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Donations, Energy, and Relationships

In the past few weeks, I have been in the process of a grand cleaning-out of everything. As part of that process, I gave my ex-fiancé a deadline by which he had to come get his stuff out of my garage. I could barely walk through my garage, nor could I store many of my own things in it, and forget about parking in it. When he moved out more than a year and a half ago, he had left a small fraction of his things crammed in there, promising to come collect them right away. (That small fraction completely filled my garage. That gives you an idea of how much stuff he had total, and how completely unusable the entire house was until he moved out.)

Then one thing after another happened to him, starting within two weeks of him moving out, and out of sympathy, I allowed him many extensions of time for getting his stuff out. I think I am far too soft-hearted.

But at last I decided that, no matter what his personal difficulties were, taking care of his stuff wasn't my responsibility. So I gave him a deadline, after which, I said, I was calling the Salvation Army. I really didn't want to give his stuff away—I knew it all meant a great deal to him, all twelve of this and six of that and fourteen of the other. To say he was a collector would be to define the term.

Predictably, he showed up on the day of the deadline, and then we (my brother David, who was visiting, my ex-fiancé, and myself) spent all day Saturday going through the garage.

The reason three of us were out there was because I had privately told my brother that someone needed to be there to supervise, and I was not going to be able to keep an eye on the proceedings at all times. My ex-fiancé has a rather, shall we say, flexible idea of what's his and what belongs to others. I am reminded of the seagulls in Finding Nemo: Everything they saw that they wanted was theirs. Ditto the person in question. His rather loose approach to personal aquisitions was one of the major reasons he became an ex-fiancé. Others have commented on how he is "not a team player," which was another reason. But this essay is not about him, at least not personally. On with the story.

After a long, hot, and exhausting day of sorting and boxing and loading, there was quite a pile of stuff left behind that my ex-fiancé was unwilling to have anything further to do with. Now, I could have been hard-nosed about it and said it was his stuff, he had to be responsible for it, but if he had been capable of being responsible for his stuff, none of this would have been an issue in the first place. Since anyway I was already gathering things in the house for donating to the Salvation Army, I told him I was willing to donate his things too.

He was also going to leave a rather large pile of junk in my front yard, but I firmly told him he had to dump it. Fortunately for me (because I knew perfectly well he wouldn't be responsible for his junk), I had just rented a debris box for a massive yard clean-up project (involving hauling off a lot of junk he had left around the yard that he had promised he would handle; I finally gave up on that notion and decided to handle it myself by hiring a crew of workers). So I told him he could toss his stuff in the debris box. After some hesitation, he did it, then told me how he didn't "mind helping" me that way, as though he were doing me the favor instead of the other way around. I held my tongue. Debris boxes and the men to fill them are not cheap. This man had cost me money from start to finish, and I won't even start to go into the ways he did. I just want to allow the entire experience to flow into the past as a learning experience on many levels.

Donations and Energy

But about those donations. I have donated to the Salvation Army over the years, mostly because, of all the places you can donate to, I believe that they are more legitimate than most as far as actually selling the goods you donate instead of workers high-grading out the good stuff and selling only junk. That is one half of the equation. The other half is the moving of no-longer-wanted stuff out of one's house and energy field and releasing it to the universe. Sometimes it is just a few things; other times it is a lot. Sometimes it is something recently aquired and no longer wanted; other times it is something that was held on to for a long time, long past the time when it should have gone but held onto for a variety of reasons.

The act of releasing these items is also an act of releasing old ideas and old and/or stuck energy. Every thing you own represents energy, both your own and that of anyone who might have purchased that item for you or otherwise given it to you. Sometimes that energy is still good energy that you can still enjoy; other times it is not. In all cases, releasing that energy (that stuff) creates room in your life for new things. It starts stuck energy moving, perhaps slowly at first, but much more quickly eventually, and it helps improve your life in many ways.

In feng shui terms, clutter attracts and holds stagnant, negative energy. Clearing clutter releases that stagnant energy and allows good, fresh, moving energy to move into the cleared space. On a more practical level, I don't know of anyone who is truly comfortable with clutter—even the most entrenched packrat feels uncomfortable with his mess, no matter what he might say. Clearing out that clutter is a huge relief to anyone, and the mental and emotional lift that one gets every time one sees an area that is clear and clean is also, in a very practical way, good feng shui.

Donations and Relationships

Allow me to focus a bit on the idea that it is a good thing to let go of no-longer-wanted items. For instance, one of the things I had held onto was a dress that had never properly fit me and that wasn't really very flattering in its style. But the color and the material were beautiful, and I kept thinking that the next time I tried it on, some miracle would happen and the fit and flatter would improve. Finally, I got firm with myself, tried it on again with a more objective eye, and said to myself that it was time for this dress to go. It is a perfectly good dress—barely worn. In fact, I think I wore it three times total.

But it isn't right to hang onto it. I am not using it; someone else might as well get the good out of it that I cannot. So I put it into the donation box. Somewhere down the line, someone will be browsing the clothing racks at the Salvation Army and will be astonished and delighted to find this dress, and will buy it and love it and wear it until it falls apart.

You may question this scenario, but many people buy at the Salvation Army who won't admit it because of the stigma. But think of all the perfectly good clothes that are donated, not to mention furniture, record albums, and other household items that were good but just not wanted. I have found silk and linen blouses that have become favorite items that, yes, I wore until they wore out.

I even found a crisp white cotton men's tuxedo shirt in perfect condition that is my very favorite shirt right now—and it cost me $3.57. It would have cost me even less had I shopped on the right day. The Salvation Army has a regional center in Healdsburg, a town just up Highway 101 from where I live, where they collect everything, sort it, and sell many of the high-end items. On certain days of the month, some or all items are half off. (Silk ties: $1 instead of $2. And now one of my shopping secrets is out.) Yet, think about it—if I hadn't told anyone, who is to know whether that tuxedo shirt came directly from the tailor, or whether it took a more circuitous route into my closet? (I am complimented on it every time I wear it, by the way.)

Someone, somewhere, decided the shirt no longer fit, or perhaps never fit, and gave it away for someone else to enjoy. In this case, that someone else was me. It could have been someone else. It doesn't matter. The energy was kept moving, instead of staying stuck in someone's closet. The same goes for that beautiful dress I just donated. Instead of hanging, unused, in my closet, it is now out in the world, and will soon be available for the right person to find and love it.

I could, come to think of it, draw a strong analogy between that dress and relationships. Some relationships just don't fit and aren't flattering, and yet we hang onto them, hoping and wishing that the fit will miraculously improve. The relationship itself is not at fault, nor even are the people in it, no matter how heinous we may think their actions. It is just that the fit is not right, and the energy is stuck, unmoving, unwanted. Stuck energy doesn't feel good to anyone. When one realizes that, it is time to let go of the relationship; put it back on the rack or shelf, figuratively speaking, so that the person it is right for can come along and claim it. And everyone involved will feel much, much better.


I am in need of approx. 50 t-shirts and silk-screening of them for our hunger walk at the end of this month. I work for a homeless shelter and need the t=shirts for our volunteers to wear that day. Proceeds from the walk will benefit five shelters in So. California, ours being one.
Do you have any ideas for me? I have very little time, and no experience doing this. Thank you for your time. I enjoyed your philosophy on the above article.
Please write me at: lisa@ocinterfaithshelter.org
Thank you!

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