You are invited to participate in 40 days of giving. There is a giving challenge for each day. Do some of them, do all of them, mix them up, do your best.
Let us not be consumers,
but instead let us be consumed
by our passions, by our relationships, by the land, by giving, and by love.
Please share, share and share again. Spread the word, invite your friends. Tell everyone you know.
Change is in the air, can you feel it?
Thank you for listening,
40 Days of Giving
Give something away.
Something that you own. A book, a mixed CD, a painting, a keepsake, a pair of socks. Anything you want. Give it to anyone you want. The girl at the coffee shop, your father, the kid down the block with the red jacket, your best friend. Notice what it feels like, this act of giving. See how it makes you feel.
Give yourself some time.
By yourself. 1 hour at least. Without your phone, computer, headphones, or any screen. Without distractions. Read a book, take a bath, go to your sit spot, go for a run. Lay down and do nothing, write a story. Be with yourself. Lose yourself. Find yourself.
Give someone a meal.
Not just any meal. The best meal you can possibly make, with the finest ingredients you can manage. Invite your friends over, take it to your neighbor, make it for your long lost brother. Or treat yourself. Let yourself be blown away by the textures, by the tastes, by the conversations they bring. Get lost in the process. Be consumed.
Give your attention
Give your attention to a project you’ve been meaning to work on; a mural, an article, a new floor in your dining room, a new garden bed. A photography show, a documentary film, organizing a rally. THROW YOURSELF INTO IT, lose track of time, go nuts. Create.
Give away something you’ve made.
By hand. Each loving stitch, each thoughtful line. A knitted sweater, a handmade card, a jar of jelly. A painting, a loaf of bread, a pair of pants. Whatever you want. Yes, it took a long time to make. Yes, you love it. Now let it go, let it go, let it go.
Give something you love to a stranger
A painting your sister gave you, your favorite shirt, a beloved keepsake from a long ago family vacation. To the man who delivered your pizza, the woman with the black hat you always see on your morning walk, the elderly man drinking coffee. Whatever you want, to whomever you want. Describe the object’s meaning, why it’s important to you, why you think they should have it. The exchange may feel awkward, push through it. You may have pangs of regret. Embrace them and do it anyway. Make the connection.
Give to the land
Work in your garden, help your farmer friend, tend the trail through the forest, plant a tree, add compost to barren soil. Get outside and get involved. Yes, it might be cold outside. Bundle up. We relate to the land differently when we take care of it. Build your relationship. Spend time. Work lovingly. Listen.
Give attention to the elders
The culture of destruction disrespects age, and the wisdom that comes with it. Too many of our elders are left, lonesome, abandoned in retirement homes, and empty houses. Seek out the elders. Sit with them. Read. Play games. Sing. Ask them questions, tell them your worries, listen to their stories. There are answers there, with the ones who have the perspective of many years. Reach out, pay attention, learn.
Give your talents
Write poetry? Wail on the ukulele? Take beautiful pictures, make an amazing ham sandwich, can play a nasty version of stairway to heaven on the accordion? Whatever your talents are, share them with the world today. Play a concert for friends, organize an open mike, teach a cooking class, show your neighbor how to knit. Light up the world with your passion, let the fire burn bright. Share your talent with people, give it freely, like water, like air. Be creative. Be brave.
If you know someone who is struggling, give them help. Find out what they need, and figure out how you can help them. Is it money or things? Is it someone to watch the kids, someone to talk to, a shoulder to cry on? Whatever it is, help as much as you can, without judgement, with an open heart, without asking anything in return. Challenge the idea that we are all responsible for ourselves. We’re not. We are all responsible for each other. Give it a try, see how it feels. Does it shake something up, loosen something in your chest? Good, then keep going. Push yourself.
Give attention to the animals
Your own pets, the ones with the sad eyes waiting for homes, or the wild ones. The ones on the farms, the ones in the fields, or the ones in the stores. The ones in the air, the ones in the water, or the ones in a cage. Find a way to tap in, to connect. Spend time, relax, feel the connection with those who are not human. Donate food, build houses and habitats, offer shelter, sit quietly and relax. Observe, be calm, keep your mind open. Give.
