I’ve made a little more progress today, letting go of some really sticky stuff. Every day, I find a new way to think about each item, deciding if it stays or goes.
Books were the hardest. We love to read and reread our books, and we have eclectic tastes. Books had taken over our house.
Yet to date, we have packed up over fifty boxes of books. Yes, you read that right! (Fear not, we still have plenty of books left….)
Now, I’ve tried for several years to part with some of those books. How was I able to suddenly cull out 75% of my titles?
And what made me finally let go of a knitting machine, a camera stand with lights, a slide projector and screen? (I can just hear the little hectoring voice in the back saying, “Besides the fact that they’re all so outdated?” Hey, it’s still good stuff!)
Here’s what: I donated them to groups that would benefit hugely.
A friend works in program services at a county jail. When I first mentioned getting rid of some books, he said, “I’ll take ‘em! I’ve been wanting to beef up our library at the jail.”
It’s odd, but somehow the thought of my books being read by someone down on their luck, someone who’s taken a few too many wrong turns in life, someone who was so bored they’d read anything, someone who might think, “Hey…that was a good story!”…was compelling. And liberating. We quickly filled seven boxes of books and gave them to John. (It helps that he came to pick them up, too.)
He was impressed with our selection. “Not a single *$#!# romance, either!” he said admiringly. (Apparently people tend to donate romance novels to jails. Go figure.)
He said he’d name the library after us. Well! If that’s the case, we’d better give ‘em even more books! So we filled seven more boxes. “The Udell Memorial Library?” I suggested. “Nah, that would mean you’re dead,” replied John. Oh.
We packed up another ten boxes. Then a dozen. Finally, John said “uncle!” But he gave us the name of another program manager at another jail–who was also delighted to have our books. He even came to get them, too. We gave him fifteen boxes. Another twenty-four sit in our garage waiting for him. Hmmm…I guess that’s more than fifty boxes.
Tip: For each book, we decided if we could easily find it at the library, or if we could easily find the information on the internet, it left the building. Ditto if we didn’t want to reread it, or if we had multiple copies.
The big-ticket items were set free soon after. A dear friend mentioned that the non-profit arts center she works for was having a fund-raising yard sale soon. Would I consider giving them some stuff? I could give to a good cause, and get a tax deduction to boot. She even offered to pick up whatever I was willing to donate.
Turns out some of the items are coveted by the center itself. So maybe my donations will end up helping many budding artists and craftspeople. I found myself adding to the pile throughout the day.
There’s something compelling about knowing our donations might change someone’s life for the better.
Suddenly, it’s clear that hoarding something I know in my heart I will never use again, feels wrong. Letting it go to a good cause simply feels right.
So think of a group or cause that would benefit from your old stuff. Somehow it makes it easier to let go.
Maybe it’s part of that legacy thing I was talking about yesterday.