Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world my beautiful, vulnerable self!

Posts tagged ‘Holidays’

‘Tis the Season for Giving

Who Exactly Are We Giving To?

greedI can’t tell you how many emails I’ve received with the headline “‘Tis the Season to be Giving”. Every one of them is asking me to give them some money. Now granted, they all profess to be a charity in business to care for one cause or another, and I appreciate that. But do they really get much out of those email blasts? Or are most people like me and have the causes they support already set (sometimes in stone) every year?

Do those email blasts proclaiming it’s #GivingTuesday, or #MatchingMonday, or whatever other cutesy hashtag someone comes up with really make a difference for someone directly? Call me a skeptic, but somehow, I doubt it.

Don’t get me wrong. I know many organizations including the ones I choose to support depend on the generosity of others to do the good work they do. But with so many putting their hands out via my email boxes (and I have several accounts so I get the same emails 5 or 6 times, minimum) could they be putting people off of giving because of the annoyance factor?

In my mind, it’s no different than the thrice-daily emails I get from certain companies telling me today’s sale is the best ever. Really? Isn’t that what you said about the last eleventy-seven days?

Giving More Of Myself and Less Money and Stuff

I suppose it’s a small thing to let bother me, but when you proclaim it the “Season of Giving” does that mean everyone and his brother either has his hand out for donations, or is exhorting you to buy, buy, buy?

Granted, in past years, I spent way too much on gifts, and was a great deal more generous with a variety of charities. My lifestyle has changed, and so has my outlook. Gifts are simpler these days, and the truth is, the season is a lot less stressful for me and my kids as a result. We focus on finding something very special but not overly extravagant for each other. As a result, the gifts and the holidays in general are more meaningful and exude togetherness, instead of consumerism.

Helping Charities Spend Less Time Fundraising

Call me jaded, but maybe the two factions should join forces. The companies exhorting us to buy might allocate a portion of all sales to the charities needing help—without raising prices in order to do it. I know it’s a lot to ask as retail stores depend on the holidays for a large portion of their revenue. But if they made it a year-long thing, they could allocate a smaller percentage of each sale and still make a sizeable donation.

In fact, I’ll bet the charities would love having smaller quarterly donations as their costs aren’t limited to once a year, but are incurred year-round. Although the animal charities I choose to support make a big push this time of year, they have various campaigns throughout the year. One has a $5 Friday campaign that goes on all year.

The same is true for charities like #GiveAnHour and Alliance for Hope. They all need operating funds to continue the work they do all year; not just in December or January. Granted, they do a big push like everyone else in hopes they’ll have funds to operate for a good portion of the next year.

Being Kind is the Right Thing to Do

What it all boils down to, in my mind is learning to be kind to each other https://www.flickr.com/photos/68716695@N06/29720272855/in/photolist-cidCGQ-cidAbW-oxdYzL-yNtP9-axVQZG-UVaRyd-oPHnHz-aEWSPf-cidEi3-cidDJj-pq3vki-cidGwb-cidAUs-cidzEm-cidGg5-6MaBxt-cidzzm-dRCmyq-7N6Ex-9i79bM-axVQZA-cidCsC-cidBSw-cidAyL-cidE3w-dY4eeu-cidBZG-8yJgxE-MhhaFv-Lk5teP-Lk5pNa-Lk5tT4-7M2d6q-cidG7W-7LXeC6-7LXeKr-WdN5Mm-5gktq-8zGa9M-9JanH2-ghRqpv-ehWVQY-LkYuxs-Sk3zxC-TnTsSY-pEomxJ-pEomes-PPJTdd-2aVQK6S-7VzqQP24/7/365. It’s realizing we don’t always need bigger, better, faster, more compact. Maybe we can invite someone into our home for a meal and some companionship instead of springing for an expensive meal for ourselves (and yes, I’m as guilty as the next person of this one).

