I’m lucky to live in a world of people who care about people. It’s the people who take care of the people. It’s the people who hold up the dignity and dreams of others. It’s the people who stand up for justice and equality. Are you part of this world? Take a look around you. Take a look inside you. If you’re questioning any direction in your life, if you’re sad, worried, or stuck, if you’re feeling lost, get outside yourself. There’s someone who needs you. Some ones. We are all connected. We are all worthy. You have something to give.
This concept is not totally altruistic. Helping others boosts self esteem. It allows you to feel like you have some control in your life. You look at things more positively. You get reacquainted with peace, joy, and gratitude. Don’t believe me? Check out all the research on this topic. Get out of your life to change your life.
What do you have to share? The options that pop out at me this moment are 3 T’s: Time, Talent, and Tithing.
We’ll start with the old concept of tithing. Many early civilizations used the concept of tithing, at times making it a law. Tithing is the act of giving a minimum of 10% of your income to support others. Check out where you are financially. Honestly look at it. Consider who has little to live on and who best supports those people. If there’s a charity you’re considering, find out where their money goes. Check them out at one of these watchdog groups: CharityWatch, Charity Navigator, or BBB Wise Giving Alliance. Money is good, and just about everyone reading this can find a little to spread around.
But money is not the only asset you have to share. And if you’re not feeling happy about this new year for whatever reason, throwing money at it may help, in fact it probably will, and I encourage you to do so, but you have other gifts too.
I hear you already. I don’t have time. I know that one really well. It kept me from writing for many years. Well, until I was 40 and pregnant and realized I would never have time to write, so I might as well get started. Time still holds me up, but I’m hooked on this crazy activity, and I’m not stopping. When you get a request for use of your time for a worthy purpose, instead of immediately saying no or asking what’s in it for you, take a good look at it. Who will benefit and to what extent? Is there the possibility for ongoing gifts because of the time you gave? We all have the same time. If you’re reading this, you are someone with time. Still silently arguing with me? Track your time for one day. You’ll see what I mean.
Talent is a word I rarely use except when I’m offering my definition of it. To me, the word talent simply means that something comes more easily for some people than it does for others. People in the arts often get told they are talented. Talent doesn’t get you where you want to go. It’s the time you spend on your passions and dreams that get you where you want to go. Forget that word talent. You have what it takes already. Desire. I’ve seen lots of people who were labeled “talented” who hit the wall and never got past it. It’s the ones who dig through the wall who make it. Would you like to know an amazing way to get to where you want to be? Yup. You saw it coming. Share your “talent” with others. Want to be a better writer? Then write. Want to boost your talent even more? Help others who share your passion. For you writers, that might mean starting a writing group in your community. Host a Write In. Volunteer to work with young authors at a nearby school or library. Get online and support other writers. You don’t have to be an expert at it. You just have to share the journey. But this advice isn’t just for writers. If there’s something you want to accomplish, find a way to bring others along with you. You’ll all get there faster.
This isn’t what I planned to write this morning. It just flew out. Like often happens to me, I write the things I most need to hear. This fall was difficult for me, but reaching out has made a difference. Here are a few examples…
An amazing group of teens in my area organized a drama club and put on plays at their high school. Now they want to work on creating a production they will write themselves that is a climate change showcase. I got a call to help. In the past, I may have said no because time often feels elusive to me with my current life obligations. But this time I said yes, and since it’s a topic I feel strongly about, I know it will make a difference not only for those kids and those they touch, but it will also make a difference for me.
Four local third grade classes are working on presentations about people who have made a difference in their communities, whether historical or present day. Our local arts council approached me about mentoring them and working directly with the teachers and classes. I’m looking forward to beginning this project and seeing where it leads.
When my friend Tara Lazar asked me to write a post for her new endeavor, StoryStorm, I said yes. I thought I agreed to do it as a favor to Tara, but I was so wrong about who would benefit from my writing. With comments now approaching 800, I’m blown away by the responses. It wasn’t the numbers as much as the content. As I read them (and reread them), my hand periodically went to my heart. I was so moved by knowing my words had made a difference for so many people. They may not remember me or what it was that inched them closer to where they want to be, but that’s okay. I feel lighter, blessed, and more ready to step out and support others.
Here’s another T—Trust. Trust that you have enough time, talent, and tithing to make a difference. Trust that you have all you need to pursue your dreams. Trust me when I say that if you reach out to support others, it will come back to you more than that measly 10%.
How will you share your gifts? Let’s be the people who take care of the people, even if it means we’re really taking care of ourselves.
Happy New Year!