I'm working on the personal philosophy I'm going to live by this year. Yes, I know we're already into 2010 but I'm still establishing my mindset.
I was digging around in the basement storage and came upon a really good little excerpt I ran across several years ago. I am going to try my best to keep this in the front of my mind this year. I thought I'd share, as I know others can find this useful, too.
What do I have?
What does it mean?
Do I still want this in my life?
Do I need it in my life now?
Can I give any of my stuff away?
I decided several years ago that I couldn't bear to give my things to Goodwill for them to turn around and sell. It just didn't make any sense and maybe it's just me, but I didn't feel like I was really helping anyone. So.. I found the name of a local battered women and children's shelter. I didn't know anything about the place, other than what their services were but I called them anyway.
Sure enough, they were delighted that I had an entire walk-in closet full of perfectly good clothes and shoes that I could spare for women who, in many cases, left home with literally nothing but the clothes on their back.
They gave me the first name of a contact person and gave me an address. They told me the address was a local service station and that said contact person would meet me there at 1pm on Saturday.
I met Diana at the local service station with the entire back of the SUV full of nice, clean clothes and good looking shoes. Diana told me that they were virtually out of clothes and shoes and that what I was offering was perfect as many women they help are in desparate need of clothing suitable for finding a job and going to work.
We never talked any more about the shelter, but I could tell she was grateful and I can tell you that handing over my stuff was very, very humbling.
Many years ago as a know it all teenager I found myself in one of those terribly abusive relationships that I swore I would NEVER get into. I was a young, impressionable teenager.. he was five years older than me and just out of the service. I was stubborn and determined. He was insecure and jealous. There was a lot of bad, bad stuff.. which dragged out for five incredibly long years.
When I was 20, I remember getting a phone call very early one morning from my childhood friend's dad. He told me that my friend Jeni's husband had murdered her in a domestic dispute. I knew at that moment the reality of what could end up happening to me. I knew that it was time to go and it didn't matter what happened, nothing would be worse than what I had already endured... (ok so at least I hoped).
Anyway, I left the s.o.b.. I spent a lot of time scared of what he might do afterward, but eventually made peace and came to realize that all I could do is move on with my life and take whatever came at me. It was not an easy process but I got through it.
The day I met Diana and handed over my things, I realized that I could have been one of those women. I realized that my stuff was the least important thing in life. I felt happy knowing that the women who were going to wear those clothes were women who found the strength to bring themselves out of the darkest place in their lives.
Isn't it a great feeling when we can give to others? Not for prideful reasons, but for the wonderful reminders we receive? Knowing that we are not alone. It can be overwhelming if you stop to think about how many people can be impacted by one act of kindness.
I don't write this to say that I am noble or that I did something special.
I write this to encourage you to find a way to let go of some of the "stuff" in your life.
You never know. You might let go of a lot more than tangible things.