Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Deliberate Creation

Argh! I just heard it again. A well-meaning person just said, “I would love to give more, but am short right now.”

We’ve all felt that way at one time or another. Maybe it was a shortage of money. Maybe time or talent was the concern. Maybe it was feeling stuck and worried. Regardless, the message is the same - I can’t give right now because I don’t yet have enough.

So it’s high time we had a little conversation about Deliberate Creation.

But first I must digress….

In deep mid-winter, I always experience a feeling of hibernation, of drawing inward and letting go, of the old dying and the new preparing for birth. It’s no accident that we are given a bright shiny new year at a time when the earth and all that is in it is still sleeping. We need that time of quietude for healing, reflecting, storing up, and emerging anew ourselves. So here we are in the “dead” of winter which brings me to one of my favorite annual rituals.

Growing up Southern Baptist in the 1960s, we didn’t hear much about the practice of giving something up for Lent. Then I married a Methodist and listened as usually sensible adults bragged about giving up wine or chocolate and their kids giving up the jelly on their toast or cookies. I struggled to connect these superficial “sacrifices” to spiritual growth and finally gave up. Then one day a pastor friend shared the Lenten tradition he and his family followed and a major Ah-Ha moment blossomed.

Steve suggested that we use this 40-day season to let go of something we want to give up forever. It might be a habit that isn’t in our best interest or a relationship that doesn’t nurture us or even something we habitually worry about. Letting go of it for 40 days pretty much assures that it will be exiting our life.

Then he added a Step 2 to the process. Replace the time and energy you would have spent on whatever you have given up with something that builds you up instead. If you’ve let go of a relationship that is dragging you down, devote that same energy to nurturing one you want more of. If it’s habit, do something else with that time. He offered the example of smoking. Replace smoking with doing something else with your hands that engages and delights you. Erase and replace is the goal.

My own most profound experience (up until now!) was the year I gave up fretting. I had gotten myself into a perpetual state of anxiety and couldn’t seem to pull myself out, so in pure frustration I decided to give up fretting and replace it with quietude. I designated a very pretty (and comfortable) chair in my living room as my “Time Out” chair. Every time I would find myself feeling anxious, overwhelmed, fretful, worried, or fearful I would put myself into Time Out. The goal was simply to sit still and quiet my mind. This was hard! So I set an interim goal of just being able to sit still without wiggling, and even set a timer for 5 minutes and “made” myself just sit still for shorter then longer periods of time. Sometimes listening to meditative music helped. Often it was all I could do not to jump up and run do something else, but I stuck with it and slowly a miracle began occurring. My mind began to quiet as my body did and I began to experience what it means to “Be still and know.” Soon, I was so eager to go to Time Out that no fretful triggers were needed, and I found myself wondering if the timer was needed to keep me from living in this lovely quiet chair!

This year, I have already begun my Lenten process and the focus this time is Deliberate Creation. I am giving up living by Default and choosing living by Design. I am giving up lingering limiting beliefs and actions. I am giving up doubts and fears. I am giving up rehashing conversations and situations wishing I had said or done something different. And I am replacing all of that with deliberately, purposefully creating what I really want.

When the decision for this year’s focus was made, I caught myself almost immediately thinking “This is going to be hard,” then laughed out loud and remembered that “hard” isn’t at all what I want to create. So even setting my intention offered a moment to choose! And that’s the goal – to live by conscious choice, not by chance.

As long as I‘m spilling, here’s another dirty little secret. I began studying the Law of Attraction long before I knew its name or even that it had a name. It made perfect sense, was easy to understand intellectually, and fun to teach. Yet my personal frustration with my own lack of consistent results continued to grow like well-fertilized weeds. (There’s a big clue in that statement.) Thankfully, by continuing to seek I could finally see the answer that had been right in front of me all along. The missing ingredient was faith – faith that it would work for me perfectly every time just as the law says and just as others were experiencing. And those of you that have been reading along already know that faith is my Watchword for 2011.