Most of all, let’s not do a Random Act of Kindness (RAK), then brag about it all over social media. The purpose behind RAK’s is to do something from your heart without need or desire for recognition; because in  the end, it was the right thing to do. If you need recognition for being kind, I fear you’re lacking something important in your life no amount of self-proclaimed RAK’s is going to give you. 

It isn’t always easy to admit there’s a hole in your life or heart. Too many think they need outside validation, yet when they get it, the hole remains. But giving of yourself for the wrong reasons isn’t the answer either. In truth, I wish I had the answer and could heal the large numbers who walk around looking for the missing piece, little realizing the only place to find it is within themselves.

Giving of Your Heart and Time

The greatest gift I can think of is to give someone my time, but not to commiserate or help them fall more deeply into a pity party where there’s really only room for one. This season (and beyond) I’ll be looking for ways to help people cancel the pity parties for lack of interest. I’m not sure how much success I’ll have, but I feel like I have to try. 

The best part of my plan is it’s well within my budget, and won’t put me in debt (which is definitely stress-inducing). I’m reminded of the story of the boy on the beach who’s putting starfish back into the sea. When it’s pointed out he can’t save them all, he replies he’s saved the one he just put back. I can’t help everyone, nor am I supposed to. But there are so many out there. Together, we can make a sizeable dent in the number of people feeling sad, alone, and unworthy.

Making the Holidays About More than Money

To the charities begging for my help via email, they might as well take me off their list. Funds won’t be forthcoming this year. My charitable contributions are already set. As to the stores proclaiming the magnitude of their sales, you’ll not hear from me this year either. My shopping was done weeks ago.

The time I save by not wandering through the stores or piling up tons of things needing wrapping will be better spent on more human projects. I know I don’t have to look far to find people who simply need a bit of time. Even the Grinch learned his cold, broken heart could warm and grow, not by giving stuff, but by sharing a meal and giving of his not-so-cold-hearted self.

If I have a few dollars left over by not shopping, they will go to the charities I choose to support; whose causes I believe are important to the greater good. Thank goodness what’s important to me isn’t the same as what’s important to you, so in some way, everyone should get a little this year. And who knows? Maybe some of those email blasts will actually yield sufficient funds to continue the good work they do in 2020. Here’s hoping.

Giving the Gift of Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’ve learned I have so much to give that doesn’t have a monetary value.
  2. I’m grateful for the delete button on my email program.
  3. I’m grateful for smaller, less financially burdensome holidays.
  4. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, and the hope I see.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, compassion, time well spent, kindness without reward or recognition, friendship, warm hearts, passion, inspiration, health, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

December 7, 2014 Choices

Dining alone gives me the unique opportunity to allow my thoughts to wander.

While enjoying a less healthy than normal breakfast at Souplantation this morning, I listened with half an ear to the conversations around me while reading a few Spirit Science articles on my iPad. Remembering that I needed to visit Brookstone to pick up a Christmas present, I thought about using my iPad to look at the mall’s directory.

I actually spent a few moments on this thought as it provided two alternatives: 1. I could locate the store if it still existed and walk directly there, or save myself the trip if it, like many others in this particular mall, had closed. 2. I could walk to the directory and look up the store, thereby giving myself a little exercise after a heavier breakfast than that to which I’m accustomed.

After a little thought, I chose alternative 2, both for the exercise and the fresh air. It also afforded me the opportunity to walk around the mall a bit instead of returning to my car when I discovered the store had closed. As I walked, I lost myself in my own erratic musings.

Wherefore art thou, Christmas Spirit?

The usual gigantic Christmas tree once again graced center court, but this year, there was a sign in front of it, dedicating the tree to a former chef in one of the mall’s restaurants. As the sign referred to the man in the past tense, I read through the accolades to find that he’d been killed by a drunk driver in 2010 at the age of 31. I also noted that he’d graduated from the same Culinary Arts Academy as my youngest daughter.

