This time of year brings up a lot, both emotionally, physically and mentally. As much as I love the holidays. I mean LOVE the holidays, there is an underlying sadness because I'm reminded of all those who will go without. Without food, without shelter, without warmth, without a kind smile to brighten their day and most importantly, without feeling loved.
I can't imagine living a life where I go without. As much as I can get caught up in the mentality of lack and wanting, I'm always brought back to reality when I see or read about others who go without so much more then I will ever be able to comprehend. It breaks my heart in so many ways.
I sometimes find myself overwhelmed by feeling helpless. I'm only one person, how can I make a difference?
Here is the thing, no matter how small you feel in this gigantic world, you can always do something to make someone else's life a little easier, a little brighter and little less challenging, even if it is as simple as buying the next person in line a cup of coffee.
We just never know what is going on in someone else's life. Sometimes it's easy. There are obvious indicators that things are difficult. A dirty face, torn and ragged clothing, bumps and bruises. However, in many cases, there are challenges we will never know about.
A single mother praying for a way to buy her child, or children at least one gift, anything to make their Christmas feel special. Someone who was just diagnosed with an illness and instead of investing the time and energy on healing, they are filled with worry and doubt about how they will pay for their medical treatment. A teen who ran away from home because they felt it was their only option to survive a home full of fear. A family who just lost everything in a fire. A stray animal, cold and alone wandering the streets looking for a safe place to sleep.
The list goes on and on.
You just never know what someone else is going through.
This leads me to ask; how can we all walk through our day making a difference, be it small or large?
Maybe we buy a cup of coffee for the person behind us or leave an extra tip in the tip jar. Maybe we give our time and volunteer. Maybe we lift our head as we walk down the street, looking into those passing by and smile. Maybe that's the only smile the receive all day long.
No matter what is going on in my life, no matter how much money is (or isn't) in my bank account, no matter if I feel like I have nothing to wear or I'm tired of what is in my closet, no matter if my refrigerator only has a jar of pickles, some hummus and hot sauce, I still have WAY more then so many.
I recently read something that cut me pretty deep. It's a line from a book I'm currently reading called Crazy Love by Frances Chan, a pastor here in Southern California.
"I believe He wants us to love others so much that we go to extremes to help them."
Maybe it's because it has been on my mind so much lately, but it sucker punched me right in the gut and made me tear up.
There are so many moments in my life where I feel like I'm not walking my talk. I say that one of my greatest traits is my compassion yet to feel is not enough. I say that I am loving and giving but often there are times when I find myself stuffing my last dollar deeper into my wallet. There are times when I turn away from locking someones glance. Someone who probably needs it way more then I will ever know. And there are times when I complain and moan about the so called 'lack' in my life.
I don't say all this to bring pity but rather to show you that I am human too. I have moments of not feeling like giving and hoarding that which I do have. I have moments when life feels heavy and hard and financially daunting, where I just want to hide everything I do have away for fear that one day it will all disappear.
Then I read this other line:
But I wondered, how can I give more?
Then it hit me. As I grow my Etsy shop and continue to sell my handmade products, I can give back by doing just that. For every sale I make, I can change a life, and so too can you.
For the month of December, for every Etsy sale I make I am going to donate 100% of the proceeds (just after covering the small cost of materials) to two causes that are very near and dear to my heart. I'll be working out my giving campaign moving into the new year but for December, it's all or nothing.
My handmade signs are 100% made by me. The love and detail that goes into them is motivated by my drive for adventure and authentic living. I incorporate my love of vintage vehicles and aztec, tribal and southwestern design. It's a little random, just like me.
I can also do custom designs. I love to create something that is special to one particular person.
These pieces make a great gift or a beautiful piece to adorn your own walls.
But what's even more important and even more special is that, by purchasing one, you will be giving back to others.
Here is a little information on two causes:
On December 8, 2013 the world lost an incredibly beautiful person, outside and more importantly, inside. My cousin, Becca was taken far too soon when she passed away after several months of aggressively fighting Stomach Cancer. She left behind so many people who love her, including her beautiful son, Gavin. Those who were lucky to have known her will forever be changed by her loving grace, humble nature and beautiful spirit.
In honor of Becca, the Team Becca Guild continually raises money for and brings awareness to the Ben Towne Pediatric Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA through Seattle Children's Hospital. Ben Towne held a special place in Becca's heart after watching her best friend's family suffer through Ben's courageous battle.
I've had the honor of meeting so many wonderful people since moving to San Diego last year and in January, two of my good friend's, Natalie and Molly will be hitting the road heading to Cuba with The Wahine Project to help break down barriers and create opportunities for young girls and women.
Last May I was lucky to join Natalie and Molly, who went to Mexico to work with several women and their children. To see their faces and feel the love between all who were present is something I will never forget.
You may feel like one small person but believe me, one small step is all it takes to make a huge difference. Let's take this step together.