Monday, February 15, 2016

Post Valentine's Day Post: Relationships, Frequency of Contact

In keeping with the theme of finding out what people need and being generous,  you can't expect to be told up front by a new acquaintance, or even a new friend, that they are needing something. It may take time to build that kind of trust where they will open up.

No matter what kind of relationship you have: familial, friendship, marriage, acquaintance, spiritual, to maintain that relationship takes frequent contact. Let's talk about these relationships.

I know some of you may not have a family member to call, or would rather not contact either of your parents. Childhood can be rocky. I get it. Maybe there is a sister or favorite Aunt or long lost cousin you can contact. In order to maintain that connection with them, you have to talk to them some way sometimes. It's easy to use facebook, text messaging, Skype, or an old fashioned phone call to simply say 'Hey, I'm thinking about you. Maybe we should get coffee." You can skip the coffee if that is too much commitment for family.

Perhaps you have a lot of friends. I used to mingle among several circles of friends in high school. The groups didn't co-mingle because someone in one group hated someone in another, but I was fine with all of them and they were fine with me. I loved being able to chat with all of them. Little did I realize that this kind of relationship was not one that ended with a best friend who would follow me into adulthood and be there forever.

So I married my best friend. I think this is the best advice I can give anyone. It's not that you cannot live without them, it's that you want to share everything with them because they are your best friend first. Be friends so that you can stay together even if you are mad at each other. Not every relationship is perfect. There are rocky times where you don't see eye-to-eye. If you can love them but not like them right now and weather the storm together, then you can last together forever. Well, until death do you part.

That business connection you just made, and the card in your wallet mingling with all the other cards? If you want to connect with them later on, you have to make a contact soon in order for them to remember you. Same goes for a new facebook friend. Sure you just met due to new life circumstances, and they can see your posts and stalk your wall, but if you want to build anything on that, you have to send quick chats every once in a while.

I don't talk about religion very much, but I do go to church. I believe that if I want a deeper relationship with my God, I have to commune with Him. No matter what God, god, goddess, or spiritual being you believe in, in order to maintain a relationship with them, you have to reach out and seek them. This is also good practice for small talk with real people. If you are one of those reluctant to chit chat, or like to practice in the mirror, and you are spiritual, do some small talk with your religious figurehead. It also helps you sort out things in your own head. Sometimes the answers come when you pause and think things through.

It's not like Valentine's Day, that comes once a year. Relationships need frequent contact to stay. Sure, it's possible to reconnect to a good friend whom you haven't seen in years and it would be like it was in old times, but sometimes people change and in the meantime, you need to make new friendships to keep you going.

Frequent contact is the way to do that. It makes you vulnerable, having to open up and share some things with others, but your time with them in invaluable. It might just be the 'generous' thing that they needed most!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

#Generosity2016: Notice What Would Make Someone's Life Easier

I have a new focus for #Generosity2016. You could say it is my goal for February.

Notice what would make someone's life easier.

This sentence comes from a simple wikihow; How to Be Generous  Step 1. Get in the right mindset. 
The article defines this in simple steps: Give from the heart, Know that giving will make you happier, Be grateful for what you have, Be generous to yourself, and that last one that I can't check off my list yet. Notice what would make someone's life easier.

See, I give of my time at church and in my job, but those both are still within my comfort zone. It's me being kind on my terms. Something still feels wrong.

In speaking with my Mom, to whom I gave some jigsaw puzzles for no reason other than I love her, I realized that while she appreciates them, they are not filling a need in her life. She shared that my Dad needs a new wallet. This is something I could gift him, provided I know what kind he likes. But before I could gift one, he might buy one for himself. It's still not really filling a "need". Neither scenario, giving my Mom puzzles nor my Dad a wallet, is really at the heart of generosity.

NEED is defined as circumstances in which something is necessary, or that require some course of action; necessity.

Synonyms: necessity, obligation, requirement, call, demand

I should examine what a NEED is to proceed. Fulfilling a need would make someone's life easier.

In my city, there are certainly needs. One of the community centers my church supports has expressed a need for pillows and blankets for the children they serve. Here is a way I can be generous and fulfill a need. There is a demand for bedding for these kids. Even if they don't have a mattress and bed frame they can curl up in a warm blanket with a pillow. I noticed that pillows and blankets were already being collected Sunday morning at church.

Buying things for other people is not really that far out of my comfort zone. I buy items for my students and classroom frequently. While I can purchase pillows or donate blankets, I'm missing the chance to see the gratefulness on the faces of the recipients. This is what I am missing. Ghosting around giving behind the scenes is not feeling satisfactory. It's time for my generosity to get personal.

I love giving gifts, especially at Christmas. What makes it fun is the joy in the recipient's eyes. That same joy can be found in the eyes of someone who has a need and I fill it.

 Notice what would make someone's life easier. 


Step 2: Doing Acts of Kindness from the WikiHow page includes being kind to strangers.  
Talk about getting out of my comfort zone! But this really is the next step for me. In no way do I have to find a large group of strangers. I can choose one person. Using small talk, I can learn about a need they have and if it is within my ability to help out right then and there, I will. I know it is possible to do secret acts of kindness, like hiding money in books for coffee or quarters in coin machines, but I want to do something less covert. I want to make someone smile. I want to see their joy.

Notice what would make someone's life easier.