Purge [purj]: to rid of whatever is impure or undesirable; cleanse; purify
This word was on my mind a lot today as I embarked on day two of my 21 days of leisure (e.g. the time until I start my new job). I try to make my life about balance. Many things even each-other out: work/fun, me/others, eating crap/broccoli, stress/yoga, Game of Thrones/Housewives, etc. And so, I’m trying to make my time off a balance as well, between lying around and getting my home office set up. I want to get the things done that I will need for the next chapter, but I also want to be sure to reflect and honor what got me here in the first place. Balance. 

Getting my home office together means cleaning out my guest room, which has evolved over the years into my guest room/extended shoe, hat and purse room/holding place for emptying a suitcase from one trip and getting another ready for the next trip/Yankees memorabilia room. 

In order to put those things away, I needed to start The Purge in the rest of the house to put these items in the places they should go. But first, I went to my friend’s house for lunch and to hang out in the pool. Balance!

Back to The Purge: I started with the shoes. 

Oh shoes. My favorite accessory of them all. Anyone who knows me well knows that I take great pride in my shoes. I have shoes for every occasion, every outfit. I used to wear six inch heels everywhere because I never wanted anyone to know I was only five feet tall. Older woman in my office would ride down in the elevator with me and tell me, “I used to wear shoes like that when I was your age too, just wait until the back issues start.” It got to feel like almost once a week, someone of a more mature age (how’s that for tact) was telling me to enjoy my time with my shoes because the day would come when I’d no longer be able to physically handle it. And it did, and now I wear three to four inch heels instead and have worked plenty of flats into the picture, something I never thought I’d be able to do. I actually cried in Nine West when I bought my first pair of flats. Oh well. Those old ladies were right, though I think they cursed me. 

I purge the clothes in my closet twice a year: summer and non-summer (since those are the only two seasons that exist in Phoenix) but it had been a long time since I’d cleaned out my shoes. Into the donation bags they went, six inch heel after six inch heel, donation bag after donation bag filled with the accessory that once used to make me, me. 

It was fun to reminisce about each pair, places I’d worn them to, things I’d done in them, outfits I’d worn with them, people I’d been with. As I tossed pair after pair, twenty one in total…hey wait, one pair for every day between one job to the next…coincidence? I hoped each would bring someone else the joy and fun that they had brought me. Oh and yes, I kept the pairs with the sequins on them, because those are like art pieces. I’m purging, not being stupid. 

I looked at the books in my bookcase, which is also in my closet-I like minimalism in my space, and pondered on the last time I’d read any of them. Realizing the answer was never, I got out a box and put them away. Literature books from college, the Twilight Saga, all of the Harry Potter series, some F. Scott Fitzgerald (my favorite author) and some murder mysteries I’d already read once that therefore held no more mystery. Into the box they went, except for Harry Potter and a choice F. Scott. I think those will have a special place in my office.

Which now left me room to put my purses into the bookcase. Whatever works, right? Coach purse after Coach purse, one Kate Spade and one Vera Bradley got cleaned out and put away. Women keep such interesting things in purses. When I get a new one, I tend to take out my wallet, my shades, my badge for work (won’t need that anymore!) and transfer them to the new one. The old one went in an orderly stack in the corner of my guest room until I used it again. It was amusing to see what was still in them. Ten purses held fourteen Clinique lipsticks (all at the end of their life), six pens, fifty-seven cents in change, eight movie stubs (did I actually go see “This Is The End” in the movie theatre?), five packs of gum, my ASU Student ID (which interestingly enough has no expiration date – next movie is on me and my student discount!), an Osco drug and Basha’s club card (both of which don’t exist anymore) and forty-two tampons…evidently I like to be prepared!

As I continued to purge, it was like a weight was being lifted off of me every time I tied a donation bag shut, or made a trip to the dumpster. It’s freeing to get rid of things that I no longer need that could still have use for someone else. 

My dad is a purger. Major thrower-out-er. The rule in our house growing up was if anything stayed on the dining room table for a week, it was thrown out, because you obviously didn’t need it. As a kid, I hated this rule. As an adult, it’s one of my favorites. While my friends both laugh and get mad at me when they give me cards and I read them and immediately throw them out, I’ve learned to be a little more sentimental here and there…and learned to wait until they’ve walked away before tossing them in the garbage. I’d rather go out and get something when I need it then to hold on to something for three years because someday I might need it for something.  

It reminds me of my grandmother, who used to leave the plastic on all the furniture. I remember sleeping on her couch as a child and waking up because the sheet we’d put over it slipped during the night and my sweaty skin was stuck to the thick, hard plastic, an imprint of the crease running down my leg. I always used to joke with her that she was saving her furniture for the afterlife, I wonder how that yellow and brown floral pattern is serving her in heaven?

Thankfully the plastic on the furniture has escaped my generation. The things I look to collect now are experiences. Travel, visiting new restaurants with friends, museums, whatever. It’s the intangible memories that I wish for the most on birthdays and holidays. 

The Purge was over (for today) and on my last trip to the dumpster, I struggled with getting the bag, which included some papers, into the trash. A big bunch fell to the ground. I picked them up and threw them back in and missed. I picked them up and tried again and again, one smaller bunch fell free. I picked up the packet to see what the heck it was that refused to go in the trash. It was a stack of handwritten notes from my father that had somehow made it into an errant notebook that I was purging. What a blessing that they just refused to get thrown out! Those, I keep. Who says I’m not sentimental!?

So for those of you still thinking about what you can do alongside me for five minutes a day during my twenty-one days of leisure, maybe a good five minutes of purging something in your house, or in your life, will make you feel a little lighter. 

Meanwhile, if anyone would like to borrow a purse, come on over!