I know, I know — it's been a while. And, wow, a lot has happened in the meantime. On a personal level, I'm a new mom and it's been one of the most amazing, beautiful, and — yes — tiring experiences of my life. My husband and I couldn't have asked for a more precious gift than our daughter, Zoe, and our time with her has been an extraordinary adventure, so far. We can't wait for everything that's still to come.
Now that the 29-Day Giving Challenge is over and I’ve had time to let it all sink in and take stock of the experience, here’s a list of the 5 best things (or gifts, if you prefer) that I got out of the challenge.
1. Identifying My Inner Critic
As I look back over 29 days of giving, I can't help but notice one of my Inner Critics, good old Perfectionist Patty, telling me that I didn't do it "perfectly." Full disclosure, there were 2 days that came and went without a gift. I am sure I could finagle a way to look back at those days and find something I did that could count, but honestly, I was too wrapped up in my life at the time.
Okay, show of hands: who’s lost a little steam in their Giving Challenge? (sheepish look on my face) I’ll admit that I’ve had my moments. If you have too, don’t sweat it. It’s only natural to get really excited for something in the beginning and feel your energy dip as things go on. I talked about this not so long ago in relation to artists and projects, and I got a lot of responses from people who knew the feeling all too well. In a way, the 29-Day Giving Challenge is a project — there’s a structure to it, a beginning and end, and things to do throughout. So, on one hand, my advice is similar to what I would tell any artist who’s in the middle of a project and feeling an energy slump: Dig Deep!
How cool it is to wake up thinking, "What can I do for someone else today?" There’s no better start to a day — it sets a precedent and I've found that I’ve been giving more in general ways throughout the entire day. It’s also infectious; talking to my family members about it over the holiday weekend, everyone was brainstorming ideas for ways to help other people. My 6-year-old nephew said, "Open the door for someone," and my 10-year-old niece said, "Give food to someone who doesn't have money." It's amazing how easy it is to make a difference in people's lives when it's intentional. The night after thanksgiving I hadn't done my gift yet, and as my mom was getting ready to order in dinner for all of us, I jumped up and offered to take everyone’s order and then run and get dinner for the whole group. I’m usually content to just throw my order out to whoever is taking charge (because trying to order dinner for 10 people can be an exercise in chaos), but it felt great to take the burden off my mom — treating it like a "gift" made it enjoyable to do.
How many times, over the course of your life, have you heard the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day referred to as “The Season of Giving?” We’ve all participated in this metaphorical season in some capacity or another – usually by giving gifts to friends and loved ones. And as anyone knows, the best part about this ritual is seeing someone light up when a gift that you’ve given them really strikes a chord. It’s actually better than getting gifts (okay…most of the time!). Well, recently, I came across something that inspired me to take the idea of giving to another level and I decided that this would be the perfect time to do so, essentially making “The Season of Giving” earn its name. I want to introduce you to Capes Coaching’s 29-Day Giving Challenge.