Sunday, March 30, 2014

I'd slap somebody's momma for a cup of coffee.

 It's amazing how you don't want something until someone else wants it. It never fails. Last April in preparation for quitting my job to travel the country and letting go of my apartment (and any sense of security), I threw a come take my stuff party and I'm going to have to say, it was so fun. Over time, I/we all accumulate this...stuff. Stuff we don't need, don't use, don't want. We move it from place to place, knowing that eventually we'll use it, you know how it is, this is not a new revelation. So I set up a "store" in my living room, as you will, and invited people to come over and shop. I kept hearing, "you're getting rid of this?", "are you sure", yes yes I would say, just take it. There was one item, however, that I had put in the store that someone wanted, but they would be picking it up later. Almost a year later, I still have this item, the individual still wants it, and it is their birthday. Having no real attachment to this item, it had been my plan all along to get it into their hands. The day comes for the birthday party and I absolutely do not want to part with it. Where is this coming from? I tell myself that I had grown attached to having it on my porch and seeing it daily, but had I really? Did I all of a sudden feel attachment to it because someone else wanted it? because I had placed it in the give-away pile more than once. Reluctantly, I give the item away, in part because of this year of giving, in part because they want it, and in part because my actions have made it clear that I don't really want it, and definitely don't need it. After all, I give what I have right? This person couldn't have been more ecstatic. They were SO happy, which in turn, makes me happy. I'm sure you must be wondering what item could cause so much grief? Well, I will tell you, a stupid little plastic Dracula doll. Yep, you read it right.
 This morning, I woke up, checked Facebook, per the usual. I don't really read much, and usually only look at my own wall, because I find my own life so entertaining, but today, one post caught my eye. An individual around my own age, who has been in and out of the hospital for several years, was once again confined inside the hospital walls. Her Facebook post and I quote, says "I'd slap somebody's momma for a cup of coffee". Well, it wasn't so much that I needed my momma slapped as it was that I would die if I was trapped inside the hospital without access to an iced Americano every day. Now I can't say that I've ever called this person or even thought about hanging out with her. What I can say is that I have judged her (in the past), wrongfully so, as we often do when we don't know someone or when they do things that we don't understand. But today honestly had nothing to do with that. It simply had to do with one coffee lover to another. I took her a coffee, helped her outside and we sat in the sun and chatted. I allowed myself to hear her. I mean hear her. You know, when you remove all pre-conceived ideas, all judgements, all personal thoughts, all the you should's and the you should've's? And she, has had one heck of a year, or two or three. She was Code Blue (essentially dead, if you are unfamiliar with that term) for 30 minutes last summer, after a miss dosing of medication. They were getting ready to stop efforts in reviving her when she came to. And here she sits today. Incredible.

Lesson: You don't have to slap my momma to get a cup of coffee.

Friday, March 28, 2014

there goes the old lady who picks up trash cans

 Ever tried to give something away every day for a year and run out of ideas on Yesterday the only thing I could think to give was picking up a wind blown trash can out of the street and placing it back on the curb. But on a windy day, as it were, am I supposed to pick them ALL up? "There goes the old lady who picks up trash cans" they will say when I'm eighty. Somehow, it doesn't seem enough.
 Today was even worse. I woke up asking myself, what can I give today? and am going to bed wondering what I gave? Albeit small, almost to the point where I could not count it, yet significant enough I feel I should share, today, I gave the gift of taking off my headphones (earbuds, whatever you want to call them) while walking home.
 Now, I know if I do this, then other people do to, for there is nothing new under the sun. Sometimes, I will wear my headphones while walking, without anything playing in them, it is an 'I am not available to be bothered' silent statement. For if I don't want to be approached, I don't want you to ask me anything and I most certainly don't want to have an actual conversation with you, then my headphones stay on. Today! however, my generous gift to the world was taking off my headphones and placing them out of sight. Now, I am not really so arrogant as to believe that this was a gift to the world, however, I do believe that it was me saying, I am available if you need me. So while I may not have given anything concrete per se, as I did not come across anyone in dire need of my wisdom, I did give what I had, a willingness to listen.

