Stuff, Community, & 31 Pairs of Shoes

I’ve been thinking a lot about “stuff” since November, back when I mentioned that I had come across the 100 Thing Challenge. Life was crazy at the time, but even then I knew that I was in need of some serious thought about getting rid of stuff. Here’s what I wrote:

Our stuff really gets in the way, in the way of community, in the way of emotional health, in the way of life. Not because it is stuff that we don’t need (though we certainly don’t need it all), but because it is OUR stuff, and we like to surround ourselves with us.

I decided about a month ago that I was going to unload. By half.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like my stuff. I pride myself on being frugal and not throwing things away, on still wearing clothing and shoes I had in high school, on primarily buying things on sale.

Did you catch the verb in that last sentence? I pride myself…

That’s a sure sign there’s a problem here.

So half of it was going to go. Some of it offered to friends, some of it donated, some of it recycled (scraps of material are being turned into pillow stuffing, for instance), but it was not going to hang around and weigh my life down.

I decided to start with shoes. Check this out:

That, my friends, is my bed. It is a king-sized bed, and it is covered with shoes. My shoes. Thirty pairs. Add to that the pair I was wearing when I took this picture, and you’ll get 31. Thirty-one pairs of shoes.

And even though this includes three pairs of slippers, winter boots, old sneakers, flip-flops, and gosh, the shoes I got married in seven years ago, I’m still embarrassed about it, quite frankly.

But it’s a good first step.

Goodbye, shoes. I’d say I’ll miss you but, the truth is, I probably won’t.

It’s just stuff.

Consigning Myself to Conversations

I love my child dearly but I really don’t like to spend money on clothing or shoes for her. She’s been growing like a weed her whole 15-month-long life and finally has arrived at the 95th percentile for height. (This shocks nobody, of course, considering her gargantuan parents.)


Recently, the girl was in desperate need of some shoes, and I decided I could no longer continue sending her to the church nursery in socks. So I asked a good friend to come over during the bean’s naptime, and I headed to one of our local consignment stores.

I anticipated–correctly–that it would have been difficult to sort through bin after bin after disorganized bin of shoes with a one-year-old toddling around the store.

I found myself on my knees, my third or fourth bin in front of me on the floor, trying to figure out whether Little Bean’s chubby feet would fit in each pair I liked.  A woman about my age hunkered down beside me to look through shoes. I greeted her in some way, friendly enough, and continued digging.

I’ve mentioned before how strangers talk to me. By “talk,” I don’t just mean “Hi, how are you?” I mean full-on conversations, even when I feel like I am responding as minimally as possible, when I’m not really in a mood to be a conversationalist, when I’m not in the mood for community.

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