Wednesday, March 31, 2010

29 Days of Giving Day 5 + 6

Day 5:
Wrote three short letters to different people expressing how grateful I am for their influence in a particular aspect of my life or their helping me get from here to there.

Instead of driving home after a business meeting, invited and met two great friends which I do not see nearly often enough for dinner.

Day 6:
Wrote three short letters to different friends expressing how much I miss them and made an attempt to make plans with each.

Made small PayPal donation to a charity one of my friends is particularly passionate about.

Took time from my workout to coach two team members on kickboxing technique. Wrote several others from my team encouraging emails congratulating them on their progress to date. Looked up exercises and recipes for one having a difficult time.

Spent two and a half hours working pro bono on a graphic design project for a friend who owns a small business.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

29 Days of Giving: Day 4

I have written extensively in the past about the grip yoga took on my life from the very first time I practiced. Since then, I have experienced many variations of myself in my own practice: a very selfish me, who so coveted the space, the sweet release, the solace of it all that there was simply no way that I could imagine giving it away, sharing that space with anyone.

I practiced the first time more than 11 years ago: pregnant, irrevocably broken, alone, and terrified beyond measure. My friend Leah manipulated and bent me in ways I never knew possible. My child did headstands in my belly and I felt months and months of nausea fade into my mat, if only for a time.

Imprinted, it would still take years for me to find my mat again.

Many years later, at a time when I felt whole yet was still scared in so many ways, it was through the persistence of the man I loved desperately that I found myself back on a mat, his mat. Little did we know, that months later when our relationship would begin to crumble, that yoga mat would become my place of refuge from our brokenness, my own brokenness. The mat seeped up my tears, the toxicity that man and I tried desperately and yet wholly unsuccessfully to keep from pouring upon one another.

That mat came to be the place that held the depths of my pain and failure, and also my hope.
My mat, my church.

Slowly, deliberately, my body changed, my mind changed. Fear became fierce determination. Trepidation became lean strength. Salty tears of anger, sadness, and rage turned to joy, elation, sweet release.

My relationship sadly ended. My life went on. I moved from the sacred space I'd created in that studio for myself, rolled up my mat and ventured home. A new set of challenges awaited, but there was no studio. No sacred space.

I threw myself into other things. I tried practicing in my bedroom, the living room, the gym.

And then, I realized, slowly, that if I was going to have this here, this space here, I needed to change with my practice. I needed to bring it here. I went to teacher training. I tried a new type of yoga. I fell into fear. I stretched until it became love. I fell out of fear. I fell into the sweet release surrender brings. And Sunday, I summoned all my inner demons, my fear of being unable to share this, to do this, and I shoved them aside for two hours. I taught my first class.

I gave this yoga to people as it was once given to me. Imperfectly, present, and with no expectation of return. I led, they stretched. I adjusted, they exhaled.

The 11 year journey, and a brand new mat...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

29 Days of Giving: Day 2 + 3

Yesterday was about letter writing and forgiveness, a gift I'm giving someone, but perhaps more importantly, a gift I chose to give myself. I've yet to decide if I'll hit send on my letter, I'm not sure it's necessary.

As I tried to decide what to give yesterday, my thoughts continually crept back to the same space, and this is always where I wound up, no matter how many times I hit the punching bag, no matter how many miles I ran...forgiveness. A gift.


Today, we give the gift of...doggie daycare. And a doggie sleepover. For a puking, crying dog.

I also gave my son some baseball lessons today, but I'm not counting them yet...they've only just begun.

Friday, March 26, 2010

29 Days of Giving

I discovered this website a few weeks ago deep in the cobbled confines of cyberspace. In all honesty, at the time, it didn't really strike me as anything fabulous or do much for me, but the idea did stick with me.

Why 29 days of giving, and not 32, or... 57 days of giving?

I didn't think of it again, until yesterday.

It was immediately after I read this article about saving money for retirement. The case study is a woman named Dayna, a single mom who loses a significant portion of her income due to divorce, and struggles financially to make ends meet. She also struggles to cobble together an emergency savings, retirement fund or for her son's college tuition.

After noting that her ancillary spending was not at all exorbitant, I plodded on, wondering where this magical money man was going to come up with his super duper powerful elixir to solve Dayna's money woes. I am and was a skeptic of these types of articles/schemes, and yet, this one hooked me because Dayna had so little in extra spending budgeted before and after her divorce, I knew there was no way his first line could be like every other article I've read on this topic which says: "cut out coffee for a year and you will save $1,057.23."

To which I typically say: suck it. Have you seen me without coffee? That's $1,057.23 well spent, mister.

The chart that laid out Dayna's finances also had one other glaring part that stood out. Prior to her divorce, Dayna had exactly zero dollars allocated to charitable/giving, and after her divorce, with the help of this money management expert and much less in net income, she now allocated to giving 5% of her net income.

The article claims that giving would encourage Dayna to be more empathetic to the needs of others, and that recent research suggests that those who put their money in the mouths of others, so to speak, tend to be rewarded for their generosity many times over.

A HUGE believer in the idea that abundance reaps additional abundance, my mind began to race.

