When I moved down to the Driftless area almost ten years ago, I didn't realize, at the time, how much my life was about to change. Not just in the physical sense, but also emotional and spiritual. My thought process and how I see the world and relate to it is fairly unrecognizable to my older self of more than a decade ago. From conventional and fast food to organic and homemade food, weekly trips to Target to monthly grocery trips to our local co-op, running water to hauling water, furnace heat to woodstove heat (and chopping and stacking wood), suburban living to country living, new cars to a used Subaru, having a reliable paycheck (but working for someone else) to living well below our means and not knowing when money will come our way. To having complete faith in this Universe that we are, beyond a doubt, well taken care of. To manifesting exactly what we want in this life and setting out to create it...flawlessly. I thought life couldn't get any sweeter...until this.
This past summer, I was introduced to a local group, started my a woman named Lisa, that met once a week. The idea was to bring gifts for others, set them out on a table and have other folks come and take them. Just take them. They didn't buy them or even barter for them. It was free. Completely free.
The first week of this exciting adventure I felt I was on, I brought eight jars of my homemade vanilla extract and four dozen eggs to offer as gifts. My children brought home with them a DVD and a homemade felted bird that a neighbor child had handcrafted. For those who didn't bring anything physical to share, they offered up their skills. Laura volunteered hair cutting, True donated his carpentry skills, Melinda offered cleaning or help organizing. One of the children offered to draw pictures of horses for anyone that wished for one. My children sat and listened in amazement at this group of giving people.
During the week prior to the second meeting, my youngest was steadily going through her clothes and toys to bring to the next gathering. I was going through my root cellar stash to offer up free food. I came up with 12 quarts of dried kidney beans and 12 quarts of dried black beans, which quickly disappeared at the gift circle. I also brought my sewing machine which found a good home to a teenage girl wanting to learn how to sew.
And part of this gathering that makes it so special is receiving. Whether it is tangible items or just help. I had a few folks give me free pointers on my website, I accepted free hickory nuts to snack on and hot apple cider to drink on a really cold day. Yesterday, I picked up a new washing machine to go with my new running water (see here: (http://www.blueeggfarmstore.com/single-post/2016/12/04/on-grace-and-ease). My friend, Dwight, who was also a part of the gift gathering, gave it to me freely. That's right. A perfectly good washing machine. For free. Just because it feels that good good to give. And next week, another woman in town, Angie, is gifting me an electric dryer to go with it. I am full of gratitude.
Since attending these groups this past summer, and being able to receive the gifts of others, my mindset has shifted once more. The feeling of gifting someone something useful, without any expectation of receiving anything in return, brings me such joy. Knowing that our life is plentiful enough to give freely, that our time is open to donate if others need it, that chances are, whatever we need, someone in this community has it and is willing to gift it...that makes me look at this world we live in, a bit differently. There is good here. And as always, it starts with us. And it starts with giving.