Give away a book
A kid’s book, a textbook, a dictionary, a field guide. Your choice. Write a message on the inside cover. Give it to someone and tell them why. Share the stories, share the stories, share the stories. Freely.
Give your attention to a child
Children love attention, they need it to grow, it helps them thrive. Give it. Read stories, go to a museum, play games, make crafts. Don’t become distracted by phones, by computers, by Tvs. Talk. Ask questions. Treat the kids like human beings. They’ll appreciate it. So will you.
Give away a bag of things
Clothes, bags, shoes, purses, food. Whatever you want to whomever you want. Open the closets and strip the hangers. Shed the weight. Stuff smothers us, clutters our brains, controls us, steals our time, steals our money. Examine what you need and what you want. Ask yourself why you want it. Let it go, let it go, let it go. Make room.
Give away something that someone gave to you
Not in the “I’m going to regift this lame present” kind of way, but in the “this has meaning to me and I love it and I want to share that with someone else” kind of way. The bracelet your boyfriend gave you, the sweater from your aunt, the book from your best friend, the pottery from your Dad. Feel the feelings the object brings up for you, remember who gave it to you and why. Recall the weather that day, the slant of the sun, the flecks of green in your girlfriend’s eyes. Love the memory, let go of the thing. Make a new connection, a new memory. It’s the experience that is real. The object is just a vessel.
Give away a little bit of money
Money is a tricky one, a scary thing, a weighty object to give away. We’ve been taught to hoard, and keep, and collect it at all costs. But what if we challenge that idea? What if we give it away just because we can, because we want to take care of each other, because we want to share? Give just a little bit away. A couple of dollars, a five, a ten. How does it feel? We’re starting small with this one, let’s see how it goes, grow from there.
Give someone something sweet
Think of your favorite desert. Your mom’s famous chocolate cake. The cookies grandma used to bake, the candy your grandfather makes. Find the recipe. Make it, with all the love and good memories you can muster. Then give it away. To a friend, to a stranger, to your coworkers at the office. Share the good feelings, share the sweets. This will make people happy. That is good, pass it around.
Give something from a local shop
Go find a local shop. One that can tell you the sources of all of its’ items. Here in Lancaster it might be Radiance, or Lemon Street Market, or Tellus 360, or the used book stores. There are many other fair trade shops as well. And every town has them. Seek them out, do your research. These are the places that support our local economies. Know them, love them. Talk to the shop owner, ask questions, learn the stories of the things in the shop. Learn the story of the shopkeeper.These stories make things come alive. Pick the perfect thing, buy it. Love it, admire it. Give it away, wrapped in its’ story, to whomever you’d like.
We all have people in our lives who help to form us, shape our minds, guide us as we navigate the world. Parents, guardians, aunts, uncles, mentors, teachers, elders, the land. Let your guides know how much you appreciate them, how much they have meant and still mean to you. Be creative, be unique, tell them your true feelings. We are all so lucky to be connected.
Give a damn
What weighs heavy on your heart? What is your cause, your passion, your project? Animal rights, environmental rights, gender equality issues, marriage equality issues, anti-fracking, clean water, clean air, social activism, rewilding, spiritual work. Get in touch with what MOVES you, fires you up, makes you come alive. There is so much to be done to repair the damage in this world. We need everyone on board, fighting for what they love, battling for what they believe in. Figure out what your work is, find out how to plug in, start something yourself. Organize, activate, demonstrate.
Give an offering
Offerings can come in many forms, and they feed the world. Prayers, cornmeal, fire, song, dance, stories, water, soil, smoke. Almost anything can be an offering with heartfelt intent. Give an offering to some place, someone, or something that you feel deeply connected to. Feed whatever it is that feeds you. Listen to your instinct, do whatever feels right. You can’t be wrong, there are no mistakes. Follow your heart.
Give away a little bit more money
Can you spare a little bit more? $30, $50, $100? Life is hard for everyone, the more we make the more we spend. Do you know someone who needs it more than you do? A friend, a relative, a stranger? Give, give, give. It will surely loosen our attachment to money, make new pathways in our brains. Do what you can. I know it feels strange, scary, and hard. But generosity is always rewarded. That is how the world works.
