Tuesday, 17 February 2015

40 days, 40 acts, 40 bags

For Lent this year, I've signed up to two schemes: 40 Acts and 40 bags in 40 days  Hopefully, I'm going to blog abut my experiences with these, but not every day (and, if I'm honest, probably not every week, since I'm writing a book and have two small children!)

40 Acts will e-mail me a choice of three acts of generosity to perform every day.  I'm both excited and nervous about this, because I suspect that many of them will require me to step outside my comfort zone in terms of time, money and being brave enough to talk to strangers.  However, I love the idea of making Lent, not just about sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice, but about practicing a generous lifestyle.

40 bags in 40 days is much more selfish: although I'm doing it partly because giving away lots of stuff and simplifying life fits in with the generous lifestyle, it's mainly because my house is a mess and I want to declutter like a crazy woman.  The website suggests listing forty areas of the house or subsets of clutter (eg 'books') and tackling one each day, so I've listed my forty areas below, just for my own reference.  The resulting 'bags' could be things to give away, bags for the trash (most likely) or things to upcycle and bring back into current use.  I'm also going to count things boxed up for storage in the attic or garage.  I won't necessarily do the areas in this order - some are bigger or smaller jobs so I can pick according to the time I have that day.  And, in proper Lenten fashion, I get Sundays off!

While I'm following 40 acts and 40 bags, I'm also going to resist the temptation to buy anything new in the way of clothes and toys (with a couple of exceptions, because Abi's obsessions and need for motivators know no Lent).  This may be the hardest part of the whole thing.

So, I'm simultaneously simplifying life and practicing generosity.  It's like poetry: somebody said (I thought it was Tom Stoppard, but Google can't agree on who it was) that poetry is the simultaneous compression of form and expansion of meaning.  Lent has always been about the compression of physical desires and the simultaneous expansion of spiritual gain, so that seems about right, really.

Forty Areas
1) Under Abi's bed and down the back of her bedside cabinet
2) Abi's desk and desk drawers (which are still mainly full of my own stuff)
3) The vegetable rack in the bathroom where we keep dead shampoo bottles
4) My bedside cabinet
5) My wardrobe
6) My chest of drawers (Oh, the socks.  All the single socks.  Sob.)
7) TheRev's clothes
8) The bathroom windowsill
9)The bath toys
10) The clean laundry pile (Ha!  This will take about a week)
11) Jeremy's toys
12) Jeremy's clothes
13) Abi's clothes
14) The cloth nappies
15) My desk
16) My study shelves
17) Kitchen windowsill
18) Kitchen cupboards (crockery and glass)
19) Kitchen cupboards (food)
20) The den/puppet theatre in the understairs cupboard
21) DVDs
22) CDs
23) Downstairs books
24) Upstairs books
25) The spare room
26) On top of the fridge
27) The ironing-board-and-junk cupboard
28) Under the sink (about a million plastic bags)
29) Abi's toys
30) Abi's windowsill
31) The downstairs educational toy and puzzle shelves
32) The play kitchen area
33) The downstairs toy box (I have no idea what's in it)
34) Craft cupboard
35) Under my desk
36) TheRev's study shelves
37) TheRev's study floor
38) The sitting room
39) Storytelling resources
40) Utility/laundry/guinea pig stuff corner

If I'm feeling especially brave, I may blog before-and-after pics of some of these, if only to banish the temptation to show off the tidy parts of life on social media while hiding the ugly ones.  If anyone wants to join me in an honest sharing of mess and celebration of finding the carpet, make your own list and let me know and we'll get through this together...