Archive for January, 2012

spending my time
January 31, 2012

Almost every Sunday from November through February as a parent volunteer Guild Master I lead my guild of middle schoolers in the creation of medicinal herbs in preparation to sell them at the school’s Guild Fair in March. My own daughter isn’t a member of my guild, but she joins us sometimes if she’s home. Besides the 2 hour weekly sessions, I devote an additional 1-3 hours per week prepping for our meetings.

I give my time. My precious time.

When I actually was a middle school teacher I really wanted to teach medicinal herb making as part of our unit on The Middle Ages/Renaissance. Too bad there wan’t time. So now, instead of getting paid to teach, I’m doing it for free.

Actually, I’m not doing it for free. I’m spending my time. Time I will never get back. Time that isn’t being spent following other passions or accomplishing other goals.

Time is our most limited resource. What compels you to give your time? What do you give up to do it?


mlk day
January 18, 2012

I stayed home and organized my office space. As a working person with a family, I rarely get to be alone in my own house during the day. It was glorious. I felt accomplished, at ease, and grateful.

My husband was at work, because he’s in charge of managing a corporate group of volunteers that come to the non-profit where he works to help clean, paint, and organize stuff every MLK day.

My own workplace offered an opportunity to volunteer at another non-profit, as did many other businesses.

Who are these folks that give up the one paid holiday in January to donate their time and energy to others? I think they’re more selfless and  mature than me. Some of them probably are. Some of them might have been procrastinating, attempting to escape unpleasant situation, or had nothing better to do.

Giving is always a choice: who, what, where, when, how, and why.


January 16, 2012

On Friday I gave blood.
I love giving blood. Why?

It’s certainly not the tedious waiting, or answering the same questions I answered 3 months earlier, or getting a needle stuck in my vein, nor is it the snacks with hydrogenated oils offered me when I’m done (though I appreciate the irony).

It’s because it’s the most visceral and tangible giving I do on a regular basis. I can’t do it alone. I’m somewhat vulnerable in the process. I offer life fluid taken from my body, my veins to put into other people in my community I may or may not know, like or respect.  And I’m not the doer; it’s done to me.

In short, it is as close to what I think of as Pure Giving as I’ve gotten: without motive, ego, control, and literally something that is mine to give.

I’d like to know what your most Pure Giving action is. I’d also like to know if you have a better term for it.

15 cents, $15
January 14, 2012

Still jamming on giving $:
You’re on your way to CostCo. A co-worker hands you $1.50 and asks you to pick her up a Very Berry.
The Very Berry is actually $1.65.  You bring it back to your colleague and say nothing.
Is that giving?
Would it make a difference in your answer if  the item was supposed to be $150 and was actually $165?
What counts, and why?

first request?
January 6, 2012

I’d gifted everyone in my office with a bottle of my homemade elderberry syrup back in the fall. A co-worker asks me if I will sell him some more. It’s helping his wife’s cough.

I don’t want him to pay me for it.

Question: Is this giving when directly asked? He didn’t ask for a gift, even though that’s the only way I’m comfortable offering it.

Question: Does this count *less* as giving because maybe *he* would rather pay for it?

giving when asked directly
January 5, 2012

All the end of year requests for donations, the poor and/or homeless folks on the street, friends or family in trouble. Am I the only one who finds these requests overwhelming and burdensome?

I think not.

Once, I took on the practice of simply giving to everyone that asked me for a full week (but not at the end of the year). Every person on the street, every letter in the mail or ask on FB. And I felt terrific. But why?

I want to say purely from the act of giving. But it wouldn’t be true. It was more because I didn’t have to make a critical decision– to give or not to give? I’d also predetermined the amount I would give, so I was saved from another stressful decision — how much to give.



January 4, 2012

The question of what constitutes giving is going to be a topic I expect I’ll continue to return to. For now, my definition is what is offered and contributed without financial compensation; my time, money and energy minus monetary reward.

Because so many of us, myself included, give to others as part of our jobs, it can feel like we’re depleted in the giving department when it comes to our “own time.” I’m going to name the giving we do during work  Contractual Giving.

January 1, 2012

Please join me in exploring how mindful giving can bring life into balance.

I truly appreciate any ideas, insights, etc. that you want to share.

Starting with the new year, I will be posting about my own acts of giving and putting them in to one of  7 categories (based on Maimonides but without ranking them):

1. Helping someone so as to make it  unnecessary for them to become dependent on others.

2. When the donor and recipient are unknown to each other.

3. When the donor is aware of the recipient’s identity, but the recipient is unaware of the source.

4. When the recipient is aware of the donor’s identity, but the donor does not know the identity of the recipient.

5. When one gives directly without being asked.

6. When one gives directly upon being asked

7. When one gives less than s/he should, but does so cheerfully.