When I set out to have a birthday contest, I thought that it would be fun to give someone a gift for my birthday. Giving of myself is important to me, and what better way to celebrate my birth than to give to others? While much of what I have to say is not unique, after all each of the four participants hit on at least one of these themes, the truth remains the same-- Giving is a way of life.
For me, giving has become a way of life. I was not always this way, but more and more, I enjoy giving of myself in many ways-- time, energy, money, writing, listening, friendship, parenting, and as a wife to name a few. There are many reasons why I give of myself. Some are religious. Some are deeply personal. Most of all? I believe that something small makes a big difference, and I want to be that something small. I want to be the change I want to see in the world, and I use that quote quite often in my life. At home. At work. At play.
Personally, I have been incredibly blessed in my life. I am more than provided for, and yes, much of that is the fruit of my own labor, but it is also the result of people sacrificing and giving to me. I live a relatively easy life. I am not living in poverty. There is food on my table, air conditioning and heat in my own, a roof over my head, and money left over for "necessities" that are really "things" that make my life easier and I could do without. Not only that, but I have a loving husband who would never beat me, is not an alcoholic, and is a great father.
Because of these blessings in my life, I feel compelled to give back to others. I cannot be the change, if I am unwilling to leave my comfort zone, if I am unwilling to extend my hand, my heart, my mind, and my resources, to the many in need.
There are an infinite number of ways one can give of oneself and an infinite number of causes and people that are in need of what I (and everyone) have to offer! When we give of ourselves, we learn about ourselves. We find a meaning that is deeper than our personal satisfaction. We give, but we get it back ten-fold or more.
Truth be told? Giving is not the easy way, especially in a country and a culture that tends to center on "I" and material goods. It is easy to collect a treasure (or treasures) during our lifetime. It is a lot harder to allocate that treasure while we are alive.
So, on my birthday, I urge each and every reader to extend their hand, shovel, heart, mind, and more to help those among us in need. Let's all open our hearts and minds to the challenges of others.
Before I get to the contest, I will leave you with a quote from Heidi's entry that particularly touched me.
If I can use the education I've gained, the knowledge I've learned as a Social Work professional, the compassion I have as a human being to somehow improve someone's life for just a few minutes in one day, then I think I gave them something which cannot be quantified. Many people give money to a cause in which they feel great passion. Nay, as a social worker I have no money. So I give myself.OK-- two quotes.
I give of myself. It's the most valuable, precious, and genuine asset I own.
Now for the contest. For simplicity, I assigned the numbers in the order of comments on the contest post--
The winner is Heidi!!! Name your charity/cause, Heidi, and I will make the donation in your name/honor AND next Friday, I will feature the work of the organization!
Happy Birthday to me!