Learning to cultivate generosity.

Finding a quiet moment, to think about what’s important, can be tough at this time of year.  The flurry of holiday shopping, wish lists, wrapping, holiday programs… it can all be a bit overwhelming.  

So find a cozy spot or curl up by the fire, and let’s chat. 

In the middle of all this gift buying, I’d like to talk about Generosity. 

My extended family has always been great about including donations to charities in their name on their Christmas wish lists. I’ve always wanted to, but my own, internal “need” for stuff seemed to override it.  This year, I was finally ready.  

There are many others for whom this topic comes naturally, (and I’m grateful for the examples they’ve set for me over the years), but it’s a big piece of what it means to be intentionally optimistic - so as I grow and learn, I’ll share with you, and we can encourage each other.

Today, a mere two weeks before Christmas, 2019, I’m sharing my journey with you. I hope it is encouraging, as we all strive to become more present,and more generous. This is what I’m working on… cultivating generosity and  adopting an abundance mindset reminds me that resources aren’t limited, so I don’t protect or horde. This is how we are meant to live - abundantly. 

Holding my resources more loosely -  We learned it in Kindergarten - share. This is hard, intentional, work for me… I wasn’t raised with an abundant mindset. Many of those in my generation weren’t.  My grandparents lived through the Great Depression, and my parents were frugal, really good at making a dollar last like $100.  

My dad was a small church pastor in Texas and Wyoming, before we went to Korea as missionaries.  I have stories, ya’ll, of creative ways we heated the house during the cold, Korean winters… including wearing ski suits in the house. They never told us we were “poor,” and I NEVER went without.  We did, however, have a huge attic (literally ½ the upstairs of the house) that was full of supplies we couldn’t purchase there. Cases of western food, like peanut butter and canned meats, Jell-O, and over the counter medicines and supplements (so, no, I don’t pay that much attention to expiration dates.)  

When you live like that, you pick up certain patterns of thinking. You know?

For me, living below my means is a challenge. I know it would allow me to free up funds to provide for the needs of others or, worthy causes that move my soul. I’m not fully there yet - it’s work. I’ve been on a “simplify” journey for at least 6 years, looking for ways to stop buying “things,” and focus more on experiences.  Many of you are great at this, and are such amazing examples to me. You show me how to hold loosely to physical resources, allowing God to use them in ways we may never have anticipated.  

That’s how I WANT to live. 

Hang in there with me, ladies… you may have to drag me sometimes, but I’ll get there. 

Deepening my relationships -  People are more important than things - always. I’ve learned much about how being generous with my time and emotional energy lets others KNOW they are more important, and can take relationships to a whole new level.  Sure, I fall short… but my resolve in 2019 was to focus more on others, and I find it’s self perpetuating. The more I open up to others, the more they open up to me, and the cycle just keeps going. 

As I embrace new relationships and nurture seasoned ones, it facilitates connection ~ which is what we all crave. When I make space in my schedule for interruptions, I’m provided with opportunities to help others. Maybe it’s a staff member who needs to vent, or my husband who needs to tell me about his week… when I stop what I’m doing and give them my attention, we connect. They see that I care, and it builds trust between us. 

Giving away my expertise -  At my age… yes… my age… there are life skills, wisdom and experience I’ve collected that I don’t even realize I have. Just the other day, I was sharing with friends that we all think our stories are normal or “bland.” The reality is, we’ve all been through things others would consider hard, or traumatic ~ and we’ve learned how to get through them. That’s what we turn around and use in service of others. When I share my weight loss, infertility or grieving journeys, I hope to help, mentor and encourage others. To that end, I not only coach women, but I mentor my staff, teach Sunday School and share whatever information I have. 

So today, I challenge you to take stock of what you have. 

  •  Your resources. 
  •  Your friendship.
  •  Your wisdom. 

Where you can contribute? 

Need a sounding board or feedback on what they are and where to plug in?  Head over to my Facebook Page and share how you are practicing and cultivating generosity. 

OR, if you (too) need encouragement, and you’ve not yet joined our Intentional Optimist Facebook Group, this global community of women celebrates the wonder of our beauty and diversity through helping, teaching and mentoring other women, and is a perfect place to find the encouragement you need. 

Here’s the thing. You’re not alone - I also have several one on one coaching slots open for the first half of 2020.  Fill out an application, and let’s talk about how I can help you step into 2020 with a plan to become all you are meant to be!   Coaching Application

Laughing at  the days to come!

 ~Andrea

P.S. If you are interested in the charities I choose to support, here they are:

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There are events in life that define our journey. Once they happen, we begin describing everything else as “before X” or “after X”. For me,it was the day my mother died. Suddenly, I became aware of my own limited timeline. The drive to find my voice, purpose and place became urgent. I dove in, head first, and discovered the desire to help myself fueled a greater desire - to help others. Soon, I stopped defining myself in terms  of roles (wife, mother, manager),  but in terms of qualities: curious, determined, happy, adventurous. I've come to understand, that the qualities that make us who we are, are what we must celebrate. We each have a special purpose, unique perspective, and unlimited potential. Better yet, we can both discover and develop them.   

I do this through speaking, training, coaching and writing -  with a focus on helping women grow into the leaders they truly are. Intentional Optimism is my philosophy of life, and includes these five pillars:

          Optimistic - Hopeful, Positive Proactive

          Present - Seeking Wonder, Generous, Kind

          Courageous – Leading Others, Adventurous, Resilient

          Energetic - Industrious, Excitement, Life-focused

          Wise - In Respect, Words and having Understanding

          Intentional - Purposeful, Planning, Growth Mindset

I'm building a global community of women helping women. A place where we foster leadership from every stage or position in life. A place where we celebrate wonder; move forward with hope and openness; share wisdom and encouragement; offer each other a helping hand; ask freely, and share lavishly; and celebrate our differences as avenues of growth and expansion.

Let’s  change our understanding of what it means to work, provide for our families, have financial stability, and be a leader in the community. Life is an adventure - let's live it to the fullest!  

It’s time to laugh at the days to come! - Prov. 31:25

Won’t you join me on the journey?