The email I’ve been waiting for all year finally arrived this week. It came from two of my closest friends I’ve never met: the Minimalism guys. It was about this time last year, after I had finally recovered from my daughter’s surgery, that I started to take this Minimalism thing seriously. Due to various family issues, I had started 2014 already behind two months, and three months into the year, I was six months behind.

Yes, I know that two plus three equals five, not six, but I’m telling you I was seriously six months behind where I needed to be. The visible-only-to-me mountain of things I hadn’t done dwarfed the molehill of things I had done. The mental and physical clutter were taking their toll, and something had to give. So last year when I got the email about the 30-Day Minimalism Game, I dived in without a second’s hesitation. The game traditionally starts on May 1 and the rules state that players must get rid of one item on May 1, two on May 2, and so on all the way to 31 on May 31. I did the math–if the game is played correctly, a person will succeed in decluttering his or her life by a whopping 496 items. I had at least that much excess stuff! (This is where you can picture the Goat rolling his eyes and clutching his heart in reaction to my latest “thing,” but after I promised him that his vast personal accumulation of junk was sacrosanct, he got over it. Your husband will, too.)

Not sure that I could keep up with the demands, I played an amateur version. My birthday is May 18 so I set an end date of May 17 with its corresponding 153 discarded items. I fell short by about twenty items but still felt ridiculously self-righteous about my 133 discards. There’s another rule I bent. The Minimalists say each day’s haul must be trashed, sold, or donated by midnight. Most of my stuff was donated, and I wasn’t going to drive into town every day to get rid of it all. This flagrant disregard for the rules came with a drawback–more often than I care to admit, I found myself digging through a bag of discards, thinking I’d made a horrible mistake by tossing some precious “whatever.” Generally, I talked myself back into sanity before I found the item, but there’s a couple of pair of shoes somewhere that are sure to be first in this year’s discard pile.

So how about it? Does anybody want to play along? I bet you a pair of blown-out boots and a half-dozen mismatched socks I can last longer than you. But don’t despair–even if you fall miserably short of your goal, this is a game where the losers still win!