I remember the very first time I ever gave gifts to my family. I was probably in early elementary school when my mom took me to the dollar store, gave me $20, and said I could pick out whatever gifts I wanted for everyone in our family.
Unbeknownst to my mother, I also made it a point to reserve part of that $20 to make a purchase for myself during our dollar store excursion.
I even wrapped it up and put it under the tree.
So. Christmas Day comes and we're all passing around and opening presents and here it comes--my parents got to my gift and read the label:
"To: Jackie, From: Jackie"
...and literally everyone exploded in laughter and hysterics--shocked that I would do such a thing.
Yes, it's pretty funny, but my younger self was genuinely confused.
I felt that I would be the most "cheerful" giver, if I too received a gift, so I bought myself a gift.
Simple as that.
Sometimes, we conflate the idea of giving with the idea of sacrifice (or going without, or not giving to ourselves in addition to others) implying that selfless sacrifice (or going without) is the purest form of giving to our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and kids.
Many of us give, THINK we are doing the “right” thing and THINK that we are being of “service,” but are also secretly hoping that we will receive for our acts of “service” sometime in the future. Receiving could include a shout out, a favor, a return of service, appreciation, a thank you card, etc. Or, it could be the receiving of NOT receiving a consequence.
Unfortunately, when we “give” this way, the sense of receiving doesn’t come; instead, we burn out, end up with a grudge, and/or harbor a sea of unmet expectations and ultimately damaged relationships.
While the intention behind "I-thought-I-was-giving" can carry a facade of positive energy, its practice is rooted in giving with "strings-of-expectation-attached", and/or a miscommunication and misunderstanding of what these words actually mean in spirit (and word, per standard English usage/the dictionary) and ultimately (and most likely unknowingly), not delivering on the original positive intent.
Giving and sacrifice are energetically charged words describing the emotional frequency of the neutral action of transfer.
GIVING, by definition, is the FREE transfer of energy. FREE transfer implying no sense of expectation, or in other words, the idea of "unconditional giving" or operating with at worse, a net loss of 0. This is a neutral or positively charged word depending on the context.
SACRIFICE, by definition, is the act of transfer with a net loss. This is a negatively charged word.
Sacrifice and giving are mutually exclusive.
In other words, they operate independently of each other and cannot exist together.
To illustrate this point, consider the idea of symbiotic relationships that you learned in biology class. There are three types of relationships:
Mutual Relationship: A win-win situation.
- Both parties benefit.
- 1 + 1 = Net gain of +2.
- Example: Plants and microbes. Both are fed. Both grow.
Commensal Relationship: A win-neutral situation.
- One party benefits, the other party is neither helped nor harmed.
- 1 + 0 = Net gain of +1.
- Example: Crabs and Anemones. Crabs get something. Anemones don't, but are not harmed in the process.
Parasitic Relationship: A win-lose situation.
- One party benefits, the other party is harmed.
- 1 - 1 = Net gain of 0.
- Example: Tapeworm and host. Tapeworm gets fed at the expense of the host.
Sacrifice is like a parasite. And you are the host.
In a sacrificial, "giving" relationship, by the standard usage of this word in the English language in the dictionary, one party gets something, while the other party loses, for a net gain of ZERO.
Although one party seemingly "benefits" on the micro-level, the collective energy of the system at best, remains the same, and at worst, operates at a net loss of either -1 or -2 when compared to the other potentials in the system (win-netural, win-win).
Being "genuinely cheerful" about sacrificing or "losing" something then becomes an oxymoron, because cheerfulness, by definition, implies that you are gaining something.
EITHER you are cheerful, OR you are sacrificing.
When you are a cheerful giver, you are not just exchanging energy between two people, you are CREATING energy--creating a happiness that did not exist prior to the giving of the gift.
The Universe (God) loves (and rewards) cheerful, expectation-free givers.
But, such a tricky thing that is!
To genuinely give without expectation of a reward, but to receive when a reward is given?!
This was definitely a difficult concept for me to reconcile with, but with the help of mentors and guides, I finally got it to a place that felt right in my spirit.
If I give to others, more will be given to me so that I can continue the CYCLE of giving to even more people.
Through this, I CREATE and EXPAND positive energy in this world.
I can only fill others when I have something to give.
So, the focus shifts from what I can get, to how can I give?
So, with all of that said, here are some ideas for some gifts, "to you, from you" that you can invest in this holiday season to fill and OVERFLOW your spirit so you can give out of a place of abundance (positive energy) and not out of a place of compulsion or lack (negative energy).
Each "to you, from you," gift has been thoughtfully included with ideas for how you can use this gift to not just maintain, but CREATE POSITIVE ENERGY in this world.
The Yellow Collective Membership ($33/month)
The Yellow Collective is an online community for women who seek to come together for the benefit of humankind. For $33 per month, you are connected with an online community of women who seek to understand the world, by understanding themselves, and using this information to BE the change they seek.
I've personally been involved with Yellow Co. for almost two years now as a member, contributor, and communications intern and absolutely adore Joanna and all the work that she and her team put together to create an aesthetically pleasing, informational and inspirational package for their members each month.
They also have an annual conference in Los Angeles that is offered at a discounted rate for members.
Bouqs Flower Subscription (starting at $40/delivery)
I find a lot of inspiration and joy by observing the beauty and complexity of nature, which is why I love having fresh flowers and live plants in my home. There's an energy that they exude in a room, and can be one thing to be kind and love on yourself to redirect the flow of negative, sacrificial energy, into positive, life-giving, creation energy.
I typically get my flowers from Whole Foods, but I really love the idea of a subscription service from Bouqs. I've only used them for sending individual bouquets, but their arrangements are lovely and not typical of what you'd see in your local florist shop or grocery store.
