The joy of giving

Taking care of others, helping others, ultimately is the way to discover your own joy and to have a happy life. —Dalai Lama

labelsChristmas is about giving. It is not about trying to give the most expensive gift. It is about giving the things that warm the heart. We have become so conscious of labels. Is that from Marc Jacobs or Coach? We even have many things with the labels on the outside so we can flaunt how expensive something is. When I was growing up we wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing a label on the outside of something. It is amazing how things have changed.

This kind of thinking makes us feel stingy if we don’t or can’t give something expensive. Some of the best things I have been given were of little or no cost. I have a small angel sitting by my sink. It holds my rings when I take them off. My mother gave this to me and I remember her when I use it. I doubt it cost more than $1.00. It was in my stocking one Christmas. A forever gift.

gift of timeThe gift of time is one of the most amazing gifts we can give… visiting a friend who is sick, transporting someone who just needs a ride. These are gifts that bring joy to others and to us.

We have lost the pleasure of giving something hand made. We can’t seem to grasp that the hours taken to make a gift are also a gift of time. When I knit or crochet a gift I think about that person while making it. Love is put into each stitch. It brings me joy to do this and I hope that it brings love to the person receiving it.

Those who feed the homeless or collect items for them are giving a gift of themselves along with the food and clothing. These gifts bring joy to all.

giving

This season remember the joy of giving. The cost matters not. It is the love in the gift.

The struggle of role changes

Feminist-1I have never considered myself a feminist. At least not in the sense of Gloria Steinham (sp?) and others of that era. My father always told me that I could do anything if I worked at it. When I was younger it never occurred to me that there were people who felt that women should not leave the roles of the past. I spent 20 years as an Army Wife and never encountered that kind of prejudice there. I suppose I was out of the ordinary world.  It was a shock to me when we left that world to discover (sorry, but especially men) who saw me out of my place… people who tried to fit me into the box they envisioned. Someone once asked my husband if he couldn’t keep his wife in her place. He replied he had spent all his time encouraging me. This was in the 1970’s.

The women’s movement in the 60’s denigrated the role that I was living. I resented that. I never felt my role as wife and mother was lacking. I read widely, volunteered  in social work and other areas and had a full and rewarding life.  It made sense to me that women who were in the work world should receive proper compensation on an equal footing with men. I knew the inequalities should be removed but I expected there to be room for each of us to find our own path and fulfill ourselves as we saw fit. That was not the plan of most of the early feminists.

mom_and_wife-2096

Later my own role changed as my children grew and I chose to become a nurse. (still a feminine role but also changing.) I had a full and enriching career of more than 30 years.

It is gratifying to see things are better in some ways. I think that women who raise children have more respect than in the 60’s. The downside of this change is that it has played a role in changing families drastically. Most children now grow up with both parents working. This is hard for the whole family. Everyone is juggling time spent in different roles. Changes in the economic climate have made this the norm.

The other side of this is the role of men. It has been a difficult adjustment for men whose roles have also changed. With children growing up in the 60’s and 70’s it seemed as if boys were showing signs of pressure in school. They were not automatically assumed to be the best at math and science. The competition with girls redefined their roles. More girls were now heading for careers in what was male dominated areas. Boys in high school and college seemed to be struggling more than in the past.

culture changeThe whole era was a shake up of culture and a difficult time for both sexes. I can see some of that leveling out. There are still problems but being able to look at things from my viewpoint I can see positive changes. We will continue to struggle with changing mindsets and coming to terms with injustices but things are better. Some of that will disappear as generations change. Let’s hope we keep moving toward the good things and people are free to choose their roles without bias.

 

No comparisons!

We are Unique. Each of us is a separate creation and important. A number of years ago I wrote this poem about comparisons.

I wonder if the rose

compares itself to all other roses

and thus negates its beauty to itself

by comparison

 

I suppose the rose

would find this idea silly

and wonder why anything

would want to do this

 

I would imagine

that the rose

simply delights in its own

uniqueness

and never worries about

comparisons

At-Night-We-Make-No-Comparisons-Between-Right-And-Wrong-Stars-Nor-Between-Well-And-Badly-Arranged-Constellations (1)

Never spend time comparing yourself to others. It can be self destructive. Remember your own uniqueness and cherish it!