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Over the past several years, I've been learning the ins and outs of the local Goodwill while becoming acquainted with a variety of their staff who manage the entity that is the lifeblood of that operation: the donations department. Each time I visit and meet with them, I see and learn something new and amazing about their process while deepen relationships with phenomenally caring people. I also gain firsthand and shareable insight that enables many clients to let go of things that are cluttering their lives and taking up space that can best be used for other "things".

When these associates invited me to be a guest blogger for Goodwill of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin and to participate in the promotion of the annual Donate-a-thon on New Years Eve day, I had to say yes. My post, The Gift of Connection, is what follows. It is my take on how we can reclaim and redefine the holiday season, connect more deeply with our own goals and desires, and help our community achieve zero waste through everyday giving.

This is a piece that transcends San Francisco and the Bay Area: it's an invitation for anyone to connect in their own life, relationships, spaces and beyond.

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.

Kitchen Table Kibitzing is a community series for those who wish to share part of the evening around a virtual kitchen table with kossacks who are caring and supportive of one another. So bring your stories, jokes, photos, funny pics, music, and interesting videos, as well as links—including quotations—to diaries, news stories, and books that you think this community would appreciate.

Readers may notice that most who post diaries and comments in this series already know one another to some degree, but newcomers should not feel excluded. We welcome guests at our kitchen table, and hope to make some new friends as well.

Originally posted to Kitchen Table Kibitzing on Wed Dec 25, 2013 at 05:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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