We Don’t Have To Feel Guilty About Saying “NO”

It’s amazing how often I’ve caught myself imposing “should”s in my own life… And it’s a habit that is neither helpful, nor based in reality.  But it happens…and I’m especially reminded around the holidays.

For one thing, I feel like every time I check out somewhere I’m asked if I want to make a donation to a charity. For another, it’s holiday season… This time of year comes part and parcel with the ringing of bells.  Incessant ringing, and I don’t mean Santa OR his sleigh.

Stationed outside each supermarket (which I frequent nearly every day of the week!) will undoubtedly be a Salvation Army post for a bundled individual and a hanging donation bucket. For whatever the reason – and it’s definitely self-imposed – I always find myself feeling guilty when I pass by…or I say “no thank you, not today.” You probably do the same thing…pour a bucket of guilt over yourself for no good reason…?

We collectively need to STOP doing that! 

I find myself reasoning it out – audibly sometimes, though mostly internally….

I don’t really know the charities some places are asking for money in support of. I remind myself that we give to a lot of charities, and physically volunteer. On a regular basis! We do it because we love to help and to make a difference, so that should be enough.

What’s with all the guilt then?! Am I embarrassed that someone will think I’m a cold-hearted person? Is it because I think I don’t do enough? Honestly, I think it’s a little bit of both…but I *try* to stop myself these days because:

  • I have come to admit that I’m unjustly punishing myself and feeling guilty for no reason
  • I know I give and that is (or, here we go with the s-word, “should” be) enough
  • It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks – I never owe anyone an explanation or justification for my choices. Neither do you!
  • We don’t do any of it for the recognition, but rather to make a positive impact…so the audience isn’t necessary, and I don’t have to burden myself with that aspect of it
  • We also – and this is a big one – don’t have to spread ourselves thin financially, physically, or otherwise to prove to anyone that we’re a good people! We already know that about ourselves…!

So when you say “no” at the checkout, or pass by the ringing bells… Or if you don’t chose to throw money to a friend raising some for their own favorite cause…BE OKAY WITH THAT. (I’m saying that to myself too!) 

You don’t need to feel guilty. . . or wrong. . .or less-than. You do what you can, when you can. You work hard for what you earn and you aren’t a bad person for wanting to save up some of that for yourself, your family, and your future. 

So let’s stop with the self-deprecation. We DON’T deserve it.

We all have charities in which we believe…

We all do our part, and our best to help where we can.

And…should we be unable or unwilling, that is perfectly, 1,000% OKAY. 

 

Mom

Today is my mother’s birthday, so I thought I’d honor her by sharing her absolutely phenomenal talent.  What’s even more wonderful than these beautiful arrangements is the reason behind them. . .

For as long as I can remember, my mother has participated in some kind of volunteer or charitable work.  She’s done countless classes for children, in particular, over the years, and loves nothing than giving, sharing, and seeing others surprise themselves with talents of their own.

She recently spearheaded an event, Flowers, Fashion, and Footwear, that raised money for a local social service agency that she has worked with for many years, Community Centers Of Greenwich. CCI services children, adults with special needs, and seniors, and provides educational and financial assistance for lower-income families.

I am convinced that my love and passion for volunteering with these communities was passed down by her and my father’s dedication to helping where they can.  I am honored to be their child and thankful for the early exposure to these wonderful aspects of community service.

For the CCI event, flower arrangers were called upon to pick a pair of Louboutin shoes – owned by Kent Russell, perennial specialist – and design an arrangement to match.

I looked at the photos in the Fairfield County Look article (event link above) and without knowing hers, I gravitated to them as my “favorites.”

I grew up with the great fortune of having flowers and nature in our home all year round (yes, even in the throes of wintertime!) And it wasn’t just the beautiful blooms or branches, which I, for one, adore… The unreal sculptures and art she always manages to create look more like they belong in THE fanciest spas, homes, hotels…whatever!…in the world. They’re always breathtaking.

The shoes, of course, were art of their own.  Having been in the footwear and fashion industry for many moons, I watched the birth to death of many a pair…and I know exactly what goes into them.  I’d personally steer clear of stepping out in these if I were him, however, simply in fear of dirtying their impeccable polish!

In any case, I’ll maintain my mother has a supernal gift because there’s no explaining the talent – it’s an inherent spark I wish I had.  But I’m so very proud of her, and I’m inspired by the things she does to raise money to help wonderful causes…all the time. I can only hope to make as much difference in my life, and am blessed to have the example. (Keeping in mind I won’t ever quite get the hang of flower arranging!)

