With Spring Cleaning comes the burden of what to do with all the items that are purged. Some people just give it all away. They are thoughtful about the many who need everything - from big to small. Some people sell their unwanted items in order to recoup some of the cost or use the proceeds for something new. In other words, they are financially thoughtful. Some people don’t even bother to separate the useable vs. the trash so they just throw it ALL away. This thoughtfulness relates to the time and effort which could be better used doing things that are higher on their priority list. Like spending time with their kids or writing a thoughtful blog post. In my eyes, there is no right or wrong way to get rid of the items that you don’t use anymore. Either way, it should feel great once you let go of things that are not being used.
I think too much sometimes when I purge - which leads to piles of “stuff” that are waiting for something to happen. “Give”, “Sell”, “Trash” piles. At times when I see one of the $10/pair of Crewcut socks missing it’s mate (because kids lose a sock or two in their lifetime) I wonder: is this perfectly-almost-brand-new sock worth giving to Goodwill or do I throw it away? Or what about the dress that has a rip in it that I don’t want to repair but could be used by someone who would want to sew it? Is it ethically ok to donate? So the piles stay put while I figure it out. If it wasn’t for a friend that scooped up my hub’s old clothes to donate to Dress For Success, the piles of clothes would still be on my bedroom floor.
The following people have directly or indirectly influenced me into having a “system” of charitable thoughtfulness:
1 My organizer - Vasilia (click here for my past blog about her). Oh how I love this person who walked into my life in the Spring of 2011. When it comes to purging my wardrobe and closet I have two rules. I divide my clothes into seasons. This could be according to colors, textures, styles etc. Rule #1 - When I put away the Fall/Winter seasonal clothing, everything needs to fit into two clear Container Store bins that go under my bed. Rule #2 - The number of clothing articles that I take out for Spring/Summer need to match the number of hangers I have. I do not buy more hangers. These two rules keep my wardrobe limited and gets rid of the riffraff that I hang onto for “just in case” moments. I decided, if I ever get one of those huge, fancy, walk -in closets that has the couch, bear skin rug, purse and shoe shelves and jewelry display case, I would still stick to these two rules to keep my wardrobe from getting out of control. It helps me when I’m contemplating the purchase of a new article of clothing. Is it worth it to go thru the storage bin/hanger test? This method has made it easy to purge my clothes because I have to go thru my clothes when I’m taking them out of the bins and when I am putting them away. Every so often, I’ll bring my stuff in for consignment, getting the whole $5 for a dress that cost $125. Lately, I end up giving clothes away.
2 Until I met Carolyn, I never thought about what I gave away to charities such as Goodwill or Lupus Foundations. When our church reached out for donations for Simpson Housing, I sent an email to the women in charge of collecting the items. I got a call back from Carolyn saying she wanted to come over and see what I had. I had been hoarding a bunch of decoration knick knacks thinking that maybe someday I would use them again but deep down I knew I had outgrown the decor or changed my taste. When Carolyn walked in and saw what I had, she was surprised. I think her comment was something like, “Oh, you have real stuff that real people would use and like.” Huh? She explained that some of the items people would drop off at the church were worn out, blood-stained, ripped and/or so out of date that it was more work for the church to go thru the stuff than to just not accept anything at all. The goal is to put together a nice home for people transitioning out of homelessness. She said,”We are trying to give these families a fresh start to a new life. Why do people have the mentality that giving them worn out stuff is better than living on the street?” Carolyn is the Director of Technical Design for Kids Apparel for Target but she spends her “free time” creating real homes for real people, not a mishmash of necessities without any regard to how the home looks. She has an eye for interior design and she wants the best for these families who have nothing. She coordinates the bedding to match, curates furniture that actually functions and looks nice. She collects artwork and finds window treatments that tie everything together. What an honor to know her! And if you needed another reason to fall in love with thoughtful Carolyn…she takes brand new jackets that have rips or writing on them (because they are purchased for the sole purpose to use as a sample), and she repairs them in a very cute or cool way. Then she donates all of these jackets to kids who need them - last year it was well over 200 jackets. It wasn’t until after about the third time Carolyn came to the house to pick up my donations, that I learned what she did for her “day job”. Well, she had me at “A fresh start to a new life” - changing my entire outlook on what and why I give. And I have never looked back.
3 I’m always trying to identify the thoughtful opportunities around me and I caught a line from when the kids’ piano teacher shared a story about her father. The story goes something like this: Her father was looking across the street at the neighbors who had just come back from a trip to Europe and they were having a garage sale. Her father didn’t believe in garage sales because he felt “If I can afford to buy a new coat, I can afford to give the old one away.” When I heard that, it gave me a feeling that her father was a thoughtful person and I’m grateful that she shared that story because I felt a few light bulbs go off in my head. For me, it’s a lesson in letting go, hoping that the universe offers the items up to someone who could really use them. It’s about the full circle - giving back and keeping kindness going. It also made me realize that I am very blessed. When I have something new, I can give the old one away. It’s ok NOT to make any money off of it and it’s also ok NOT to keep the old item just because I have room for it. I will always remember being moved by that quote because it celebrates and humbles simultaneously which is what life seems to be about.
If you are someone who likes to get a good Spring Cleaning in, pat yourself on the back! There’s a whole lotta thoughtfulness that goes into it. Even if you’re the type that just throws it ALL away.