This post is going to be about the giving and the getting; it went something like this…
Some of you might have noticed the last blog post was a re-blog from UWSLoves. This is a great grassroots organization that sprung up to help people recover from Hurricane Sandy. The Red Cross has its place (and in the past I have volunteered for both the British Red Cross and the American Red Cross for many years), but local people and groups with less overhead can help in different ways. Sometimes you have to be wary of giving to people who say they are doing charitable work and sometimes, sadly, even organized charities. I have a personal connection with someone involved in this group, so when Lea Avroch of LA Jewelry Designs asked for donations to auction off for a fundraiser, I said yes. This event was put together so quickly, I had to just give her a few pieces I had lying around.
I was thrilled that some of my friends took the time to at least look at the items being auctioned off to raise money for food and supplies. One of my friends started bidding on these beautiful beads by Laurie Ament of Isinglass Design.
Now I thought, that’s odd–what is he going to do with beads? Well it turns out…he’s going to give them to me as a Holiday present! Obviously, not everyone can afford to buy beads like these for their friends. Of course, this is beyond a lovely gesture and I’m thrilled. There is also a little guilt that I have these lovely beads while there are people who’ve lost their homes and are cold and hungry right now. Getting something for myself was not the purpose of my participation.
Then, my friend said something to me that really made me pause and think about what it was he was truly giving to me…he said, I want you to have nice beads to make a piece for Spring into Art next year. To understand what this means to me, I need to tell you about some comments I’ve been getting lately from people I know. When I first told a (different) friend of mine about participating in this fundraiser she said to me, “I’d do that too if I didn’t have to work.” While it’s true I don’t go to an office everyday, I assure you, I work. I have gotten other comments similar to this and it’s patronizing and demoralizing. I work very hard on: scouting out interesting components for my designs; keeping spreadsheets of supplies and sales; labeling and organizing components for restocking; designing the jewelry; hand aging, painting, decoupaging, or making components from scratch; online marketing of my products; taking, editing, and organizing photographs of my work; and pricing and organizing my products for travel to locations to sell. For an acquaintance to say that to me is one thing, but for people who are supposed to be my friends to make comments similar to that shows they don’t understand or respect what I do everyday. She didn’t mean anything by it, but I found it hurtful and it echoes the sentiments told to me by various people over the last four years.
So his gift to me, rather than the money he spent, or the glass beads he gave me, was HIS SUPPORT FOR WHAT I DO. That has no price tag. I really cried about that. I have received my shipment from Laurie today and, sweetheart that she is, she gave me extra beads. She already donated the beads to raise money for charity and is “out-of-pocket” so she certainly didn’t have to do that. She made me cry too. So, if you want to know what love in a box looks like: think about the boxes of food people are receiving because of these artists and the generous customers who bid on their work. For me, this box of beads sitting here is a reminder of the generosity of so many, how there are many ways to touch the lives of others, and how you never know how the decisions you make to help can end up helping you in return.