Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day 21: Midpoint Update

We're halfway through the experiment so far, and it's certainly been interesting. It seems like a good time to reflect a bit on some of the highlights of my life during the period of the experiment:

1. So far, we have designated one paycheck from my day job and one About.com check for giving purposes.

2. Prior to the 40 days, while we were tithing and giving our auto-deductions, we unexpectantly sold our pick-up truck. In addition to the money from the sale itself, which we're being paid in installments (the first $100 of which went - not quite cheerfully - for giving purposes), we also received a check a couple of days ago for about $60, as a refund from our insurance company for cancelling our policy.

3. We received word that I was getting a bonus at work which, coming as it did during the 40 days, was designated for giving purposes. (This was fairly cheerful on my part, and a bit grudging on my wife's part, which is interesting, since anyone - especially my mother - will tell you that she's a far nicer person than I am.) My previous bonus, in 2008, was about one-sixth of my paycheck. I've received a promotion since then, so this bonus was substantially higher. (Since co-workers read this blog, I won't go into more detail than that - you'll have to buy the book to find out more!)

4. We have raised a paltry $360 for Heifer International, which is quite short of our $10,000 goal! Maybe I should throw some of my own money into the fund, like how performers fill up a tip jar? Please donate now, and help us meet our goal! (In addition to making you feel good,  it will help me convince publishers that I can viably market this book.)

5. I've been offered the opportunity to present a writing workshop to local gifted/talented students, which will pay a modest sum.

6. I've received my annual raise at work which, I am told, is relatively high compared to the average. To give some perspective without giving away too much detail about my salary, the increase in my annual pay (gross, not net) is about equivalent to my net take-home pay from an ordinary paycheck. (Was that confusing enough for you? Good.)

7. I have received various intellectual/spiritual/emotional insights into my own character, the nature of my relationships, and my views on society, only some of which have (thus far) made it into the blog. My wife and I have grown closer, partly through two fights ... which have helped me learn that though we fight rarely, we are actually very productive fighters, and come out of them closer than we were going in.

8. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, my mother has been going through her own transformation which, though not directly related to the experiment, I cannot help but feel is a blessing that's connected to it... though honestly I wouldn't even have thought to have asked for it. She is eating healthy and has shed much of her weight, and for the first time in over a decade weighs less than 300 pounds. This comes out to around 40 pounds lost in just about a month of deciding to live a healthier lifestyle. She is able to walk more easily, pick up her grandchildren with relative ease, and her demeanor has become energetic, vibrant, positive, and hopeful. She's gone to a hair salon, getting her hair colored and styled, and is talking about possibly volunteering in the community. It's like reclaiming a life that's long been dormant!

So that's the state of things. In the next couple of weeks, I do hope to get back to some more thought-provoking posts. Lately, I feel like they've just been short posts identifying the giving we've done without a lot of reflection ... which brings us to today's give!

Today we gave to the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation, to support young Connor's effort to shave his head for cancer. Connor is the son of my friend James Fell, author of Body for Wife: The Family Guy's Guide to Getting in Shape. James should be very proud that his son's willing to do something like this for someone else ... but then, they're Canadian, and from what I can tell, that's just the sort of folks they make up there.