You Get What You Give

A long time ago someone said to me “you get what you give.” I so didn’t get that then. You don’t get what you give, I thought. You get what you get (and you don’t get upset) as I often told my kids when they were really little. These words, though, they stuck in my head. They came back again and again reverberating between my ears like the lyrics and melodies to just about every Bruce Springsteen song I’ve ever heard and a few catchy show tunes. I couldn’t quite shake them, and I wasn’t sure why.

That is until a friend offered me a fully legitimate invitation to give. She asked me to serve on a nonprofit board with her. I was surprised when she asked feeling ill equipped, unqualified and just generally clueless. I said yes because I felt like I couldn’t say no. I went to meetings, organized events, raised money, and spent time with people who appreciated my time more than I ever could or ever did. It felt really good. So I gave some more. It felt even better.

People say that giving is selfless, but once you do it, you realize it’s kind of selfish because you get so much from it. It’s a little bit addictive, and you find yourself wanting to say yes more and more and do more as well, and so you do.

My friend who gave me the official giving introduction over a decade ago continues to give and give and give some more. She even managed to get fashion involved in her giving. What’s more addictive than that? I’m not sure. Maybe these chocolate chip cookies?

She recently invited me to a Get Together Give Together event where people came together to shop her beautiful line of India Hicks accessories and at the same time give back to an organization that has been giving so much to meet so many needs. She donated a portion of the sales of each item to HomeFront that went towards their daycare center. I was not surprised when she told me that she became a brand ambassador to India Hicks as India is a giver as well and has launched a Get Together Give Together program company wide.

I purchased this new indoor scarf with the India Hicks signature beetles on it and I wear it a lot as I continue to scarf every day. I also picked up this this fabulous clutch with the India Hicks “H” on the zipper, and now I am also clutching a lot as well (but not every day!) These items are beautifully designed and made, and I feel great when I wear and carry them. I feel even better though because I think of the good that was done in the purchasing of them, and I’m reminded of all that good that my friend has done and continues to do.

I don’t mean to sound preachy or judgy or anything like that. I know that we are all strapped for time and resources now more than ever, but I also know now first hand that you really do get what you give. And you really don’t have to give that much to get so much. Small gestures work.

Sometimes giving takes barely any time and practically no resources. It doesn’t even seem like giving, but it is. There’s a young man who works at a restaurant near my dry cleaners. I can’t count the number of times he has gone out of his way to open the heavy door to the dry cleaners for me when I am carrying a big load of clothing in. He takes the time out of what seems to be a very well deserved break to help a stranger, and that gesture does not go unnoticed. I try and remember his kindness and pay it forward. I made a friend and a forever-awesome latte maker at my local Starbucks years ago when I complimented the variety of pins on the barista’s baseball hat and inquired about their origins. The barista still works at that Starbucks, and we almost always have a really good conversation, mostly about what he is doing outside of Starbucks and about his kids, as he makes me a really great hot drink. It may not seem like it, but there’s some giving in there and some getting too.

Big gestures also work. I am continually amazed as I read and learn about some of the awesome giving being done both locally and globally to help fight disease and find solutions to today’s most pressing problems. I am in awe of these rock stars of giving.

And yes shopping works too. Remember those shoes from Toms that you see people wearing out and about every spring and summer like clockwork? Every time you buy a pair of shoes from Toms, they donate a pair of shoes to a child who needs them. They’ve done this in Argentina, Ethiopia, Haiti, India and Kenya. How awesome is that? Not only do they make some of my most favorite ballet flats and wedges they are also filling a real need which in turn leads to improved health and access to education for children around the world. When I see these shoes on my closet floor or on my feet, I think about what I’ve given but really about what I’ve gotten in return.

I once heard that giving back is something that’s just in you. It’s a part of you and you can’t really teach it to someone else. I tend to disagree. I think that in the giving you are really getting and once someone else gets that, they will give too – and yes in return, also get.