Jul 10, 2014

Old Fashioned Wifery: Give a Little (Reform the Habit to Keep)

2. Give a Little (Reform the Habit to Keep) 
My second reflection on vintage domesticity is actually an admissionI’m kind of a jerk with selfish tendencies.


It was hard to admit this to myself, and it’s double hard putting it online. Who wants to admit they’re human?

I’m not a religious person, but at my Opa’s funeral in May the paster said something that really stuck with me. He talked about Takers, Keepers and Givers. Takers steal, Keepers look out for themselves, and Givers give what they can. This sentiment can apply to actual belongings, or even matters of the heart.

It occurred to me that I’ve been living my life as a Keeper. I mind my own business, keep to myself, and don’t actively give anything to anyone. Well, I do give sometimes. Here’s me giving Antigone a chin rub.

I’m a regular saint when it comes to my cats. 

So what does all of this have to do with vintage living?

Hobbies that once brought people together are transitioning more and more to online platforms, and I believe that this is turning us into a society of Keepers. Friendships and communities built online are wonderful and real, but it’s a lot easier to ignore or forget someone’s cry when you can’t hear them. I’m not suggesting that we get offline, but I do feel like giving yourself to others requires a little more active effort than it used to.

Today I’m working on opening my heart, and sharing what it has to give. I’m recognizing the subtle ways that I put myself first, and asking if it’s really necessary. These are my first steps on a journey to a more Giving life. A process that will likely take years, decades or eons. I’m starting small, and focussing on my community and family. I’m:
  • Sending cards when I can.
  • Reaching out to those I’ve let slip through my fingers. 
  • Not auto-piloting “No thanks!” when there’s an opportunity to give a little spare change to charity. This is a habit going back to broke school days, and is no longer necessary. 
  • Actively practicing patience above judgement. Key word is practicing. I’m practicing how to do it. The affirmation “I replace my anger with compassion and understanding.” is said a lot around here!
  • Not staying silent when someone says something hurtful to someone I love. Specifically when the person being hurtful is someone I also love. I’m trying to be a courageous ally instead of “courageously” sighing real loud, rolling my eyes and walking out of the room. This has been the hardest one yet.
You may be thinking: “You’re not a great humanitarian, Hannah. It’s called being a decent human being.”

Well sure, but consider how much happier we’d all be if more people stepped out of their comfort zones to actively attempt decency. Doesn’t it feel like there’s just a lot of passive existing going on out there? 

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My goal is to one day not see myself as a Keeper. How do you step out of your own space to Give?