Let's play a little word association game. What's the first thing that pops into your mind when I say....
I used to think: donating, money, needy.
Patti Digh would think: inclusion.
What if she told you (because she totally would if you'd read LIAV) that being generous is a component of the tenet of intentional living she calls inclusion? That (and I'm generalizing here; my words, not hers) there's more to generosity than giving money to charity or donating items to Goodwill? That to truly be generous we have to be conscious of the needs of those around us?
I'd never really thought about all this before (and I'm barely into chapter 4 so much more in-depth thinking is sure to come), but generosity also means being generous with our smiles and kind words and attention to others. It's really listening without waiting to respond with our own anecdotes, something I am Terrible about doing! It's sharing our talents and giving more of ourselves to those around us.
Digh also shares a story in which a man is instructed to pick up two handfuls of sand, clench one fist closed, and keep the other fist open, only to realize that the clenched fist is nearly empty. She concludes, "In trying to hold on to the sand, we squeeze it out."
Save up all your compliments for those who "truly deserve" them, and find yourself out of people willing to hear them. Hide away your talents until you're famous for them, and find yourself so out of practice that fame is out of reach. Hoard your money until you die, and it's useless.
I am so thankful to have the opportunity to express generosity like this, and it's because I joined the Maysville Younger Woman's Club, a chapter of the global entity General Federation of Women's Clubs.
Last night, I missed my first nightly blogging session of the year due to the MYWC annual installation meeting, which includes a recap of what each committee and department accomplished throughout the past year, awards and recognition for outstanding members, and the installation of the new officers. It's a great night to enjoy fellowship with these amazing women and reflect on all the wonderful ways we were able to be generous toward our community and each other throughout the year.
When I first joined, I knew very little about the goals of the club or any of the women (I just knew that they threw a pretty fab annual fundraiser party that was an excellent excuse to dress up and hang out at the country club that we are not members of). But once I went to a meeting, I was hooked! The women are fantastic, the work is tremendous, and the impacts are life-changing.
So, in the spirit of generosity inspired in me by my fellow MYWC members last night and Patti Digh tonight, I wanted to share with you a little about some of our Club's operations and accomplishments in 2013, some of the sand that we gladly shared with others by extending our collective hands.
- We volunteered weekly throughout the summer at Camp Discovery, a local summer camp that provides an alternative to expensive childcare for parents in a downtown neighborhood. We orchestrated an arts and crafts project each week, donating time and materials to make cool stuff with kids.
- We promoted various arts events in the community, including supporting festivals, local artists, performances, and student artwork.
- We cleaned up trash along the main street through a local historic district.
- We educated Clubwomen about recycling, composting, and reducing their carbon footprints, in addition to observing Earth Day and Arbor Day.
- We donated to the Arbor Day Foundation.
- We donated to local schools, libraries, literacy events, and promoted autism awareness.
- We sponsored a scholarship at our community college and to a monthly leadership training seminar.
- We provided and served meals and snacks to donors at a Red Cross blood drive.
- We saluted veterans by placing American flags in the veterans' park.
- We raised awareness for child abuse by placing pinwheels throughout common areas in the community.
- We held our annual community shower for the Women's Crisis Center.
- We acquired food donations for the Crisis Center during the Shop and Share event, held annually on Superbowl weekend (which is purportedly, but probably not likely, the weekend with the highest incidence of domestic violence).
- We planned and implemented a monthly Nurturing Parenting class, which included providing childcare and meals to the participants.
And we did all this (and way more) while also being generous with each other, taking time to connect with one another and share the stories and successes of our lives. Our children play together. We swap work stories. We announce our big news and clap, laugh, celebrate together. We spend many, many hours together (our Outstanding Clubwoman recorded over 550 hours of service this year, and I'm sure she forgot some because we all do!) sharing in our passion for giving to others, in ways both large and small, acknowledged and anonymous.
That's a lot of sand, Maysville. You're welcome. And I'm proud to be a part of it.
What could you do to ensure that you're giving away as much sand as you can? And more importantly, how could your sand become a castle for others?