How Giving Freely Changed My Life



This past weekend we did a massive ‘garage sale.’ What I do for garage sales, while living in an apartment, is take a picture of every item, upload them to Photobucket, put the description and price in the caption and then put an ad out there on Craigslist with the link. And boy did we get some hits on that ad. When we first moved to Texas we had so much stuff that it came in two long shipping containers. Now, everything could fit in a Uhaul van. We’re trying to get ready for buying that RV. So we decided to do a three part sale/giveaway. This is part one. Part two will be the leftover small things and part three will be our furniture, all of it. Here is how we did:

Sold on Craigslist: 39 items for $195

Sold on eBay (and still selling on eBay):  77 items for $425.73

Donated to people through Craigslist:  319 items

Donated to the Animal Shelter: 5 items

Dropped off items at our local (totally awesome) thrift shop, Treasure City Thrift (because I’ve seen Goodwill damage items they don’t keep- it’s their policy): 102 items

Sold books to Half Price Books (I’m doing that today, though I don’t expect much): 30 comic books/2 books

And that is all so great for us and is one step closer to fewer things so that we can live as simply as we would like to in our RV.

But here’s the best part…and where this title kicks in…

I have shared in my previous blogs, the power of letting go of a dollar figure, of how much you paid for something. Of looking at something that is a memory but you are only holding on for memory’s sake (even though you will have that memory with or without that thing) when someone else could be making memories with it.

I’ve shared about how I gave away my last Buffy the Vampire Slayer action figure (my favorite show, which I used to be a collector) to an older man and I sat outside with that man for a couple of hours just talking about stuff. My husband had to check on me to make sure nothing terrible happened.

It didn’t stop there.

I put up an ad for a basket of free clothes this weekend. After numerous calls for it I picked up the phone and talked to a man named Barry. He told me about a friend of his who lost everything in her storage unit because she could no longer afford it. I didn’t ask why she couldn’t afford it. Maybe it was poor financial decisions, maybe she lost her job. Either way, she was hurting for clothes. So I told him to head on over and I will gladly give him the basket. While Barry was on his way here I turned to my husband and said, “what if we gave him all of our clothes that we have up for sale?’ We had cut our wardrobe down by 50% and put every clothing item up for $1. There were 92 pieces of clothing. My husband said, “let’s do it.”

So when Barry got here (who, by the way, is an electrician and we had a super great conversation) I brought him up to our apartment, which is on the third floor, and when he walked in he pulled out 40 dollars and put it on the counter. This was just for the basket of free clothes. I told him he didn’t have to do that but he insisted. Then I told him that we decided to not only give him that basket but to give him every single piece of clothing that we had for sale too because we really wanted to help his friend. So we filled bag after bag with the clothes and Matt and I helped him carry it down to his car, talking along the way. Then Barry turned to me and handed me a $20 bill and said, “this is for the good deed.” I’m on the verge of tears writing this because I was so humbled. That was the moment when I really knew the statement of “what comes around goes around” really is true. If you do things from your heart and expect nothing in return, you will experience grand things.

And guess what…it didn’t stop there.

I had moments of people coming by to buy some stuff and one lady had two kids. So I told them to pick out some of the Star Wars figurines for free that my husband had collected and was selling. Their eyes lit up.

Then I met the most adorable couple who moved here to Austin from Ireland and they came for our Star Wars stuff. They were so sweet and we just sat in my second bedroom, where the stuff was, talking about all things geek. Then I pulled out some pogs I wood burned and gave them to her. I told her they mean a lot to me because I was trying to sell them for a while but when I saw how excited she got, I saw me in her. So I let her pick some and she walked away with 5-6 of them. Then she emailed me, when she got home, asking for contact information so if anyone likes the pins she can forward them to me so I can sell them. What comes around goes around.

I had so many wonderful conversations with Barry, that couple from Ireland, a grandmother and her kids, a woman named Patricia and another woman named Tami.

