The Year of Living Minimally – Week Forty-two


The Becoming Minimalist blog has the same theme that I’d planned on this week, so I’ll share their post and then write about it. Joshua Becker’s title is ” 8 Reasons Successful People Are Choosing to Wear the Same Thing Every Day.” Now, you might be totally repulsed by that idea, but hold off on your judgment until you read the post (by clicking on the highlighted text at the beginning of this paragraph).

Uniforms are great! Whether you wear scrubs, or khakis and a polo shirt, or black pants and t-shirt, your agonizing over what to wear is non-existent. Becker says, “We have no idea how much of a burden our possessions have become until we begin to remove them.”

So what if you work in an office, as I did? I quit that job seven years ago, and I’m still donating bags of clothes and shoes. Now I go into an office one day a week, and I have no stress about what to wear. I saved a couple of pairs of slacks and three or four shirts, all appropriate for an office.

Have you heard about Project 333? The link will bring you to the website, but it’s the idea of wearing only 33 items over a 3-month time period (a season). All clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear, and shoes count toward your number. You don’t have to count wedding ring(s), underwear, sleepwear, in-home lounge wear, and workout clothing. Well, I’m in! And next week I’ll detail what I compiled for my 33 items.

What about you? Could you try Project 333?

The Runaway

This morning, one of my Facebook pals (and a high school classmate) asked us to post about memorable (the good and the bad) teachers. Since most of the group had attended junior high and high school together, we posted about the teachers who inspired us, and the ones who never should have been teachers.

One name that was brought up evoked a memory. It was 1971 and I was not yet thirteen years old. I’d been goofing off in my Social Studies class and probably had done poorly on a test. Standard procedure was for the teacher to issue a written warning, on a form, to be brought home by the student, placed in front of the parent(s), signed by at least one parent, and delivered back to the teacher (punishment left to the parents). I received one of those warnings. Panic set in. It’s not that I feared my parents, but I, like my sisters, was expected to (a) behave, (b) be respectful, (c) do all assignments, and (d) perform to the best of our ability in school. In my case, based on those Iowa tests and IQ analyses, I should have been at the top of each class. I was not. I was a mixed-up adolescent whose performance was far beneath her potential.

I did not hand the warning to my parents. Instead, I forged my dad’s signature (thinking it would be easier to forge his than my mom’s). I found one of the blue ball-point stick pens and tried very hard to write “John M. Reynolds” on the line in his small, up-and-down cursive handwriting. It didn’t look very good, so I used the handy pen eraser to correct it, and wrote again. John M. Reynolds probably wouldn’t have signed, erased, and signed again.

The next day, I handed the warning back to Mr. McElroy and took my seat. The class quieted down and waited for him to begin instructing. Instead, without looking up, he started talking about warnings and verification, and telephoning parents. I stopped listening, knew I’d been caught, and began plotting my escape. All I knew was that I could not return home that day.

When school ended that afternoon, I didn’t board the bus. I didn’t have much of a plan, so I walked. It was early May, a pleasant day, and I walked. From Lockwood Junior High School, up West Shore Road. There was an Almacs supermarket at the corner and I went inside. But I had no money; how was I going to eat? I stole a roll of Life Savers and got away with it. In hindsight, it’s too bad, because had I been stopped then, I’d have been home within the hour (to answer to petty theft and forgery charges). I kept walking, through unfamiliar neighborhoods. A policeman drove by me, slowly. (I learned later that my mother, so distraught she couldn’t think straight, gave the police a completely inaccurate description of the clothes I was wearing).

By eight o’clock that evening, I was scared. I didn’t know where I was (I was near the Greenwood Inn, about two miles from school). I’d been walking since around three o’clock that afternoon. I stepped into a service station and broke down. Through heaving sobs, I was able to give the kind stranger my telephone number and my parents received the news they’d been praying for: your daughter is safe and here. Come get her.

The rest of the story is inconsequential. I wasn’t punished, and it was only years later that I could fully understand what I’d put my parents through that day. But I think I ended up with a “B” in Social Studies, so I must have made amends, in my studies at least.