Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Grateful Year



As some of you may have known, my husband went two years without working. Like so many of you, we were not sure he would work again in this economy. Lucky for us a job came around. But during that time we learned a few things:
  1. Take nothing in this world for granted, especially not jobs or income.
  2. It is the little things in life that make it worthwhile.
  3. People are what is important.
  4. You don't need much money to be happy. Having enough is just fine.
  5. Never owe anyone anything - ever again.
  6. Less is best.
  7. When you've got it - share it. 
This is not to say you shouldn't save for a rainy day. We should all try to be in a place where we can survive in a downturn, or be secure in retirement. But with that being said, one of the best lessons to come out of those two years was the recognition that money in the bank doesn't work for anyone. Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and all of the other gazillionaires that are giving away their money realize that simple fact. Putting money out into the world changes things.

This year we are not exchanging gifts in my family, we are fortunate enough to be able to share an experience instead. We are very grateful to have our children and grandchild with us to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, and the beautiful whales of Hawaii.

So with that thought in mind, I thought I would share a few of my favorite opportunities to share this season:

Library in Nepal - Fellow blogger, goddessoftheconfluence, has a business that often takes her to Nepal. She has done wonderful things for the residents on more than one occasion, using her own money. She is now spearheading a library high in the mountains for the people of a small village. She has a wish list, breaking down all the components of the building and books. Volunteers from the community will build the building. It is a fascinating and worthwhile project.

Oceana - Oceana is on the beaches cleaning the turtles and other poor sea creatures created by the BP debacle in the Gulf. It is an ongoing project. Their organization is focused solely on ocean conservation. This year they are giving you the pleasure of actually adopting a whale, dolphin, penguin, polar bear and more.

Animal Ark - This is a local program. I have been on more than one school field trip to visit the wild animals that have been rescued from some really sad places and situations. They have bears, eagles, coyotes, all manner of animals lucky enough to be cared for at Animal Ark.

Elephant Nature Park - My daughter had the good fortune to be able to visit this elephant rescue park while in Thailand this year. I posted about it here. For a nominal fee you can adopt a specific elephant at the park. It is really amazing how little it costs to help one of these magnificent creatures.

My husband likes to give at the grocery store, and always buys extra bags of groceries they have made up for the food shelter. But it doesn't matter where you give, or even how much you give, it is the energy and intention that goes with it that changes the world.

So do you have a favorite this year?

23 comments:

maggie's garden said...

Unfortunately...charity begins at home this year. My daughter's husband was out of work for a year and a half. They have one child and another on the way. It's been a catch up game for them this year...and so I've been helping them out. Typically this is not the case...usually...Anderson Animal shelter here in the community, and Hesed House shelter and soup kitchen. Giving coats to the Salvation Army, and giving of my time is what's left.
I'm glad you are getting back on your feet. It really does make one take stock of everything we actually do have...and surprisingly it always seems like so much more than we thought.
We aren't exchanging gifts this year...and it really feels good. I'm enjoying the simple pleasures of the season.
Thanks for the list...the Library in Nepal is something I'd like to look into.
Wishing you well,
karen

Kathy G said...

When I was in my 20s, my mantra was "more, more, more". Now that I'm several decades older, I've discovered (and have to agree with you) that it's not about THINGS.

Hubby was between jobs for several months last year, and ended up taking one with less pay. We don't have a lot to give away, but by living simply we do what we can.

Nancy said...

Maggie - we had a couple of years where we did exactly the same thing. We do what we have to do, and helping our family is still giving.

Kathy - That is all that can be expected. We give when we can.

Brian Miller said...

nice. will check out your links...and i have been working part time for almost 2 years so i know those lessons but it is great to be reminded of them on tight days...

lakeviewer said...

Heartwarming and touching. Thanks, Nancy.

Grandmother said...

Thanks for the reminder to be grateful for what we have and to share it with others. I like http://kiva.org that makes microloans to the person or group of your choice. It keeps the money flowing to those in need all over the world.

Natalie said...

We give to anyone who happens our way.

We have a little World Vision Girl, Jennifer.

Here in my city last week all the local bikies did the annual toy run for underprivileged children.

Two weeks ago, my SIL and I had a garage sale, and a lady collecting for an orphanage turned up and asked if she could have anything we didn't sell. We just filled her car up with things for the children.

I donated prizes for the daycare centre's Christmas raffles and gave away a one hour reading as a prize for the mum's too.

I regularly give to The Deaf and Blind Association, Firefighters ,Salvos etc,etc and buy stuff there regularly as well.

For me personally, things start to feel unbalanced if there is an abundance of stuff in my cupboards. I get much joy from giving, and that is a gift in itself.

The Good Cook said...

Toys for Tots and my local Center for Hope (Hospice) are on the receiving end this year.

Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life said...

Toys for Tots were on my radar this year, as in many years past.

I regularly give to United Way and Habitat for Humanity.

There is a great organization in Texas called Home of Hope who rescues girls victim of the sex slave trade. Some pastor friends of mine run it and I give to it whenever I can. The website is http://www.homeofhopetexas.com/ and they would love donations.

This past year has been financially rough for us and I've found that we've been on the receiving end from my children. {sigh} That's not how it's supposed to be but I feel incredibly blessed to have children willing, and able, to help their parents.