I did some additional research, and found surprisingly few statistics to back up the article's claim, but I so liked the theory that I started to think about all the ways I had given in the past, and I began to wonder if they'd add up to my own 5% net.

I recognized almost immediately that a good deal of the reason I have never given in a managed and deliberate way is because not only had I never pulled together any kind of action plan of how I might implement giving in my life in a way that works for me, I also had never quantified many acts that were incredibly fulfilling to me as giving because it seemed, well, self serving in some morphed way. It's as though, I assumed through action that this act of giving, should be financially painful.

I am always willing to give of my time and my space, many times to a fault. If I like you I will put you up, feed you, wash your sheets, give you my home, no questions asked. My profession is one where my most valuable asset happens to be my brain, and therefore I noted that I freely give away each week countless billable hours of my time.

And yet until yesterday, I never even considered that these sorts of gifts could be among the categories in my own gifting structure/plan. I think because, in some masochistic way, they are not as painful as writing out a check and sending my hard earned bucks off to Neverland so they don't feel like they qualify? Strange.

Sure, I also texted that 800 number and gave $10 to Haiti relief, and most years I write a check to the Sierra Club, United Way, and to some version of cancer research but each time there is this underlying skepticism: what is that money going to do anyway?

And yes, every year I take a boat load of clothes, appliances, bedding and other stuff to Goodwill (largely because I am too lazy to hold a garage sale) but again, has this really made a difference for someone? Made someone's day? Does it count?

I pick up trash when I see it, never litter, and separate out my bottles and such to recycle. What's that, giving to the earth? I drop more money than I care to count each year at my kid's school carnival and on various school fundraisers that promise a nut roll, or crappy cookie dough, or shitty wrapping paper, but getting serious about giving and quantifying it like this guy was suggesting, that requires a plan.

In thinking about this, I reverted back to the 29 Days of Giving idea, with my thought being that it could be a really empowering way to do my own market research.

I realized immediately that much of my fear around creating a 5% net giving budget was not so much that I was against giving my hard earned cash away, as I do it nearly every day, it was about the idea that giving needed to be painful somehow, that the mere act of writing that check, or whatever it was must hurt like watching someone stand before me and slowly tear up each dollar made waitressing on a particularly hellish night.

I resolved yesterday that giving does not have to be (and probably should therefore very rarely for me be) about writing a check to a charity when I know little about my money's destination. It doesn't have to hurt to give, however, in fact, it should actually feel pretty damned good.

So yesterday, I set out on my own, very personal journey of 29 Days of Giving....and I hope to document here in some fashion at least, the various ways in which I conduct my "market research."

I had and continue to have no idea what this will look like, but I figured if I set the intention, that something would come to me. It did. I logged on to Facebook approximately 10 seconds after the unofficial kickoff to my little campaign and noted that one of the most positive, happy, and supportive moms in my stream (whom I have never actually met) was pining badly for a chance to go to the Black Eyed Peas concert last night. She and her husband also happen to be the two most likely people in my stream to offer help when needed and are always going above and beyond, whether tending a trail, or making homemade soup for the homeless. I whipped out my credit card, charged two tickets and emailed them to her.

I see on Facebook now that she's looking for toothpicks to hold her eyes open, after a long, unexpected, fun night dancing.

I cannot stop laughing.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fire Kornheiser...A Letter to ESPN 980

To Whom It May Concern,
As a recreational, commuting, and racing cyclist who has had multiple friends killed by motorists while riding on the roads, Kornheiser's comments that we cyclists should all be "run down" really struck close to home.

It is this EXACT type of attitude and behavior that has left a friend with out a husband/father because he was killed by an erratic motorist, and another friend with lifelong debilitating injuries he sustained because of another motorist (both who fled the scene, were speeding and were later found and ticketed $35).

I have multiple teammates who have been treated for post traumatic stress episodes following watching one of the incidents described above and countless other friends who have been hit, sustained serious injuries or killed by motorists. The two incidents described above happened in the span of 30 days (in one town) last summer.

This is not a joke.

The motor vehicle/bike issue should not be taken lightly and it certainly should not be made a mockery of on a national platform like your own. It is irresponsible and disgusting and promotes the types of assholes who leave people for dead after "tapping" them as Mr. Kornheiser suggested on your show.

I pay my taxes, own a vehicle and have just as much of a right to be on the road as Mr. Kornheiser does, and just because he chooses to drive in a motorized vehicle and I choose to ride my bike does not allow or entitle this waste of space to make lewd comments about how we should all be killed or at the least "tapped."

Mr. Kornheiser should be terminated. The image that he sheds on ESPN for comments like this one is ridiculous, distasteful, rude and potentially life threatening when you consider that hundreds of thousands KIDS tune in to your various network broadcasts to form their opinions about sports, athletes, and their behaviors about issues and sports.

I know first hand the influence your station can have on a young person as I am the single mother of a 10 year old ESPN junkie who wakes up every morning to race to the television to soak in your broadcasters every word, which he believes each and every word of and then parrots throughout the day to whomever will listen.

Now YOUR PEOPLE are telling my CHILD (or any dim wit who will listen) TO KILL HIS MOM? I can assure you I will not tune in to your station in any capacity again until this situation is rectified and neither will my son.

Do something about this...