Every year I purchase an ornament for my son, and take some time to write him a letter about our year. I include really basic things, like who is currently President, how much a loaf of bread and a gallon of gas costs….those types of things. I also include personal reflections and thoughts about the year, what was going on in our family, and of course, quite a bit about him specifically. This typically ends up being a fairly lengthy letter – at least two pages – but it’s something I love doing every year. It brings me a sense of peace and closure about the year, and it also makes me feel like I will somehow be able to be connected to him down the road, even after I’m gone. I’m very honest in the letter – I share with him the struggles we have faced during the year, and how we made it through. Inevitably, because our faith is very important to us, I typically also share something about that. I fold up the letter, and tuck it in with whatever ornament I purchase for him, and store it in a box that will someday accompany him when he ventures into adulthood. I try to purchase an ornament that reflects something about the year. This year I chose this ornament, and I’m about to tell you why. And, hopefully, give you a little inspiration.
I’ve gone back and forth over the last several years about sharing something sort of special with my readers, but today I’ve decided to go ahead and let you all know about it…since after all…most of you are the ones who make it possible. Since the inception of Patti brown Photography LLC & Kaleidosope we have made it a point to religoiously give away 10% of all after-tax profits, every year, to charitable causes. No matter what. I think that my first year in the photography business, before Kaleidoscope came to life, I gave away something like $100, because I was so broke. These days, thanks to my amazing customers, I’m able to give away thousands of dollars annually. And let me tell you what, friends….it feels absolutely amazing. And if you haven’t figured it out yet….I’m going to challenge you to do a little somethin’ somethin’ similair.
Whoa. You weren’t expecting that one, were you. I know, I know….it’s borderline uprightous/preachy/weird/etc. for me to be suggesting such a thing. In fact, there are going to be a few of you out there who are going to call me out by bringing up the fact that the Bible suggests we give quietly and thereby writing about giving is in effect a sinful thing to do. Well, save it sister, because I’m here to tell you that after much thought (and prayer) and deliberation, I’ve chosen to shout from the mountaintops how incredibly wonderful and easy it is to get into giving…in sincere hope that I inspire someone out there to do the same thing. Please keep reading…this isn’t going to be hard, I promise.
Okay, here is the general idea….you pick a percentage of what you earn each month, or each year (we use the after-taxes amount) and you give it away to a charitable cause! That’s it. Easy, peasy. The actual percentage – whether it’s 1%, 5%, 10%, or more doesn’t matter…you just want to be consistent with it. If that is still too tough of a commitment, consider sponsoring a child for $35 a month or making a loan to a place like Kiva, where you’ve got a really good chance of actually getting 100% of your money back. That, my friends, is likely the very least you can do. And I’m here to tell you all, if you decide to start to give, you will thank me. Why? Because you truly do get back so much more than you give. Plus, it gives you super-powers. It’s amazing. Allow me to illustrate my point.
There can be a lot of pettiness in this business. Don’t get me wrong, I love the majority of my photog-peeps to death, and overall, this is an amazing industry. But let’s be honest, there are certain souls out there, who allow their own insecurities to infiltrate an otherwise happy industry, and they seem to be working hard at constantly causing controversy. They can be like a poison…slipping into your consiousness and rocking your confidence with their negativity. However, if you work to not only work, but also to give…you become completely immune to them. Instantly. It is the most amazing thing in the world….all of a sudden, once you start to give, you truly know that you are part of a larger purpose, and anyone who tries to tear you away from it becomes completely irrelevant. Therefore, friends, you wind up with a super-power that nobody else has: the rare and magical combination of your unique talent+your unique vision+your unique ability to focus on improving your work in order to ultimately improve the world. It’s amazing. If you don’t believe me, just try it. Try it for just one month. As December comes to a close, determine your monthly profits, and write a check to a charitable organization of your choice.. If you can, stop and do it right now. Then, see how you feel. Chances are you are going to feel incredibly inspired and creative and focused and free. You will also feel humble and rich all at the same time. It is a happiness that you will only understand once you do it, and I assure you, not only will it make you become immune to those pesky industry nay-sayers, but it will also infuse a happiness and a joy into your life (and work!) which you have not yet experienced. And, dear friends, the absolute best part of all, is that you will be able to infuse the joy of giving into your children. I can’t think of a better present this holiday season.
So, in this season of giving, will you do it? I mean, today is Christmas Eve people. What better day of the year to reflect on all that you have, and commit to start a regular program of giving in 2012. If you have chosen to take action after reading this, please please let me know about it. I cannot imagine hearing happier news.
On that note, I’ve got a house to clean, a party to prepare for, a few cakes to bake, and…oh yeah…a check to write. Once again, please consider joining me.
With all of my heart, I thank each of you who have supported me this year either by purchasing Kaleidoscope products, or by just visiting this blog. May the spirit of giving, truly, fill you all year long.
Blessings & Love – PB
PS – Bonus points to the first person who can let me know which word, that really doesn’t belong on a Christmas card, snuck it’s way onto mine….