On Getting Rid Of My Shoes

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

“No.”

“It’s still early.  You can wait.”

“No, it’s better this way.  It won’t be any easier in four months.”

Jared gave me an encouraging pat on the back and I began to push the shoe-laden cardboard box across the house, where it would rest beside the purse-laden cardboard box in my office until the date of the big garage sale.  This would be our trial separation before I let them go for good, and that made saying goodbye a little easier.

Yesterday afternoon I had five shoe racks in my closet, which still wasn’t enough storage space to prevent having to line my boots up along the wall.  By the end of the night, I had whittled my collection down to one hanging rack.  I’ll be honest and admit that I walked around my bathroom in a few pairs before I packed them away.  I turned several over in my hands repeatedly, remembering where I’d bought them and worn them and how special they’d made me feel.

And they did.  It’s trite and silly and foolish, but having a perfect pair of red heels to ironically pair with jeans and a black t-shirt made me feel bold and strong.  Beautiful.  Having an impressive shoe collection has always been a distinguishable part of who I am.

Who I was.

Now I’m a girl who wants to be free of the burden of a closet full of shoes, purses and clothes.  Now I’m a girl who wants to be able to travel lightly and far.  Now I’m a girl who saves her money for doing rather than possessing and holds on only to what’s most precious.

Now I’m a girl who bought a pair of Crocs because they’re practical.

(OK, fine, I bought the sparkly ones, but still.  PRACTICAL!)

I’m OK with that, I think.  Or at least, I’m starting to be more OK with that.  I realize that this transition period is me standing between who I want to be and who I’ve been for so long and learning that I have to let go if I’m going to get to move forward.  The two realities are simply too far apart to embrace both at the same time.  I can’t be someone who travels with all of her worldly possessions in an RV and be a woman who owns slingbacks in every color.  I can’t enjoy the time and freedom that comes from living on one freelance income and sustain a big, beautiful house that impresses friends and family.

And it’s not just about the stuff, although that is always the most visible change to explore, but our stuff is so much a part of our identities.  What we buy tells the world who we are and there’s a part of me that likes telling the world that I’m fashionable.  And stable.  And successful.  Even if those things no longer mean success to me, I can’t pretend not to be fluent in the Language of Stuff that everyone around me speaks.

But I have to let go of what I’m used to if I’m going to make room in my life for what I really want.

I wanter to wander around the country with my husband and kids at our own pace.  I want to have the freedom to say yes if someone calls and invites us to Paris for a month.  I don’t know anyone in Paris, but I want the option just the same.

I want all of those things even more than I want shoes.

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  1. heidikins says:

    Oh wow–you are brave. This made my shoe-loving heart hurt a little, I get the “why” and the priorities and everything, I get it. Travel and experience over stilettos, pretty great trade, really. But my heart still hurts for you.

    xox

  2. naomi says:

    yep! just yep. I say “ditto” to everything you wrote, only you wrote it better. Good job, sista!

  3. Part of me is so excited for you that you’re doing this, but then there’s that part that has been without a home for my family twice that say “Oh my God! Why would anyone willingly give up the safety of a home?!?”

    I may not be able to read the rest of these. It’s not you, it me. I’m lame.

    • Miss Britt says:

      Aw, honey, I get it.

      I actually feel like givin up a mortgage in exchange for an RV we own gives us more security. I keep telling Jared, “at least we’ll always have somewhere to live!”

      • Momma says:

        You’ve got that right! Just wait till you feel that freedom – not being tied down with things. It’s life changing. It’s WONDERFUL…it’s….I just can’t tell you how much I loved it.

  4. mel says:

    I love me some shoes, but I would kill to be able to walk around in your crocs for a bit. To experience what you are about to, is priceless.

  5. Sarah says:

    I think this is brave and awesome, and I love that you are so free from material “safety” and so truly safe in your family. It must be the best feeling in the world.

    • Miss Britt says:

      “so truly safe in your family”

      That’s where this all started.

      Last winter I went through something that made me realize just how safe in my family I was – and just how unimportant everything else was. That has made everything else so much easier.

  6. the muskrat says:

    This is how I felt about my liquor cabinet and my suits for a while. This year, I’ve given away 1/3 of my suits and gave away a bunch of my liquor. At least I got a tax write-off for the suits.

    • Miss Britt says:

      You’re giving away suits? Don’t you still have to wear them to work? Did you just cut down to the bare minimum or get rid of the ones you don’t love?

  7. jodifur says:

    That pained me just reading about it. But you know, me and shoes.

  8. Amanda says:

    What size do you wear I may have to buy a plane ticket for this sale!!:)
    I will say it again Britt the strongest person I know, you have such great things ahead of you. Just make sure to drive your house over here to Parkersburg, you can park in my driveway have a few drinks, laughs and sneak peeks at your old shoes.:)

  9. Megan says:

    So, so proud of you. I know how hard it was!

  10. Lisa says:

    I can imagine how hard that was and I’m really proud of you. I’m going to tackle my cookbook collection in honor of your sacrifice. (cookbooks for me are like shoes for you) I have way too many and need to let some go.