So Deliberate Creation is my next leap of faith and I am inviting all of you to join me. Personally, I am using Dr. Robert Anthony’s course in Deliberate Creation as my guide, though you’ll want to choose whatever speaks best to you. Dr. Anthony has broken the process into clear steps and explains each one in terms that I can fully understand and easily follow. I listened to all of the CDs over the weekend and already feel a shift. Now I am listening again slowly, internalizing each and every nugget, and practicing constantly and consistently. There have been a couple of tough moments, but it’s becoming easier and easier to erase and replace. You can access Dr. Anthony’s teaching at Secrets of Deliberate Creation.

Regardless of what guide you choose, please stop by the Chicks with Checks Facebook page or this blog page often and let everyone know how you are coming along – both triumphs and trials. We are all in this together!

Can’t wait to hear your stories!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Giving Circles - A Simple Way to Put the Law of Giving to Work for You

Paying It Forward or Giving Back. Have you ever noticed how those two phrases describing the same transaction are structural opposites? Hope so, because there’s a good reason to look at giving from both perspectives. One speaks to Seed Money, the other to Tithing. Both are important parts of the giving cycle.

You probably know about Tithing, the belief that we should give back 10% of what we earn as an expression of gratitude for what we have received. You may not be as aware of Seed Money which starts at the front end of the process and says that everything we give will come back to us tenfold. The math here really works in the giver’s favor. What we pay forward comes back to us 10x yet we only need to give back 10%? Sign me up!

The principle of Seed Money is just as ancient as the principle of Tithing, but hasn’t received the same publicity. I suspect its day is coming based on three factors: the increased awareness of natural laws such as the Law of Attraction and the Law of Giving, the popularity of the Abundance principles of success, and the ragged economy.

When the economy began its nosedive, people naturally started cutting back on their spending including their giving. Yet if the principle of Seed Money is true, and I personally believe it is, then tight times are when we should get more systematic and mindful about our giving, even if the amount itself becomes smaller for a while.

Enter Giving Circles. Six years ago as the economy was entering its swoon, giving circles were still flying under the radar. In 2006, there were fewer than 400 known Giving Circles in the United States mostly working quietly behind the scenes. Three years ago, they were a trend in the making. Today, they have exploded in the US with an estimated 800 Giving Circles now working vibrantly and vocally. These often-small groups of people gathering in homes, restaurants, and coffee shops are pooling their money to give together and in the process they have become a significant philanthropic force that has raised over $100 million to support every charitable cause imaginable.

Laurie Melstrom started her Giving Circle several years ago just as the stock market decided to jump from the plane with no parachute. "This economic downturn has a lot of people breaking out into a sweat," said the Cadillac, Michigan homemaker. "Yet everyone said, 'Count me in.’ Individually, the group's 10 or 12 prospective members can't make much difference, but together we'll be able to make the kind of donation that our small charities are really going to need in tough times."

That’s the beauty of a Giving Circle. According to Wikipedia, “Giving Circles are a form of philanthropy consisting of groups of individuals who pool their funds and other resources to donate to their communities, and seek to increase their awareness and engagement in the process of giving.” Sort of like an investing club or a book club for giving, each group typically has a theme or common cause such as children’s or women’s issues, poverty, or community organizations. Often the individual donations are small, yet when combined they can make a real difference.

And the receiving organizations are not the only beneficiaries. In co-creating a meaningful donation, the members receive multiple benefits of their own. In addition to enjoying the company of other joyful givers, they are igniting the principle of Seed Money in their own lives. Those gifts, no matter how large or how small, will come back to them often in unexpected ways enabling them to give again, maybe give more, which triggers even more receiving and more giving – after all, giving and receiving are the yin and yang of the same cycle - and that is the textbook definition of a Win – Win situation.

Giving Circles are a little idea that has learned to Live Large with meaningful benefits to all involved on both sides of the equation. Through collaborative generosity and connection to others, giving circles embody the philosophy “If we each do a little, together we can do a lot.”

