I read author Daniel Pink's comment in an Oprah interview and it really struck me- "An entire industry revolves around storing our excess stuff". Wow!
Every other corner in South Florida has some sort of storage facility on it, where many of us who traded larger homes for a piece of paradise have put all that excess stuff. And some of us have kept it there for years! Particularly now, I just started to imagine how many families there are who have nothing who could use all of that perfectly good "stuff"...
The next day I picked up a "tweet" from a friend on "Letting Go" and I was reminded of my savior, Melody Beattie, and her book, "The Language of Letting Go", the contents of which has helped me keep my sanity during some challenging years.
Why do we choose to hang on? What is the thing that makes it impossible for us to let go of old "stuff"?Whether we can touch it or we feel it, it's still "stuff" we're clinging to.
For each of us, the reasons are different, and I don't have all the answers, but I do know, that when I declared to the world that I was going to begin to clear out my "stuff", and I started getting rid of it, new possibilities emerged. And I'm certain that it's that simple.
Have you ever raised guppies in a fish tank with your kids? Did you notice what happens when the fish multiply to the point of the tank being full? The fish stop reproducing! The environment can't take on any more without harming that which exists already. So, if your environment is overflowing with stuff, and your mind is clinging to old beliefs and patterns, nothing new can be added. There just isn't any room. Simple.
The good news is, there are plenty of wonderful ways to get rid of your "stuff". And, trust me, if they are on my list, they had to be easy to do!
Here's the secret, just get started.
It's OK not to make this a monumental project-one box at a time will do. And yes, it takes time. This is not a weekend project. It took us years to collect all that "stuff", so give yourself permission to take some time to get rid of it. I did.
For ease of disposal, Goodwill is my national organization of choice. If I decide today that I want to give something away, all I have to do is put it in my car and drive it 10 minutes away to drop it off. They are open 7 days per week. And I get a tax receipt, too. In my local area we have a great collection of drop off thrift stores that benefit a number of good causes, too. A quick internet search for Thrift Stores in your area should provide you with a list of more than you need. And for clearing out the garage of miscellaneous hardware and construction materials, there is no better solution than the Habit for Humanity Re-Stores.
AVDA (Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse) will come to your house to pick up your discards, as will most of the Veteran's organizations. Call ahead to find out what they need.
And yes, you can donate a car even if it doesn't run, and most of the processing companies will pay for the towing. Simply send them the title, and leave the keys somewhere for the towing company to find them.
Check with your charity of choice, most have a processing partnership that in handled completely online! Last year I came to terms with clearing my driveway of my quickly deteriorating 1987 Corvette by donating it to Habitat for Humanity. They got cash, I got a tax deduction, and I turned lots of negative, blocked energy into a true feeling of goodness.
If you haven't discovered Freecycle.com, now is the time. Every area has a group. Login to become a member and start giving away your old "stuff".
Craigslist.org works, too. Both of these require some effort on your part to coordinate pickups, etc., and I suggest setting up a pickup process that does protect some of your privacy.
I no longer have ballgowns in my closet, but if I did, I would consider consigning them. Every area has these great shops-search your local directories and ask for recommendations from friends for the best ones. You can even consign quality furniture. Some areas have specialty consignment shops, i.e. baby and children's clothing and toys. When my daughter was little, I was a regular at these stores.
How many business suits does one woman need? Or shoes? Or handbags? Or briefcases?
If you're closet is overflowing, clear out some of the items you don't wear and help a woman gain some dignity in the process. If you haven't worn it in a year, give it away, and make room for some new energy! Visit www.dressforsuccess.org for collection offices and programs in your area.
In my area we have quite a few options for those boxes of books you've been hanging on to. "Friends of the Library" is a favorite of mine. Most libraries have a used book sale section that is filled with books donated by people like you and me. And most of the thrift stores take them, too. A word of caution, here, do make sure that they want the books you are donating, or they may end up in the landfill.
Creative Re-Use Centers:
In a few places across the country, a new donation center concept is emerging. Here in South Florida, we have Trash to Treasure Creative Reuse Center in Ft. Lauderdale and in West Palm Beach, The Resource Depot. These centers accept "clean scrap" donations of anything that can be re-purposed in a creative way. So if you're like me, and your children are now grown, and you have closets and drawers full of craft materials and supplies, please donate them to a center like these.
For some of you, this is a dirty word, but in my house, I am proud to say that I have turned many "lovingly used" items into gifts. Passing books along to friends is a favorite of mine. Attach a note and pass along your good thoughts and well wishes, featuring the wonderful benefit you received from the story or message of the book and how you wish that for the new reader.
What's wrong with sharing the joy you received from an item with someone new? I learned this lesson as a child from a great aunt who lived to be 99 years old. In her later years, she began re-gifting items to family and friends when, in her words, she was still able to enjoy seeing the joy the gift brought to each of us. You too, can carry on that tradition.
And for those items that never even came out of the box, there's always the office or association grab bag event to make good use of them.
One last note on donations: With all of these options, please don't just drop a box and run. Do your homework, and make sure that the organization wants what you are bringing to them. Otherwise, your good intentions will turn into a headache for the organization, and likely, just end up in the trash.
Now for the hard part...now that you're on your way to getting rid of the stuff you can touch, how 'bout the "stuff" you can feel? Remember, I mentioned "Letting Go", as in letting go of emotional baggage, old beliefs and negative self-talk...we need to do that, too.
I know it's easier said than done. So, pick up a copy of "The Language of Letting Go" by Melody Beattie, and/or "The Language of Letting Go Journal" if you're ready to begin this process, and you'll be guided along by the woman who has made helping people "let go" her life's work. You can even purchase this wonderful book of daily meditations "pre-owned" for as little as $3.94.
With my old "stuff" well on the way to being cleared out, I choose to focus on these "letting go" principles:
I choose to let go of what used to be
I choose to let go of what could have been
I choose to let go of lost loves
I choose to let go of past resentments
I choose to let go of judgements
I choose to let go of self-doubt
I choose to let go of limiting beliefs
I choose to let go of old identities
I choose to let go of expectations
and pre-determined outcomes
And I choose to let go of my need to control!
Why do I do this? Why have I made these affirmations a part of my daily process for years?
Because I know that when I do, I make room for letting the good "stuff' happen. It's a simple law of nature.
I know that each day I donate one more item, repeat one more affirmation, and discard one more hint of old beliefs, is a day that I open myself up to limitless possibility. And I'll take the joy that comes with that over clinging to my old "stuff" any day!