This morning, I took all the weekend's muffins and scones to the soup kitchen. I swear, they seem heavier after they've been in the freezer. I don't remember much about grade-school science, but is ice heavier than water? Maybe the moisture molecules freeze... or maybe it was just early morning and my arms were tired.
Then I went to the coffee shop, which was packed. I ordered an iced coffee and breakfast bagel, and I paid ahead for a random stranger's coffee. The cashier - a new girl who is really, really into the soup kitchen donations - got confused and charged me for the coffees and a muffin that was sitting on the counter (costs less than a breakfast bagel). I had already paid, so she told me not to worry about it - woo hoo! Discount breakfast bagel! Except... after I paid, we discovered the muffin belonged to the woman in line behind me. So instead of having the cashier charge the woman for the muffin, I told her to consider the muffin paid, and to ring up the breakfast bagel separately - so I paid for my breakfast and this woman's, plus a random coffee. The woman was surprised and pleased. It was a bit more than I planned on spending, but it seemed like a perfect spontaneous opportunity.
Later, I went to the plaza where I buy cat food and, most Tuesdays, bread to take to the soup kitchen on Wednesday. I hemmed and hawed, because I felt like I shouldn't be spending the money, and I'd already given one material gift today, etc. But something pushed me to do it, so I did. And the clerk there gave me an extra stamp on my "frequent buyer" card, so that was nice.
I want to keep stretching myself, though I'm also aware that I don't want to get into a mindset where I'm giving as an ego boost to myself (i.e., I don't want to start thinking, "Gee, I'm such a giving person," because I think that negates the purpose of giving.) So far, I haven't seen myself that way, but a recent experience with someone else reminded me that we often don't see our own ego at work. And I wondered if maybe buying the bread was a bit of an ego-thing, like "I have to do more!" I also notice - brutal self-disclosure here - that sometimes I'll tell people about the Challenge to get them involved, and sometimes, I suspect, it's because I want them to think well of me. That was kind of mortifying to realize, but at least now I know. The latter tends to happen when I'm feeling insecure or like I need to justify what I'm doing (either to myself or to someone else). Don't get me wrong - I don't go around talking about it all the time, but it was just something I noticed.
Then there's the issue of "if I give more, I'll receive more." This may or may not be true. It's irrelevant. And I have to remember that, because if I give out of anxiety, then that negates the energy giving.
Last but not least on today's self-evaluation: I suspect the coffee shop owner has been making smaller batches since I've begun taking the leftovers to the soup kitchen. The first few weeks - before she knew about it - there were always at least a dozen items each day. Then, suddenly, there have been none or one (except on Saturdays). I don't deal with her directly; she has a notorious temper and rages out at all the clerks (but she does make awesome baked goods!). My theory doesn't really make sense; until I began doing this, the clerks threw out the day-olds, so why should she care? Maybe it really has been super-busy the past few weeks? Or maybe this is all my imagination. Anyway, it began to frustrate me today - and then I had to stop and think. This is a place that's giving me their leftovers to take to the soup kitchen. Period. I don't work there. I don't even spend a lot of money there (and I do spend a lot of time there - A/C and wifi). They're doing me (and the soup kitchen) a favour. And sure, from a business perspective, if you know you're making more than you can sell, then you'd want to make smaller batches. It was a bit of a comeuppance for me, noticing my "giving entitlement" mindset.
As a famous Buddhist teacher says, "Self-awareness isn't necessarily good news." :)
I received my income tax assessment today (in Canada, you file and then a month or so later, you receive a notice confirming what you owe; you then have three weeks to pay before incurring interest). I didn't freak out, which is huge progress. I stayed pretty calm. I've paid off much of my arrears (the original Financial Situation), as well as the Unexpected Situation. But it was a little disheartening to see that, just when I'd gotten the original one down to an amount I could pay off in 12 months, it's now back up to (low) five figures. On the bright side, it's still less than 1/3 of what I originally owed. I intend to pay it off and become current, though - as has been the case all along - I'm not yet sure how or when. But I do believe manifestation follows intention. Somehow, I will be able to pay it completely.
Thanks for bearing with this lengthy self-reflection. I think, going into my second year of conscious giving, I need to push myself both to give in new ways and to keep tabs on my motivations and intentions. It's easy to give complacently or by rote, as I discovered around Round 8. And it's easy to give out of panic. But maintaining the original intent - getting out of my head and giving from the heart to brighten another's day - that's the challenge (no pun intended).
Hope you all had a good Tuesday. Cheers!