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I find this an interesting concept.  I believe in intentions.  If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you ever get there?  I have also found that life has a way of sweeping me this way and that.  Having intentions helps to stay on track and grounds me in what I have decided to do.

But unlike goals – which tend to be solid and unchangeable – intentions can be more flexible.  You can hold them more lightly.  This was what I intended to do today, but if I don’t or can’t, I can easily shift it to tomorrow, without a lot of bad feelings.

Intentions can change, too. Today I might intend to be open to giving to others. Whereas tomorrow I may not come in contact with many others, so I’ll make my intent to be more trusting.  I might have an intention to get that job.  But if it doesn’t play out the way I wanted, I can have an intention to land another job.

If I hold too tightly to my intentions, I create the potential for disappointment.  If I, instead, hold them more gently, I can use them as a guide for my steps, a reminder of what I wanted to do. But if life changes and it’s not possible, I can allow the intention to change shape, while it’s still in my hand.

As my 30 days of giving closes I’m pondering what I learned from it all ~

I have to admit, I wasn’t successful in all my attempts.  I was pleased to find, however, that many of the spots at food banks and such were already filled. This is a popular time of year for these things.  In some cases, I had to step out of the box of traditional giving.

What I discovered is that if you hold the intention to give, if you go at your whole life with an eye for ways to give, things will magically appear for you to do. Sure, it helps to have a plan.  It pays to sign up and get on lists, but sometimes the most wonderful opportunities are the ones you simply stay open for.

The giving attitude can grow. This intention gives you room to acknowledge when you give. This has the effect of increasing good feelings on both sides, but also, more opportunities to serve. Just noticing is an amazing expander.  It works well for gratitude, as well.  You can feel good by giving, by seeing the effect of that giving and in the reliving of it as you write it down and notice all the ways there are to give.

Giving is like a bunch of roses. Susan Jeffers, in her most elegant way, suggests pretending someone gives you 50 roses.  From her book, End the Struggle and Dance with Life,” you are instructed to find people you can give these loving roses to.  She also adds to write down and keep track of the 50.  She says you won’t need to be given any more. By the time you’ve given away 50, you’ll be on a roll and just continuing to look for recipients of your kind and loving roses.  I like that!

I hope that I can continue my attitude of giving into the New Year. I’m going to start the year with 50 roses and see where it goes!

I like the definition of sacrifice as “an act of offering (to a deity) something precious.”  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could see everyone as a “deity” we are willing to give something precious to us? Whether it’s money, time, used clothes, time or effort – you are sacrificing a piece of yourself, something precious, when you give.  You are offering to suspend something in your life to help another.

Sacrifice eliminates judgment and hesitation. When you give in this way there is no wondering whether you should or shouldn’t do it.  Why someone needs what you are offering is irrelevant.  It is what is in the moment. And you are called to give, without question.

True Sacrifice, I believe, though giving away something precious, will in the end refill you.  The feeling of giving makes your heart swell. When you sacrifice something you have to give, you get more. Give away some love – very precious – and see how it will grow for you.  Give away clothes and watch for some new piece of clothing to come your way. When sacrifice is made with a full, giving heart, it is always repaid.

The act of Sacrifice, far from being destructive, can be healing.  The more you give, the more you make the act of sacrifice, willingly give something precious, the more you will feel the healing.  Giving fills you and can help to eliminate any holes inside.

As Jesus sacrificed his life, according to Christianity, so that we might live, so we sacrifice our time, our money or our used belongings so others might benefit.  Might live a little better.  Amen.

Giving presents is what everyone does – especially at this time of year.  Can we be more creative and find other ways to give?

What may come to mind first is giving money.  That’s an easy one to do, if you have it. You don’t have to have a fortune to give money, though.  In some spiritual circles, you’re encouraged to give, even when you don’t think you have it. Giving money can make you feel abundant.

