When I first decided to pare down my life and my possessions it was really a personal, even private, decision. It wasn't that I was trying to keep it a secret. I just didn't think anyone else would be interested.
I knew that I had too much stuff and that I needed to simplify my life. Simplifying to me meant more than just getting rid of things and objects. I had "stuff and junk" in my life that needed to go.
One weekend I was listening to NPR on my laptop, and the program Weekend America was asking for input on a story. Their question was, "How do you tell the difference between wants and needs." Several weeks earlier I had heard a story about a woman living in an 84 square foot house who limits herself to 300 things. That sounded interesting so I decided to see how many things I owned.
I sent an e-mail to Weekend America about how I was defining wants and needs in relation to my new goal of 500 things.
Soon after, I got an e-mail from one of their producers, asking if it was alright to call me. We spoke on the phone for about 20 minutes. He liked the story and said he was going to "shop it around." I didn't really know what that meant. During the call he asked if I was blogging about the 500 things. He thought people might be interested in reading about it. I dismissed his comment as simple courtesy.
Two days later I get a call from Chris at The Story. He interviews me for another 15 or 20 minutes and says they want to use my story on "The Story." I was laughing when I hung up the phone. You can listen to my interview here.
Several weeks later I am sitting in a radio studio in Twin Falls, being interviewed by Dick Gordon. I sent e-mails to all my family and friends, and some co-workers. I really figured they would be the only ones who would listen. Yes, I know it's a nationally syndicated program, but the idea that other people would listen to my story just didn't cross my mind at the time.
I got great response from my circle of listeners. Encouragement, shock, laughter, curiosity - everyone I e-mailed had some feedback for me. I loved it. I thought that was it.
Periodically I google my name, just to see what comes up (You do the same thing, admit it). I can't believe how many "Chris McNaught's" there are in the world.
In the search there were several mentions of "My 500 Things." I googled that. The results amazed me. There were other people actually blogging about my story. Are you kidding me?
That was the first time I realized that strangers, people I didn't know, had listened to me on the radio. I clicked on the links, read the blogs, responded to some.
Thanks to the following people for spreading my "message."
MJ at The Goosepath
Grant is blogging about his 600 things, chronicling the process of paring down. He was also interviewed by "The Story."
Since the interview, I have continued to simplify. One of the most fun things I have done is donate my childhood teddy bears to McKallie's Home of Future and Hope, an orphanage in Malawi, Africa. I'm waiting for Tracy to return from her most recent trip. She's bringing me pictures of the bears' new owners.