The Day Before Valley Gives is a Tuesday and Here are Three Things

It so happens that Tuesday is the day before Wednesday and that in my little valley, this Wednesday brings a new and nifty thing on 12.12.12 called Valley Gives. Even if you don’t live here, you’d be impressed by the notion that for a day, a flurry of generosity ensues to local nonprofit organizations. People donate online, and then there’s a pot of dollars these organizations are eligible for throughout the day, some by raising a lot of money along with some random “wins.” The build-up to this day included some valuable support for the organizations in the form of trainings about online outreach and provided a focal point for gathering energies from their constituencies. In all, it’s classic win-win.

For someone who is deep into community, yes there’s a slight overwhelm to the day—and the build-up to that day. I wrote about my solution to a day of so much asking at a time of year with so much giving yesterday for my monthly Hilltown Families column Mash Notes to Paradise. I think it’s rather good (feel free, locals, or family to locals, to take a page from my playbook).

To live in the pay-it-forward way is ultimately the path to your happiest life. I don’t mean that all you should do is do for others. Not at all—no one is keeping score. What I mean is that to give really is to receive. When you give in that spirit, you give more authentically.

And mysteriously, when you are giving in that more authentic and satisfying way, you enjoy not only the giving, but also all the moments of “getting” in your day (I notice this at yoga class, for example, where I practice being and receiving and just breathing, which happens no matter what but is worthy of attention sometimes). Over the weekend, my ten year-old and I ended up at the toy store (searching for the perfect yo-yo) and he spotted a perfect gift for his sister—and it was so fun to see his glee at the notion of finding something she would adore.

At the moment, the tent we’ve had for at least a decade is her favorite spot/game of her own invention.

Also, note to parents: a moment snagged with just one of your kids is almost always a gift to you both.

So, that walk to town, complete with shopping and browsing and a teas-to-go was one of my good things. I’m happy about the tiny steps taken to a better-organized house, this past week, a little furniture shuffle, a few drawers in the kitchen cleared out and books weeded through on a big bookshelf. I also enjoyed the chance Saturday to watch my kids shine: the littlest one in her gymnastics class and the eldest making his directorial debut (Stoppard’s Inspector Hound).

And three clicks for you: Forget gender, class is another great toy divide.

A musing about the how they work of picture books by Brainpicker’s Maria Popova is worth your perusal.

Jennifer Niesslein’s wonderful essay about the increasingly assumed need for sensationalism as buzz in nonfiction—and how we don’t need it, necessarily—makes for a very worthwhile and smart read. Call it jazzy rather than buzz-y.

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Author: Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser's work has appeared on the New York Times, Salon, and the Manifest Station amongst other places. Find her on Twitter @standshadows

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