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Imbolc “Lighten Your Load” Challenge

Imbolc is traditionally a time to clean out the cobwebs of winter in preparation for the spring months.

This year, I decided to celebrate the week of Imbolc by getting rid of clutter from my house.  I started this project a little early to give you time to try it if you want to.  We’ve four days until Imbolc, so start today if you want to try it with me!

I call this the Imbolc “Lighten Your Load” challenge.

The rule is simple:  get rid of at least five things per day for the next four days.  I often exceeded five items per day, but that’s the minimum.

Far from “giving up” things, I have found that letting go of stuff is actually spiritually uplifting and a wonderful way to get the energy moving in my home.

During the course of this challenge, I tried to give as much to charity as possible, gave some away, and recycled or “freecycled” the rest.

Day 1

I started with my worst weakness: books.  I have a hard time getting rid of books.  I always tell myself I will re-read them someday, but the truth is, I can count on one hand the number of books I have read more than once in my whole life.  I am not a re-reader.  I like fresh material.  So on Day 1, I started digging through my bookshelf to find titles that I’ve either already read or am probably never going to read.

While I’m doing my Imbolc cleaning, looks like my coffee table could stand a dusting.

Lighten Your Load

Day 2

Think of a child in a room full of toys.  He is overwhelmed by the options.  Though he may pick up a few toys and play with them briefly, nothing seems to grab his attention long enough for him to use his imagination or think very deeply about it.

Now put the same in a room with a plain old stick from the back yard.  Suddenly, this mundane object becomes a sword.  The child is a knight in a castle with a sword!  Or maybe it is a wand.  The child is a wizard at a school for sorcerers!

In this same way, the less we have to work with, the more we tend to do with what we have.  Remember this as you continue your journey to clear the cobwebs from your life and your spirit during the season of Imbolc.

On Day 2 of the Lighten Your Load challenge, I am clearing out odds and ends from my crafting closet.

I think all crafty people are guilty of hanging on to things that they will make “something” out of “someday.”  Like the child’s toys in the above story, our art and craft or hobby supplies tend to multiply.  The more they do, the more we seem to put off making good use of them.

Think of getting rid of excess craft or hobby supplies as trading in a material object in exchange for real inspiration.

I have had these wine bottles for like 2 years.

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There are all kinds of cool things you can do with wine bottles, but it’s not like they’re going out of style.  I am sure if I make up my mind to do something with wine bottles, I will be able to scrounge some up somewhere.  In the meantime, these are just taking up space.

Whatever your out-of-control hobby is,  take 20 minutes today to make space for a new idea.

The takeaway message today:  clutter impedes creativity.

Day 3

I want to talk about generosity of spirit, and how it relates to my little de-cluttering project.

I said in the beginning that I wanted to either recycle, give away or donate everything I am getting rid of.  Today I want to focus on the “giving away” part.

Recycling and donating to charity are both wonderful things to do, but they are somewhat mindless acts.  You send whatever it is off into the hands of someone else and they figure out how best to put it to use.

Giving things away takes a little more thought.  After all, I don’t want my clutter to become yours.  But I may have something you’re much better suited to put to use.

For example, I have an older model GPS.  It works fine, but my husband upgraded his GPS and gave his old one to me.

(This is how the chain goes in my house as far as electronics—I could care less about having the latest technology.  So my husband gets something new, and I get whatever he had before, which is always newer than what I have now.  Everyone wins.)

I thought about who might want the GPS and I remembered someone on the housekeeping staff where I work needed a GPS.  She is new to this country from Guatamala and doesn’t know her way around.  So I set the GPS to Spanish language mode and delighted her with exactly what she needed.

It took a little longer than in would have to simply drop it off somewhere, but it was so rewarding!

I moved on to my DVD collection, which is kind of dated format at this point.  Still, they can be useful to the right person.  Personally, I think it’s annoying to follow dance and fitness CDs on a laptop, and really, really annoying to try to do it with a phone.  DVDs still offer me the most practical format in that sense.

So I have a habit of collecting them.  Fortunately , now that I am teaching dance and fitness, I know a lot of people who would be happy to have them.  I went through today and found some that I never use to give away.

I was not sure what to do with the Bill Cosby, however.  That’s . . . kind of awkward now.

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Today, I want you to think about what you have that you don’t need but could give to someone else who does.  It’s not really a gift, and it certainly isn’t charity.  You’re just employing the common sense of moving a useful object where it is no longer needed to somewhere that it is needed.  The materialism of our consumer culture tends to strip us of this kind of thinking.  Reclaim it!  Whatever you send out, you’ll be amazed to find that sooner or later, it comes back to you in the form of something you really can use.

Try it.

Day 4

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A gloomy, overcast day is the perfect time to clear out closets and make a donation trip to the local thrift store.

Today, I went through clothes.  It’s amazing how many of them I have, and yet I always feel like there’s nothing to wear.  In my current state as a heavily pregnant lady, I have decided to give away most of my pre-pregnancy clothes and start over fresh as I lose the baby weight.   I don’t want to feel discouraged if I don’t fit into them right away.  Plus, it’ll be a nice motivation to climb into a whole new wardrobe after I get back down to a healthy postpartum weight!

Giving things away in good spirit is an important part of the process for me.  Clothes in particular are a special kind of blessing to pass on.  Taking the time to wash and smudge them before dropping them off at the Salvation Army is a nice touch if you have a minute to devote to it.

Personally, I believe the act of anonymously donating to a charity organization without knowing exactly who will benefit from it or how makes the good karma that results a nifty kind of mystery.

The more I give away, the richer I feel.  The air in the house is beginning to feel lighter.  I am enjoying this little purge so much, I think I may start doing it every year.

Lesson of the day?  Have faith that all you give away will be returned to you in a new and different form.

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