What Brings You Joy? Tidying Up With Intention.

This is a guest blog post by Hydaway ambassador and English teacher Dana Foley. Find her on Instagram at @illreadwhatsheread where she’s always recommending the best books.

Happy New Year!  By the time we all start writing the correct year down, it will be time to adjust our watches for spring. I fear I am aging myself here in the realm of online billpay and smart watches.  What I do know is that the new year is a big time for a “new you.” One can’t miss the ads everywhere. Do this workout! Organize this closet! Try this diet! While these are all great plans, what do you do with the ‘stuff’ that no longer brings you joy?  

There is an entire series on Netflix right now about organizing your life and reducing clutter and a lot can be said about that.  I own a LOT of clothing. Weirdly, I buy more jeans than anything else and am part of the minority who thinks it’s normal to relax in said pants.  With that said, I try and rotate my clothing so I am not wearing the same thing over and over. Once I have determined an item of clothing is banished from my wardrobe, it goes to a special spot in my closet where it ages for a while.  If not missed, it leaves the house.

I shall digress here a bit.  Have you been to a GoodWill or Salvation Army lately? It’s horrifying what they can’t use and what ends up in stacks never to see the light of day.  Dropping off is the preferred method of choice, as it is gone immediately. Out of sight, out of mind, right? And those of you who have young children know that hell hath no fury like a child seeing their items being purged.  Therein lies the problem. This leads me to my 2019 resolution, which was to donate with intention.

What in the world does donate with intention mean?  It means, dear reader, that I put a lot of thought into what gets dropped off.  When I sort through items I don’t mass donate anymore. The first thing I do is post it on my local Buy Nothing Page.  A Buy Nothing focuses on the saying ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. Something I don’t need may help another person save a few bucks.  These sites are hopping in the Chicagoland area. I post pictures of my items with a brief description, which I try to make witty, and people respond if they want it.  I choose a winner and they grab it off my porch. Recipients from my wealth of treasures end up with anything from a bread knife to books. Not everything is claimed from this page but I still don’t run to the local donation center.  Old blankets and towels go to various shelters around the area. Children’s toys and clothes I can’t hand down to my niece and nephew go to a local shelter that is for women and children only. Books are donated to classrooms and little lending libraries.  What’s left over still doesn’t go in the garbage, but goes to a donation center.

There is another trend popping up which I hope to partake in soon and that is a clothing exchange party.  Groups of women get together and bring all their clothes they no longer want or need and trade them! This is genius.  As I said, since I am such a clothes hoarder, I do still hand down a lot to a friend but recently I was on the receiving end and was thrilled with a new-to-me jacket!

If you’re reading this and nodding emphatically but are unsure where to start, start on Facebook, as that’s where these groups are formed. They’re community builders too. Just this morning a friend I hardly get to see during these cold winter months came by and traded her mason jars for my extra Christmas card covers.   She makes cookie boxes out of the recycled cards and I make candles from the mason jars! Traditionally a Buy Nothing page is formed by town or by zip code. If you don’t see one in your area and don’t want to form one of your own, you can always ask to join a neighboring group.

I don’t deny that this takes a little more time to do, but knowing that my unwanted items are now wanted is what brings me joy.  

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