A dear friend of mine went to the doctor because she was having chronic shoulder stiffness and back pain. The doctor was puzzled, finding no evidence of an injury or obvious cause for her ongoing pain. As my friend prepared to leave, she hoisted her designer purse on her right shoulder.
“Wait just a minute,” the doctor said. “How much does that thing weigh?” With the scale handy, they weighed that bad boy and discovered she was carrying around 22 pounds of stuff every day. A too-heavy purse is not only a pain to carry around, it can cause asymmetrical posture and an unbalanced gait.
She traded in her purse—which was heavy to begin with because of its extra zippers, studs and metal buckles—for a lighter model, and removed all but the necessities. Within a month, her pain had vanished.
Last year during a simplicity workshop at the Pagosa Springs Women’s Retreat, we did a fun exercise to see who had the oddest thing in their handbag. One woman pulled out a jar of jalapeno jelly, another had a ceramic camel, and the winner carried a life-sized replica of the U.S. Constitution. Our purses can sometimes become receptacles for everything—and anything.
How Many Keys Are Too Many?
Another friend told me that she had gone to the mechanic because her car sometimes wouldn’t start. She learned she’d damaged the car’s ignition switch. How? Her massive key ring contained 22 keys and a number of decorative fobs; its weight had pulled on the switch over the years and worn it out. (UPDATE: Thanks to Money Beagle for alerting us to the scary fact that heavy keys may have contributed to more than a dozen deaths due to ignition-related accidents in GM cars. You can read more about the affected car models and recalls in this USA Today article.)
When I left the publishing company, it seemed like a good time to simplify my keys. At the time I owned a ring that looked like something a prison guard would carry, filled with keys for everything from my safety deposit box to the keys for a house we no longer owned. After removing the nonessential keys, I was surprised to discover that I only needed to carry two—a car key, and a house key. My purse instantly lightened up by several pounds.
Wallets can get jammed with an over-abundance of stuff, too. Over time, things like old receipts, notes and expired cards can accumulate, until the wallet will barely close. How about those membership and loyalty cards we all hate to carry (but which retailers love)? If you have a smartphone, you might try an app like Stocard or Key Ring Rewards Cards, which lets you enter and store the numbers—and lose the plastic cards.
Lightening Up and Letting Go
It’s not easy for me, but simplifying helps me let go of my desire to control everything. Carrying less means accepting that I won’t always be prepared with every little thing I might need in every circumstance. The payoff is that I can go shopping or strolling without experiencing shoulder pain from a too-heavy purse. It’s also easier to find things inside the bag without having to dig.
How about you?
What items do you deem essential to carry in your purse or wallet? How many keys do you carry? Is your wallet svelte or bloated? If you’ve discovered any strategies for carrying less, we’d love to hear from you.
Hugs and happy springtime,
Photos: Jeffrey Pott and Simplerich