47 Hankies

20150926_114447A friend of mine began her retirement this week. For months, she’s been sorting and donating and thinning her stash of worldly possessions, determined to lighten her load before this next phase of life. She mailed me a lovingly curated box of her odds and ends, with the note, “Hope this stuff is useful.”

Buttons and bells, keys and Altoid tins, ribbon and what-nots. Of course I find it all useful! So will the students I share these things with in my next round of creative reuse classes. But those items weren’t even the best part.

Cushioning all these things as they traveled from Illinois to Kentucky, was a layer of vintage handkerchiefs, collected from three generations of women in one family. The little box felt more like a clown car, as I pulled out one hanky, then another, and another, and another, until I had 47 handkerchiefs.

Have I mentioned that 47 is my number?

20150927_001051When you use a larger-than-the-actual-number to emphasize something – “There were a thousand kinds of ice cream!” or “I swear I’ve told him 50 times.” – what’s your go-to number? Ask my kids. They’ll be the first to tell you mine is 47. I always have “47 things to do” or “47 ideas for a project.” Now I have 47 hankies.

When I turned 44, I decided that was my year to “roll again.” The TARDIS earrings I got when I turned 46 inspired me to reflect on the ways I’m bigger on the inside. This year I turned 47 and received 47 handkerchiefs – an abundance of handkerchiefs! – reminding me of the abundance I enjoy every day.


I have so much, a list that now includes enough money to build outdoor storage for my creative reuse projects. I never lack for supplies or support and, even though we live paycheck to paycheck, my family always has what it needs.

Now, if you ever hear me worrying about something I lack, please remind me of the little piece of abundance I carry in my pocket.

Three generations of abundance. Forty-seven kinds of beautiful. Enough to last a lifetime.