Friday, June 26, 2009

Give it away


As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m working on this new creative venture that will have, at its heart, a website called www.whatareyougivingaway.com. (I talked a little about the blossoming of the idea here, and showed you some of the early artwork.) Based on my years of doing lots of things including writing/creating, working as a communications professional, facilitating leadership and creativity workshops, teaching sessions on identifying your gifts and personalities, leading a national team of people involved in fundraising, education, and stewardship, (and loving all of those things) I’ve decided to take a big bold step and declare myself a bit of an “expert” on owning your giftedness and figuring out how to share it with the world. (Yikes! Hear that sharp intake of breath? That’s my self-doubt having a mini panic attack at the suggestion that I could possibly be an EXPERT at anything.)

Self-doubt or not, that’s my dream – now I just have to find the time to let it unfold. The whole thing feels like a pretty powerful force right now, so I’m not letting myself doubt that it WILL unfold.

If you’ve been reading for awhile, you’ll know that I’ve been suffering from a bit of burnout and weariness and overwhelmedness (I KNOW it’s not a word, madame spellcheck - but it’s all I can come up with, so deal with it.) It’s partly because this big idea is trying to get born at the WORST possible time – a time when I’ve got some pretty intense things going on in my work life (huge board proposals, staff evaluation time, my own performance evaluation time, new staff positions and subsequent hires, staff handing in their resignation… ALL AT ONCE.) But we all know that ideas, like babies, have this habit of showing up in their OWN SWEET TIME THANK YOU VERY MUCH and messing up all those lovely things like schedules, plans, and SLEEP!

When I have a creative idea, I have this tendency to get all panicky about having to follow up on it RIGHT NOW or it will slip away and I’ll live with regret for the rest of my life. After visiting the labyrinth and my son’s grave, though, I’ve decided that I have to try to be more zen about it and just let it unfold organically, trusting that the right time and space will appear when it is supposed to and babies and ideas grow whether you want them to or not. (Trust me – my first baby is now as tall as me!) (On the other hand, though, sometimes they're not meant to grow - I've had one of those babies - and lots of those ideas - as well.)

As I'm waiting for the right time and space, I’m trying to find ways of feeding the idea and feeding my tired burnt out self at the same time. Playing along with the Wreck this Journal fun has been a great start (especially since I’ve made this great connection with Jamie, who’s such a wonderful generous spirit, I’m dying to meet her). Working on my creative sanctuary and doing some paintings has also helped.

A few days ago, it occurred to me that, with all this burnout and weariness, it’s been a long time since I really practiced spontaneous generosity. I’ve gotten so focused on trying to hold myself together, I didn’t have a lot to give other people (just ask my 7 year old daughter who’s gotten extra clingy in all of this – longing to have her fun attention-giving mom back). Since I’ve worked through the worst of the insanity-inducing time at work, and because I want to start a website about giving stuff away, I decided it was HIGH TIME I got my butt in gear and started being a little more generous.

Yesterday’s beach day was one of the things I’ve done to try to get back on track. Giving my daughter and her friends a day of freedom and fun and the delight of feeling just a little bit naughty for skipping school for a day at the beach was a delightful way to start. (Who said being generous couldn’t benefit ME at the same time?) And a few days ago, at lunch time, I walked to my favourite music store, bought gift certificates for my three locally based staff and gave one to each of them with a note that said “sorry I forget to show appreciation when I’m too busy and stressed out, here’s a little gesture to make up for it”. I also bought a cd for my friend Sam who was visiting from Ethiopia, because he’d heard The Waifs on my mp3 player when I was in Ethiopia and he’d liked them.

Here’s the thing – giving stuff away is SO MUCH FUN! It has lifted my spirits in a delightful, refreshing way. As I continue to work on my website and my creative sanctuary, I’m going to spend some of my time trying to think of other ways of giving away meaningful gifts that lift my spirit as much as the spirit of the receiver of the gifts.

I invite you to join me. Do something spontaneous and generous – buy a friend a book they’ve been talking about. Pay for the coffee of the person behind you in the drive through. Take your staff out for lunch. Or if you have no money – give away your time, your listening ear, your encouragement - you name it! Get creative, give something away today, and come back here and share it with the rest of us.


Anvilcloud said...

Doing something that excites you can fill you and replenish your spirit. Good luck.

Jamie said...

Oh, Heather, I'm just thrilled for you - and so excited by this new and inspiring dream that you're bringing to life! It's a beautiful gift to the world.

I'm so happy we've connected. Thank you for your lovely words. They touched my heart.

PS You ARE an expert. No doubt.

Olivia said...

I am excited for you as well, Heather. All sounds so good, letting your dream unfold organically, giving to others, taking care of yourself. Your dream sounds fantastic and I want to validate your identity as an expert---your have great experience, and the desire to share it with the world! THIS dream could be what you've spent your whole life doing all the other stuff for. I am glad to be able to witness the birthing of your dream here in the early stages, YAY! Celebrating with you, O xo

Anonymous said...

I love what you did for your employees. What a so-very-kind and thoughtful gesture. Best wishes on your new venture.
I like your comparison about ideas and babies - they just come when they are ready, convenient or not!

Linda said...

I was at the grocery store and the gentleman who was ahead of me realized that he didn't pay for his bananas, and came back to say so. I put his bananas with my order and happily paid for them although the checkout clerk tried very hard to explain to me that they were the other customer's bananas and if I put them with my order, I'd have to pay for them. It took a few minutes for me to explain that I WANTED to pay for them.

Pamela said...

I'm going to remind myself to do something spontaneous....

Stephanie said...

"I’ve gotten so focused on trying to hold myself together, I didn’t have a lot to give other people." I know the feeling. It seems like this past year has been so hard on Jason and I that just now we are finally figuring out how to pay attention to each AND the girls. Now I need to relearn the art of giving to others.

Your new website sounds so exciting!