Give up your expectations
We are all broken in so many ways. It is inevitable, as we are living through collapse- of our ecosystem, of our social system, of this destructive way of being. So often, we expect things of the people in our lives that they are just not able to give. We want a more attentive mother, a more honest father, a more responsible partner, a better child. We expect people to behave in certain ways. We even expect the earth to meet our expectations. We expect sunny days, and predictable seasons, and enough rain. We expect the grocery stores to be filled with food from all over the world. We expect to wake up in the morning. Be understanding. Everyone is struggling, we are all doing our best, we all have deep wounds that need healing. Look within. What do your expectations say about you? How can we release some of the old hurts, some of the demands we place on ourselves and each other? Let things be what they are, accept. Embrace the flaws, embrace uncertainty. Let go of your old expectations. It will create space for new relationships, a new way of being, a new normal, a new world.
Give em hell
Remember those passions we talked about? Those causes that fire you up and make you come alive? The fracking, the animals, the water, the people, the marriage equality? Your light, the work that sets you on fire, whatever it is you fight for. It’s time to take this battle to the streets, to the political offices, to coffee shops and boardrooms, to blogs and websites, to colleges and churches. Challenge people, challenge our governments, challenge the corporations. Push back. Invite others to join you. Find a way to take a stand, bring people together, make some noise, cause a ruckus. Act like your life depends on it. Because it does. Solidarity!
Give away fear
Fear is a lock. A set of handcuffs tight around our wrists, the shackles on our ankles. Living in a competitive, violent, and aggressive society makes us afraid. Afraid of each other, afraid of the land, afraid of making mistakes, afraid of being together, afraid of being alone, afraid of making change, afraid of looking stupid, afraid of losing, afraid of speaking out, afraid of getting in trouble, afraid of getting locked up, afraid of dying, afraid of living, afraid of loving. Find a way to give up the fear. Face it, challenge it, feel it, live it, fight it. Challenge yourself. Join together, cry, wail, and scream. We need to find a way to be brave. We need to no be afraid anymore. We need to not be scared.
Give someone a home
A hollow, a ledge, a box, a burrow, a house. Make space for a nest in a tree, build a birdhouse,put up a bat box, make a habitat for mason bees, build hives for the honey bees, invite someone to stay with you, donate goods to the homeless shelter, help your neighbor re-roof his house. When we make homes together, we welcome one another, give each other a place to rest, to raise our young, to live. We get to know each other. We build community. We connect.
Ask for help, ask for help, ask for help. Let yourself be vulnerable. We can’t do it alone, we are not islands, we do not need to hold up the sky. We gather strength when we join together, the weight is not so heavy. Let people in. It may feel scary and unfamiliar. Take the risk. There is something wonderful in letting go.
Give a hug
Physical touch warms us up, connects us heart to heart, cell to cell. It soothes our jangled nerves, allows our animal selves to be soothed and sheltered. In a world of billions, so many are starving for it, this simple physical contact. This does not mean sex. It means a gentle snuggle, a hug, a kiss, a hand in hand, an eye to eye. Connect. Be puppies, playful and warm. We are not alone, we are not alone, we are not alone.
Give your favorite book
Your own copy of your very favorite book. Write a note inside the front cover, and send it on its’ way. Your favorite lines live on in your memory, their meaning is imprinted on your heart. And most likely, it can always be replaced with a new one. But there is something magic in the sharing of a well loved, dog eared copy, pages soft with wear.
Give your grief
When we carry sadness and grief with us for a long time, it wears on our bodies, and minds, dampens the soul. When we voice our sorrows, we release them. Like winged things they flow out of us and into the atmosphere, where they can be transformed. Transformed into beauty, and strength, and resilience. Release your sadness, write it, tell your story, sing, drum, cry, wail, yell. Run fast, until your lungs burn and your muscles ache. Sweat it out. Let yourself feel it, let it go.
