Today's gifts weren't particularly remarkable. Thinking today would be another scorcher, I got up early to go pick up cat food (I have to go to a nearby vet, and the cans are heavy). The vet is in the same plaza as the place where I buy bread on Tuesdays to take to the soup kitchen on Wednesdays. Since it was early, and the soup kitchen was still open (way back in my neighbourhood), I decided to buy a loaf of fresh bread and take it directly there. It was still warm when I dropped it off. I know it will be frozen and probably won't be used for a few weeks, but at least it will be frozen fresh. I also stopped in the grocery store to use the washroom and left a Post-it note on the mirror: "Smile - You are a gift to the world. Have a wonderful day!"
I had a brief fantasy of today being a giving marathon, giving in all my favourite ways, but I was just too exhausted. I don't know why, but I had that "unplugged" feeling. I did get out and pick up a couple of leftover muffins at the coffee shop to add to the bag in my freezer. I'll take those to the soup kitchen Monday morning.
Because of the calendar (and rounds being 29 days long), this isn't quite a full year. I think I might feel more like an "anniversary" on August 15. Still... When I began last August, I had two large Financial Situations, and my intent was to keep the flow going so that I could clear them. (As Eckhart Tolle - and others - say: "Outflow determines inflow.") I didn't even read Cami's book until the second round, I think. I just loved the idea - and then I heard things in the book (I bought the audio version) that added depth to my giving. The first thing to shift perceptibly was my connection with someone close to me, in a way I'd previously thought impossible - a very welcome and unexpected benefit. Over the course of the year, I discovered another Financial Situation I wasn't aware of (or had forgotten about), and one of the original Financial Situations resolved itself miraculously (in part, I think, because I gave the gift of complete honesty). At times, I've been able to give $100 without thinking too much about it; other times, not long ago, I've been down to $20 in my bank account without knowing when or how more would arrive.
(Today, I'm VERY happy to say, I paid my July bills. Woo hoo!)
During the past 12 rounds, I've had ups and downs, and through it all, this community has been supportive and encouraging. I've had setbacks and experienced miracles. The biggest benefit of giving - the actual act of giving - has been that it almost always opens my heart. I'd be lying if I that every day of every round, my heart opened more. I'd be nothing but a beaming heart right now (which would be pretty awesome!). But over the course of 12 rounds, my heart has grown more and more open, and kindness has - most days - become a way of life. I wasn't unkind or ungenerous before, but I've learned the joy of giving without expecting anything in return. (I guess I still expect flow, but I mean that I don't keep tabs.) I've discovered the giddy joy of giving anonymously, the power of involving others in the giving process, and the realization that there is no "wrong" gift or recipient.
I'm honest about the ups and downs because I think they're normal (and maybe it's the writer in me), and I want other people to know they're not alone if they have a rough day, or doubts even after 11 rounds. Yes, giving has changed my life - and it's also changed how I look at life. Life happens, no matter what. I have the choice to accept it or resist it - and I've done a bit of both, though I'd like to think I'm getting better at accepting it.
I'm going to keep going. I can't imagine stopping. I can't imagine my life without this community (for those who don't know, I live and work alone, and the support of all the wonderful people here is invaluable to my well-being). And I still have my intention set on paying off my Financial Situation (which is down to a singular). Plus, I'm kind of curious to see what happens next - and to share it with those of you who want to keep reading.
Thank you all for being here. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
(And I hope you all had a good Friday - cheers!)
p.s. I discovered that the couple who own the homemade ice cream shop (where I often paid ahead for others' cones) are moving back to Calgary. I'm sad, because I like them, but I'm hoping they take the spirit of giving with them. And it's on my list to explain the process to the new owner.