Today I was going to post words of wisdom from one of the many volumes suffusing our living spaces. A randomly chosen book; a randomly chosen page. I trust that Spirit will do the rest. As so it has.
Life is full
and overflowing with the new.
But it is necessary to empty out the old to make room
for the new to enter.
Footprints on the Path
I have no idea when Eileen actually wrote these words. Perhaps it doesn't really matter. What does matter is that this is a concept which has been repeating itself over and over again this year, and not just for me, but for others I know. This is not the first time I've heard the concept either. In fact, I thought my Father invented it!
Several years ago, my parents began practicing what I can only now assume to be this same wisdom. Shopping with my Mom, we perused and wandered through the mall, ending at our favorite store. We had fun picking things out, trying things on. What surprised me is when my Mom, potential new blouse in hand, stood very still and thoughtful. This deep musing confused me, and I just had to ask what was going on. That is when she informed me that my Dad had suggested that they begin an effort to never bring in anything new that there wasn't something that they could release, or Send Out into the World. My Mom was totally committed to the idea, but standing there, struggling to decide what she could part with, she suddenly turned and put the blouse back down, saying "I really like every thing I have".
And so it began. It's catchy...and challenging. At first introduction, it seems clever and easily done. It's a little different when you are standing in your favorite store with some coveted little item you've found! So you bring the item home, and find that you enjoy it, but the requirement to send something else out into the world enters into the picture. Believe me, the first few times this occurs, you will not just find one item to let go of, but will begin to see things Everywhere! Not just that sweater in the closet that you haven't worn in 4 years, but what about those crazy mittens you bought when on a trip and forgot your gloves? Those were only worn one weekend, 7 years ago! So you give away two, gain one.
Then, the concept gains momentum. You bring home one more thing, and give away 7 things. Then you find yourself with a box in the closet for those other things you come across that you know are out of style and better suited to Halloween costumes that taking space in your closet...and energy in your life. Then the seasons change. Summer turns to fall and we drag out our winter sweaters, our turtlenecks and fuzzy slippers. Go find another box for the sweaters you didn't wear, for that flannel nightgown your mother gave you last Christmas. Better to send them on to someone who will wear them all. Someone who would enjoy them, maybe who needs them desperately to stay warm this winter.
Needless to say, this moves from clothes, to shoes, to knick knacks and kitchen appliances. It becomes the Great Release. Why? In my experience, it requires a LOT of Enegry to care for and manage our over abundant possessions. I'm not just talking about vacuumming and dusting all of these things, but also the sheer effort of always having so much to choose from in all facets of our daily lives. How many of us have more than two or three pair of jeans? Lipsticks? T-shirts in the same color? It is in the giving away, the letting go that we find more of our time, our energy and ourselves. We begin to see that what we want to surround ourselves with is a true picture of Who We Are and what makes us happy.
And there's something else that we re-discover. This amazing transition occurs from a consciousness of
poverty and lack, to realizing how incredibly abundant all of life
really is! When we release all that is not a reflection of who we are now, and embrace what truly brings us joy we begin to find our way out of the stories that others have created for us about what we need, what we crave, what we Must Have. It's there every day in magazine ads, television and your in box promotions from your favorite stores. Must Have! One Day Only! So the letting go of small things leads to bigger things and space in our life opens up to allow new things to enter. I've always described this as the Universe abhors a Vacuum and will Move to Fill It. So the abundance that Spirit provides moves in when there is Space for It. And that means that it can come in many different forms. We just have to have the intention to open ourselves to let it Begin.
The other wonderful thing that occurs is that this is catchy. Watch. Mom starts to do it, and the children will do it too. Even the hubby who will decide that he really doesn't need two leaf blowers, regardless of the number of trees. It moves through families, through friendships. It passes along in skips and hops. Some people just aren't ready to let go quite yet. There are those who hang on to everything forever with the thinking that one day they will need it again, or find a use for some odd thing. And that's okay too. What kept me going is knowing that there is the helping quality, a sense of satisfaction when you can give something you no longer really use or need to someone who could Really Use It Now. Whether it is food, shelter, clothing.
There are all kinds of places to contact, places that coordinate Giving. There are charitable organizations that will take your donations and sell them to raise money for other purposes. One of my favorite now is the ReStore in Commerce. They sell donated items to raise money to build Habitat for Humanity houses. There are the Goodwill centers, the Salvation Army and perhaps even your church. Sometimes I find someone from Freecycle, a Yahoo! group that is free to join and where items are listed as Wanted and Taken, free to anyone in the group. I love the sense of Community in that.
There also has been a re-education for us. I used to collect books. Many books. A voracious reader in years past, 50 a year was average. After some long soul searching, and slow weaning, my husband and I seperated out about 200 books which we then took to the local library. They sold them to raise money for new books. After estimating the money spent, we decided for the years to come, that we will not buy books that we can borrow at the library. We also calculated the money spent on books, which does not seem much at $12 or so a purchase, but was a substantial amount over the course of a year. That amount we earmarked for a direct donation to be used in the way the charity of our choice decides. Less energy involved for all concerned, and the effect is the same.
This process has been ongoing for a year for us now, in earnest. I can honestly say that we have made great headway. I confess to owning far too many black sweaters, and too many pair of blue jeans, and well, there is still that 50 pairs of shoes! One day I will tackle that too. I promise. For now, I am just enjoying more free time to walk the dogs, snuggle the cats and write.
And here's the challenge with the Words of Wisdom for today: What can you Send Out into the World to fill a need for someone else, and make room for the New to come into your Life?
(and as an aside for Iveth, my sweet friend, who is now Master of the Process, you are a continual font of inspiration!)