Monday, December 8, 2008

It's the Thought that Counts?

A few weeks ago Mary Hershey issued a challenge based on Cami Walker’s website, 29 Days of Giving. I accepted the challenge and promptly discovered something about myself: I have lots of good intentions, but I don’t always follow through.

Don't get me wrong. If I SAY I’m going to do something, I will go to painful lengths to make sure that I do it. I can’t stand flakes.

What I’m talking about are all the kind thoughts that pass through my brain on any given day. I should write a thank-you note to so-and-so. Three months later I still haven’t and feel too embarrassed to do it now. (Miss Post would roll over in her grave!) Or, I’m going to donate those outgrown clothes to charity or a child I know who would look cute in them. And the clothes are still in my garage gathering dust. I should offer to help so-and-so. They’re having a rough week. But I don’t do it.

The thought doesn’t always count. Sometimes people need to see in real practical ways that you care about them, that you’re willing to put yourself out there for them. So for me, this challenge was a way of forcing myself to act on all these “nice thoughts.”

And how have I done? I’ve managed to give something away every day, sometimes twice a day and I’m loving it. Sometimes it’s hard. I get caught up in my day and then try to figure out what to give. But every time I give, whether it’s a concrete thing or my time or my assistance, I feel good. And sometimes, I get something right back. It’s a sweet little perk!

I hope I can maintain this level of giving once the challenge is over, because I’ve realized something else by doing this challenge: I have a lot to give. Of course I have days where I feel like life sucks and people should be giving ME stuff! (I could really use a tiny fraction of that bailout money!!) But I live in America. I’ve got plenty to give, and I’m not just talking about stuff. I’ve probably been the most satisfied when I give things that you can’t put a dollar amount on: helping a stranger with my design talent and positive word-of-mouth; writing a thank-you note even though it’s late; giving my kids an afternoon to do whatever they want to do with me even though I’ve got deadlines.

So a big thank you to Mary and Cami. I wouldn’t have done this without them.

And now I challenge you. Don’t just think about it. Do it. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.


Sarah Laurenson said...

Very nice. I love to give. It makes me feel good to help others.

Corey Schwartz said...

Oh, that sounds great. I'm going to give it a try! I'm the same way... lots of good intentions, very little follow through!

Michelle D. Argyle said...

What a great post! I'm going to try and do something today, actually. :)

Maybe it will get me out of my selfish, unestive-feeling rut right now.

I read below that you sent in a full manuscript! How exciting. I hope it all goes well for you. I'll be querying my first novel in the early spring. I'm very nervous. Especially about the query letter.

Michelle D. Argyle said...

word is supposed to be "unfestive" not "unestive"

I probably really confused you. ;)

Sherrie Petersen said...

Sarah, you're right. It feels so good to give!

Corey, I'm glad I'm not the only one with the follow-through problem!

Lady Glamis, it will get you out of that unfestive rut.

And good luck with your querying. I think I spent almost as much time on the query letter as I did on the novel!

Corey Schwartz said...

Hi Sherrie,

I signed up! For my first "gift" I did this and thought you might be interested too!

I hope other people will consider doing it as well!

Sherrie Petersen said...

What a cool link, Corey! For some reason the whole thing didn't show up so I'll try to paste it in here again:

I might just have to post it in my next blog because it doesn't seem to want to work!

Sarah Laurenson said...

Long links are a bear. Click here to go to the site

Links are relatively easy to make. They look like (a href="link address"}text for the link goes here(/a) except the () really should be <>

Sherrie Petersen said...

Thanks, Sarah! You're such a great techie and that was a wonderful gift :)

Kelly Polark said...

What a kind idea! With three kids (and a grandma that buys them loads of clothes), it seems I give away bags and bags to charities. I also have them pick out toys every once in a while, too (especially before birthdays and Christmas!) To give something daily, that is a great challenge!

Sherrie Petersen said...

Kelly, it's been so great I'm going to try to keep it up beyond the 29 days. I'll let you know how I do!

Suzanne Casamento said...

Sherrie, what a great idea! I just popped two "thank you" cards in the mailbox. They're late, but important.

Thanks for the inspiration!

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