Ultimate Spring Cleaning, Day 29: Be Charitable

by Michael on April 19, 2010 · 0 comments

They really want your bric-a-brac. (Photo by Antanith)

Ultimate Spring Cleaning is a 30-day project to clean and declutter not only your house, but your life. Each day you’ll get a housecleaning assignment, an assignment that involves the world around you, and a project to clear your mind. You can start anytime at the Ultimate Spring Cleaning main page.

On the penultimate day of Ultimate Spring Cleaning, we’re going to get more of that clutter out of your life, while simultaneously improving the lives of others. We’ll also get you out of the house while simultaneously bonding with friends, and upgrading your look while simultaneously taming your fear of ladies with nail files. Call it 2-for-1 Monday.

Your Home: Donate Stuff to Charity

Yesterday you separated all of your clutter into three piles, and dealt with the “sell” pile. Today let’s look at the “donate” pile. Everything in it should be clean (including all clothing—go ahead and give it a wash) and in good working condition with no missing parts. Books shouldn’t have torn pages. CDs/DVDs/LPs should be playable. Any torn, broken or simply worn-out items should be recycled or tossed.

Next, determine which charitable organization you’ll pick for your donation. There are a number of local and national choices, the two largest of which are Goodwill and The Salvation Army. Find the local branch of the organization and call to ask about their donation guidelines. Some may also come to you to pick up your unwanted goods.

You might be surprised to find that many charities won’t take certain computer items or TVs. That’s because old or broken computers and CRTs actually cost the charity money to dispose of them. However, some charities may take recent-model computers in top working condition.

Let the charity know in advance if you want a receipt for tax purposes. Keep in mind that in the US, the IRS sets limits on what you can claim as a charitable deduction. See the irs.gov website for details.

Really, it’s as simple as that. Donating is easy and makes sense for perfectly usable items that might not be worthwhile to sell. If you find that some of the items you’re trying to sell don’t have any takers, you should consider donating them as well.

Your World: Plan an Outdoor Activity

There’s nothing that bonds men closer than experiencing the great outdoors. Even if you want to make it a co-ed outing, you and your friends will share something you just can’t get at the ballgame or pub. Today you’re going to plan an outdoor activity for yourself and a few buddies.

I’m not suggesting that you take a week-long deep forest camping trip if you’ve never pitched a tent before. This can be a weekend at a public camping area with showers and food nearby, or even a day hike on a well-marked local trail or a Sunday morning fishing trip. Consider your own comfort level and that of your friends. Talk to them and incorporate their feedback on what they’d be interested in doing.

Then research the potential sites for your activity. Your local outdoor-gear store will stock guides on local sites, with maps, tips and cautions for each area. Study up on the place you want to go, and make copies of important information to hand out. If you’ll be hiking, make sure to hand out trail maps in case anyone strays from the group.

After you have the date and location, prepare the proper gear. This checklist from REI includes the “ten essentials” for basic backpacking and also the items you’re likely to need for a short camping trip (remember the Boy Scout motto: be prepared). Make note of the local wildlife. If you’ll be fishing, make sure someone in your party can safely operate the boat (and will stay sober) and that there will be enough flotation devices for everyone. Make use of anyone in your party with outdoors experience.

The important thing is to have fun, while staying safe. A secluded mountain hiking trail is not the place to get drunk, unless your friends are more than willing to carry you down after you injure yourself. Stay alert and pay attention to your surroundings, and you’ll be rewarded with a feeling of calm and brotherhood only nature can facilitate.

A good friend of mine has organized an Evite list of friends and acquaintances who enjoy an occasional hike, and every summer he researches and schedules a series of hikes, starting with short, flat walks and ending in September with steep mountain treks. Not everyone can go on every hike, so it’s an opportunity to bond with a large social circle. Occasionally when he hasn’t been available to lead, I’ve stepped in to act as leader. It’s been a fantastic opportunity to meet new people and to deepen the bonds of friendship, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Yourself: Get a Manicure/Pedicure

I know what you’re saying: “yeah, right.” No, seriously, I’ll give you three good reasons to go to a salon and have a professional work on your hands and feet:

  • You will have a good reason not to bite your nails.
  • It feels so good.
  • Women will notice and love it.

Listen, we’re not talking about putting red polish or fake nails on you. When you’re done, your nails will look cleaner, neater and healthier—but they’ll still be masculine. Your feet will be smoother (and feel great) but they’ll still be man feet. No, the only “indignity” you’ll “suffer” is that of sitting back and having someone soak and soothe your feet, massage your hands, get rid of your hangnails and take the snaggles out of your claws.

The primary choice you’ll have to make is: salon or spa? A salon is faster and cheaper. A spa is more luxurious and relaxing. Either one will leave your nails looking great, but the spa will leave you a lot more relaxed, and include a little more massage. Search on Yelp for the better salons or spas in your area, and call for rates or an appointment. Salons will usually take walk-ins as well. At the low end, expect to pay $20-30 for both hands and feet. At the higher end, $50-100 is the range.

From there, leave yourself to the technician and just relax. Depending on whether you chose a salon or spa, and the individual shop, you could get a nice warm-water soak, a scrub to remove dead skin from your feet, a hand and/or foot massage, and an application of lotion. The tech will trim back your cuticles, clip your nails and shape them with their nail files. Afterward you’ll be offered polish, clear lacquer or no coating at all. You’ll be perfectly fine with no polish or lacquer, but if you’re feeling metrosexual you might try the clear.

I haven’t personally had many mani/pedis, but the ones I have had were memorable. The first time was in preparation for flying out of town to see a woman who I’d been “dating” long distance. She let slip that she adored a man who could look good in sandals, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to get those feet in shape. It was a tiny, cheap salon but it still felt great. Sitting in a reclining chair with my feet in warm, churning water, I didn’t exactly feel like Paul Bunyan, but he had to trim his nails with an axe. And let’s just say that the pedicure was a rousing success with the girl.

One more day and our Ultimate adventure draws to a close. Make sure to meditate and sleep well.

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