Lesson: a windy day blows over many trash cans.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

You don't want your roommate to get a little rash on his fingers.

 Every night about 5PM I start to get really excited about my morning trip to the coffee shop. It apparently doesn't take much. So I woke up this morning with the over used brilliant plan to "pay" for someone else's coffee today. I say "pay" but really mean to give away my free drink card. I'm not sure if that counts as giving? I think if it costs me nothing and requires no sacrifice on my own part, is it still considered giving? It has to be right? I could reason that somewhere down the line (10 coffees to be exact) it would save me two dollars and sixty-five cents, but who's counting?
 I arrive at the coffee shop, order my own coffee, and for some reason struggle to pay for someone else's latte. That's weird? So between the door and the counter I arrogantly decided that it would be far superior to buy a latte for someone and not use the free card, thus actually giving something. I pay for the latte and and ask the barista to give a latte to the next person who orders one. I question if I am being rude in assuming that she should assist me with my giving? It's my project, not hers, what if she doesn't give a pickenanny? But I don't ask her and lay the responsibility on her. I feel neither excited or as if I have done anything out of the ordinary, but I am happy to have my coffee.
 I found myself thinking that I had done my deed and now I could get on with my day. I don't need to think about giving anymore until tomorrow, because today was covered. Then...I thought some more...trouble I tell you. If I am trying to cultivate a "lifestyle" of giving, then I am not off the hook for the rest of the day, just because I gave something. ugh. I had felt so free for a moment. I began wondering how I could give again today.
 I went about my day, got home, got my mail, and noticed my roommates mail piling up in the mailbox. I left it there, because if he doesn't want his mail, then I don't care either. And then I thought again, a small act of bringing in his mail would be giving right? I will say however, that I put my nose up and highly didn't think it my responsibility, but fine, I did it. I brought the mail in and threw it on the table. Then.. as if to pour a whole gallon of salt on my arrogantly sliced open wound of pride, I noticed his dishes.
 Strange how willing I am to help people that I am not close to, but.. if I happen to know your secrets, how you handle your time and money, and of course all the ways you could improve your choices, it is so much harder to give. Why is this? If I care so much for the people I am closest to, yet am so unwilling to give what I don't believe to be my responsibility, what am I? Who am I? That is a pretty ugly characteristic.
 So although not my responsibility, (I like how I continue to clarify this point), I can give today by washing his dishes. Maybe he can't stand to wash dishes? or the soap gives his little fingers a rash? or maybe he just doesn't have time. I have the time. It doesn't cost me anything, and if anything it will chip away at some of my pride.

Lesson: You don't want your roommate to get a rash on his little fingers.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Breastfeeding is gross, but good for the baby.

 Warning: many run on sentences, and I am okay with that.
 Do I fail today if I can't find a way to give? Who can't find a way to give in an entire day? Did I even try hard enough? Was I looking in all the wrong places? Should I force myself to give five dollars to a fund that I am not excited about, simply to adhere to my give every day goal? Giving can't be all about money. Would I be giving just to give? Will it pay off in the end and begin to cultivate the lifestyle that I am looking for, or will they just be random empty acts?
 Today, unsure of what to give or who to give to, I posted an update on Facebook that went something like this: "Does anyone need help today? I've got a lil extra time on my hands to give if you do!" I excitedly waited for all the thousands of people who needed me to pour in their requests. I fought with myself about how people might view a post like that. Were they wondering if I would expect payment? Did they think I was doing it to try and look good? I'm sure there were some who turned their noses or thought ill, but please, who cares. All I can say is that the intent of my heart was right. People can think what they want.
 So I sat and waited. Nothing. There was the person who did question what I was doing and call me a goodern? the person who called me an angel, the one who asked if this included babysitting, but didn't really need a babysitter. The one who asked if I had experience with custom picture framing? Sadly, no. Another, jokingly asking if I clean house?
 I'm actually quite sad that an opportunity didn't easily announce itself. A shining light that led me toward it. At first I didn't like the comments on Facebook that painted me in an altruistic light, I don't need to be seen as an angel or patted on the back for "good" behavior. But then I started watching how many likes the post got, and then I wondered why there weren't more? and then I started questioning my motives all over again. This whole thinking thing really gets in the way sometimes.
 I think breastfeeding is gross, but, it seems a perfect analogy for how I am feeling today. I have this milk that is being produced (desire to give), but the baby won't eat (no obvious outlet for giving), and thus it causes pain to the mother (i'm heartbroken that i wanted to help someone and feel I didn't find a way), so the mother must either stop producing and wait for the milk to go away, or try an alternate option like pumping (i can stop trying, or I can find a different outlet for giving today). That may or may not be a good analogy. I could erase it, but eh, I'll leave it.
 So I'm left to contemplate what if anything I gave today. I gave several smiles. I shared stories today that inspired some and brought smiles to others. I gave gratitude. I gave to the environment I suppose, by walking instead of driving at least once, and by pulling my roommates milk carton out of the trash to recycle. (does that even count?) I wonder to myself aloud, what are the parameters for this year of intentional giving? I am sure they are destined to change and grow and shape themselves and me.