Another one that comes readily to mind is giving time.  This kind of giving can manifest in many different ways.  You could, of course, give your time to help someone with a chore.  Sometimes just showing up and spending time with someone can be a gift.  It might only be your company that makes someone feel less alone.  Other times your presence might support what someone is doing.

Giving time, of course, can be about volunteering.  So often our time is taken up in self-centric activities, such as earning our wages or tending to our surroundings. Volunteering your time, giving it freely for the good of someone else can be very freeing.

Giving can mean handing over some of your possessions to those with less.  Maybe it is a gift you’ve purchased just for someone special. A phone call or letter might touch someone’s heart at just the right time and be a gift.  As I’ve found recently, giving my attention to a project can make a real difference.

An area of giving that doesn’t get talked about much is giving to yourself.  Maybe there’s something you’ve really been needing lately.  If you take the time and the money to go out and get it for yourself, that can be considered giving.  You might just decide to give yourself permission to go after what you want or to be sad because you didn’t get something you wanted.

Giving can happen spontaneously.  It can be so fast you could miss it, if you’re not watching. You could be walking along the street and come across someone who’s dropped their packages, stoop over and help them gather their things. Opening the door for someone who’s struggling. Giving someone space to express their opinions without interrupting or arguing could be a generous gift at times. Others may just need you to give them permission to be who they are or your acceptance for what they’re trying to do.

Perhaps you could give of yourself – something you know, what you’ve learned or what you think.  You could give a recommendation, a referral or a kidney.  I often like to give compliments. Giving encouragement can also be very helpful.  You could give a day off, a free pass, or a leg up.

Whenever you can give something to yourself or someone else, most particularly something of your own, it warms and expands your heart. And strengthens your giving muscle.

I am beginning a new journey.  I am going to give something every day between now (or rather Monday) and Christmas.

In previous years, I’ve been a real grouch about Christmas, always complaining about the over-commercialization and that most of the people I know don’t really need anything. If they need socks or underwear, it’s probably best if they go purchase those things for themselves.  I hate Christmas songs – especially when used in ads.  I can take a little Christmas music, for a few days.  But by mid-December I am so sick of the same old simpering songs, I want to spit.  Don’t get me started on the whole shopping and decorating obsession. Family is a good thing, but not all of us can be with our families just because it’s December 25th.  Which only serves to make it that much harder . . . Not very positive of me, huh?

So, I’ve decided this year to fight back. I may not be able to volunteer every day.  Some days it might just be reaching out to an old friend or offering someone a ride.  I’m sure I’ll be giving away some food, clothes, money and who knows what.  I have a number of things on my list, but I’ll be doing research, poking around, asking questions and watching for what comes up.  It should be interesting.

I give credit to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for all this momentum.  Not to mention some faith that I’ll actually pull it off. It’s effects have been very positive.

It started with a pledge at the beginning of November to spend a specific amount of time on my novel.  (See The Secret Gem Inside NaNoWriMo.)   Not wanting to be boring about it, I also set a few goals.  I’m happy to report that as I close in on November 30th, I have accomplished nearly all my goals.  (I do have a little more time left.)  What did it, I believe, was sticking to that schedule I set for myself.  Not quite as sexy as finishing a chapter, but that’s what did it.  I promised that I would spend at least some time on the book, on the days I knew I could. Whether that was scanning a few pages, reading over something I’d written or giving it 20 hours, as I did over the recent Thanksgiving Day holiday.

It was the Time I gave it, which eventually piled up into something concrete: progress. It was simply a matter of paying attention to the project.  Some days I only had a few minutes, other days I had several hours.  I just stayed with it, doing a little bit when I could and so when Thanksgiving rolled around, I had accumulated quite a lot of attention, so it was easy to fall into working on it for long stretches of time.  I was into it and excited about it.  I applied a small amount of effort over and over and this is what I got!

I’m letting that flow into December onto this Giving Project.  But there’s so much of it, I thought I’d spread it around. The novel, this time around, is about fun. Keeping my fingers in fiction and my critique group happy. But I have this other project – Love Letters From Your Soul – that I want to apply the same process to and see what happens.

