The last few days of last week were amazing. A bit like the universe punching me in the face, but this time with good stuff. I’m pretty used to the universe doing the whisper, nudge, tap, slap, punch in the face progression for stuff. Those punches are usually painful, if I don’t get the hint and change what needs changing.
This time, the punch in the face, looked like this:
Sorry, I can’t seem to tell this story quickly. So settle in and meander along with me.
Let me wind back the clock. Back to the days when it was like I was stuck in a swamp. It seemed that no matter which way I turned I seemed to end up back where I’d begun – wet, dark, cold and afraid. I knew I was doing something wrong, and I tried to think and decide my way out of it. And yet, I was still lost in the swamp. So one day I decided to feel my way out of it.
I turned to Gratitude and to Giving. I’ve talked before about the power of gratitude. https://kathrynhodges.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/i-am-grateful-for-2011-truly/. I’ve learned how meaningful Gratitude is in my life. This week has been my lesson in the power of Giving.
Back to the swamp days. I had read somewhere that from each inflow of money, we should save 10%, give 10%, and use the rest. Now, there was no way at all that I could set aside 20%. So I scaled it back. I mean right back. I decided on 1%, to be divided between my savings account and my giving account. That’s right. Half a percent of our income for giving. It was such a small amount, I couldn’t quite see the point, but I decided to try it anyway. And so, the slowest donation savings plan in the history of the world (or so it seemed to me) began.
Then in a flash (but not really) there was money in there. And yet, I couldn’t seem to give it away. It sat there in my giving account, increasing each week, but not serving the purpose for which it had been collected.
Then finally, I found a key to unlock the gate to the bridge from thought to action. It was through the words of the amazingly honest blogger Eden from Edenland http://www.edenriley.com/2012/04/we-dont-need-another-hero.html. (sorry that’s clumsy but I don’t yet know how to link up). I read her words and immediately I knew. Always give. Nothing more. Nothing less. Just give. Eden was chosen by World Vision to go to Niger in Africa to see the African food crisis first hand and share her story with us here in Australia in our comfortable, educated, appliance filled and overfed lives. Her story spoke to me, one real person talking to another, describing lives that I can’t even imagine.
So, I took some action. I went to World Vision and sponsored a child. If you want to feel some discomfort – log onto www.worldvision.com.au They don’t use models or sample children. The faces you see, the faces I saw, are THE children waiting for our help.
I finally followed up with an inspiring twitter friend, and committed to a monthly donation to help her fund her orphanage in Cambodia. I ordered a Giving Bowl www.thegivingbowl.org to grow our giving practice at home. If you’ve never heard of Cate Bolt, and Foundation 18. Check them out here. They are a family who know how to give. www.foundation18.org
On Wednesday it was my birthday. Dean was a little sad because one of the things he had bought for me had been left at the store. That evening, Dean gave me a voucher with a code. It was a promise that he would take me to New Zealand before the end of September, and the code for an online passport application that he’d started for me. That was huge! I need a passport for this holiday (which neither of us had any idea how it would happen). Not because mine’s expired, but because I’ve never had one. Yep. That’s right.
So I jumped straight on the computer to get that passport application done. Then I found I needed a code from our Marriage Certificate, which I don’t have. So I quickly printed the form to get a new certificate. I was pleased when I read I could submit it at a Magistrates Court because I was going to be in Court the following day.
So, on Thursday, I submitted my form for my Marriage Certificate over the counter at the Maryborough Courthouse. I assumed I would see that baby in a week or so.
I had some time (and money) on the way home from Court and I decided to go to BigW to buy some basics for winter for our family. Because it was time to stop holding our giving money, and start, well, giving it, I messaged Cate and asked if the orphanage kids could use anything. Cate replied that undies would be great. So I bought some.
Then Dean called to say that he’d made it through to the final round of a competition with our local radio station Hot 91, and he needed to be in the studio the next day for the draw.
So that was Thursday. I felt flooded with warmth about giving and thought it almost weird that so much had happened on the one day.
Friday, was like Thursday but in topsy turvy land. Firstly, and hugely, Dean WON, a trip for 2 to New Zealand plus accommodation and tons of cool stuff to do. Yes, it really does happen to real people. I listened to the draw and when it was clear that Dean had won, I cried. I felt like the universe was giving him a huge hug and saying “thanks for hanging in there, it’s done now, have some fun”. I really should apologise to every person I saw on Friday, because I was probably a bit over excited.
Then, these things happened, and I swear I’m not making this up.
– my Marriage Certificate arrived in the mail. How that’s even possible when I had only put in the form the day before, I don’t know. But it arrived.
– Dean had a client call him and say “sorry, I forgot to leave the key out for you. Have the afternoon off, and I’ll still pay you because it’s my mistake”.
– Dean went back to pick up the missing gift for me and the store owner give Dean a second one for free (they’re those gorgeous sparkly decorative balls in the photo with Precious and the Giving Bowl).
I’m not sharing this so people can say “you’re donating money, good on you”, or “yay you’ve won a trip” (Squeeeee we’ve won a trip!!!! ). I hope that those who read this feel the lesson that’s for me and for them. Giving (for one) is receiving (for another) and some days you’ll be the “one”, and other days you’ll be the “another”. Don’t analyse your giving. Just give. Often. Not because you can, because you must.