Week 10
Paring Down the Purse

I reached between the seats to the backseat, where her purse was on the floor. It was the size of a grocery bag and it weighed a ton.

“What the hell do you have in this thing?”

—Michael Connelly, The Gods of Guilt

The focus this week was to use that thing we lug around everywhere we go—our handbag, wallet, computer bag, backpack—as a practice tool in letting go. When we make it a priority to slow down, simple practices in sorting, pruning, and moving things around have the added benefit of promoting well-being.

What has your handbag taught you about you? In what ways does inserting awareness into an everyday task feel more nourishing (or less onerous)?


  • My bag has taught me . . .
  • Inserting awareness into daily pruning feels . . .
Showing 8 comments
  • Wendie

    I hope this week is an easy one, since I am still chewing on last week. And I just cleared my purse a few weeks ago. It only needs some leather polish, but who knows what this week will bring.

    • Wendie

      Yes and it did bring me something.
      What I learned is that the ‘don’t know’ pile stands for the stories still needing to be (partially) released, but I cannot force this process to take place. So for now it is what it is.
      There was not really any content to let go (yet), I even added a few items. And this resulted in a bag that makes me feel safe, having the right things at hand for (almost) every kind of departure. I actually gave it a fresh leather polish, making it look good again from the outside as well, instead of thinking I would need a new one.
      The awareness while clearing made me realize slowing down and taking care makes me feel safe.

      • MaryEllen

        I had the same realization about sense of safety, and did not expect it.

        “Don’t know” was difficult for me and led to some self-judgment. I need “don’t know” to translate to curiosity rather than to inadequacy and the resultant procrastination.

  • MaryEllen

    Hmm. We’ll see what this one has, since everything in this book turns out to be metaphor. My purse is already carefully pared to essentials, including its sketchbook. Any weight is the result of very intentional decision-making.

    • MaryEllen

      Richer than metaphor, a conversion from should list to directed mindful practice. Priceless.

  • redsedge

    My handbag didn’t need much paring down, so I turned my attention to my washbag as well. It was hard to slow down to this task as I was getting ready for a long weekend away.

  • KatieJ

    Every little space that I clear adds up to more peace of mind and ease of life. My purse is lighter is a good start to the day!

  • CarolHH

    So far, this was the easiest week for me. My purse is always light and I have no problem clearing it out. If I can keep my purse pared down, maybe I can pare down some of the other crowded areas in my life.

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