The Purse That Changed My Life

Do you ever wonder how some people just seem to have it “all together”?  I know I do.  That’s why it took me by surprise last fall when one of my co-workers expressed to me that she wished she could be like me and be so organized.

I smiled at her politely and said “Thanks” and then went on to remark about how close we are to Thanksgiving vacation and made other small talk to move on from the compliment.  Do you do that too?

Instead of walking away feeling so good about the compliment she just gave me, I walked away in a haze of disbelief while the voice in my head was laughing and saying “If she only knew…I’m not organized at all!  Clearly, she hasn’t seen my garage, car, closet, pantry, or my purse”.

Her compliment stayed with me and I let it sink in and fester rather than let it lift me up.  I should be more organized.  What’s wrong with me that I constantly fight this battle of being organized?

At what point are you actually organized rather than pretending you are organized?

When will this elusive organization show up at my house and stay for good rather than just being an overnight guest?

These are all questions I pondered for a while as I attempted to “organize my life”.

Then it happened one day.  I was shopping in the dollar spot at Target and I spotted her.  The organized woman.  I could just tell by  looking at her she had it together.

Her house?  Totally organized.

Her car?  Spotless…with Kleenex in the armrest.

Her pantry?  Organized and labeled.

Her closet?  I could tell it would be organized because she had on the cutest dark denim skinny jeans, a beige knit cardigan poncho, and camel colored driving mocs.  Have I told you I love driving mocs?

Then it jumped out and grabbed me.  Her purse.  The most gorgeous Dooney and Bourke purse I’ve ever seen.  It was casually hanging from her bangle clad forearm just above her perfectly manicured nails.  It took my breath away.  It was the most beautiful purse I had ever seen.

The color.

The tassels.

The gold zippers.

I lurked around the dollar spot studying her purse when she wasn’t watching.  I said to myself, “If I had a purse like that, it would be totally organized.  A purse like that would change my life”.

I went home on a mission to find the exact same purse…and was successful.

I e-mailed the link to my husband and declared if I received this purse for Christmas it would literally be the last purse I would ever ask for…like ever.   I’m pretty sure he rolled his eyes when he opened the e-mail.

Nonetheless, come Christmas morning, a beautifully wrapped box containing the most beautiful purse was waiting for me under the tree.  I carefully put my belongings in it deciding which amazing zippered pocket would hold each of my possessions.

It sat on the bench at the end of my bed all day and as I walked past I would stare at it lovingly and imagine myself shopping in the dollar spot invoking envy from other casual shoppers.  #bigdreams

I even painted my nails.

I put it on my arm and walked into the bathroom so I could gaze at myself in the mirror with the stunning purse on my arm.

Hey!  We’ve all done it and don’t pretend you haven’t.  We’re family here.

I imagined this was going to be the first day of the rest of my organized life.

It all started off swimmingly.  Everything stayed in its zippered pocket and it hung delightfully from my arm adding what I thought was an air of sophistication to my life.

Checking out at the grocery store became a joy as I plopped my purse up on the counter to have the cashier say, “Oh!  I love your purse!”.

As I would walk out of Publix I all but waved the beauty queen wave to the common shoppers with regular purses who I imagined were totally full of old gum wrappers and receipts.

As time went by, a funny thing happened.  Items began to roll around in the bottom of my purse and everything didn’t stay where it belonged.  Life became busy and receipts had to be put somewhere when you are wearing shorts that don’t have pockets (why, oh, why?).  Before I knew it, the most beautiful purse in the world looked like every other purse I had ever owned.

Then it dawned on me.  Maybe it’s not the purse.  Maybe it’s user error.

You see, this purse should have come with a warning, “Do not use under the influence of denial”.  It was time to stare a few truths down, eye to eye.

1). Never judge a book by its cover…or a purse.  Just because our exterior appears one way, does not always make it so.

2).  Everything is a work in progress.  This includes me and you.  Each day is a new day to clean out the gum wrappers, receipts, and toddler socks out of our purses and make the day just a little bit better.  The best changes don’t happen overnight…they curate over time.

3).  When friends are dishing out compliments…take them and let it lift you up, you don’t know when the next one will come your way.

4).  When you see greatness-speak truth to it.  I so wish I would have told the woman in Target how much I loved her purse.  A compliment is a mighty thing.

In the end, this purse did change my life.  It may not be the organized symbol of perfection in my life but it is a symbol in my life.  A symbol to keep going.

To keep working on my interior.

To clean out the clutter in my life and keep the important things where they belong.

To give and get compliments like they’re free, because they are.

YOU are so





smart…now go clean out your purse.  🙂

  1. Cindy in Oklahoma

    May 2, 2017 at 10:48 am

    This is so funny…. because… you know those incredible Barrington totes HiSugarPlum! often carries as she photographs her incredible travel and shopping adventures… well, I sprang for one of them several months ago and enjoyed a compliment or two the first few days I carried that black and white gingham monogrammed wonder…. and then, like you, it dawned on me…lovely and fun as a purse may be, it does not make the world a better place or me a better person. It only makes me a person with a cute purse. That’s not a characteristic tombstone worthy… if you know what I mean. But isn’t that what we have a tendency to do all too often? Cars, homes, clothes, phones, furnishings….. they’re all just things we’ll eventually have to replace or discard or sell… they don’t define us. The just keep us safe or warm or get us from point A to point B. I think you and I just got to point B with a purse.
    I’m so glad I started following your blog just a couple of days ago….as it afforded me the opportunity to put into words what I’d been pondering for months….more than just a coinkydink, yes?

