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To Haiti, With Love

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How giving opens your heart and mind.

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Sometimes it takes a tragedy of monumental proportion to really see how good we have it. This is one of the big "a-ha" lessons I've learned this past week -- that no matter how dismal my situation appears to be, it's really all just relative.

Sadly, the devastation we've all witnessed in the news and through the Internet cannot begin to compare to how amazingly good we have it here. I truly believe that if anyone looks at what's happening in Haiti, and can look at their own situation and say "Yeah, but I… (negative viewpoint here)" needs to volunteer some time down south for a perspective realignment.

So I took some time this week to look at where I could make a difference. Granted, I cannot write a check for $50,000 and fly a platoon of doctors down to that small island to give medical care. But there are things I can do, even within my means, that can make a big difference.

1. I have loads of extra towels, sheets, clothes, and other household goods that can be sent. I know a small company I do business with that's collecting these types of items and are bringing them to a drop-off center. Here they'll decide what's needed and what can go directly to Haiti, and whatever is left can be donated to a local shelter or charity.

2. I can donate some cash. I decided to donate $50 this month to Doctors Without Borders. They are desperate for staff and medical supplies. I will continue to donate each month until the crisis is over. This means that $50 will have to come from somewhere else in the budget. Discretionary income is always the first to go. I will forgo entertainment/luxury items to make up the difference.

3. I can truly hold all those concerned in sacred space and prayer. I do believe in the healing power of prayer. Despite not knowing or understanding why this has happened, I can give the gift of my faith through prayer for both the living and the dead.

4. I can actively focus on and count my blessings. As I said, there's nothing like a horrible tragedy to someone else that makes you realize how lucky you really are. My problems in the past year have really only been financial ones. At the end of the day, I know I'll pull through them. Ten years from now, I'll look back on these difficulties and they'll be nothing more than a blip on the radar.

The interesting thing to me is that by focusing outside of myself, I actually can make my own situation better. For example, I've wanted to clear out many of the items I'm donating, but I've been hanging on to them "just in case." Well, I cannot imagine a bigger "just in case" than Haiti right now. Is there a possibility I might actually "need" some of the stuff I give away? Yeah, maybe -- but probably not all at once. This means I can replace them as the need arises.

As for the habit of giving away money every month, I'd moved away from that when things got tight. I've always been generous when times are good, but a person's true measure of charity occurs when times aren't good. Why not adopt the spirit of tithing now? I realized the scarcity in my own thinking when I felt daunted by texting HAITI and donating just $10. I feel a whole new perspective of prosperity has been gifted to me in practice, rather than just reading about it in theory.

I'm excited. Not only for the help I'm giving, even in a small way, but for the gigantic leap in action this tragedy allowed me to experience, due to the massive expansion in my awareness.
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