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Giving and Receiving

photo of flower

I hear a lot of talk about “opening yourself up to the universe” and “receiving what the universe has to give you.” I agree with those statements, but I also believe we need to look around us and see what we have to give.

Whenever I get paid, I give away 10%. Not out of obligation or guilt but out of gratitude. When I’m given good work to do, I believe it’s important to give to those who have a hard time finding work—and those who have a hard time making ends meet, even though they are working so hard.

I also periodically consider the things that I own and whether it’s time for these items to move elsewhere. I’m not talking about the junk around my house or the worn-out clothes. I’m talking about the good stuff.

Like my 15-speed, purple bike. I’ve ridden it two times since I bought it. Even though I love the color, the bike puts too much stress on my knees. So I’ve ended up doing more walking and jogging while my barely used bike sits in the garage.

When I heard about a high school student from Nigeria who was in need of a bike, I quickly volunteered, and off he rode with the bike that wasn’t meant for me to keep.

I also traded down my 60-GB iPod. I had used it three times in the year that I had owned it, and the iPod spent most of its time in a drawer. So when a teenage girl told me her dream of owning a big iPod and how she would never get one because they were too expensive, we traded. She gave me her 1-GB iPod, and now I use that a lot more.

I usually don’t admit that I do these things because I’m not fishing for applause or recognition, but I have found that since I started giving away things, other valuables have appeared in my life that I never could have imagined.

Like the antique mirror and brush that my grandma owned when she was alive. My cousin asked if I wanted to have it, and I was stunned by the gift. My grandma, who bore 13 children during the depression—and was poorer than poor—was proud of the mirror and brush set that always sat on her dresser. I remember sitting on her bed watching her brush her hair as she told me how proud she was of me. When I look in that mirror, I can see her smiling at me.

Why did I think I needed that purple bike and that iPod when my grandmother’s mirror and brush were just waiting for me to open my hands to receive them?

Written by Jolene Roehlkepartain.