    1. Nancy

      May 2, 2017 at 8:13 pm

      I’m so happy you are along for the ride too! I’ve learned this same lesson before to but apparently I need to be taught the lesson over and over again. I’m glad we both arrived at point B.


  2. Gina

    May 2, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Cute story.
    I enjoyed it very much since I got D&B in black Saffiano leather this Christmas. One by one each of my friends have purchased similar-looking purses! I like the deeper meaning your story.

    1. Nancy

      May 2, 2017 at 8:14 pm

      Thanks Gina. The very first purse I ever bought with my own money was a D & B purse with my money from my first job working the Burger King drive thru.
      Apparently I must have a weakness for them.


  3. Shirley @Housepitality Designs

    May 2, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Love, love this story!…..had to chuckle many times!….someone wise told me, that when someone compliments you, the first two words out of your mouth should be “thank you” … I know it’s hard….just today, I saw some ladies that I have not seen in years…they said, you look great…you look the same!…I came back with, “oh no, I look terrible” … well I just negated their statement…shame on me! …. so the next time a compliment comes your way or mine, we shall just say, “thank you” …. AND, I spy a Brighton heart in your purse…I nosed around!…could it be a tape measure … I have one…or a wallet? Love the purse! … and your are welcome!

    1. Nancy

      May 2, 2017 at 8:17 pm

      Oh sweet Shirley! You do look great and you go ahead and own that compliment! You have some good eyes. I do have a Brighton wallet I’ve carried for years and years. I always love it when you stop by.


      Thank you!



    May 2, 2017 at 11:51 pm

    Nancy, I really enjoyed reading your post. I always look forward to them!
    I love the Dooney and Bourke purses, too — and just had to have one when I saw it on QVC at a special price! It is something that I had always wanted to have!
    The first time I used my D & B purse, I went grocery shopping. I was putting some groceries in my grocery cart when a lady stopped me and said: “How can you justify spending all that money on your purse when there are people starving and need food?” Wow!
    When I got home, I told my husband about my experience and he could really see how this comment had affected me. To this day, every time I look at that purse, I am reminded of that lady’s comment. Even though we have always given to foodbanks, etc., that lady’s comment just seemed to challenge me to do more for others!
    My husband always comments that I shouldn’t feel so guilty as we enjoy helping those who need a helping hand and have always been that way. However, I just don’t enjoy my Dooney & Bourke purse now and am going to give it away to someone who would like to have it. For me, I’m going to try to do more for others! I have to go with my heart!
    I really do love the D & B handbags and have absolutely nothing against anyone who has one! So, Nancy, you enjoy yours! It was so nice of your hubby to buy one for you!

    1. Nancy

      May 7, 2017 at 7:22 pm

      I’m happy you took the comment of stranger in the grocery store and turned it to good in your life. I want to challenge you though to not stop your thinking about your purse to the ladies comment and let it make you feel like you shouldn’t carry the purse. Instead, why not think about her comment and use what you just shared with me to instead think, “When challenged by something that makes me stop and think, I use the challenge to be a force of good in the world. This purse reminds me that being open minded and when opportunities to do good work present themselves to me even in the most obscure way, I respond”. Wouldn’t that be better and more useful to your life?

      Because I can tell you Mary-Anne, most people don’t actually follow through and you are right in your community! It hurts my heart to think someone robbed you of something that gave you joy. Remember to take compliments in and give them freely, take critical comments and determine if there is validity to them. If there is and you can do something about it…do it. If there is nothing you can do then please remember the person giving the comment was really just out to hurt you. Don’t let that in.

      Much love,

  5. KariAnne Wood

    May 3, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    Ummm….I love the story.
    But I love that purse even more. Is that wrong? Can we still be friends if I go get a purse like you?
    I’m sure mine will be super organized.
    Not. 🙂
    Happy day rock star!

    1. Nancy

      May 7, 2017 at 7:11 pm

      Of course we can still be friends…we can be twins! So fun! I know yours will be super organized and probably will hold a wallet you crafted out of some burlap with pom poms on the corner…and it will be fabulous.


  6. Susie

    May 4, 2017 at 9:32 am

    I waited to read this post when I had plenty of time and a fresh cup of coffee. I planned it this way because I had a feeling that —like a fresh cup of coffee—this post needs to be savored. I really wished women weren’t defined by their purses –or manicures –or the bangles that dangle from the elbow to wrist. But often times, this does seeem to be the case. I love that you have put such a practice into the right perspective. I hope you aren’t disappointed when I say that the star of this post isn’t your lovely D&B purse. It is the sweet lesson and the openness in which you shared. Some writers just have a knack for getting to the point and sharing a great message. You are one of these writers —and that’s the highest compliment I know how to give. XOXOXO Sweet Friend. Susie from The Chelsea Project

    1. Nancy

      May 7, 2017 at 7:09 pm

      Oh Susie,

      Complimenting my writing is such a gift to me. Thank you! I never have a manicure, unless left over spray paint counts. Hahaha.


  7. CoCo

    May 4, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    Seriously one of my favorite posts you’ve ever written! That bag is totally fabulous. I can see why you were so smitten with it. I feel the same way! Every word you wrote was spot on. I don’t know why we don’t just take the compliment without saying the “if you only knew what I was (really) like” thought. I definitely need to work on this. Thanks for the sweet nudge. I think you’re fantastic! Hugs, CoCo

    1. Nancy

      May 7, 2017 at 7:07 pm

      So sweet Coco. I do still love the bag even though I know it is not going to magically make me organized. Thanks for the compliment. I think you are so creative, sweet, and smart…

      Your welcome.

  8. Beth

    May 8, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    OMG. I love this post. Can I like it one million times? I’m a total newbie here, but I can already tell that I have a crush on your blog.

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