The countdown to the year-end ritual of flocking to malls and online stores is upon us. Care to guess where you’ll find me? Dashing (as usual) in the opposite direction.
When the holiday freneticism is unavoidable at every turn, there’s something wonderfully delightful and perhaps a little bit deviant about choosing to swim against the mainstream current. I actually manage to avoid stress and languishing in long lines, all while fully embracing the season’s spirit of generosity on my own terms.
I’ve never understood why, as a society, we collectively wait to the last minute – or in this case, the last month of the year – to squeeze in all the big-heartedness and giving we possibly can that could have been applied liberally throughout the previous eleven months of the year.
And so it was many Decembers ago that I stumbled upon a way to create my own tradition and reclaim this month as an occasion to focus on what matters most to me: the gift of connection. Connections are those tangible intangible non-thingie things that are impossible to package in a box covered with fancy wrapping, bobbles and ribbons. Among my favorites are sharing a home-cooked meal with friends, getting lost in an engaging story, taking a new path on an afternoon walk, and making time to let my creativity run wild. Regardless of how hard they try, retailers cannot sell connection. But boy, do they try.
Every single day we are met with opportunities to make choices: from the people we invite into our lives, to the clothes we put on our backs, to the music that entertains us while we clean the house (that’s not just me, right?). For many of us, shelves and closets and cupboards are bedecked with connections from the wide array of people, experiences and transitions we’ve accumulated. And what better time than now, the end of the year – a prelude to the new one – is as perfect a time as any to hit the proverbial reset button and reassess and connect with what is meaningful in our lives. Where to start? Right where you are and where you want to be.
Connect with your goals and desires
The satisfaction we get from making a conscious choice to take the time to make room for what matters often clears the way for a variety of mores to enter our lives: more inspiration, more prosperity, more time, more productivity, more direction, more fun, and more control.
What do you want to achieve or change? What’s the first step? When we’re true to what we really want and begin make space for it, we connect more deeply to what motivates and excites us. Ultimately, this leads to more authentic connections with those around us.
Connect with what has meaning
Look around you. What is there for the sake of having it? Is there something that keeps getting shoved out of the way, that’s blocking the path to something more significant, useful, essential or practical? Does whatever it is serve you in the here and now and allow you to connect with a meaningful moment and time of your life? Decide if it needs to live somewhere else, or if you really need it.
When our surroundings energize and inspire us, we are honoring what’s important from the inside out.
Connect what you wish to set free with those who can benefit from them
When you’re empowered with the fact that others can and will directly benefit from what you no longer wish to keep it’s easier to let go and allow yourself to move forward.
Even before aspirations such as San Francisco’s goal of zero waste by 2020, a wide array of nonprofit and alternative community outlets have existed to enable us to divest of our things responsibly and keep them in useful circulation. We are so fortunate in the Bay Area with the many opportunities we can provide for others to connect more deeply in their lives and pursuits.
Locally, we’ve got SF Goodwill’s annual December 31st Donate-a-thon which provides a chance to carve out a little time to make connections. If you participate in Goodwill’s Donate-a-thon, by simply donating and creating more space in your life, you will be entered in a raffle to win a home organizing assessment with yours truly. How cool is that? Your generosity will lead to one form of liberated spaces or another. And just remember, it’s not something you can find on the shelf of a store!
Just over a month ago, I was invited by Goodwill of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties to write a blog post containing some of my views and reflections on what this end time of year is all about. That’s what you’ve got above. The original post and details of the raffle can be found here.