Friday, November 12, 2010

friday forte: the incredible lightness of giving

From Evernote:

friday forte: the incredible lightness of giving

I never considered this previously but being unsalaried/dependant on another's income can diminish your capacity to give.

Of course, I'm talking about the slipping your hand into your wallet type of financial giving, not the endless cycle of give, give, give that goes on as a parent.

Without your own salary, and with the burden of having to run a household budget on income not earned by you, giving financially can become problematic .... at least it can in my own experience. 

As a former fulltime-and-a-half career gal it was definitely a luxury to volunteer in areas of interest. In my former life, an hour and a half each way commute in and out of London left me exhausted, fit for nothing other than a hot bath, a glass of wine and molto sleep. Money was easier to give than time, and the money was my own earned income. Before motherhood I was a free-wheeling, newly emigrated, trailing spouse with empty hours at her disposal through the week.

BC (before child) I had time available in buckets even if I didn't have cash. I felt happy that if I couldn't give, I could at least lend my time. It wasn't completely altruistic - I gained new friends, a network, knowledge, discounts, a ski pass, free meals, and that most valuable of all commodities, Canadian "work" experience.

AC (after child) time was at a premium though I did try to keep up. Even while pregnant I was involved in winter sports volunteering, in a less physical manner. When the Wee Guy was born he spent his first year sleeping through a number of board meetings and continuing education seminars. If I couldn't volunteer in person, I learned to work at home on projects. It worked ... for a while.

Then nap time stopped. The art of walking was gained. Life got busier.

For a while I lost the support my volunteerism gave me as I felt I couldn't commit. My hours, along with my networks, dwindled, and I didn't contribute to my community. I felt useless, isolated and frustrated. I still had no income. I had no way of making an income. I was bound and gagged at home with my child.

It was around this time that I started my home business, mainly as a diversion from the tedium of 24/7 SAHM-life. In the beginning it was just meant to be self sufficient and not a drain on the household budget. Over the years it's grown to be profitable enough to support after school care and put me through a few college courses. This year I'm hoping it will pay for a part-time diploma program.

But more importantly, my venture into entrepreneurship has meant I can once again give back to my community. Selling my work has given me enough confidence to donate pieces for fundraising. While I still can't hand over wads of cash to an organisation I can offer instead a piece of jewelry, and know it will be a valuable contribution. Yes, I can write if off on the business taxes and network a little from it too, but it also means I hand over a physical object. I can donate something from me in place of my precious time.  Personally, I'm giving of my own endeavour, rather than parceling out my husband's income ...

and that, dear readers, is worth its weight in gold :)

PS: There's a momcafe event on this subject coming up next Friday (19th) - register here.

As a footnote, I have managed to increase my hours of volunteering as the Wee Guy's schooling occupies more of the day. Although I've still got limited time at my disposal I focus on projects I can manage from home or which upgrade skill sets I'm interested in. It's a useful way of working on a portfolio and filling in those 'empty' gaps on a resume.

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