 minutes a day to finding 50 things to give away, recycle or throw away. I will do this until I am feeling free and relaxed in my space.

Some people go their whole lives collecting beyond their means. I know this without ever having watched “Hoarders.”  Life has afforded me this observation in real-time.

What got me started on this?  I visited my friend’s place a couple weeks ago and I noticed that they had done a complete overhaul.  They had done this because they were leaving to travel for a couple months.  They wanted their place all neat and tidy for whoever was going to apartment sit for them.  They have been back for a year and the place still looks amazing.  As soon as I saw this, I knew I had to do something.  I needed to create a game that helped me get the job done, hahaha.

Another thing that motivated me was hearing a story of a family that had a proper livingroom for hosting guests, but beyond this, the place was a mess.  The family had this symbolic mess as well as an actual, serious mess beyond the view of guests.  Hearing this made me wonder about what the stuff we hold onto really symbolizes.

Yeah, if I keep going with this, I could end up like a person who only owns 50 things.  That notion seems surprisingly liberating… but I also have to laugh because many of the things this guy owns are major brand things.  Not attached, but still very “plugged-in.”  Cute.

So, I picked 50.  Perhaps you are ahead of the game and in so many ways, including a very catchy tune, 12 would be more suitable for you.  If you want to feel a little lighter, try throwing out (recycling or giving away) a few things.  And don’t turn it into a task, make it a game.

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal.

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