Sunday, January 24, 2016

New Year's Resoultions: Generosity 2016, A Quest

While leaving the Mart of Wal after all the pandering, bell ringing, and collecting for the Christmas season has passed thinking things would get back to 'normal' and people would tighten their purse strings back up, I realized what it was that was stopping me from being generous.

It's about allowing myself to do it, and also reversing my thinking.

I tend to save up my change until I have a round number. I like even numbers and fives. I'm not sure where it came from, but I feel better when I have an even amount in my wallet.

Instead, I need to set aside the extra left overs and search for a place to give them away. If I have given myself permission to give away a certain dollar amount, it frees me up to look for places or people who need it more than me.

 Here are some helpful hints:

In learning about budgeting for giving, they say to pay others first, before your bills. This is completely the opposite of what I do. Once the bills are paid I look at what's left and watch it disappear into various activities or wants.

If it wasn't there in the first place, it can't be spent. 

If I am serious about giving, I have to set aside the amount to give FIRST.  This puts me in the correct mindset. This prioritizes my giving as a forethought and not an afterthought.

By waiting to see what I had left, I held fastidiously onto the last bits, seeing only the vast void of nothingness once those last bits were gone. I think if I am able to give first, I might be more willing to part with what I have left.

Turns out, I need to hang out with more generous people.  This is a great post on how generous people think differently.

I am asking for you, my readers to comment or contact me on social media if you have the desire to guest-post on this topic. I want to meet you! Do you have a story of generosity to encourage and guide me in my quest?

A 13th Birthday Party Success: Seeing Your Teenager Make Good Choices

My son turned 13 this past week. 13!! I've never looked at the passage of time so intently as this week. He's on facebook now, he's jaded by media, and he has developed a sense of self-worth based on the supposed quality of material goods flouted by the media and his friends. The mall's shoes and clothes are better than Wal-Mart. He takes pride in 'proving' to me the benefits of buying 'better quality' shoes.

He's also learning the social nuances in life. He's learning to host his friends and deal with his brother as well as respect his parents. This is a time to look at current events, wars, politics, racism, actions of a few, and hot topics in media and let him know our opinions and listen to his. This is a new stage for me, uncharted waters. Teenage waters.

I was working with a 3 year old this week who is an only child to parents who are older and cherish his every waking moment. Like all parents, they are giving him the best they can. He has developed a style of stalling, asserting his independence, and crying to get what he wants. He easily has his parents wrapped around his finger. They negotiate with him. ..He's 3!! Now is not the time for negotiating! The child did not like that I only gave him 2 choices. "Put your hat on your head or hang it up. It doesn't go on the floor." He tried to stall and whine, but he knew crying wasn't going to work when those didn't. He kept his hat on. After we played together and worked together on the lesson, he knew who was in charge. We came to an understanding. He knew I wasn't being 'mean' but I expected him to be nice to others.
I think the 3 year old and I did this once!

My youngest child is 8 1/2 now. I do not negotiate with him, I give him options. I tell him what he needs to do, how much time he has to do it, and if it is not done, he loses his privileges. When he needs guidance to complete a task, I give it. Sometimes I still need to supervise task like his teeth brushing so he doesn't brush only the outsides, or perhaps give a refresher on which toys go in which bins. His outbursts of frustration are a communication that he feels overwhelmed with a task. It's my job to see him through it. I might get frustrated, too, but I am the adult and I have to model how to handle frustration.

While I spent the formative years not negotiating with my children, at 13, it's time. It was time at 12 to start negotiating. That transition was rough. We had a few yelling matches as he felt I was being too hard on him while he was seeking accolades for achievement and I was looking for perfection in the task. He still has to do them, but with a longer leash to roam and accomplish them on his terms. He wanted more options, more time, and more freedom to make mistakes. This teaches him to manage his own time, a crucial skill for the new middle school student.

Asking your child to complete chores and assist with maintaining a clean house instills not only respect, but boundaries and a sense of duty.  If the jobs are not completed, natural consequences ensue, including no pay, dealing with stuck-on foods, stinky trash, or angry and disappointed parents. Giving your child an allowance, bargaining for internet time, maintaining that you expect homework finished and chores complete before doing fun stuff online keeps the ball in your court. Giving your child everything they want is passing the control to them.

For his birthday party, my 13 year old wanted to impress his friends. He took initiative with the chores, moving laundry, washing dishes and counters with a speed and diligence unknown in previous weeks. He even swept the floor until he complained about people soiling it! He shoveled the show off the walk for his guests and helped us clean the garage floor so it would smell nice inside the house with little complaint. (The dog had been housed in there when the temperature dropped below zero.)

Enter the guests.

When your child respects you, they will project that air of respect to their guests who come over. While I gave my son and his friends free reign over the video games all night, they did not trash my house. I asked them to refrain from stomping about, shoot any more nerf weapons in the house, and to beware that the couch eats everything. I slept pretty well. They stayed up until 4AM and I do not have a large house. Had my son not had respect for his space, he would have told his friends it was okay to do things that I and his Father might disapprove of.

