March Against Excess: Day #31

Guys, we did it. Can you hear it? The cheers, the sighs of relief, the empty sounds of hollow closets. (That last one actually not true in my case, I still have a lot of crap to let go of before we’ll get anything close to an echo…baby steps, y’all.)

We made it through the March Against Excess. Thirty-one days of giving, complete.

Personally, I feel a sense of relief, new-found freedom and like I will be wading through piles of stuff for the next three months in an attempt to get them into just the right hands.

I originally set out to cease all spending that was not necessary (absolutely no clothes, which was only hard when I saw a really cute sweater on sale) and give away three of my belongings per day for the month of March, but THEN because I was so nervous that I couldn’t do it, switched it to two items per day. This decision evidently invited that pesky LOUD voice in my head that began to nag and nag until I finally gave in and settled back to three items.

The final purge verdict; 144 of my possessions have been removed and are in the process of being given to those in need. As it turns out, I had a lot more things that needed new homes than I’d originally thought.

In an attempt at transparency and full disclosure, I give you the itemized list:

31 pairs of shoes (umm, WHAT? Also, I still have way too many, especially given I more or less rotate between two pairs of boots and flip-flops.)
18 sweatshirts/jackets
13 bags
1 computer
18 scarves (Yeah, I know I live in L.A. and it’s not “cold” to the rest of you, but whatever I evidently hoard scarves.)
4 beanies
9 pairs of jeans/pants
13 tops
11 tank tops
10 dresses/skirts
8 sweaters
7 pieces of jewelry
1 lamp

Please hear this loud and clear; the number of belongings I am giving away is not something I am proud of, in fact I am totally embarrassed by it. I didn’t want to write about it at all. I should not have that many things that I don’t need, when so many are living without basic necessities. But I am learning and trying to change, with the plan to continue utilizing these principles as way of life, not merely a month-long project.

I can honestly say that have come to find complete joy in releasing the tight grip that I once employed in an attempt to hold onto my earthly belongings. I pray that I never lose sight of this again, that my life would paint a different picture; one that gives extravagantly in an effort to meet both physical and emotional needs.

At present time, my belongings are categorized into two piles; a pile of clothing that will be taken to the “store” that my parents church has set up, where homeless men and women can come pick out things that they need, free of charge. The other pile is comprised of specifically chosen clothing that are perhaps not practical for a woman living on the street (ie; jewelry, high heels, dresses, etc.) that will be donated to young single moms who have transitioned out of homelessness, but may not have the finances to buy themselves extra treats.

I am so in love with the idea of giving to these women in the in-between; the often forgotten women who are just regaining their footing. Perhaps these women have a job interview or a date they want to put on jewelry or heels for, but don’t have the means to gussy up, as their paychecks are spent before they’re received in an effort to keep the lights burning and food on the table. I want these women to walk with confidence, knowing that they are remembered and that they are special.

It’s pretty crazy to think that it’s only been a month since this project began. One month ago I was dragging my feet, begging God to let me off the hook on this one and He just wouldn’t let up. Thirty-one days later I can state with conviction that although I am not as far as I long to go, I have been changed, not simply by my own personal experience, but by the experiences of others that have shared in this journey and encouraged me with their words and inspiration.

Twenty-six friends agreed to take part in this movement, in some form or fashion. That’s twenty-six stories that have spoken loudly and poignantly, pressing me at times to give just a little bit more. In several moments I found myself in the throes of my closet holding something I love, facing the question to keep or give — remembering that army behind me pushed me to open my hand with extravagance over mediocrity.

So thank you. Thank you for being a part of this challenge. Thank you to each of you who asked questions, shared stories and sent encouraging words. I am not always the quickest when it comes to processing, so there very well could be more shared reflections to come (and quite possibly some more pictures and/or a video! Eek!). Please, please, please, keep sharing your stories and pictures with me, it makes my heart sing.

So much love. My heart is full.

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