Friday, 27 May 2016

Give as a thank you for not needing to receive

I was watching a reality TV show a while back in which local businesses from whatever community the show is based in for that episode donate their time, expertise and materials to help out a family that's gone through a rough time.

They usually build and furnish new homes for these people, and the chosen family gets other gifts from local businesses like grocery gift cards or special needs babysitting services and such. And boy, do these families need these gifts!

When he was interviewed about why he was helping out a particular family, one of the professionals said something to the effect of "I give as a thank you for not needing to receive".

Isn't that a fantastic reason!?!

Many of us will go through good times and bad. When the bad times hit us, receiving from others can really help lift our spirits. It can sometimes be the pick-me-up we need to keep on keepin' on, if even just for another day.

Giving doesn't always need to be material things. Sometimes, it's a kind word, help with the kids, help with home cleaning, a ride to somewhere, a warm meal, a safe place to sleep, a shoulder to cry on, etc. And then, when you're in a better place, you can be the one giving as a thank you for not needing to receive.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Gifting on Buy Nothing Ottawa (Downtown)

A few weeks ago, I had my first experience with the Buy Nothing Ottawa (Downtown) group. I replied to a post from someone looking for a full length mirror. The one I offered wasn't exactly full length, but the woman was interested nonetheless. She dropped by on a Tuesday evening to pick it up. She seemed very happy and thanked me. We didn't chat very much. Later on in the evening she messaged me to thank me again.

So I decided to take action to get rid of the other extra items I own. I started by gifting a couple of lamps that I had in my bedroom in Orleans. They don't really fit well in the d├ęcor of my current place.

When I posted them to the group page, seven people showed interest. I wasn't quite sure how to choose who to give it too. So I let Mr. Romantic's daughter choose. However, that person couldn't pick up the lamps any time soon, so she suggested I pass them on to someone else. So I did.

The woman I ultimately gifted the lamps to has two young children and her husband works evenings. So instead of having her pick up the lamps, I offered to bring them to her. She, too, was grateful.

Although I liked helping out my neighbours, I don't feel like Buy Nothing Groups are for me. It takes more work to get rid of your things this way than to just drop them off at a local charity. So I guess I'll stay a member and just gift if people ask for something I have and want to get rid of. I'm always getting rid of something anyway...

I still think that these kinds of groups are a good idea. I'm just too impatient to get rid of my things in this manner.

If I was looking for new connections, I would most likely really enjoy this method of getting rid of my extra stuff. But for now, my life is still a little too busy and I prefer spending more time with my current loved ones than add extra time in getting rid of my things. So for my remaining items, I'll be donating them straight to charity.

Friday, 13 May 2016

I don't even remember

Over the weekend, my mother gave me a lawn chair that I bought for my dad during the summer of 2014. He used to love to spend his days outside during the warmer months and would often fall asleep on one regular chair with his feet up on another. So I bought him a reclining lawn chair hoping it would be more comfortable for him. He was too far gone with his COPD and never really got to enjoy it. So my mom asked if I'd like the chair back because she wasn't going to be using it either.

I have a lounge chair on my balcony at the moment. I accepted my mom's offer because I figured Mr. Romantic and I might sit out on the balcony from time to time, now that the days are getting warmer. Having two chairs would come in handy for that purpose.

When I got the chair back to my place and Mr. Romantic brought it out to the balcony, I was reminded of all the stuff I had stored out there during my bed bug scare. Remember my bed bug scare?

Well, now that a month has gone by, it's time to clear out my balcony. The thing is... I don't really remember what's in those bags except for a few pillows. I know there's a lot of stuff that belongs to my daughter, but whatever is mine seems to be fairly useless and meaningless to me at the moment.

Therefore, I will risk opening the bags to make sure the items can be donated (I really, really, don't remember what's in them...). Whatever can be donated will be. The remaining things: garbage!

I say "risk opening the bags" because by looking in them, I might be tempted to hold on to what's in them "just in case".

Nope, I'm not immune to that feeling. But if that feeling does come over me, I'll just have to remind myself that these things have been in hiding for over a month and I didn't even remember they were there. They haven't been missed, so why would I hold on to them?

So even though it's time to take care of what I've put out there on the balcony, it doesn't mean I have to take them back in.

Which reminds me. Remember my bin of odds and ends I wrote about on March 18? Well, I feel like enough time has gone by that I can get rid of whatever is in there, also. And as with the plastic bags on my balcony, I don't remember what I've put in that box either.

I must say, if you're on the fence about getting rid of something because you think you might miss it, box it up and put it out of sight. If after a month you can't even remember what's in there, I think it's fair to assume that you most likely can live without it.

Friday, 6 May 2016

The car

I lease a car. That's what I've always done since my first car. I like getting a new one every few years (although I don't particularly like the process) and even though you always have a car payment when you lease, it's less expensive in the short term compared to buying. I'm not saying you should lease rather than buy. I'm not even saying you should have a car. I'm just sharing what I do.

Having a car was a no-brainer for me when I lived in the suburbs. Especially when my daughter was little. I drove my car to work every day. As a single mom, I was the one responsible for leaving work early to go pick her up at school if she wasn't feeling well.

Now I live a 5-minute walk away from work, and my little girl is not so little anymore. I don't take my car every day. In fact, I use it on average only two to three times a week. For a while I considered and looked into a car-share program. You know, the ones were someone else is ultimately responsible for the car, you just reserve it and you either pay a monthly fee to use it, or you pay by use. But the thing is, with car-share programs, you're never guaranteed to get the car when you need it. Someone else may have reserved it before you. Or the person that had the car before you may return it late, which can complicate things for you if you haven't taken that into consideration.

I like having my car available to me whenever I need it. Even if I don't need it as often as I used to. Also, Mr. Romantic lives a 25-minute drive away from my place, and so does my mom. Taking my car to go see either them saves me a lot of time. I'd need to take up to two different buses to go visit either one of them if I didn't have a car, and it would take me anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours (or more) of travel time depending on when I would want to go (peak times during the week or the reduced weekend schedule). That's too inconvenient for me. (First world problems.)

Mr. Romantic and I have plans to travel with all of the kids (his two kids and my daughter, and perhaps my daughter's boyfriend). The little car I lease could accommodate five people, but probably not comfortably enough for an extended road trip.

When I was shopping for the new car, one of my friends suggested I take the whole crew into consideration (Mr. Romantic, his kids, and my daughter) and maybe get a minivan or a vehicle that seats 6 to 8 people.

I've borrowed minivans before. They consume a lot of fuel. And they're more expensive than the smaller cars I tend to lease. I'm pretty sure that I'll be able to count on one hand, maybe two, the amount of times where it would be convenient to have a minivan. In this case, it really isn't worth it to me to pay more for the convenience.

The solution? When we do plan whole-family road trips, we will also plan renting an appropriately sized vehicle for the occasion.

So even though I'm paying for something I don't necessarily need (it's definitely a want), I'm not going overboard in getting something more than what is useful for the majority of times when I do use it.