28 December 2012

Conscious Living: Giving Instead of Taking

This post is written by contributing author Anabel Bouza.

A while ago, some friends (now married) included in their wedding registry the option to donate a goat to a family in a developing country. 

An actual goat? I had no idea such tangible things could be donated!
Their gesture swept me off my feet: most people about to marry are put in a self-absorbed mood by that mix of joy & stress, and yet — as they planned to furnish their new life together — they had managed to remember those who have nothing.

I have often considered the contrast between the dainty, beautiful and superfluous stemless wine glasses in their gift registry, and the resilient goat. 

During these last days of feasting and cozy reunions, I've been reminded of how lucky I am to have things like warmth and sustenance. It seems I'm not the only one to feel this way over the holidays: on average, charities receive almost half of their annual contributions in the last few weeks of the year. 

Have you looked recently at the ways in which you can help? 

For every cause there are multiple charities, each trying to help in more than one way. It is easy to feel paralyzed by the heart wrenching issues, but there are many ways to approach them.

There are sites like Charity Navigator that exist to provide valuable information on a charity's financial health and transparency. In case of doubt or overwhelming confusion, a charity's ability to perform consistently and get results can help you determine where and how to concentrate your efforts.   

You could focus on local issues, or make a long-term commitment to a specific cause — ending polio, any of the clean water initiatives, preserving sea turtles... There is always the option to contribute an undesignated cash donation and leave it to the organization to decide how to spend it. 

Imagine if the fervor with which we browse for online sales this time of the year could be redirected toward providing those in true need with gifts that keep on giving, like a baby goat, or a handful of honey bees... 

Anabel Bouza insists there's powerful magic in the action of creating something out of a vague vision, a chill of inspiration. She is an illustrator with a passion for nature, paper manipulation, and pointing her camera at things.

Her appreciation for simplicity dates back to a former life in Cuba - her strange homeland - where she refined the ability to see the alternative uses of common objects, and the enchanting side of things. She's often found blogging as
Weird Amiga, hard at work in her sunny studio, or staring at things as if looking at them for the first time. Her tiny family is comprised of her husband & a turtle; they're new to the city of Chicago, and they love it. Connect to Anabel via facebook and twitter.

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