Monday, November 4, 2013

30 days of giving (stuff) (away)

So I have seen many people on Facebook doing "30 days of gratitude,"  whereby they post a status update each day stating something for which they are grateful. This is done in honor of Thanksgiving this month, obviously. I am all for expressing gratitude because I think there are so many things, gigantic and minute, to be thankful for, that mostly get overlooked until we are forced to really take a closer look at the abundance in our lives. But rather than risk repeating others' sentiments, I thought of something a little different. For the month of November, as a way to demonstrate my gratitude for the bounty in my life, I am giving stuff away; I call this 30 days of giving. Clever, huh?

I have all kinds of ideas about stuff to give away. And, okay, I didn't initially conceive of this challenge as a heartfelt way to honor Thanksgiving. I really just had some junk taking up space in my house and I gave it away via the Freecycle Network and it was so great to get rid of some stuff that I thought, hey, I can do this every day! I can't guarantee I will be able to give one item away each day, but I do think it will be easy to give 30 items away in the month of November and I'm not even going to cheat and give away a pair of Martha's old snow boots and count that as two items. I already have a bag of kids' clothes ready to go and I'm counting the whole bag as one item. Generosity is the goal here. Also, clearing out some closet space.

Conveniently, as of today, the fourth day of November, I have given away four items:
  • 1 box of ceramic tiles left over from tiling a hallway in our basement (left by previous homeowners).
  • 1 box of slate tiles left over from tiling the front porch (also left by previous homeowners).
  • 1 old door, dragged home by me from someone else's garbage and intended to be used for something very cool and crafty (I don't know what exactly) several years ago (alas, my crafty dream was not to be realized).
  • 1 wooden bench with a hinged lid for storage, purchased for an old apartment I lived in in Boston, circa 1999. 
All four of these items I gave away through, which, if you've never heard of it, you should look up because it is a very handy way to connect your unwanted stuff to the people who may want or need the stuff and it keeps your junk out of the landfill and it generally makes the world a better, happier place. The first three items I posted as offers, but the fourth item, the bench, I gave away to a woman who placed a wanted ad looking for a bench to use for photo shoots. Do you see the balance and harmony of this? She needed a bench and I owned a bench (unwanted). We both walk away happy. And it conveniently gets me to four items given away in four days. Beautiful.

But I don't want to limit my giving strictly to my secondhand belongings. I can give my time and energy. I am already planning to give several monetary donations on November 14th, Minnesota's Give to the Max day. And I won't cheat there either and count each dollar as a separate item. I can give someone a ride. I can give someone coffee, bake cookies, buy someone lunch. What else can I give this month? If you have ideas, send them my way.

I should clarify a few things that won't qualify as "giving:" advice (especially unsolicited), compliments, a piece of my mind, the time of day, something to cry about, a shout out, a speech, a kick in the butt. I'm sure you can think of some more. There has to be some value to what I'm giving and although I happen to think I have some really valuable advice for countless people I know (as well as those I don't know), I can do that any time of the year and my advice might not necessarily be perceived as a gesture of generosity.

So, okay, let the giving begin. I have much to give, as I have been blessed with many things, both tangible and intangible. And instead of complaining about all that is missing from my life, I am going to focus on what others need that I am capable of offering. Give thanks. Or just give.
A symbol of my life: a veritable cornucopia of gifts

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