    • Miss Britt says:

      I’ve stopped buying cookbook since in the last year or so because I can almost always find a recipe online. But I do have a couple favorites that will be making the trip with me.

  11. Allyson says:

    …so this big garage sale, will it be in June when we get an extra paycheck? Or were you hoping to be done selling off your stuff before you pull out of your driveway? Because, you know, I need to start budgeting for something like that right away.

  12. I’m so proud of you. I can only imagine how hard it was. Focusing on what you really want requires us to get rid of things we think make us happy. It’ll be worth it.

    Well, until you realize you can’t wear an outfit because you don’t have the right shoes to go with it.

    • Miss Britt says:

      And THIS is why I just have them in a box for right now – because I figure if I can go two months without that happening, I’m probably good. But if I’m wrong… I can swap them out!

      Because there are few things worse in life than not being able to wear an outfit because you don’t have the right shoes.

  13. [...] lately, and even if I don’t comment, her words always get me thinking. Today she wrote about going through her shoes, and how her vision of success has changed. It got me thinking: What is success, to [...]

  14. Jared says:

    I’ve never even seen some of those shoes!!

    Anyway, good job

  15. GrandeMocha says:

    What size shoe do you wear? Do you ship?

  16. Grumble Girl says:

    Oh, brava lady!! Indeed – making room for what you really want… this is the way to get it. I have half the shoes I used to own – still have a few too many, but I’ve whittled it down to a (relatively) small amount of shelving, so I have a one in = one out rule. It’s better. And I can see all the shoes I own – if I forget about a pair, then I probably don’t need them.

    But shoes are also oh, so pretty… I know. I know. Good for you!!!

  17. Mandi Bone says:

    I love my crocs. Of course I wear only the one that have the Mickey heads for the holes.

  18. Sheila says:

    Online garage sale.

    Seriously woman.

    Put Devon in charge of it and pay him a commission.

    Soooo….just out of curiosity, what size shoe do you wear?

    Also, I’m sorry but I’m so glad that you’re strong enough to take these steps. The trade-off will be so worth it.

  19. Laurie says:

    That is a very beautiful shoe collection. For the record, I don’t think it’s silly at all. Taking a photo was a great idea too because you’ll always have it to remember them even if you won’t be able to hold them again. Also, I am in the process of planning a trip to Paris. If you ever figure out how to get a free one, please let me know. I also do not know a soul there and have never been. I am terrified. It will be a lifelong dream come true when I finally make it there.

  20. Connie says:

    Congratulations! You’ve just got through what is probably the hardest part of packing up and leaving: getting rid of things. I went through the same thing when I left NYC a couple years ago. I made sure to give my most favorite things (like my purple peacock feather rain boots) to good friends. You know, so that when I came back, I could reclaim them. =) But seriously, getting rid of the first things is the hardest step. After that, the things just seem like “things”. Be proud, you’ve done good!

  21. My husband likes to keep things, and I like to purge. I recently convinced him that we no longer needed a monthly storage bill, so we brought all of it to the house, where I turned most of it over to a company that handles estate sales and auctions, and we kept a couple of precious items that we could actually use right now in our home. My husband was thrilled with the relief of letting go of those things (and even happier when a $1500 check arrived the week we came home from vacation). The psychic baggage that comes with “stuff” is sometimes just not worth it, and like you, I would trade experiences for stuff in a heartbeat.

    I love this. Keep it up!

    • Miss Britt says:

      I’ve thought about contacting one of those estate sale places since we have an entire house worth of stuff to unload. There are tons of them in Florida, I think. Was it a pain?

  22. martymankins says:

    I showed this post to my co-worker who talks about buying shoes every week. She would have a hard time giving up her collection.

    The things given up are replaced by great memories from traveling.

    • Miss Britt says:

      It actually makes me feel better to know it would be difficult for other people, too. We tell ourselves we know what’s really important, but then I have these strong reactions to superficial things and I’m like “what the hell? REALLY?”

  23. i love this line:
    But I have to let go of what I’m used to if I’m going to make room in my life for what I really want.
    and i need to remember it.
    xo

  24. Tina says:

    You are amazing. I kind of get where you are coming from, but I don’t think I could do it. Five years ago, we had a house fire, and lost everything. At that point, I accepted that it was all stuff. We rebuilt. We made the house nicer than it was before, with all of my favorite stuff. Instead of my mother’s cast offs, we had dishes that I wanted, for the first time in my married life. I picked out real furniture, and only allowed things I loved to enter my house.

    Five years later, we have more stuff than ever, and I am faced with getting rid of things, again. That includes my shoes, though there aren’t that many now.

    But I know how you feel about shoes. I am amazed and cannot wait to keep reading about your journey.

  25. Rita says:

    So glad I found your blog through Courtney’s Be More with Less. Trying Project 333 and being pretty faithful to it, but did not include shoes in my total count. Progress. Baby steps. What a bonus that getting rid of a bunch of crap led me to the gift of your blog. But that’s how it works, doesn’t it? Thank you–

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