I went to meet Tami outside with three items because, at that point, I started giving away all of it for free. She thanked me for not being one of those “take all or nothing” people. I told her I just find that so wasteful to do because then people end up with stuff they don’t want. She was in her car and I was bent over leaning on her car talking to her. And we did that for 3.5 hours because we found we had so much in common and that we both needed one another for various reasons, even if it’s just that one conversation. Because really, it’s often the ‘one shot’ conversations with random strangers that we never forget.

Let me be frank, I’m an introverted person and I’m not the best conversation starter. I’m also not the greatest listener but I’m trying to get better. And I got so many opportunities this weekend to listen to so many stories. Stories  like Barry who once donated a lot of his stuff to a family whose apartment burnt down, to Tami who grew up with a dad who gardened so much that she didn’t have canned food until she went to a friends house, to Patricia who is vegetarian going vegan and we talked about and bonded over that, to a little girl telling me about her mom and how she takes care of rescue dogs – she was telling me this because she wanted to use her allowance to get a cat/dog brush I had to help out the dogs and I just gave it to her at that point.

I told my husband, I could just keep giving away things for free because you meet some wonderful people in the process. Don’t get me wrong, you occasionally have your greedy people. I had one today and I decided to not give him the items and instead give them to someone else. So he took the time to email me and tell me I’m a bitch. So, there are those people but really, most people are kind. This is a reminder that I needed.

So if I could recommend anything it would be to freely give, be it stuff, your time, your heart, your love. Freely give with no expectation of anything in return.

Lately I’ve been feeling frustrated with people, especially the other day when Bluehost and affiliated hosting companies went down. I went to the Bluehost feed just to see why my blog wasn’t up and saw that there was an outage. I figure, no worries. It’s just a blog and they will probably fix it, if not then life will go on. But I got kind of depressed when there was Tweet after Tweet of people saying how unacceptable it was that their blog wasn’t up, that they were going to boycott Bluehost, that they were ‘disappointed’ in this power outage. What was disappointing to me is how jacked in we are to our computers and precious blogs that when things go wrong, and things that were out of the control of the hosting company, (and it had only been 6 hours at that point) people complain about it. I felt very down about our society at that point and wondered, did they forget that there is a world outside their computer?

When I decided to give freely I regained my hope in people and I recommend all to do it. You’d be amazed the stories you’d learn if we, for once, forget about ourselves and our ego and hear what others have to say because we can learn a heck of a lot. I did.


9 thoughts on “How Giving Freely Changed My Life

  1. Anna says:

    Wow, thanks so much for writing & putting this out there. What a great reminder to put things in perspective.

    • aubrey says:

      Thank you Anna – this past weekend really put a whole heck of a lot into perspective, that’s for sure.

    • aubrey says:

      It truly did that for me because sometimes that hope in humanity, if I’m honest with myself, goes out the window quite a lot. We really need to be brought back down to what’s real if we allow others in every once in a while.

  2. Sarai says:

    Such an inspiring post, Aubrey. I’m so glad I stumbled upon it and your blog. I’m not the best conversationalist either (I prefer to listen), but I’m learning that it’s not necessary to be an A+ conversationalist to make a connection with another person. Just listening to another person’s story, and walking away learning something new no matter how small, is enough for me.

  3. Kate says:

    Wow, you are SUCH a giving person! Well done on making all of those people’s days with your small acts of kindness :)
    I am especially a fan of how you decided to donate all your clothes to the lady in need instead of just what was advertised, you probably made her week – maybe even her month!

  4. Erika says:

    Thank you for linking up, Aubrey! This is such an inspirational post! And it really lets us know how giving really can be the best gift we give OURSELVES! Because when you gave all of these things, you really enjoyed the feeling it provided and being able to give something to someone that they really needed. And it sounds like their sense of gratitude fed your sense of gratitude and just made for a positivity fest of awesome! What a great reminder and something for me to keep in mind! :)

  5. Tori says:

    Wow Aubrey what a great post! This is so inspiring. I was very moved reading some of these stories. I am moving to Portland next month from Orange County and will keep a lot of this in mind. I’m definitely an introvert as well but we introverts seek out and long for authentic interactions like the ones you had. Makes me so happy to read this:)

    Much love,

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