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As seen in the Dayton Daily News on April 21, 2018.

I had the wonderful privilege of attending this year’s Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. The food, people and workshops were all first class. However, it had a similarity to many of the conferences I have attended, plenty of opportunity for collecting free items.

First up was the canvas conference bag filled with goodies that you get at the registration desk. As the women in line ahead of me were getting their bags, I paused and thought, “Do I really need that bag?” I decided it would be fun to replace my current writer’s bag with the Erma bag so I took one.

Later, we sat down for lovely dinner and I noticed the wine glasses at each place setting had Erma’s name on them. I thought, “Please don’t say we can keep the wine glasses. This one will be hard to resist.” Sure enough, the announcement came that they were ours to take home.

I had just entertained in our home the week before so I knew I had all the wine glasses I needed. I turned to the woman next to me and offered her the glass. She shared with me that over the years her wine glasses had broken and she would love to have mine. Perfect, my glass was going to a good home.

The next day, I was leaving a session and a woman walking next to me anxiously said, “Oh no, I lost the pen they gave out!” She was so upset.  I knew when I pulled my pen from the bag it would have Erma’s name on it. It did. I handed her my pen and said, “I want you to have mine.” She looked at me confused as if I had just offered her one of my kidneys. She tried to hand it back to me while hinting that it had magical writing abilities. She said she couldn’t dare take from me. I put my hands behind me so she couldn’t give it back and said, “I really want you to have it.”

Settling down into my next session, I was given a shiny gold crown sticker with lots of bling. Something about it made me think, “Ahhh, this is going to inspire me to write better.” No sooner did I have that thought, when a woman came into the room and was told there were no more crown stickers. She anxiously looked from table to table and said, “Will I be able to get one later?” I held my sticker up and said, “You can have mine.” She hesitated for a second before snatching it out of my hand.

There I sat with no wine glass, no magical pen and all of my inspiration now gone with the crown sticker. And I felt…Happy. Happy I made the other woman smile by giving away my freebies. Happy I have learned to be very careful about what I bring home because I know extra stuff, no matter how small, can add up to clutter if you don’t need it.

The next time you are presented with something free. Make sure you really need it. Luckily, I was able to write this article without owning a magical pen or inspiration gained from a crown sticker. J