Wendy said...

What a wonderful post! And I so agree that sharing is the only way we can survive in this world. Share the wealth, share the energy, share good and bad.

I give to food banks regularly, the local hospice, and library, and anyone sitting at the shopping centers asking for aid.

Linda Pendleton said...

My favorites are www.heifer.org and I will give some chicks, and maybe a goat. Then I will donate to the organization that was called America's Second Harvest, and is now FeedingAmerica.org

I will also support President Clinton's Foundation for AIDs and other world health care and the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Those four are my favorites to support.

I have also donated my angel cards to a local homeless shelter and women's shelter, giving some angel hugs.

Every year I really do get a warm feeling in my heart by doing so.

Even in times of economic downturn, every little gift helps others.

Jingle said...

lovely thoughts shared.
true,
money is not everything,
people are important,
and small thins matter a lot at special times...

beautiful resources shared,
stay blessed,
Happy Friday!

DJan said...

As Linda says, www.heifer.org has been a long-time favorite. We have about 20% less in our monthly stipends because of the downturn, but we retired in a less expensive place to live in, don't take long trips, and we find we have enough to be grateful and comfortable. But no more. Giving to others helps us all. Thank you for the links.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Terrific piece and great links. Thanks, Nancy. For us, too, charity begins at home - with friends in need.

susan said...

For many years ours has been Heifer International. They're a great organization.

JC said...

I donate paper items to the local food bank bin. Clothes and books to those bins. Just went today with bags and bags of old clothes.

I also donate to a lot of animal rescue groups. A few big ones but mostly my local ones.

I still wish I had more to donate. I'm always finding one more that I'd love to help.

My daughter just came back from volunteering in India.

My son donated his birthday money to his High School's food bank drive.

I think I've got both of them going in the right direction.

Whitney Lee said...

My 3 year old and I were at the grocery store last week and I noticed the Salvation Army pot with the lady ringing the bell and so on. It occurred to me that it was the perfect opportunity to teach about giving back. I gave her a dollar and tried to explain that we have everything we need but some people don't. I told her to go to the lady with the bell and put the money in the bucket. It would help buy things for people who didn't have all that they needed. When we got home I asked her to tell her dad what she'd done. She informed him that she put money in the bucket for "them's that don't have any bells." Obviously I didn't convey my message as well as I'd hoped!

I think that this is a wonderful time to focus on what we can give as opposed to what we can get.

Nancy said...

Brian - I'm sure you give plenty.

lakeviewer - Thanks.

Grandmother - I love Kiva - it's definitely on my list for next year.

Natalie - I really resonated with your comment about not wanting too much on your shelves. That is exactly what I'm talking about with the money in the banks.

Good Cook - Good ones! I always love Toys for Tots. And, honestly? Is there a better org than Hospice?

Teresa - You raised wonderful children. Sometimes we have to learn to take - as well as give. That's something I need to work on.

Wendy - Good ones. And yes, sharing whatever we have to share changes the world - one gift at a time.

Linda - All of yours are excellent, especially the angel cards. I have the heifers.org sitting on my counter - I would love to do it this year - maybe just a few chicks, or a goat, or 1/2 of a pig...

Jingle - Nicely said, thank you.

DJan - You give plenty - to all of our feathered friends!

Trish & Rob - Sometimes that is how it needs to be. Thank goodness for friends and family like you, who are willing to help out.

susan - That one keeps coming up for me... it must be a sign that it has to go on the list this year.

JC - I definitely think you raised them to give - good job, Mom.

Whitney - That was so adorable! It doesn't matter what she thought it was for - the idea of giving came through loud and clear.

Gaston Studio said...

Wonderful post Nancy and a reminder to us all that "stuff" doesn't make one happy but CAN provide some temporary happiness to those totally without.

GYPSYWOMAN said...

fabulous post, nancy, reminding us all of what's really important and meaningful not just during the holidays but EVERY day! as for my family and the "holidays" this year, i'm back in louisiana with the other set of my children and their children from whom i've been separated during the holidays for the number of years i was on the east coast with their siblings - so, my gift to them is just that: ME! i've also spent the last two years unemployed since our non-profit lost major funding so just making this move was a monumental task financially for me - along those same lines, making such a move with all my little possessions has allowed me to see just how much "stuff" i have that i simply don't need or use - those things i'm sitting out in boxes for the kids to come get what they want, including some furniture pieces, and whatever is left over of those things will be donated to a local shelter - just a little house/spirit cleansing - and i totally agree that charity does begin at home -

Nancy said...

Gaston - Exactly.

Gypsy - Lucky family, having you around! :-) I'm sure everyone will benefit from you lightening your load. We are doing the very same thing. We have a permanent box in our bedroom closet for anything not worn in the last 12 months.

ds said...

Unemployment is tough; glad you came through all right. And yes, it does force one to reset one's priorities. So I am grateful to have a roof over my head, food in my belly, clothes on my back, the best job I've EVER had, and a grown child who so far has been lucky enough/able to pursue her dreams...
Clothes to a local church or the Red Cross; food to the food pantry & so forth...

otin said...

The way things are going, I may be out of work soon. I am glad that you wrote this!