It was heart-warming to have him choose friends who are like him and who share similar values about entering the homes of others. I sat and enjoyed some videos with the boys and stayed out of their video game time. We chatted over pizza at the table. I listened to what they wanted to share with me and was 'cool Mom' for once in my son's life. That feels good.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Generosity 2016

There's a lot to be said about generosity. I think I was placed with a certain person because they have things to teach me about generosity. While there are some things they do that upset me, they are more radical than I am in their generosity.

When I daydream about a windfall, winning the lottery, or suddenly inheriting a decent sum of money from a long lost uncle, I often think about the debts I need to pay off, the repairs the house needs, or the new things I would buy that have been on my list for a long time. 

But I was recently reminded that giving without expecting something in return has a way of paying you back.

It's not just being nice to people, it's being generous that earns you favors. You never know when, or how, or who will help you out, so it's a game of patience and chance. Most people are afraid to play that game.

Also, I think there is a fear that people will take and take if you are giving out. Which is why you have to say no to some things and some people.

Saving up for yourself, feeling like you earned the treat, is good. Giving what you can to others to see the delight, the gratefulness, the joy in their eyes is better.

People used to say 'I've done my good deed for the day', or month, or year, but lately that phrase seems to have died off as more and more are saving up what they have against a time of distrust, war, and unrest.

But now is the time to give. Share, donate, volunteer, and provide respite. Be generous above being nice. Sure, you can hold the door for people, help a young mother load her groceries while she has a baby in a carrier strapped to her chest, or return lost wallets all day long, but you're never going to get the satisfaction that true generosity will bring.

I don't yet know where I will begin this new crusade, but I shall make it my new resolution.

Do What You Love: You

How do you do what you love?

1. Write down what you love most. Make a list, everything from favorite color to favorite hobby. Do they fit into your day in some way? Would you be happier if some of them were in your day more often?

2. Find the connection. How can you work that into your current day or your current career? Will it make you feel better?

3. Start incorporating what you love into your every day. Pin up an inspirational pic, quote, or note to yourself to remember to do or add one thing you love into your day. Then add one more.

4. If things get strained, as in, doing the one thing you love every day is counter to what you are supposed to be doing, begin to rethink your day. Is this the job for you? Is this the way you want to live? Can you make a change? Plan for a change if it is the right thing to do.

5. Take some time every day to reflect on the changes, debrief about the events of the day, and relax. Exercise is often a great way to relieve stress, but don't forget to cool down and stretch. Writing out a journal of the day's events might help you work through your emotions.

6. If your dreams are not reality, is there research you can do to learn more about how to make that happen? Google your passions. perhaps there are free webinars, information, or organizations you can join that will help you live out what you love.

Do What You Love: Me

They say you should do what you love. By loving to go to work each day, you will have a fun and enjoyable experience. You might not want to come home, except, home is where the food is.

If I could do what I love, what would that look like?

I would be a writer. I think I also would be a speaker. I would give to others, teach others, and share.

Some people know what they want. They go after it. I've always been a 'grab the bull by the horns' kind of girl, even if I got thrown down to the ground. I've entered things with gusto and confidence that I could do it, only to be shown that I come up lacking. The fall from confidence to vulnerability is great and painful. Getting back up and trying again takes courage, but wiping yourself off and turning towards a new adventure is even more brave.

Life is about your experiences. It's is about people, adventure, savoring the moments, and making memories.

Living what you love would include being able to do these kinds of things in your life that make you happy and never having regrets.

I always thought I was a people person. I could read my fellow classmates and give advice about their social relationships because I'm both intrinsically and extrinsically aware of social constructs. But high school is very different from the real world. I found out there were more types of personalities out there than I could handle. I considered a life including some kind of counseling as a career, and for a while I sated this need in chat rooms with writing friends giving advice while I worked toward teaching as a career. Then, that took over my life, the website died, and the friends moved on.

I miss the social part of my life. Going to Trivia every Monday is not cozying up on the couch over hot cocoa and letting it all out to an empathetic ear.

I drown under other, stronger personalities and the weight of making decisions that are more serious than I'd ever imagined. Feeling a bit more helpless and clueless lowers my self-esteem. I blame myself.

I stopped writing, blogging, ficletizing, and creating as all my energy went into planning, staying afloat, and trying to feel worthy in a thankless environment where all I can see are my mistakes and how far I am from the goal. This is not the work that I love. This is stress.

My heart is clearly elsewhere.

Something has to change. I don't know what yet. I know that I need to refocus and re-prioritize during this break from work. I'm starting with writing. Instead of coming home and unwinding with a show or mindless facebook game, I will come home and write first. Without writing, I have lost myself.

After I organize my thoughts and write them down, I will find my focus. New motivation will come, the finish line will appear, and I will race towards it. The calendar will fill with deadlines and projects will become completed.

Once I begin writing, I will renew my energy to get back into the circles of critique and passion. I will find new friends to work with, learn new techniques for marketing, and maybe finally publish something worth reading.