Letting go

The Joy Of Release

To truly be free we need to let go.

I realized that I’ve been holding on to bits and pieces of my past lives, carrying them with me every time I move. They clog up my house, they take over my closets, they tie me to a person I no longer am. They hold me back from becoming the person I truly am and want to be.

It’s time to clean house. Literally.

Tonight I went through closets and drawers, ruthlessly tossing the “one day I might use this” stuff. Because I won’t. I chucked the “it’s perfectly good” stuff. Because it’s perfectly good for someone else, not me. It’s not my taste and not my style, so why do I insist on keeping it?  No more.  Out it goes.

Pretty teal sheets? Never use them because they feel scratchy.  Goodbye.

Expensive dress?  Looks like hell on me, actually.  Goodbye.

Writing desk that my mother hand-stained for me when I was seven, but even she didn’t really like?  It just takes up space.  Goodbye.

A barely opened tube of Boudreaux’s Butt Paste? My son is almost five. Goodbye.

I’m tired of opening up closets, cabinets and drawers and being confronted by things that no longer have a useful life here. Tired of paying penance daily for bad buying decisions.  Tired of so much… well, crap, quite frankly.  So into a legion of trash bags it goes, destined for the dumpster or the nearest Good Will bin.  Good riddance.

It’s amazing how good this purging feels.  I thought I would feel guilty about getting rid of all of this “perfectly good  stuff,” but instead I feel refreshed, cleansed, renewed.  Even with the closet doors closed, the rooms now feel somehow lighter and more spacious when I walk into them.  The weight of the past is lifted. I’m free.

I’ve let go of the past.  And now I’ve made room for the future to come in.

Have you?

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My New Favorite Software

Freeplane in action

Today I think I met the software equivalent of my new best friend.

Between work stuff and personal stuff I do a lot of writing. Product literature, articles, blog posts, powerpoint presentations – you name it. Before I really start the writing part, I try to create an outline to organize my thoughts and keep my content in some kind of sane order. But here’s my problem – I tend to be a non-linear thinker. No matter how much room I leave in my initial outline for subsequent thoughts, I always end up with a page full of arrows and comments written sideways in the margins, or numbers and stars that point to more thoughts on a separate page that I inevitably misplace.

Today I found heaven.

Freeplane is a free mind-mapping program that is tailor-made for people like me. You start with a central concept, and then create branches off of it for each of the topics you want to cover. Each of these can be further branched off for subtopics, and so on.  Forgot a point? No problem. Freeplane lets you add additional branches wherever you want on the map, and it will shuffle everything around automatically to accomodate it. As far as I know, you can keep branching off endlessly, making it as complicated as your little heart desires.

Once you get to the writing part, you can collapse and expand the various branches so that you can focus on what you need instead of getting distracted by all the information at one time.

The app can be used on Mac or PC. (Yay! I use both.)

Download it. Use it. Enjoy it.  Never create a disorganized outline again.

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Synchronicity PostScript:

I posted this last night, and woke up this morning to find Chris Brogan talking about mind-mapping as well. Freaky.

Check out his post here to see how he’s using mind-mapping software (different package, but essentially the same thing) to help organize is business and keep him on track.

FREE – Illegal and Uncivilized?

photo by Marcin WicharyWhile doing some research for my potlatch post yesterday, I stumbled on this interesting little tidbit. It got cut from the original writing, but in retrospect I decided it was just too good not to share with you.

So we were talking about the potlatch and the ritual giving away of goods by tribes of the Pacific Northwest Coast.  Somewhere in the late 1800’s the meddling government agencies and missionaries in that territory decided that this practice just had to go.  They considered it “a worse than useless custom.”

According to these groups, the practice was flagrantly wasteful and flew in the face of “civilized” values, so they made it illegal. Yes, they made it a crime to give your stuff away. Punishable by imprisonment for 2 to 6 months, in fact.

In 1951 they decided that this law was a bit nutty (yes, it did take them 50+ years to come to this conclusion) and the laws banning potlatch were repealed.

Digital Potlatch – The case for giving it away for free

These days you can find information on just about anything for free. Home Depot gives away lots of how-to’s on their YouTube Channel. You can download books from Seth Godin and Chris Anderson at no charge. There are blogs, wiki’s, and specialty websites on just about everything imaginable. At no other point in history have so many people had so much access to so much knowledge, so much expertise, so much content. And it’s free.

Seems kind of counter-intuitive from a capitalist perspective. Why would you give something of value away when you could charge for it? What’s the value in that?

The art of giving away actually isn’t all that new of a concept. The indigenous cultures of the Pacific Northwest practiced potlatch, the redistribution and reciprocity of wealth, long before the digital age. In potlatch the one who dies with the least toys wins; status is raised by who gives away the most resources, not who accumulates the most. This ritual practice ensured that the basic needs of the entire group were met, and established and strengthened bonds between its members. By giving away freely to the people surrounding him, the host of the potlatch invested in his own long-term success through the recipients’ continued support.

Today’s “digital potlatch” works in much the same way, but with information being distributed instead of food and household goods. Those that have the knowledge give it away freely to those around them, which helps the recipients achieve success in some way. The recipients in turn become avid supporters of the knowledge giver, spreading the word about the good stuff the giver has to offer.

By giving away a portion of what you have to offer, you not only help others achieve success but invest in your own success as well. Seth Godin understood this when he gave away Ideavirus – he knew that circulating it free on the internet would get him more eyeballs much quicker than a book sitting on a shelf in the local bookstore (if the local bookstore was interested in carrying it at all), as well as the goodwill generated by “good stuff for free”. He now has an extremely loyal worldwide following that will support his ideas, buy his books, and probably put him up for the night if he asked them to.

Participate in the “digital potlatch” and share what you know. Redistribute the wealth. Be reciprocal. By sharing all this information we better ourselves as a group, and become more interconnected in the process. Isn’t that the real win?

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Photo credit: Denise Carbonell