Starting February 2010, I decided to give away at least one item a day during the six weeks of Lent. Lent ended and I still had more stuff than I needed so I continued for a year. The year ended and I continue to find things that I was surprised I didn’t give away in earlier purges. A Lenten practice has now become a lifestyle.
In the process I often notice non tangible give-aways, like thoughts, emotions, habits… Since my Post  Index is getting quite long, check out the pages below (Click on any live blue link or on the top menu bar). The CategoriesTags at the bottom of the right hand column will also help you find things.

This page summarizes:
1. Principles behind and strategies for giving stuff away
2. Where to take it all
3. Why 

Beyond physical things I gave away, there were intangibles like Time & Money, MemoriesRelationshipsInformation, and Attitudes.

1. FUN refers to humorous and silly ideas to keep living lightly in perspective.
2. EXTRA includes posts on Christmas, Environment/Ecology, and Technology.

3. MORE EXTRAS refers to my miscellaneous musings about trying to live more lightly.

Periodically I interrupt my give-aways to undertake special projects like the Food Stamp Challenge, Create Less Waste, A-Drawer-A-Day, and Buy Nothing experiments below.

Days 365+24b Grocery cart logoFOOD STAMP CHALLENGE
Starting Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, Jim and I agreed to try to do the National Food Stamp Challenge for the six weeks of Lent 2012. See how we did.

1 wk's trash in red lid jar Click to enlarge.

Starting Ash Wednesday,  Feb. 13, 2013, We decided to try to minimize the amount of trash we made. It wasn’t pretty. See how little garbage we produced in six weeks and how.


ROOM BY ROOM + A DRAWER A DAYDays 365+69k ADAD drawers
Starting Ash Wednesday, March 5, 2014, I decided to try a simpler task, something anyone could do with little time. Just pick 1 drawer a day to prune. Was it really that easy? Pretty much. Then on March 6 2019 I did a similar scouring of our home by going room by room.

Buy nothing graphicBUY NOTHING
During Lent 2015, I decided I would try not to buy anything. I hoped that this discipline would bring me into greater solidarity with the poor. Check out my self-imposed rules and if I spent any money?



During Lent 2016 my goal was to let go of paper clutter, starting with my desk. Many practical things interfered with this (like being out of town a lot) so I sometimes substituted trying to listen better as part of my Lenten goal.
During Lent 2017 I expanded to include not only paper but books and files plus mental/emotional clutter – think politics. 

In 2018 I decided I wanted to be kinder. Sounds virtuous and probably easy. I learned that Living Lightly goes beyond letting go of stuff by giving things away but also includes an inner lightness of spirit. My own challenge was to move beyond material generosity to let go of being critical and judgmental of others.

My Give-Aways are categorized  according to the following secret code:
• Days 1 to 40 refers to Lent of 2010.
Days 41 to 365 refers to the remaining posts up  to 1 year.
365+ refers to anything I gave away after my first year of giveaways.
• For CLOTHES related give-aways: Go to Day 1 … 11 + 20 in the right hand menu
OR 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, OR the CLOTHES tag at the bottom of the right column.
THE PROCESS, BEYOND STUFF, and EXTRA FUN contain background, intangibles, and lots of miscellaneous posts.
Simply click on the top menu bar or any live blue link.

The past 3 month’s posts are always at the top of the right hand column. After 3 months I merge them into the other pages and Extras. You can also browse the posts according to Categories and Tags on the bottom right column. Translations are there too.

PS: I had fun making up the titles and hope the wry ones tweak your brain and give you a chuckle.

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Happy Easter! The 40 days have come to an end, but not this project or blog. The more I got into giving stuff away, the more I realized that these 40 days were simply the first round. Although I’ve given many things away, few items will I actually miss. To really stretch myself I’ll need to keep pruning and developing a stronger attitude of generosity. I’ve decided to try giving one thing away each day for a whole year. At first this seemed daunting but then I counted 151 drawers and 228 shelves in our home. If I just selected one item a day from these drawers and shelves that would be 379 days – well over a year. Even if I don’t find anything worthy of giving away from a particular shelf, I figure I’ve already banked 40 days. I believe that if I keep going, I’ll eventually be confronted with letting go of stuff that is not just excess.

DAYS 40 – 365: It has, however, been time consuming to keep this pace of blogging and taking a photo every day. In order not to have my life taken over by this process, for the remainder of the year I will only blog once a week even though I will be choosing something every day.

1 YEAR ON: I estimate that I’ve given away over 1,200 items during year 1. My home looks somewhat slimmer and less cluttered but I am embarrassed to think that I even had 1,200 things that I barely miss – and humbled to realize that there is still plenty to give away.

To make comments on this post or read previous posts click on Recent Posts at right.

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Saving Stuff: Just In Case – The Backstory

I believe that simplifying one’s life can make it happier, more satisfying, and save a lot of time looking for things. That’s what I believe, but I’m also a pack-rat. My approach to simplifying my life up to this point has usually taken the form of organizing my stuff better so that I don’t see clutter and can find things more easily. This is good, but there is a limit to how much organizing can accomplish. Eventually the closets are packed too tight and my spiritual side calls me to a deeper level than just organizing.

I used to justify saving and organizing our family’s stuff by the “JUST IN CASE” principle. When raising our four young children there was always reason to save a coat, shirt, pants, etc. for when a younger child would grow into it. I saved even less obvious items just in case it could be used as a Halloween costume. Old clothes of mine were saved just in case they would come back into style. After all, bell-bottoms reappear every 20 or so years. I’m a futurist.

I saved our kids school papers and awards just in case they would become president one day and archivists would want to dig into their past. As our children moved out on their own, I saved old but serviceable dishes and toasters just in case they needed them to furnish their first apartment. I finally faced my limit, however, when I had carefully saved maternity clothes and baby clothes, just in case a daughter or grandchild could use them. Saving the baby crib did come in handy recently to bed our first grandchild, but I’m learning that standards for cribs and strollers are changing and even these classic items may not meet the safety standards of today’s conscientious parents. This is what prompted me to undertake a deliberate letting go of many of the items around my house.

If you are like me, procrastination and lack of big chunks of time keep me from downsizing in one fell swoop. (People who move often have an advantage here, since moving often forces one to prune possessions.) But I decided to embark upon a “One-A-Day” approach. Each day I would search for one thing to give away or throw away.

This is not just a practical endeavor for me, but always a spiritual one since I believe Christianity (and most world religions) calls us to share what we have and live simply so that others may simply live. Although I am not wealthy, I have more than I need. As St. Basil the Great said,

“When someone steals another’s clothes we call him a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; The coat hanging unused in your closet belongs to the person who needs it; The shoes rotting in your closet belong to the person who has no shoes; The money which you hoard up belongs to the poor.

Since Lent is also the religious season of joining with the sacrifice of Jesus, I decided that choosing one item a day for 40 days would be a manageable goal and be more useful than giving up candy. As I share how this process impacts me, I invite you to join me – not only through your words but also through your own experience of letting go in order to lead a fuller life.