So, two projects.  The Giving is every day.  The writing is on a schedule that works with everything else in my life.  Like Harry Potter in The Prisoner of Azkaban, who was able to do the Petronus Charm because, through a twist of the Time Turner, had already seen himself do it.  I know I can do this: I’ve already done it.  Whether I’ll be able to prepare the Love Letters for publication by the end of December, I don’t know.  I only know I will give it Time and that will create progress.

P.S.  You will see reflections of my Giving Project throughout December.  I will be sticking to the subjects of Giving and Gratitude all month.

Will is an interesting thing.  It will be your best friend and help you to move through life deliberately and gracefully.

However, will can also be hard and unyielding. Sometimes it won’t let you move forward.  It convinces you that you can’t change, you must remain the same.  Will can keep you stuck in a place you might not want to be.  Will is responsible for, like a stubborn child, making you believe you can’t let go.

Will is the difference between giving and taking, holding and releasing.  Will can bend you or keep you from going where you should not.

The truth is: life is change and nothing ever remains the same. Will allows life to flow.  When you’re willing to let go, life moves like a steady stream.  Will is the source of your First choice.  What is your will?  What do you want?

When you’re willing to let go, when you don’t let resistance get in the way, life is much easier.  You will feel calmer and things will seem to come to you.

If you are in the rock hard grasp of Will, you can sometimes loosen it by being willing to be willing.  Just that small gap might just remove the boulder out of your way and free your will and your life to fly!

I have gone out of my way to avoid the Christmas thing.  It’s sort of my tradition.  I burn out quickly on overplayed Christmas songs, way too many sweets, jolly out on Santa Claus, and get turned off by incessant requests to buy.  When just going to the store for a loaf of bread becomes a major ordeal, I start to feel more drained than energized with any Spirit.  Still, you have to admit, Christmas is the King of Holidays.  It needs no one to win any battles for it.

Christmas lights might warm my cold heart, if they’re done tastefully.  Too often, though, they are loud, overdone and gawdy. I would admit to feeling something stirring when I smell pine and heat combined. Tears have been known to be shed over several Holiday  Movies.  Not that I’m especially religious, or anything, but I could go for a little more Jesus in our Holiday Season agenda.  It is, after all, what we’re supposed to be celebrating  But most of what passes for Christmas “cheer” is actually Pagan or from some other far removed influences.  And, frankly, leave me feeling neutral.

What a grinch I am!  Though I am enamored of Dr Seuss’ immortal character, I have no wish to be shunned or face a lonely future like Scrooge himself.  I prefer to find the Positive Slant on Christmas.  It’s not easy for me.  But surely there must be much good in this Holiday which stands so tall and persists, no matter the economy.

Today it came to me: Christmas should be about Giving.  Not buying and wrapping, but giving.  Opening your heart and forgiving.  Opening your wallet and/or time to give to others in need.  (Maybe that’s stirred more in me at this time when being outside seems no place to live.)  How about giving yourself a break?  Or someone else who could use it right about now.  Giving and sharing your abundance, welcoming and gathering kindred spirits is a fine way to give  We must not forget giving thanks and being Gracious.  And, of course, giving yourself quiet moments to reflect on Jesus and his teachings.

Happy Birthday, Jesus!  Thanks for shining your light

By Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.

Though it was originally published in 1987,  the wages of fear do not change much.  Nor does the science of overcoming it.

“If you knew you could handle any situation that came your way, what would you possibly have to fear?”

The Five Truths about Fear:
1) The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow.
2) The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.
3) The only way to feel better about myself is to go out and do it.
4) Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I’m on unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else.
5) Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of hopelessness.

“I can handle it!”

Dr. Jeffers teaches us to be aware of where we are on the Pain to Power line.  How much pain are we feeling, how powerful?  She offers lots of great tools to help us stay on the power end and away from the fear.

