Genuine Generosity

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Reflections in repose by VL
Reflections in repose by VL
Reflections in repose by VL

True generosity is an offering; given freely and out of pure love. No strings attached. No expectations. Time and love are the most valuable possession you can share. – Suze Orman

 Big topic of discussion these days, perhaps its because I find myself noticing more and more the motivations behind so-called generosity. Let me give you some examples.

  • This is an oldie – donating money to your local church, mosque, temple or university so that you can have your name on a building. Is there something wrong with wanting your name on a building – of course not, but would the building still hold the same meaning to the benefactor if their name was not on the building, just sayin.
  • Giving someone a  gift, then expecting that this someone give you something in return or favors. Kind of makes you feel like you wished you had never accepted anything from them in the first place, right. 

I am sure that we have known, met and perhaps have found ourselves acting in such ways. It’s a cause for pause to ask, why?

The Why

Do you ever feel like you have to do something because people expect it of you and then you resent others and yourself?  Who benefits from our actions and do our ego’s seek admiration for them? Yes, everyone loves a genuine thank you. Another question that comes to mind is, would we still perform great deeds if no one ever knew we were the ones responsible for them

Let’s go a little deeper here – Do we find ourselves going the extra mile because there is a big pot of gold on the other end of the rainbow or because we are truly love doing a great work? Do we find ourselves giving because we really want to be needed and keep others around us? There are no wrong answers, but they are revealing. 

Too many have dispensed with generosity in order to practice charity.  – Albert Camus 

Charity is typically grounded in giving money to a cause or people. This is a tricky business because throwing money towards a difficult situation without discernment can turn things quite sour. How so, let’s take a look-see:

  • A married couple that rarely get to spend time with their children, because they are busy with business or their own personal interest, they in turn buy the children elaborate gifts, send them to unending extra curricular activities. They think that because they give them things they do not have to do the work of being a parent or taking the time to get to know their children which is what the children want in the first place their love and genuine interest. Charity begins home, ring a bell?
  • Attending endless so-called ‘benefits’ for who knows what cause, tickets cost a fortune and by the time the event is over there is hardly anything left over for the Actual Cause they’re promoting. And yet folks get to brag about how ‘charitable’ they are. Side note – not for profit organizations were initially established as tax shelters. I am not saying that all not for profits are corrupt, but you know what I am talking about. 

The only things standing between you and the compassionate, wise, and creative person you want to be are matters of choice. Your choice. No one can occupy your generosity except you.  – Gary Zukav

How do we come to a place of genuine generosity? The first thing that comes to mind is volunteering our time for a cause that brings joy to our hearts. When devotion is brought into the picture it sheds an entirely different light on to things. A heart full of joy and love is the best way to invoke generosity. The notion of volunteering ought to be instilled in our youth population at a very early age. It gives them of a sense of what it is to be of service for the sake of being in service to others. Not to be confused with being in servitude which happens unwittingly in today’s culture. 

I’m not trying to imply that we become saintly, lord knows I am not a holy roller, but there is something about being of service to other’s. Small acts can cultivate into something greater. I know this world is turned on its head and you wonder what is wrong with people, which in turn makes you Not want to help others or be generous. Discernment is a key to being of service without depletion of one’s self. Not everyone is generous, there are those that seek only to gain and will use charm, lies and manipulation to get what they want. Discernment and clarity of mind can keep those with generous hearts safer. I feel it is worth mentioning because once it has happened to you there is a risk of becoming jaded and selfish. Deflect these notions by keeping in good company. 

Look in the mirror and ask yourself – are you going to allow the world around you change who you are, who do you want to be, what do you want to be known for, what kind of people are hanging out in your backyard? If we want things to change – it starts right here and now.

There will always be light & dark, yin & yang, but right now there’s an imbalance between the two. The level of Me-ism and selfishness has got us in a dire mess. Let’s clean it up. 

Genuine awareness and generosity are two steps in saving our humanity, because without it this world is going to be bleak. I think we can do better than this. I should hope so. 

Ciao for now, 

VL

 

Family Matters

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“Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”
George Burns

It’s a bit funny to think that when one person in the immediate family moves away, they are sometimes viewed as abandoning the family, the black sheep or running away. If you are that person – you could say ‘I’m an adventurer and there’s a lot of world out there to see.’ Then again it could be all of the above.