Give your story
We are storytellers by nature. If we never tell our own stories, we never get to honor our own lives. The heartbreaks and failures, the triumphs and joys. Sit with a good listener, and let it all pour out. Write it down, let your notebooks fill up, let the pens run dry of ink. Whisper your story to yourself, over and over again, until you can tell it without wincing, feeling shy, or embarrassed. Be proud, own the plot, feel your heart beat to the rhythm, match the cadence. This is the story of you.
Give your favorite thing
Oh this is so hard. Yes the things are just objects, nothing more, but some of them have so much meaning, are so rich with memories. But if we hope to loosen this attachment, this obsession with owning, with keeping, and with hoarding, we must challenge and push ourselves out of our comfort zones. What are we without our things? Who are we without the stuff? What happens to the memories when the objects disappear? Do your best, and if it absolutely can’t be your favorite, then at least give away ONE of your favorite things, to whomever you choose.
Give your traditions
Share your traditions with someone new. Traditions are a huge part of any culture, and if we hope to build a new one, we must create traditions that encourage and reflect a new way of being. Gather with friends, bake cookies, sing songs, have a campfire, go for a walk in the woods, look for birds, dance until midnight, read poems, make crafts. Feast, tell stories, sit together, find comfort.
Give yourself a break
Take the day for yourself. Enjoy time alone, or with your family, friends, and loved ones. On this day, give yourself a break. Don’t be so hard on yourself, don’t beat yourself up. Stop trying to be everyone to everybody. Be who you are. Say thank you to yourself, give yourself a treat. Go outside, sit and be still, at least for a little while. Reflect on how marvelous this whole wide world is, and how magnificent it is to be a part of it, a creature here on earth.
Give of yourself
Our bodies have an incredible ability to regenerate themselves. To heal from illness, recover from accidents, to grow strong and healthy once again. But there are times when our bodies need a little help. Help from other people, people generous enough to give of themselves. What if you gave away the ultimate gifts, gifts of life, gifts of love? What if you gave your hair to locks of love, to be made into wigs for people suffering from cancer? What if you gave blood, a liquid so precious it can separate life from death, restore health where hope has gone?What if you gave bone marrow, a kidney, your eggs, your sperm, your womb? Your home, your love, your energy, your time? Oh there are so many ways to give, to give each other health, to give each other happiness, to give each other hope, to give each other life. Think about it, figure out what you can do, do what suits you, do what feels right. Examine the ways in which we can give. There are so many ways to save each other. Let us do what must be done.
A lot of it, as much as you can. Give as much as you can to whomever you can. Push yourself. Be generous. So much of the time it feels like money controls us. There’s just not enough of it, to go around, to make ends meet, we’re always chasing it, trying to make a buck. But when we change our relationship with money, change the way we look at it, share it and give it away, WE start to control IT. When we share just because we can. just because we want to, money loses its’ power over us. Then maybe we can begin to see it for what it is. Shabby pieces of green paper, just blowing in the wind. Give it up, let it go. It has no power over us.
Give your apologies
We all carry guilt of some kind, a heaviness of heart that comes when we hurt each other, the earth, ourselves. Examine your relationships, with your family, your friends, the plants, the animals, the planet. Seek out the ones who need apologies, tuck in the loose ends, confront the awkward silences. Mend and weave.
Hurt is like a cool heavy stone in your warm hands. It fits there so perfectly, feels so comfortable, that it is frightening to think of it skipping out across the lake. It is scary to confront the ancient hurts, the pain of a collapsing ecosystem, the death of your mother, the wounds, physical and emotional inflicted upon you at the hands of others. We must embrace our scars and understand that everyone here is struggling right now, that there is much pain and suffering. Try to understand. It will be challenging, but do your best.
To the birds in the sky, and the ground beneath our feet. To the people we love, and the food on our table. May you fill to bursting with all the thanks you feel. Let it flow from your heart, crest the banks, and flood the streets. There is so very much. So very, very much.
To everyone, everything, and everywhere. Commit yourself. To your family, to your community, to your friends, to the land. Open your arms wide and let it all in. We are so very lucky to be alive right now, doing this work in the world, living, laughing, loving, fighting. Let the love bring us together, and build us up, gather us together, and lift us up. Be fierce, be mighty, be strong. Rise up.