Day 4 turned out to be a challenge for me.
I began the day excited and eager to see what I would give and to who. I mailed off the Hopeline
packages I had put together on Day 3, packed up (and even found a couple more that I could send) the bookbag for the Tibetan women
, and spent the day emailing and doing some paperwork.
By the end of the day, at 9pm, I started feeling frantic and desperate that I haven't given anything yet. Nothing I've done gave me that A-HA moment where it was like, I've GIVEN. "I've failed!" I thought, and began to desperately google options -- volunteering? Donating money? It no longer felt expansive to give, it felt like a test I was flunking and it was making me panic.
Taking a deep breath, I sat down and went backwards through my day.
I answered every personal email with a present-ness and thoughfulness instead of the usual flippant mindless auto-response that usually permeates my emails -- you know, the kind where you skim instead of read and forget your own reply as soon as you've sent it.
I picked up the phone EVERY TIME someone called. And all the people who called were my girlfriends! For those of you who don't know me, I'm notorious for being a crap phone person and I tend to not pick up unless it's something necessary like "I don't see you! Where y'at?"
When Joel came home, I knew that the Moroccan Chicken he had last night was his favorite, but there was only enough for one person, so I insisted he have it and ate a bowl of cereal for dinner.
I had come across a couple of items that made me think of Kate
and a couple of others that made me think of Cami
that I decided I wanted to send for them. Just little things.
I also (FINALLY!) packaged up the items from Shanghai for Joel's mom (since he's such a procrastinator he'll never get around to it) so that she can get it, you know, sometime this year.
Joel and I got into a bickering fight over virtually nothing in which I chose to give up my need to be right and I gave up my need to hurt when I am hurt and bit my tongue from saying bitter words. Then I chose to let it go.
In retrospect, I've done a lot of giving on Day 4!
I also noticed that other than the household things with Joel, everything I'd done for others that day had been for fellow women, adding to the power of the Tribe of Women. The first deals with (mostly, I'm stereotyping and generalizing, sadly) victims of domestic abuse, the second with women refugees, the third, fourth, and fifth (email, phone, small fun trinkets to send out) were my women friends, or women who might become my friends (I arranged a meetup for the fellow Worldteach
volunteers in my area for today... who were all women!), and the last was for Joel's mom, whose relationship with Joel has improved since I've gotten him started on the intermittent care packages home. Boy, that's a lot of estrogen for one day.
And then, after realizing that I've been giving all day, I noticed in my inbox an email letting me know that my monthly contribution for Women for Women
(where I sponsor a sister) had gone through. Earlier that day, Cami and I talked about her visit with another 29-er and about how Ladies Who Launch
has been a tremendous resource for her. And I thought: "Wow, how powerful it is, this Tribe of Women."
So in honor of all us women who are for women, I am enclosing a letter from my first "sister" Justine in Nigeria when she graduated from the program. She lists the women's health rights (AIDs and rape) education as the most awareness training she received. But clearly, what is making the most difference for her has been learning how to start and manage her own business. She went into animal husbandry with chickens and joined the other women of her tribe in forming a co-op. (I was having the most delicious realizations of the symmetry between what Justine did and what LWL does for women here in the states). Having more economic success than before, she was also granted greater decision-making power, especially concerning in the education of her children.
Below is Justine working in her vegetable garden:
And here is her letter: