Tag Archives: Michelle J.

40 days of giving- taking back the world

Day 58

photo by Michelle J.

photo by Michelle J.

Why 40 days of giving?

Because my brain is damaged from civilization and giving is therapy.

Because this season makes me sick with its’ bright lights and plastic toys.

Because I want to break down my walls, forget where you start and I begin.

Because I want to build a world where people take care of one another, and the land just because we can, just because we want to, just the way we always have.

Or did, before everything got all broken up and ruined.

Because I want to get it back.

Because I want to take it back.

Yes. Because I want to take back the world.

By giving.

Here are days 1-5. To begin on Nov. 22nd.

Day 1

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.

Day 2

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.

Day 3

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.

Day 4

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.

Day 5

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.

And here is days 6-17. More to come tomorrow.

Please share, share, and share again.

photo by Wilson Alvarez

photo by Wilson Alvarez

Day 6

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.

Day 7

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.

Day 8

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.

Day 9

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.

Day 10

Give help

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.

Day 11

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.

Day 12

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.

Day 13

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.

Day 14

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.

Day 15

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.

Day 16

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.

Day 17

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.

Thank you for listening,



photo by Michelle J.

photo by Michelle J.



Day 18

photo by Michelle J.

photo by Michelle J.

I’m thinking of birth tonight.

Our son, born at the foot of our bed, me on my knees. Like a prayer, Wil says.

My nephew, born on the day of the super moon, pulled here, same as the high tide.

My own birth, 30 some years ago, the first photos of my parents holding me, smiling, a little shellshocked, so in love.

My sister’s birth, me at 3, watching sesame street as she came wailing into the world.

And I think, birth is not clean or tidy. It’s not wrapped up in a neat package. It’s not cute.

It’s bone wrenching, wrung-out, blood- soaked, wailing,


It hurts. A lot. You feel like you’re going to die.

And you might.

Years ago Wil and I picked up a doe, killed on the road, abandoned. She was big, belly round, we had trouble lifting her into the car. We figured if the meat was no good, we could at least get her skin, tan it, make moccasins, a shirt, maybe a pouch as well. Bury the rest, pay our respects.

When you skin a deer, you make a neat shallow incision, right up the belly. The skin peels off exactly like a shirt from sweaty muscles. And it’s a pure, lily white inside, no meat attached, no blood, if you do it right.

Once the skin is removed, you make a slightly deeper incision. And then it’s messy. There’s blood, and ruby red organs, glistening liver, chambered heart. Miles of intestines. The smell of grass, and arterial blood, rich with iron.

But this doe, on this day, she, oh God, she, contained indescribable beauty. As we made the incision in her abdomen, we opened the womb that lay inside.

And out slid the two most perfect little baby deer. Twins. Long curled eyelashes, elfin hooves, and such delicate spots, you’d swear, it was just dappled sun shining through the trees.

Birth is looking into the face of God.

And if you survive, if you look into the face of God and come out safe on the other side,

After your bones have shifted, and your throat is raw from shouting, and your hair is plastered to the back of your neck and your heart is broken and mended all at once,

you’ll finally understand.

You’ll finally understand

what we’re fighting for.


must be born.







Thank you for listening,



photo by Michelle J.

photo by Michelle J.

Thank you Daisy, for this incredibly beautiful guest post tonight. Thank you for your words; for sharing.

A poem

by Daisy

We People,

Concrete and steel for hearts,

burning, gasoline-fire hands.

fucking trees and forests

rivers of acid,

acrid, rotting blood.

Dead fish,

We float below roads and bridges,

Harbinger of modern chemical


our nation of oleam.

We have come

to consume,

to climb.

Exist to progress,

shoulder shrugging, we powerless,

congealed mass.

Break away,

shining with knowledge

dirt covered faces

whisper magic birdsong

open lips

in awe of snake tongue spirit springs…..

and pau-pau.

Some day,

great wooden arms

will stretch and flex through our mass.

The river will be glass,

and the glass will be broken.

There’s mountains to move.