Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Traditionally, people have given up things for Lent in sacrifice. Over the past few years, our priest has gently suggested that rather than giving up something, we should do something to better ourselves or the world. That we should prepare our lives to be better, happier, more wholesome.
I have to say that I love that idea because the obvious things to give up – alcohol, sweets, chocolate (yes, that’s a separate category) – just aren’t that big a deal to me. 40 days? No problem. Instead, focusing on doing something better and positive and simply being intentional is far more meaningful to me.
I’m not the only one embracing that philosophy either. I’m seeing all over Facebook and other social media those who are doing a 40 bags challenge. The idea is to get rid of 40 bags worth of “stuff” over the course of Lent, whether it be trash or donations or things to sell. Anything you don’t need goes. You don’t have to celebrate Lent or even have one iota of religious sentiment to do something like this, and really, it doesn’t even have to happen during Lent.
As much as I love the idea of the 40 bags challenge, I’ve come up with something that fits me and my needs a little better. For me, it isn’t even about getting rid of things. It’s about getting things done. Especially this winter where it’s been so cold and so grey in Chicago – and I’ve admittedly been fairly busy – I’ve not done as much as I want to. Even though we’ve been in our house for over six months, there are still tasks that I should have done within the month after we moved in that are sitting undone.
Some are little, which is great for the days when I don’t have a ton of time, while others are bigger. Some just need to be done yet I keep putting them off until “tomorrow.” There’s no good reason for it other than I’m mentally fatigued and don’t do it. When my husband was traveling over winter break and I was home alone with the kids, we spent less than an hour a day organizing some of their things from the basement to their rooms to their LEGO collection and more.
And it was energizing.
It felt great!
So for Lent, I’ll be doing a 40 days of projects challenge instead, and I invite you to join me. I haven’t laid out what every task will be, nor do I want to at this time. I have plenty of ideas to get me started, and I know that as I get into my projects I’ll realize that something needs to be added to the list while something else can’t be done for one reason or another.
40 Days of Projects Challenge
My master bathroom is a great place to start. I still have two chrome and brass hooks hanging – one on the back of the door and the other a hand towel rack that is inexplicably over my head to the left of the mirror. Removing those and replacing the one behind the door with a brushed nickel hook and then patching and painting the wall where I remove the other hook will do so much to ease my mind.
I’ll admit that I hate laundry, as I’m sure many of you do, as well. I put it off as much as I possibly can. Instead, I will be working to catch up and get all the laundry done for the entire family. And then keep that up by setting and maintaining laundry days. This includes the dining room tablecloth that I have sitting on top of the dryer in the basement waiting to be washed that’s been sitting there since before Christmas. Because I have other tablecloths and other laundry that’s more pressing.
I have let papers accumulate from the kids’ school, from doctors (that I’ve paid but not filed), coupons I intended to use, and more. It’s become easier to simply ignore them than deal with them. So I will go through a bin in a day and actually deal with everything that is in there.
Do you have a gift closet? I do, and it’s once again bursting at the seams. Some of the items are gifts the wee ones were given that they will never use, while others were things I purchased that I haven’t given out. And some are no longer age appropriate for the wee ones’ friends. Depressingly, we have a ton of new in box items, but I can sell some of them and donate the rest, keeping only the ones I truly believe we’ll use.
My pantry is shortly going to have functional shelving installed, and I cannot wait. Literally. I called the contractor again today to try to pin down a date when he’s coming to install them. Right now, my pantry is a mess. When getting plates and utensils for the district-wide PTO presidents luncheon meeting today, I may or may not have made a bigger mess. Everything needs to come out of it and reorganized. And I have a feeling that some items near the back may inspire meal ideas since I’d forgotten I have them in my pantry.
Our garage has broken down (and some not broken down) boxes from when we moved. They need to find a new home – hopefully with someone else who is moving and could use some free boxes. And also in the garage are an assortment of detritus from the water damage from our foundation cracks in the basement that simply need to make it out on garbage day.
Speaking of our garage, I am counting down the days until the ground thaws (as ironically tomorrow is supposed to be record-breakingly cold) so that we can pour a foundation for our new and more spacious garage. We weren’t able to find any contractors to provide us quotes in the fall, and I need to get on the stick and nail down a contractor to build it for us. Again, this is a small thing – to make phone calls – but it’s easy to push to “tomorrow” for no good reason. On a busy day, this is a perfect project.
When I do laundry, I always end up with singleton socks. We all do. I keep mine in a bin near the washing machine and periodically sort through them to find matches. My bin is currently overflowing. Not only do I need to sort through the socks to find matches – which is actually somewhat fun – but I need to make the determination that some socks simply no longer have mates. And I need to throw them away or find another use for them. Of course, this has to happen on a day when all the laundry is done so I don’t accidentally create a new singleton.
I also need to go through the wee ones’ sock drawers. I know Little Miss has tights in there that don’t fit her anymore. And they both have socks in there that are too small. Simple project, and it’s one the wee ones can help do, which is good for all of us.
It’s also time to do “fashion show” again with the wee ones to determine what warmer weather clothes they have that fit them. And weed out all the ones that don’t. And then get the ones that don’t out of my house.
There is a huge list of projects to do, and I’ll admit that I’ve put off hiring someone to clean my house biweekly simply because I feel like I have too many “piles” of things I need to organize. I don’t want a cleaning lady coming in to a mess that is hard for her to clean because she has to straighten first. Straightening I can do – I want to just pay her for cleaning.
So when I’m organized and everything is decluttered and put away? Not only will I feel great and have more energy -the saying about a cluttered house and a cluttered mind is so true – but I’ll have a tangible reward of seeing a sparkling clean house without me having to do it myself.