 

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What Christmas ISN’T

I saw this posted today, and I smiled for two reasons…

For one thing, I’ve always been a HUGE Grinch fan – anything of the monster-ish ilk was up my alley even early on.  I insisted we watch this each Christmas, and never seemed to tire even of the “fahoo forays, yahoo dorays.” 

As for second part, the Suess-ie blurb speaks to something that I really believe in – a reminder I want to shout from the Grinch-inhabited hilltops whenever December rolls around. Or maybe just in overcrowded, emotionally-charged retail parking lots. . .

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I’m a “giver” so I get the idea of wanting to share with others – it’s a wonderful feeling to give something that we know a person wants or. . .better!…truly needs.

At the same time, though…it is not NOT NoT about the gifts.  Everyone gets CRAZY around Christmastime.  WHY?! People have this immense pressure to buy, buy more, buy again…to wrap and deliver.  But that’s not what it’s is about…  I feel like I’m always left so baffled.

There are of course layers of religious meanings and importance surrounding mid-December (through to early January) depending on the culture and beliefs.  But I’m not even talking about THAT (far too great a topic, far too weighty!)

I just mean that this time of year isn’t about throwing material things around, so much as true, sincere giving.  I’m not saying I didn’t get gifts as a kid…or that I still don’t.  For children, especially, it’s exciting.  There are generally rituals built around Christmas morning, and I love seeing happy faces.  But there really DOES have to be a point at which it goes overboard.  

My favorite gift – the one I looked forward to every year – was my red snow shovel.  My parents didn’t know that for a long time, but it was the ONE THING I absolutely LOVED getting.  I would use it to help my father shovel the driveway…and to me, it therefore well transcended the “material.”  It was such a fun event, despite the work involved – the “shovel” represented time we’d spend together, outside, enjoying the snow and fresh air. 

As we got older there were years where my parents would have us all choose a charity and give to each one instead of getting each other things we wouldn’t use.  (I think the whole “wouldn’t use” part tends to happens far too often as we pass into teen and adulthood. And frankly, I don’t think there’s anything I CAN get my family and loved ones that they really want – we all kind of get what we want and need anyway!)

I don’t think gifts are a “bad” thing, don’t get me wrong.  It means a lot to some people to give, and in that way denouncing the whole thing would be denying them something that makes them feel great.  What I think is important, though, is that people don’t feel obligated and pressured to buy things.  Certainly not “BIG” things.  

The “holiday spirit” is more about the thoughtfulness above and beyond anything else.  And I’ve gotten to a point where time and connection with loved ones, HAPPY loved ones, and health for all of us, is – * yes, really * – all I want.  Those things are far more precious to me. The little things, like a random “I love you,” lights up my world with a brilliance no material item could.  Life is precious.

So even if gifts are part of the holiday “thing”…just remember that you don’t have to stress out about getting the latest and greatest.  There are ways to give, to share, to receive, without having to go crazy (no one needs an extra car accident, or angry retail exchange!) 

Enjoy the essence of the holidays while they are here – the gathering of those we love, and the blessings we already have.   Generally speaking, those in your circle will be happy no matter what. . .and if you want to reach out to those in need (people, animals alike!), there’s plenty room there too. ❤

 

Community Programs

My gym recently hosted an event for Hidden Treasures, and organization that offers arts & crafts, and music programs for individuals with disabilities.  The gym was providing a space for the students to take a dance class, and it looked like SO MUCH FUN! 😀  I wanted to join in and support them all! 🙂

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I was SUPER excited to see the gym promoting the work that these students had done – and frankly, it was really good!  I personally feel like there is nothing better than lighting someone up, and making them feel good about themselves – for this group in particular, it means SO much.  

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My mother work with Community Centers of Greenwich, a like organization, which provides programs for children, special needs children and adults, seniors and those working towards citizenship.  From trips and summer programs, to homework clubs and therapeutic recreation…there are all sorts of wonderful activities for the community.  

CCI Yoga Class with Brooke de Weaver

CCI Yoga Class with Brooke de Weaver

 

There are SO many charities out there – millions of wonderful causes!  It’s tough to support all of them, but awareness is a great start…and a nice boost. I was thrilled to see the gym supporting this group in such a positive and healthy wayexercise is SO important, and to make it a guaranteed fun time?  Just AWESOME.  The smiles and overheard giggling was priceless.