So far, it has worked quite well. I have fewer belongings, which means I have more time to relax, play, and spend time with those I love.
But while I spent much of 2014 de-cluttering my 2,000 square-foot home to eventually downsize into a smaller place, I was having a difficult time parting with the things I still loved, but had no use for anymore.
What was I supposed to do with items I'd picked up during my travels but didn't need to keep? Or how could I part with a beautiful item from my childhood that was now stuffed into a box of other gems that never saw the light of day? Much of what I got rid of was sold or given away to charity, but there were certain items that I had an attachment to, or it was in great shape, or I just wanted someone special to have it.
And that's how I stumbled onto a fun and unique way to pass on my cherished possessions. Instead of tossing any hard-to-give-away items into a junk pile, or keeping them in a "just in case I'll want them later" box, I began gathering them with specific people in mind.
I started with my great-nieces in Italy. Since I was getting rid of many of my college-aged daughter's old things (with her permission!), I couldn't let just anyone have pieces of her childhood; I had to know that her most cherished trinkets and baubles were going to be loved on by some other little girls, too. So I packed up a box of some of her favorite—but outgrown—things, and sent them to my young nieces who were excited to receive some “gently used,” but new-to-them goodies from their cousin.
It was so much fun and it was so well received, that my year-long tradition was born. By the time I had sent almost a box per month that year, my great-nieces had received three, and many other people around the globe had received “boxes of love” from me, too.
My niece in North Carolina had just moved into her first apartment, so I sent a beautiful jewelry box from Santa Fe. I parted with it because I already had two unique jewelry boxes, so I chose the more useful one for me. I also sent her my practically-new craft scissors, along with a small rain stick that had been sitting on a shelf, dusty and unused.
I sent books to her sister in Portland since she's an avid reader, along with a purse I'd loved but no longer needed, and barely-used colored pencils because she designs her own cards as a business. Both girls not only loved receiving packages, but they were also touched with the items I'd chosen just for them.
I sent my mother in Chicago a box of books because, what else does a 92-year-old woman who is a voracious reader need?
I have always been a consistent weeder-outer, but I began to look forward to getting rid of my hard-to-let-go-of things each time I packed up a box for someone on my list. After all, I was brightening up someone's day because who doesn't love getting packages in the mail? And who doesn't love knowing that kindness is being sent around the world...literally? This was definitely (and still is) a win-win for both sender and receiver.
Just this week, I read an email from a former client whom I'd shared my strategy with: “I have been sewing up a storm, making gifts and mailing them, and having the best time...all thanks to you. Hugs!”
In honor of celebrating All that is Love month, when you find yourself weeding out the old, but don't want to just toss or junk your valuable and/or sentimental stuff, think of someone in your life who may appreciate your gently-used treasures, instead.
Then send the love...one box at a time. It might just make someone's day.