An Eminence Organics Spa Date (starting around $50)
My go-to skincare line is Eminence Organics, an organic skin care line from Hungary. I didn't intentionally seek out this company, Eminence Organics sought out me and my lazy self who wants to go to the closest spa possible to her house :-). Facials are part of my skincare routine, so I like getting something on my "spa date" that I don't typically get. My favorites are indulging in a body scrub, wrap or extended hot stone massage.
Eminence Organics is passionate about using the best natural, organic and Biodynamic® ingredients to bring their Customers the healthiest and most effective skin care products. Originating from a balanced, holistic view of the universe, Biodynamic® farming practices regard the Eminence farm, the plants and the animals as a self-supporting ecosystem that lives and breathes. Because of this, the farm renders fruits and herbs that are unusually high in nutrients and active compounds then harnesses these potent ingredients into a collection of products that are the ultimate in pureness and results-driven skin care.
Seeds are planted and crops are harvested following the lunar cycle so that when the tides are high, roots receive the most moisture and goodness. As an alternative to harsh pesticides, the farm uses herbal teas and plant friendly honey traps from local bees as natural insect repellents ensuring that all Biodynamic® ingredients are farmed as naturally as possible. Biodynamic® ingredients are also void of all chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Only natural medicinal herbs and mineral composts are used to enhance the soil and ignite powerful growth forces in the plants from roots to tips.
Eminence products do not contain harmful chemicals like added Parabens, Petrolatum, Mineral Oils, Propylene Glycol or Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and are made with fresh fruit pulps, plants and exotic spices.
Healing Crystals (starting at $2)
One of my favorite things to do is to go to the Body, Mind and Soul store in Houston and allow my intuition to guide me towards the energy of a healing stone for my life in that present moment. I do this by setting an intention prior to walking in, close my eyes, connect with my breath, and say a prayer requesting guidance towards unconditional, life-giving love.
I've never been disappointed.
I've also done this via an Etsy search, but it's not the same experience, so I would recommend finding a crystal shop near you.
If you're new to energy work with crystals, Elemental Energy is an aesthetically pleasing, introductory book that you can also use as a decorative accessory for your coffee table or bookshelf. You can also do an internet query on crystal healing for free.
Rent the Runway Wardrobe Subscription (starting at $30)
After adopting a capsule wardrobe, I found it difficult to balance my desire to be expressive with my wardrobe, while being content with the clothing I already had. Enter, Rent the Runway. I've reserved 4 spots in my capsule wardrobe each season for Rent the Runway pieces--jackets, dresses, sweaters, tops, pants--pretty much anything that I can swap in and out to get some trendy items into the rotation, while not buying any "new" clothes.
Rent the Runway has three different wardrobe subscription plans that flex with your lifestyle and budget while creating a dream closet on your terms.
A Mental Health Day (starting at $0)
Take the day off. Clear your calendar. Get a babysitter. Go to a park. Browse your favorite stores. Stay at home and watch movies. Do something completely for you.
Take time to get quiet with your spirit. One of the best investments in YOU that you can make this holiday season (potentially for FREE).
And then "complete the giving circle" by using your energy to create something that brings beauty, love and light into this world.
A "Visionary" Periodical Subscription (starting at $10)
Consider ONE thing you really want to focus on in the next year. And then purchase a magazine subscription that encourages and reminds you of this vision.
For example, if you want to be an entrepreneur, subscribe to Entrepreneur magazine. If you want to have a baby, find a parenting magazine. Perhaps you want to become a lifestyle blogger, so subscribe to the ORIGINAL lifestyle blogger, Oprah Magazine. Do you have a goal to own a farm? Check out Modern Farmer. Maybe you want to learn how to play tennis, subscribe to tennis magazine. And so on and so forth.
Definitely get the paper copy (digital copies get lost in a sea of notifications) and spend some time with this reoccuring reminder and inspiration to actively work towards your vision and goals throughout the year. PS - Pretty magazines also double (triple?) as a decorative accessory for your bookshelf, counter space, coffee table or as reading material for guests.
A High-End Paper Planner (starting at $40)
Yes I'm recommending that you spend upwards to $70 for a paper planner. Why? Well Consider the cost per use and the potential return.
Let's say you use a planner for 261 days per year (365 - (52x2) for weekends).
That's 26 cents per day.
Then consider the return on that investment--a more intentional, productive life where you actually do the things you put on your vision board?
Is that worth 26 cents a day to you?
Why not just use an online calendar or planner? Well, as someone who has used both electronic and paper planning systems (and still maintains a Google Calendar), I have to say; there is just SOMETHING about having an AM and PM paper planning ritual. It's really journaling in a sense--using the planner to reviewing each day, highlights, things to improve on.
Previously, I've used the Day Designer which provided me with a nice introduction to the paper planning world, particularly with respect to Whitney's vision setting pages at the beginning of the planner. However, this past year, I wanted to find something more streamlined, after I had internalized my personalized vision setting process. I immediately fell in love with the aesthetic and minimal, functional design of the STIL Classics planner. I worked for Marissa over the summer and am a huge cheerleader for the values that her brand stands for. I learned so much from her about running a business, specifically with respect to a whole new level of consistency and attention to detail.
"Fun" Lessons (starting at approximately $40)
Express yourself in a new and FUN way. For example, give yourself lessons (and the time and space) to learn a new instrument. Take the time to consider if you will have the most fun in a performance-driven or a performance-free environment. Some people find competition fun, others find it stressful. And find a teacher or group that supports that.
Perhaps you join a local intramural club. Engage in an online book club/community or complete a course on Creative Live.
There's something inside of you that you want to explore.
Make a plan. Put it on a calendar. Buy the lessons. Get an accountability partner.
And get it DONE.