Anyhooch, every family has it’s drama, some more than others. For years I thought, when I had my own family things are going to be different. I believed I would have the home that folks would want to come and visit, cook big meals, laugh a lot and play games.  If you have such a family – please do not take them for granted. It is a rare and beautiful thing in this day and age. I do not have that kind of home and why is a long story, stay tuned…

Soul Family

The ‘family’ that I created through out the years has been a combination of the biological family and what some call ‘soul family’. These are people that I have met through my travels and travails.  Absolutely adore them – we reach out to each other by phone, Facebook, Skype and letter writing either by email or hand. By the way, hand written letters and cards are a lost art. I am fortunate to have biological and ‘soul family’ scattered across the four winds. Which is great – if you are an adventurer.  Most of them are women and a small group of men. There are a host of children I have watched grow up from a far or in their homes. There are still little ones around and they are especially fun. The enriching thing about having ‘family’ outside of your biology is that you may find you have more in common, familial dynamics and such that are not charged with emotion.  We fill in the gaps in each others lives and support one another when the need arises. My ‘soul sistas’ & brothers have been there  me in ways that I can never repay.

“Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.”
Oscar Wilde

Forgiveness works both ways. Sometimes we can be assholes as kids.

Typically small children do not screw up parents, it’s usually the other way around. As we become adults it’s the children’s responsibility to avoid staying in the victim rut – there are plenty of ways to overcome childhood trauma. I am not saying all children are saint’s, but for the most part children are the more enlightened in a child-parent paradigm. I have spent years teaching children and I know what I speak of. That’s another story to be told. Stay tuned….

Getting things as straight as possible with the parents before they leave is imperative for mental and emotional health. Getting the ‘karmic record straight and the karmic slate’ clean is far more rewarding than holding a grudge. This way we can live a full life and love people regardless of the past. We can’t expect too much from people, especially once they get passed the age of 60. They are pretty set and it’s not going to change much. If we can get on our inner journey on track before our 50’s we’re doing all right, we’ll have an easier time of it when illness and death comes to the family.

It is imperative to mention – I love my parents and I appreciate every gift of talent, genetics, love of life and lessons that they passed on to me (even the crappy ones).

There may be no relationship…that’s closer, finer, harder, sweeter, happier, sadder, more filled with joy or fraught with woe, than the relationship we have with our brothers and sisters.

Jeffrey Kluger – NPR – TED Radio Hour

Being the eldest in a family has it’s challenges. It seems as though every thing you do is wrong or anything younger siblings do is your fault. Why…because parents are trying to figure it out on the first one, which in turn trickles down the line. By the time they get to the 3rd or 4th child they may be exhausted or they actually have gotten a handle on things. Each birth position in the family dynamic brings it’s own set of challenges. Sibling rivalry, who’s which parent’s favorite, who’s the loser, the rebel – you know the deal.

Then there are blended families with children that come from the subsequent union, which invariably brings about confusion and sometimes jealousy. There is also the possibility for incredible enrichment. At my age I have found that the most important thing is to remember you are family. You may not agree, but you’ve got each others back. Divisiveness creates fractious behavior, resentment and a great deal of loss. After all, we all just want to be loved, appreciated and mostly seen & heard.

Maturity brings a great deal of perspective, my biological sisters are a hoot. Now we can laugh about all of the craziness we grew up with. It’s nice to be women together. My younger brothers have some catching up to do since they are much younger than us. I look forward to them becoming full fledged men. All in all, it’s quite lovely to be on the Bright Side of the Moon.

Circling Back

If you live in another state or country, far from your immediate family – you might have found that the difficult relationships have smoothed out. You have all realized (with age & experience) that you miss each other, you value the bond of family and have put differences aside. Now when you see your family – it’s sweeter, there’s more laughter, less resentment and new memories are being created.

The antidote to hurtful memories – forgiveness.

If we are fortunate enough to have wonderful people that we love and cherish by our side when the last day comes, we are very fortunate indeed. Sure we are born alone (except for multiple birth siblings) and we go out alone, but really no one wants to be alone. Let people know you love them.

We all sometimes wish we were born into a different family, but we weren’t – it’s our duty to figure it out. If it seems insurmountable, ask for help figuring it out. Some things are worth fighting for and some are not. I think our birth families and soul family are to be cherished, make time for things that really matter.

Till next time

VL

VL Speaks © 2016