In With the New, Out With the Old

You thought I was going to talk about politics. Right? No way. Today, I want to talk about the 1 in, 1 out rule. My friend Betty introduced me to this practice, and I think of her every time I hang up a new item of clothing. Betty said that every time she bought something new, shed make herself throw out something else. I love it! Its a great way to keep from gathering clutter.

Today, I came home from shopping with 4 new tops. That meant I had to find 4 things to throw out. Taking a close look at my closet, I discovered suits I havent worn in years, shirts I had forgotten I owned, and dresses Ill never fit into again. I had to be brutally honest with myself. I came up with more than 4. In fact, I have so much room in my closet, I think I need to go shopping again.

I wish my mother had heard of the 1 in, 1 out rule. Especially during the last few years, whenever shed think she needed, say, a light bulb, instead of looking for one in her closet, shed buy another one. Thats how she accumulated 4 flash lights and 37 pairs of knee high hose. When Kara and I did an inventory of her apartment in the assisted living home, we counted 43 tops and 11 pairs of slacks. Does a 96-year-old woman really need 4 floor length cocktail dresses in assisted living? I keep reminding myself of what I think is the answer to that question, whenever I notice that there are too many unused things in a drawer or on a shelf. I imagine my daughter and my son packing up all this stuff when I have to move to independent living or assisted living. Are they going to think, What does she need this for? So, I ask myself, What do you think you need this for? and I say to myself, Do you want Kara and Steve to sigh and shake their heads, because you wouldnt let go of all this stuff? My mother loves her THINGS. STUFF is important to her. Besides, she lived through the Depression, when it was a sin to throw anything out. Now, in this disposable era, we throw everything out. But wait. Now we recycle. Thats what thrift stores are for and garage sales.

So, as I cleaned out my closet today, and filled the bag that will go to the thrift store, I knew that I was sending those skirts and jackets on a journey to other womens closets, and then maybe back to the thrift store, and on and on.

Because I am so keenly aware of trying desperately to not follow in my mothers footsteps, the 1 in, 1 out rule prevails in my house, so much so that often, when the mood hits me, its more like 1 out, and another 1 out, and another 1 out. I want my kids to say, Are you sure you dont want to keep this Mom? Well, I can at least shoot for that goal.


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