My wanderings took me past two women decorating a smaller tree with flowers and tulle, a chalk painting of a boy depicted as an angel (his photograph was next to the painting, and I assumed he’d passed on), various stores selling Christmas decorations and the annual cottage for Santa. There was also a store with a huge sign about Santa’s Wish List where a long line of people waited their turn for something-or-other.

As I took in all of the accoutrements of festivity, I realized that I’m just not into Christmas this year. Whether it’s because I’m limiting my own giving or procrastinating putting up my tree with excuses (I really do need to scrub the living room floor first!), the pine wreath I purchased at Trader Joe’s this week and hung on my door and the small pile of boxes from Kohl’s and Amazon.com in my guest room are the only indications that Christmas has found its way into my house at all.

It’s not “Bah Humbug”, but rather, “Ho Hum”

In year’s past, I was not only going way overboard for my kids and adopted grandson, but I was looking for special calendars for my co-workers and gifts for some of my extended dance family. This year, I’m focused on limiting my spending, appreciating the fact that I really don’t need to buy a lot of stuff, and so I’m not out in the stores or online looking for more things with which to bury my tree or overfill the stockings. This year’s bounty should take no more than an evening to wrap.

On the one hand, it’s given me time to realize that part of my annual overspending of the last few years has been directly connected with the years when things were very lean and the girls got hand decorated sweats, pajamas, socks and books from the discount book store. I realize that it was never necessary to do that, either for my kids or grand kids (although, admittedly, Jenni was more likely to expect more and appreciate less than Heather who still tells me that she’s happy with a book with my annual inscription, pajamas and undies). So who was I putting myself into debt to appease?

Our lives are filled with choices, often from one minute to the next.

From one minute to the next, we make choices. “Should I get up now or wait another ten minutes?” “Do I want my usual yogurt for breakfast, or should I treat myself to breakfast out?” “Should I spend another bundle on Christmas presents or shower my family with the time and attention I’d have spent shopping and wrapping instead?”

Once again, Dr. Seuss helped me put things in perspective. I watched “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” again and noticed a lot of things in the movie I’d never caught before. The prevailing message the story conveys really hit home for me this time. Christmas Spirit is not about presents and food and out doing your neighbor with your lighting display. It’s about sharing your heart, unreservedly and unconditionally.

For me, it’s also about listening when my friends tell me that they perceive me as an evolving, expanding, spiritually conscious person, appreciating that I’m giving off that impression, and doing everything in my power to live up to their perceptions; not because I want to be what they expect, but because what they perceive is what I’m aspiring to be, but know in my heart that I’m not there yet.

Yet, I appreciate their feedback so much because it tells me that even if I’m not yet living as I wish to inwardly, I’m giving the impression that I am on the outside so all I really need to do now is to internalize what I’m projecting. And as the song from “The King and I” runs through my head, I realize that I have been doing exactly what I set out to do when I wrote the post about acting like you’re already where you want to be until you convince yourself that you are there; at that point, you will be where you’ve been acting like you want to be.  I believe the popular phrase these days is <em>”fake it ’til you make it.”</em>

The choice I make today is to “…hold my head erect and whistle a happy tune so no one will suspect I’m afraid.”

For now, I’ll just follow my own advice and act like I’m already living a truly spiritual, giving life, and that I’m already a published author and web content writer. I am letting go of my need to make up for the lean years as I finally understand that my time and attention are of far more importance to the people I love than excessive amounts of gifts to unwrap. And I’ve finally allowed my soul mate into my life to share all of the things I’ve learned and achieved.

This is what the Christmas Spirit feels like!

What choices will you make in this season of giving? Will those choices have long- or short-term implications? Which do you want them to have?

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for feedback from my friends and family which remind me to live my projections.
2. I am grateful that I have choices.
3. I am grateful for the opportunity to reassess my interpretation of the holidays and to make much needed changes in my perspective.
4. I am grateful for continued reminders of the love I receive and the endless supply I have to give.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, joy, spiritual awakening, expanded consciousness, holiday spirit, health, harmony, peace, friendship and prosperity.

Namaste

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