There is a Power Vocabulary.  It truly matters what you think, say and do.  So, instead of talking about what you can’t do, that it’s not your fault, that you should; say what you can do, what you know, that everything in life is an opportunity to learn and grow.  How you speak creates an aura around you of fear or love. 

We need to “Out talk the Chatterbox.”  The Chatterbox is that incessant chattering in your head.  The Buddhists call it Monkey Mind.  Some call it the inner critic.  I call it, dissent-ary, borrowed from Woody Allen’s line about Dissent and Commentary merging. To Reclaim your Power, you need to find ways to control that noise.  Affirmations may not solve everything, but they can help change the tone of your Chatterbox.

We are to take a risk every day, no matter how small, or how it turns out, just try one.

There is much in fear about taking responsibility.  She defines being responsible like this:
1) Never blaming anyone for anything I am being, doing, having or feeling
2) Not blaming myself
3) Being aware of where and when I am not taking responsibility, so I can change
4) Handling the chatterbox
5) Being aware of pay offs that keep me stuck.  (Check out Libby Gill’s new book “You Unstuck” for great ways to get unstuck.  More on that later.)
6) Figuring out what I want and acting on it
7) Being aware of the choices in any situation

I believe I did a blog about my experience with one of the exercises that follows.  It asks us to list payoffs for keeping things the way they are.  “What don’t I have to face? What don’t I have to do?  What comfort do I get?  What image do I get to hold onto?”  Those are some in-your-face questions that reveal much about what you’re afraid of, what you hold back from.  I found most of them to be pretty silly or not really what I want anyway.  But I never would have known exactly what I was telling myself had I not answered those questions.  Powerful stuff!

“If you’re not making mistakes,” Jeffers say, “You’re not growing.”  To help this, she offers the No Lose Choice Point, that I have talked of, at length in this blog.  It really helps to lessen the fears around making a decision and risking a mistake.  “Underlying all fear is a lack of trust in ourselves.  Everything provides an opportunity to trust ourselves more . . .  With everything you handle, self-esteem is raised.”  I like to say that the only failure is in not trying.  If you try and it doesn’t work out as you planned, it’s not a failure.

Another area where people can get afraid is when they build their whole life around one thing.  A relationship or a job.  If something should happen to that One Thing, what will become of you?  Dr. Jeffers uses a 9 block grid to see what else you can build into your life.  If you pay attention to growing each box, you will find yourself not so afraid and with a larger life.  The “Magic Duo” she says is “100% commitment and acting as if you count.”  That you deserve to have a full life.

Always an important component in moving through fear is saying Yes to the Universe!  “In saying Yes,” Jeffers proclaims, “is the antidote to our fear.” Thinking this way, “value can be created from anything that happens.”  Your whole life becomes one delicious yes after another!  If you truly believed that everything that came your way was for your good, for your growth, for your expansion, why would you ever fear?

Perhaps one of the oldest remedies for Fear is to Give.  Giving needs to be from a place of love and trust, though, not expectation.  That sets up the fear-based thinking,  “Am I getting back enough?”  Gratitude is the great Healer.  Give Away Thanks, she says. “To become involved is to reduce our fear,” Dr. Jeffers assures.  Give away information, praise, time, money, and love, too.  “Giving opens the way for abundance.”  It’s just the way the Universe works.

I think this is a practical way to look at fear.  Dr. Jeffers offers lots of tools and questions to ponder.  I like that she told us about the positive ways she gives back.  I would like to hear more of that from other teachers.  They are often generous with the lessons they learned and the situations they got through.  But I would like to hear more about what it’s like on the other side.  Now, what can you do?

Dr. Jeffers continues to give workshops on fear. She’s written several other books.  Find out more information and get some of her “goodies” on her web site at SusanJeffers.com.

In the end, fear seems to be our constant companion, so we might as well acknowledge its there and go ahead and Feel the Fear.  Knowing that the only way to turn the noise down on it is to not listen to its stories and Do it Anyway.

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