“We must give more in order to get more. It is the generous giving of ourselves that produces the generous harvest."
~ Orison Swett Marden, an American inspirational author and founder of Success magazine.
Post-Labor Day September....summer is truly gone (despite straggling high temperatures). There’s a change to the breeze and the air feels different. As I cleaned the sidewalk in front of my house on Monday, I found a fallen leaf, still green for the most part, but with edges dipped in red and gold. The first of many I’ll clean from the front walk. For those of us who live in the north, it’s the time of the year when we reflect on the warmth and fun of summer, and look ahead to longer nights and winter cold. I’ve lived in the south, too and although the temperatures don’t change much with the coming of fall in the southern climates, there is still a perceptible change in the air. With this change of season and perspective we begin thinking about the harvest and getting ready for winter.
People who have traditional vegetable and flower gardens may be focused on gathering the last bounty and thinking about how to preserve the vegetables for use throughout the winter. As a child, I clearly remember my Mother, Grandmother, and extended family preparing vegetables for canning and freezing - it was a yearly ritual. But, even if we get our vegetables from the local farm stand or farmer’s market instead of a backyard garden, the harvest and winter aren’t far from our thoughts at this time of year.
Last week I wrote about seeds of attitude and perspective and how our harvest is determined by the seeds we plant every day. Going hand-in-hand with that thought is the idea that what we freely give comes back to us multiplied. If you’re concerned about getting through the winter, either because of cold, harsh weather or because of difficult circumstances like career, financial, or relationship issues (or a combination of both), try to focus on the quote attributed to Orison Swett Marden at the top of this week’s blog: “We must give more in order to get more. It is the generous giving of ourselves that produces the generous harvest.”
It’s true! When we are struggling, our instinct may be to hold on tight to what we have....to gather more and more “stuff” in order to feel safe and secure. Take note - that’s your ego talking and it offers a false sense of security. That’s fear and insecurity encouraging a “that’s MINE!” sort of reaction. When you feel yourself reacting in that way, take a deep breath and recognize where it’s coming from. Perhaps even tell yourself, “it’s going to be OK. Don’t worry.”
Please understand, I’m not encouraging you to run around giving away all your money and possessions with the plan that you’ll get it all back and then some. Another guiding principle of the Universe is that you must try and work to help yourself. One of my favorite stories from the Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” is when she talks about the person praying to God and wondering why God will “never allow” that person to win the lottery. I’m paraphrasing here, but when God is confronted with this question: God, please, please let me win the lottery. Why won’t you let me win the lottery? God responds: “Buy a ticket.” Yes, if we want to win the lottery, we’ve got to buy a ticket. In other words, we have to take steps to help ourselves (look for a job instead of waiting for one to come to us, watch our spending and curb our budget instead of expecting a miraculous event to cover all the bills that month, etc.)
But, taking care of ourselves and taking steps to help ourselves isn’t the same thing as being stingy, greedy, or fearful that you will have “enough.” When I say, give more to get more, I mean it. When you see a person or an individual in need and you feel called to help them. Help them! The good you do and the encouragement and friendship you offer will come back to you ten-fold. Perhaps you don’t have much money to give, but you might be able to give some of your time. Remember, whatever you give with a loving heart will come back to you.
I’ve personally experienced this. After my mom’s passing, I felt called to volunteer with Project Keep Warm to deliver coats to homeless people. That program distributes coats from the same building my mom worked in before I was born. She taught me the value of giving and I felt that that volunteer time helped me grieve and was very healing for me.
Don’t give with an expectation of compensation in return, but give with the peaceful loving understanding and knowing that what goes around, comes around....what we give will come back. We don’t know when our good deeds will be returned to us, but we can rest assured that they will come back to us when we need them most.
Volunteering in one way or another has always been a part of my life. When I lived in Florida and taught Feng Shui classes there, I would often take my students to a facility for women who were victims of domestic violence and we would “Feng Shui” their space. Creative, giving Dara, (of http://www.daradubinet.com ) was one of my students then. She gave of her artistic talents to help create a brighter, happier “home” for the women to live in. We also visited shelters for homeless men. We provided a kindness and a service for them, but that time and expertise was returned to us in many ways. Not only were life-long connections made among the volunteers, but our hearts were filled with the gratitude of the residents.
Take a moment today to consider what you can give to help another. Do you have clothes that are taking up space in your closet “just in case you need them”? I guarantee that there are people who need them today. Could you take some time that you spend watching TV or being on social media every week and offer to assist a local organization that helps others? Even an hour a week can make a difference to organizations that rely on volunteers. You may be strapped financially and struggling to pay your bills, but do you still buy a coffee out once or twice a week or purchase your lunch instead of brown-bagging it? I’m not suggesting you deprive yourself of the occasional perks (we all need those) but if you save the money you spend on your weekly specialty coffee (even one cup), or cut your “going out to lunch” by one, and put that money aside, you can made a donation at the end of the month that will make a difference to an organization or a person in need. There are many ways to give: you can give your time, your treasure, or your talent - or you can give all three! Try it and I guarantee you will find joy. I also guarantee the kindness you share will come back to you when you need it the most.