Slow on the Flow #1

Or, how I became SWAG-averse and goodie bag-intolerant…

When I started the first 1000 things project, my consumer intake habits were a mixture of conscious and mindless. Many things I bought based on some prior or present set of conscious decisions, but there were still many things I bought as if on autopilot.

By being thoughtful about deciding what to do with a thing, the 1,000 things project helped me become more thoughtful about getting rid of my stuff (Thoughtful In, Thoughtful Out, or TITO for short). I started learning how to turn those controlling inner voices, which kept me attached to my things whether I wanted to be or not, into healthier inner voices that allowed me to let go of things or keep them as the result of a thoughtful process. In other words, I no longer accepted things mindlessly or uncritically into my home or my life. I had started to go slow on the flow, and one early sign of this was becoming goodie bag-intolerant.

   The end of goodie bags

The first time I noticed the onset of goodie bag intolerance was from an event I attended not long after the start of my second 1000 things project. At the event, we were all given a goodie bag as a thoughtful gesture of good will and caring. As the name implies, of course, a goodie bag is filled with goodies, and this particular bag was filled with fine goodies as goodies go. But now that I was becoming slow on the flow, this goodie bag did not feel good to me. It actually felt more like a burden, and I found myself asking, what was I going to do with all of these things?

This was a big shift for me in my relationship with new things. I wasn’t a stellar goodie bag person in the past, but I could certainly hold my own when it came to goodie bags. No childhood birthday party or other festive event is complete without a goodie bag, it seems, so I’d given out plenty of goodie bags in my time, and we’d collected plenty of goodie bags in return. Then there were all those goodie bags collected from client meetings, professional development workshops, and other work-related events — not to mention all those conference goodie bags thinly disguised as travel bags or reusable canvas bags.  Not so long ago, I thought of these things as goodies as we are conditioned to do. In particular, I fondly remember being on the lookout at conferences for stuff that my preteen son would like — really good markers to write with, objects that cleverly blinked or glowed, red dart plastic thingys that stick to the wall when you throw them right (also see picture below).  Many a time I assembled my own goodie bag filled with a good score of S.W.A.G. (Stuff We All Get). Who doesn’t appreciate S.W.A.G?

darts red
red dart thingys (which I still have for now)

Apparently, I don’t — at least not so much anymore. I ended up giving away or throwing out all of those things in that goodie bag (well, except for the food, which I consumed in short order). It appeared that my goodie bag days are now behind me, although I do keep an item or two now and then, and of course chocolate remains an exception. As far as SWAG goes, I still have the red dart thingys (for now), but I don’t take much of anything home from conferences anymore, and I usually give away the bags as soon as I can…