Friday, January 14, 2011

Are You a Giver or a Taker - The Answer May Not Be as Simple as You Think

A couple of days ago, I received a surprise phone call from a dear friend I hadn’t heard from in a while. Though the conversation was long and chatty as catch-up calls can be, it quickly zeroed in a something that was clearly gnawing on her mind.

She shared a story about helping someone, someone she thought was her best friend, only to be stabbed in the back in more ways than you can imagine. Naturally, she was hurt, twice when you think about it. Just being betrayed is bad enough, but getting that treatment from a close friend who had asked for and received help can be devastating.

As we talked, my friend wondered how she could give “good” and receive meanness in return…whether she might be too giving or did not always use good common sense and firm boundaries…if I she could strengthen her radar and develop a better feel for whether a person was a Giver or a Taker.

Good questions.

So I emailed two articles to her – “A Dozen Ways to Spot Takers Disguised as Givers” and “Are You a Giver or Taker?” And here’s where the story starts to get really interesting.

The next day, she left an excited message saying she had read the articles and now wondered if she was more of a taker than she had ever realized! In our next conversation she jumped right in: “I shared that one article – the dozen ways – with a couple of friends and asked if they saw me in that checklist because I saw myself in several of the points.”

Then she asked another really important question.

“If I can recognize this about myself, does that mean I’m a Taker or does it mean I’m a Giver who messes up sometimes? Isn’t it true that Takers can’t see this in themselves?”


In “Are You a Giver or a Taker,” the writer tells of a woman who attended one of his seminars. She complained bitterly, criticized everything, hogged the spotlight, and generally found fault. Then she accused the speaker of being the Taker for not giving her exactly what she wanted even though she was the one who refused to allow herself to be pleased!

One of the hallmarks of being a Taker is that they can never be satisfied. Their “what’s in it for me” approach to life leaves them always grasping for more without the ability to be grateful for what they have right now. Other people typically respond by backing off and declining to give any more to such a grasping person or by trying to “fix” them. My friend was beginning to suspect she might be a fixer and that might make her a Taker in disguise.

Since Takers subconsciously believe that they have to “go after” what they want and “make” it happen, they are in no mood to be fixed. They are stuck in what Ken Kreis calls an “emotional vacuum” so when something they perceive as a need is not being met, they go after filling that need by getting (taking), rather than giving. That is a huge indicator of low self-confidence or self-worth. They are often jealous. They infringe on the rights and space of others while attributing the crowdedness to others invading their space and rights. Do you see a pattern here? They think you are the one with the problem. “Taking” and judging by “what’s in it for me” are the best, and perhaps the only, ways they know how to get what they want. They will drain you of everything you have to give and still resent you because “taking” turns them into a bottomless pit. And they will interpret your normal and natural expectation for gratitude as having strings attached. And guess what. On this one they are right. As soon as you have expectations of any kind, even of receiving what you consider to be gratitude, you have inadvertently negated your gift.

One of the greatest challenges of life is learning unconditional giving, savoring the giving itself as enough. Simply giving and setting it free. Practicing the fine art of allowing the gift to find its own mark …or not.

As we talked, my friend related another story. Several months previously, another friend had gotten married. On the day of the wedding, she had shared some words of wisdom. “No matter what happens, remember to be present in every moment of this day. It will pass quickly and you will want to savor it all.” She spoke the words and forgot them. Months later, her friend mentioned that those words had made all the difference in how she experienced one of the most important days of her life.

I asked her how that made her feel. Great, of course, was her answer. I asked her what was different about the two giving experiences. She noticed two. First, the two friends were very different. One was able to receive and the other was only able to take. Then a light went off - she suddenly recognized how judging her friends’ ability to receive pegged her own feelings on someone else’s actions and how that perspective gave away her personal power. But even more importantly, she realized in one situation she gave and released what she had given - completely forgot about it– and in the other, she expected certain behaviors in return. She had unknowingly set herself up.

And that’s the secret. Unconditional giving makes us feel great. It energizes us and renews our joy in giving. The intended recipient cannot hurt us because we’ve already received our reward through the joy of giving. My friend still wants to become more mindful and less of a “fixer,” but I think she also discovered a new peace in realizing her work is done the moment she gives. The idea of giving and letting it go seemed pretty appealing.