Lesson: breastfeeding is gross but good for the baby.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Last year was about me. This year is about others.

 Last year was all about me. I quit my job May 1, 2013, in pursuit of living life to the fullest every single day. I had, and still have this quote specifically positioned in my home, "you have been given another day". I am constantly reminded how fleeting life is and how amazing it is to be given another day!
 So for 2013, I traveled to my hearts content. I booked a west coast tour for my band. I saw friends and family all over the country. I met tons of new friends who opened their homes and everything they had to me. I saw and did just about everything I could have possibly hoped for! and it was fantastic!
 Arriving back home has been a bit of a culture shock. The desire to pick up and go again is so great, yet the need for community and friendship seems to be a greater pull, and so I stay. My 38th birthday was four days ago and I contemplate, what is the meaning of all this? Who hasn't said that, right? It's all dust in the wind, or something like that.
 I find myself alone. Though I have many friends, I spend time with few. My two closest friends I feel myself pushing away. So I join yoga. I read books. I contemplate. I sit alone. I change my lifestyle. Decrease my drinking (isolating myself even more). I increase exercise and healthy eating. Drink more water. Start a compost. Dream of a garden (but do nothing about it). I sit at my computer. I look for jobs, yet I don't want any of them. I think think think think. I can't stop thinking.
 So what am I doing with my life?
 At some point prior to my travels last year I began a mantra that I really did not want to adhere to, "I give what I have to those in need". Meaning, I may not feel as though I have much monetarily to give, but, what I do have, I give. Sounds simple enough? I can't say I followed through with it much, but it crossed my mind frequently. As it does now.
 If last year was all about me, why shouldn't this year be all about others? If I have everything that I need (and I suppose even if I don't) why not give what I have to those in need. You're getting the point. I want my life, the way I envision living it to it's fullest, to be a life of intentional giving. Not in an arrogant way that is paraded around, but in a simple, every day giving of what I have.
I wonder if I can intentionally give, DAILY. Intentionally. Daily. ( I repeat for dramatic effect and to make a point).
 So I begin. I share, one, so that I am reminded to seek out giving, two, to inspire a giving lifestyle in others, and three, because it has nothing at all to do with giving, and all about accepting, loving and meeting everyone where they are and joining together as one.

 I will backtrack later, but I will tell you about a rather easy giving feat for today because I am tired of sitting here typing. About a month ago, a friend's sister's husband died unexpectedly. A fund was started for the widow and her three small children. I thought to myself, I should give twenty dollars. I never got around to it. I've thought about it several times. They reached their small goal of five thousand dollars and then much more, yet the thought continued to linger way back in the darkest corner of my mind. Well, it poked it's little head out one more time today. I'll do it later, I thought, because donating now would mean that I would have to go all the way outside to my car, grab my coin purse, walk all the way back inside, and then donate. Sounds ridiculous that I contemplated putting it off to another day, right? So here I am at the very least a month later, credit card in hand and donation made! No one has to know but me and I, if nothing else, have cleared space up in that dark corner of my mind for visions of sugarplums or something.

Lesson: Follow the little inclinations to give.