16 February 2010

Random Acts & Blessed Bucks

“Do something for somebody every day for which you do not get paid.”
~ Albert Schweitzer

Today is Mardi Gras.

In French that means "fat Tuesday" and is the traditional start to Lent in the Catholic religion. More than just a heckuva party in New Orleans, it is a time to whoop it up because tomorrow, on Ash Wednesday, as tradition states, we fast and refrain from exuberant activities and call to mind that Lent is 40 days to make a change.

There are three components to Lent: prayer, fasting and alms-giving.

I believe in the power of prayer and feel that there are many ways to pray, you have to find what works for you. My favorite way to pray is to do centering prayer. Sit in a quiet place. Relax. Focus on your breathing. As you inhale repeat a mantra that means something to you...I like to call to mind who I am praying to... "Lord Jesus Christ"... "Ruler of the Universe"... "God in heaven"... whatever works for you. As you exhale you breathe out the words that focus on what you need from the prayer.. "show my your way"... "guide and protect me"... "help me seek peace"... it is a great way to destress and relax and when you let yourself really give in to it, your mind can be opened to the possibilities.

Alms-giving is a tradition of donating money. I do this all year round, but find a particular satisfaction in giving up something that my life has come to rely on and donating that money to a cause. My church supports Catholic Relief Services, but you could choose anything that speaks to you. As far as fasting, I plan to refrain from my beloved "liquid courage" - COFFEE - and donate the money I would have spent on it. I will be a tea drinker for these next weeks. That will be hard (I know, I have done this before).

One great way to incorporate all three is to be a living prayer... to do those things which will have you fasting from the richness and overindulgences in your life while also calling to mind those who are less fortunate and spreading joy. All life can be a living prayer.

On the blog Kind Over Matter, I read that this week is Random Acts of Kindness week. I think that we should be doing that all the time, not just during one week. But it reminded me of what I did last year. Since I only had about 50 followers last year at this time, and now I am pushing the 250 follower mark {seriously, how does that happen?}, I thought I would resurrect a challenge to all of you called the Blessed Bucks Challenge. Read on...

Completing the Circle of Good

When we are faced with uncertainties in our lives it is easy to curl into ourselves and play the WHY-ME card. The challenge then is to take stock of the blessings that do abound in your life and find a way to step outside of yourself. You gain so much more giving than by receiving.

We celebrated Fat Tuesday this past week. My husband and I attended a party hosted by one of our favorite restaurants, Christian's Bistro {you have no idea how lucky we are to have this little gem}, with my best friend Lynn and her husband. There were Hurricanes and gumbo and jambalaya and red beans and rice. There was authentic Dixieland jazz, boas, beads and voodoo dolls. There was even a tarot card reader.

But one of the things that we had fun with was to randomly choose a "spell" from a bucket. These spells were of the good variety with the promise of health, wealth and love.

The spell that I received was called "Blessed Bucks."

Blessed Bucks Money Spell
Take one or more dollar bills and write on each,
"May you be blessed with health, wealth & love"
Then take the Blessed Bucks out into
the world and hide them in places where people will find them.
NEVER just drop one on the ground as it might look like merely an accident.

Great places to hide them:
Open a newspaper kiosk and slip one inside a newspaper, especially the jobs section.
Carry a glue stick with you and go inside a grocery store. Glue a Blessed Buck on the back of a food item, milk, or a box of diapers.
Pull out the next cup on the coffee kiosk at your favorite convenience store. Wrap the buck around the cup so that when the cup is pulled out pops a buck.

Lynn and I challenged each other on the spot to distribute one Blessed Buck per day during the 40 days of Lent. I have been recording where I have placed them just as a reminder of my progress, and I am trying to pick varied spots to ensure that they will be found by the widest range of people. I will also be making donations to my church's rice bowl collection, but it feels good to know that someone, somewhere will pick up that package of diapers or reach for that packet of sugar on the table at Applebee's or take home a plant to brighten someone's day and there will be an added bonus, a Blessed Buck wishing health, wealth and love on the recipient.

"In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us." ~ Flora Edwards

Will you join me in the Blessed Bucks Challenge?

Starting on Wednesday, February 17th and for the 40 days of Lent (or just for the next 40 days in whatever faith you celebrate) I challenge you to a play along and pay it forward.

Leave a comment on this post sharing some suggestions of places you will hide Blessed Bucks. I will check in periodically and ask for your continued suggestions.

At the end of the 40 days - at Easter - I will select a random winner from all the Blessed Bucks participants who post where they are hiding them to win one of my Seeds of Inspiration necklaces, customized with the winner's choice of power word.

What are you doing to complete the circle of good? I challenge you to find one thing each month that will allow you to step outside of your life (and maybe even your comfort zone) and give.

Do tell me about it! I love to hear from you.

Check It Out::Kind Over Matter

Enjoy the day!


EmandaJ said...

Hello Erin,

What a great post! Just a reminder: Sundays are feast days even in Lent, so you can have your coffee (and I can have my chocolate!)

Thanks for your prayers and your comment on my blog. I believe in the power of prayer!


Susan Marling said...

Your posts are always so inspiring. I too am Catholic and love the symbolism of Lent- you explained it beautifully. Your Blessed Bucks idea is fantastic and I accept the challenge.The first thing that came to mind was under a jar of babyfood and I will start thinking of more. I can't wait to share this with my "beach buddies". Your post was just what I needed today!!

peacockfairy said...

I would hide them in:

popular library books
OR books/magazines at the local bookstore

I would also leave them on my co-worker's desks when they weren't there


Alice said...

Lent is a great time to begin a ritual of prayer. At our Lutheran church, some of us have accepted the challenge to spend 15 minutes a day in prayer.

Thank you for a wonderful post!

mairedodd said...

this is a great challenge - i really like it for so many reasons.. i think it is important for us to remember that fasting is bigger than food/drink... it has to do with refraining from unkind words, acts and thoughts... this is also found in judaism and islamic ramadan... a cleansing of the soul as well as the body... i like your focus upon alms-giving and how creatively you have incorporated it into your life...

SummersStudio said...

Erin, this is a beautiful idea. Like, Maire, I like it on many levels and think it is a wonderful way to be mindful of having a generous spirit. I can think of grocery stores in my area that are located in areas where many people are of limited means. I think that is one place I might start. Blue tacking to the bus shelter seems a good place too. I'm sure I will think of more as the evening goes on. Thank you so much for bringing us this idea and your thoughts on prayer, fasting, and alms giving.

Pearl and Pebble said...

This is beautiful! I love it!!! I have two books that need to go back to the library- I think I'll start there:)

Anonymous said...

what a great post. i will join in, i love this idea.
my weakness is sweets, so i will be giving up desserts for lent.

Diana said...

I love your idea of being a living prayer and the blessed bucks challenge. Your post really has me thinking about what acts of kindness I can foster. Thank you so much for sharing and the loving, giving expression you are to others.

Riki Schumacher said...

Hi Erin, thank you so much for your support on my teaching effort, I sure appreciate it. Love this post, so meaningful to give, and step outside of your life. I feel very good when I can give back in any way what so ever. Take care, big hug. Riki

Karyn said...

What a fantastic idea.

I work in a psychiatric hospital and am surrounded by people who struggle to get through each day. I would hide a note under each patient's pillow - it might just give them the lift they need - even for just one day.

I'd also like to try and hide a note where someone wealthy would find it. I know they don't need the money but it might make them stop and think that for some money doesn't come easy and perhaps they should value what they have more than the monetary value alone.


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