Thursday, 7 June 2012

Picture this...a week of giving

I couldn't go a week without painting or drawing something. Whether it's a sketch, a full-on landscape or a picture of a monkey riding a tricycle for the children's entertainment, there will be a canvas or a scrap of paper with something on it by Sunday evening.  

This has always been an important part of me, but it became increasingly sidelined as I pursued a 17 year career in IT.   Creativity gave way to being a good 'corporate citizen' and whilst the money was good it didn't seem to compensate for the growing sense of dissatisfaction that I had.

Thank you DoKHC
A watershed moment came when my brother-in-law's wife died.  She was just 40, with a daughter the same age as mine. We had become very close during our pregnancies, and in raising our girls, and her death made me face some facts about how I lived my life.  I was tired, stressed, unwell and unhappy and decided that if this was to be my last year on earth then I wasn't going to spend it feeling burned out and regretful for not giving more time to my children. So I went freelance thinking that it was a career destination when in actual fact it has been the start of a whole new chapter.

The past year has seen me become healthier, happier and more able to dedicate time to things that are so much more important than pay rises, stock options and annual reviews. That in turn has brought greater clarity about the things that I want to do, a greater sense of urgency to be authentic and to live the best life I can. The creative spirit that's been strapped into the back seat of the car for the past 17 years wants to drive......

Being creative is incredibly fulfilling but let's get real; with two small children and the need to contribute to the family budget, painting has to remain a hobby. But what to do with the work I create?  I don't want to spend my weekends manning a stall at a craft fair to sell them, and whilst my husband appreciates art, he doesn't want to live in a gallery dedicated to my imagination.

Then last week the perfect solution arrived.  I heard that the hospice that cared for my brother-in-law's wife so well during the final weeks of her life was having an auction to raise funds and needed donations. So I offered a piece of my artwork, they said 'yes' and I felt elated. Knowing that something I had created with love could help an organisation that gives so much, that relies on the support of volunteers, and that my family has directly benefitted from felt brilliant.

Inspired, the four remaining pieces were donated within the week to three separate charities and a local school to help with their fundraising efforts.

Being able to donate these works felt far better than selling them for my own personal financial gain - I cannot honestly say that I need the money more than these incredible organisations. It reminded me of the generosity that I have been shown throughout my life and how lucky I am that me and my family are in good health today.

This has been a lesson for me in how giving is not just about money, and on Friday, feeling great from dropping off my final painting, I popped into the village hall and donated a pint of blood. A fitting end to a week of giving.

If you're looking for ideas on how you could take steps towards a more generous life and proof that it isn't just about money, check out -

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