It all began as a suggestion on Facebook on New Year s Day about easing into a minimalist life by gradual de cluttering. Instead of making the usual resolution to lose weight, the suggestion was to lose a lot of weight in stuff. To further ease the thought of loss, the added suggestion was not to throw out what you didn’t need but to be thoughtful and find people who may use what you will give. The frequency to act on this resolution is daily. Hence, it is 2015, the giving year.
These are my almost end of year results and insights on living the giving year.
1. It helps to Ease into it.
The year began with sharing food. We all have holiday leftovers that wind up on our waist lines. It hurt me to share the whole wheel of cheese that your cousins sent you once a year. or the special hot chocolate mix or the champagne or the holiday ham. I waited the whole year for these treats and I was naturally planning to fill myself with pleasure to make up for next holiday season.
Surprisingly when you divide it in daily increments, it helps lead you to a healthier diet. Bringing two sandwiches to work (holiday ham or cheese), then sharing them with co-workers led to sharing the calories and experiences of their holiday too. It also declogged the fridge but only for a while because oddly, the idea was catching at work and I received eventually shared holiday treats as well. (Ferrero Rocher chocolate balls, butter cake, and fruit)
2. Giving away things you will never use
There are things you will never use because they are outdated or they no longer fit you or they never fit you in the first place. I had a box that I would fill everyday with things I had not used or worn for the past year. I put an item in everyday. Then I would it distribute bi-weekly. It was not an efficient system but eventually effective nevertheless: seven boxes for 2015 in total. The books and writing supplies went to a school that was flooded mid-year but these items were placed in the box fairly early. Some days there were two or three boxes in plain sight until I figured out where to send the stuff. Work outfits among others that were too tight ended up with my slimmer goddaughter who was off to business school. Holiday decor and holiday themed wares went to a sibling starting her coffee shop. A backpack went to the messenger who now delivers his items more neat and intact. Fashion items went to a cousin who lives in the country where the items are still on trend.
It really helps to give something knowing that other person will derive joy and functionality from its use. Bittersweet at times because that the slip dress looks gorgeous on that twenty year old.
3. Asking other family members to give away too
Children have the most to share because they outgrow toys and clothes. I begin by asking. I ask family members to notice what we don’t use for the last month. They should put it in the box that I put near the kitchen to catch these things that need to find another home. Most of the time, they will only part with two things. I encourage a contribution every week.
Then comes the cross-examination after a month. We go through their areas and often things frequently used are observable. They are at the top of the drawer or in the center of the closet. They smell freshly laundered. Then they reveal the effects of growth and it is all too easy to see the items that no longer fit or a fashion trend they outgrew. (Two boxes not bad). Oddly I found friends and co workers at the start of school season who had children and thought these things were soft, useful and cool.
The odd thing about giving is you must open your hands to receive as well. Hence family members ended up having their own set of age appropriate outfits when school started as well.
So far, this resolution has yielded for the most part : decrease in the amount of things in our home. It has also Increased the space for living abundantly. It has connected me to other generous spirits. Along the way, I also lost some weight. I didn’t expect I would receive so much on our giving year.