How I learned generosity

If you haven’t any charity in your heart, you have the worst kind of heart trouble.  ~Bob Hope

I have always believed that it is never ‘what is taught but what is caught’ that 2649_632461016158_6276237_ninstills qualities and character within someone. You treat someone with respect and they will learn respect.  My mom always says I taught her ‘compromise’.  To those that know me, it may be hard to imagine me throwing giant, nasty tantrums over socks and shoes as a girl, but I was that kid.  My mom had to learn to pick her battles with me.  Turns out, because of that, I think one of my greatest strengths as an individual is compromise. She demonstrated this to me and I caught it.

This week I had an amazing breakfast with one of my favorite people, Emily.  She texted me that she would be in town and could she treat me to breakfast? Who would say no?  She is the sister of one of my greatest friends, Rebecca.  These two women were the first to really show me the meaning of generosity-  to give more of themselves than is expected. I was invited to Beans & Barley, a Milwaukee breakfast staple,  about 10 years ago as a green college student.  To this day, I’m still teased about my wide eyes and gaping mouth as I watched Emily drink a 5 dollar super mini grapefruit juice in practically one gulp.   I was in awe and my young, naive self looked at her – eyes bugged out and said, “that was like a $2.00 drink of juice.” I think I believed that expensive juice should be savored. Although this story may require that you have been there to be amusing –  it has remained a running joke years later.  I really don’t mind the joke because it reminds me of how much I have grown. They ordered based on what they wanted vs. what numbers were printed on the right side of the menu.  Quite frankly,  I still have to actively work on this.  But what she did next shocked me even more:  The breakfast continued and when the bill came,  Emily quickly scooped it up and paid it.  I could hardly believe it.   I not only remember being impressed, but mainly I just felt grateful.375266_549284318799_782524899_n

And now for years, I have experienced the kindness and generosity of the Phillips sisters, even when I’m sure they weren’t always in a financial position to be so giving.  I would be bold enough to say they are THE two most generous people I know.  There were times, Rebecca would call wanting to go to lunch or get our nails done and I’d have to say no because I didn’t have the money to go. She would say, “it’s on me; I asked you because I want your company. I’m picking you up in 5.” She thought time with me was worth that?? Wow. It made me feel amazing and very special.   They care about people beyond measure and I’m truly blessed to be able to call them friends.

  Life isn’t perfect so it’s good to get along with some care from your friends.

I continued to learn generosity as I worked in the service industry, it raised me in this department as I saw example after example.  Not only are we quite literally serving individuals, but we are on the front line of people demonstrating generosity.  It is an easy way to demonstrate kindness in this environment because there are so many opportunities.  Of course, every day there are people being generous with their time, their talent and their other resources. But daily, I see people treating their friends for their birthdays, insisting on picking up the check, people sneaking away to pay a bill so their friends don’t notice, leaving nice tips for perfect strangers.  I go out with friends who when we get the tab don’t look at it, just throw in money. We are always well over the amount.  Last time we were $80 over and so we left it for our waitress.  A small price of an extra 5 or 10 bucks for each of us and quite possibly a night saving, rent making tip for the waitress.  Life is just more fun when we stick together and help each other out.

You have to give in order to receive and vice-versa. It is a lot like breathing; try blowing out all of your breath- eventually you have to suck some air back in.  You have to be able to accept gifts in order to give them.

I have learned to surround myself with these types of people and not because I am looking for a free meal ticket, but because their generously bleeds in to all aspects of their lives and exemplifies the type of person they are. These are  who I want for my friends.

Holly’s greeting cards she sends for encouragement or for no reason at all always cheer up my days! It does not surprise me that she found a husband who is equally as kind.

Audrey, my roommate at the time,  ran out and picked me up ice cream one late night when I was craving it. This was over 6 years ago and I’m still impressed with that one!

Friends who will go out of their way to come pick me up, and coworkers that will switch shifts when I’m in a bind. Customers that give referrals and friends that support me. And on and on!  What unbelievable gifts!

My boss at Rev, Greg, is  extremely giving and in really surprising ways.  When I told I noticed this about him  he said “when it costs me so little and will mean so much to someone else, why wouldn’t I?”  As is .. duh! That’s the thing – the most generous people probably don’t even know how rare their gifts are.

These are just some acts of generosity that have been demonstrated towards me and so I caught the bug and want to give more and more of myself every chance I get because I know how it feels and I want to give that feeling to someone else.

The good ol’ debate of whether a girl should pay on a date… I’ve been asked this a couple of times and I have to admit I’m kind of a stickler in the beginning because finding a man who is generous is in my top 5 qualities of what I’m looking for.  I’m sure there are exceptions to this, but I think how he choses to spend or not spend his money is reflexive of how generous and giving he is as a person over all. I do not care if you make a lot of money, invite me for a coffee then.  It makes me feel taken care of and special- that my company is worth it.  Those are good feelings and I’m simply more attracted to people who leave me with good feelings. Obviously, as the relationship progresses, this should not always be the case but in the beginning show me that you care.   I know it’s old-fashioned, but you demonstrate a lot when you show generosity and kindness.

**Please do not misinterpret this post~  Being cost efficient and budget savvy  are way different from being cheap.   Budgeting  as in buying your candy at a 7-11 before the movie is just smart and way different from buying a kids ticket and making your date pretend she is 11. Although buyer beware- it can potentially be a slippery slope to forgetting to enjoy life and generously give to others.

Below is my very first try at uploading and placing a video on YouTube from my phone.. I need practice – this is really testing my technology skills!

With that being said here are a few ways to know if you are or becoming a cheapskate.

  1. Friends have stopped inviting you to picnic with them at Concert on the Square because your contribution to the picnic is nothing but a half taken up blanket.
  2. You have said in the last month “‘it’s your turn to buy me coffee, I got yours 4 months ago”.
  3. Your round of drinks is always the last round of drinks in hopes people won’t make it to your round.
  4. You host a party with BYOB on the invite and buy only one bag of chips for the guests to share.
  5. Your friend picks you up on an in tandem bike and don’t peddle similar to renting a canoe and not paddling. 😉
  6. You use a restaurant gift card only on your half of a bill instead of putting it towards the meal and your shared experience then splitting the difference.
  7. You and your best friend go out to eat and you point out that they had a .75 cent side of sour cream and you did not.
  8. You conveniently never can drive and conveniently never have cash on you to help with gas.
  9. You all order delivery but you say you won’t have any and then eat half the pizza.

 I know that I am a work in progress when it comes to a lot of things and this is one area of my life I consciously work every day. I believe the world would be a lot more happy and fun if we all made a valiant effort to help each other out.  We have an opportunity everyday to make people feel special and appreciated and show them kindness. Look for those moments! You may never know just how far that generosity will travel.


2 thoughts on “How I learned generosity

  1. Jess, you are one of the most generous people I know and I’ll never forget how you were there for me in the lowest point in my life. Thank you for your generosity, I am forever grateful! I love reading your blog and getting little doses of anecdotes and wisdom even from far away 🙂

    • CatherineRose! We helped each other through a lot and I am equally grateful to have met you and ‘gone up the ropes’ with you! You are a great friend and a big reason I started this blog so thank YOU!

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