Both of the articles contain checklists for how to recognize a Taker which can serve as a good self-assessment. In answer to my friend’s second question – If I can see this in myself, does that mean I’m a Taker or a Giver? I would say she’s a Growing Giver. It’s rare that Takers see their own actions clearly. That’s part of being a Taker. So I challenge you to take one of the tests. Even Great Givers can grow!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Law of Giving

The Law of Giving says “The Giver becomes the Receiver becomes the Giver becomes the Receiver...” in a never-ending bountiful flow.

That’s pretty straightforward. Yet even when we generally understand the reciprocal nature of the flow, it is crucial to seek crystal clear clarity regarding the underlying principles that can either magnify or diminish the results we get. They are the gateway to greater awareness of how the Law works and how we can harness its power with good for all involved.

For starters, the Law says the Giver becomes the Receiver. It doesn’t say the Receiver gets to Give, and that sequence is vitally important. Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, firmly believed that mindful giving was the missing ingredient in most people’s lives. In fact, two of the three steps in his Keys to Success involve giving. Hill taught:

Step 1 – Know exactly what you want. Most people get stuck right here because they are vague about what they want. Any success coach will tell you that most people describe what they want in fuzzy terms such as improved health, more money, or better relationships without ever defining what that means to them. Their clients often fall back on the old “I’ll know it when I see it” defense, but the evidence says they won’t.

Step 2 – Decide exactly what you are willing to give in order to receive what you want. If you want excellent health, you must first give your body good food plus enough sleep and exercise. If you want more money, you must first give something people need or want. If you want loving relationships, you must first give The Golden Rule. Are you willing to do those things? In each case, decide exactly what you are willing to give, making sure that it has true value, of course.

Step 3 – Give first. Start giving right now in pure gratitude with no strings attached. Give thanks that you can give, no matter how “large” or “small” it may seem to be. You must get the cycle started by giving first. If you wait for someone else to go first, you could be waiting a really long time – and won’t know what to do with it when it happens.

I would add a 4th step to what Hill taught.

Step 4 - Practice the Art of Allowing. Remember that the Law of Giving represents a cycle. If the Giver cannot Receive, the cycle will be broken. Some of the best Givers I’ve ever met really struggle with allowing themselves to receive. They get amazingly creative in (subconsciously) blocking their receiving, and that of course kills the cycle. So they end up giving till it hurts or insisting that the Law is flawed instead of opening the flow.

Hill’s Keys to Success are really just another way of expressing the very potent Seed Money Principle which is fundamental to the Law of Giving. The Seed Money Principle states that “Everything we give in pure gratitude with no strings attached will come back to us tenfold.” In other words, we seed our own receiving by giving. As soon as you give, claim your tenfold return making sure that you are doing so in pure gratitude with no strings attached. Using a mantra such as “I am grateful for receiving my tenfold return which has provided good to all involved” will energize your tenfold return and help you practice the Art of Allowing, opening yourself to receive.

And as soon as you receive, give again. Allow receiving that tenfold return to lead straight into the Tithing Principle which teaches us to give back ten percent of everything we receive. And we’ve already learned that everything we give comes back tenfold. See how the cycle is working? It really is just that simple.

Your money, time, and talent MUST be in motion for them to help you, and the ONLY way to put them in motion so they will multiply is to give. If you hide your treasures in the proverbial mattress in a misguided attempt to protect them, they will only suffocate and die, leaving you even worse off. Treasure is only good for you, and others, when it is serving in some way.

The lessons of the Law of Giving are clear and universal. Whether we are speaking of basic science (If you want a different response, you must first give a different stimulus), or friendship (If you want to have a friend, you must first be a friend), or wealth (If you want to earn more, you must first invest), The Law of Giving is a Master Key. It precedes the Law of Attraction (What you give your attention to is what you receive) and is the power behind the Law of Love (Always treat others with the same love and kindness you would like to receive from them). In fact, it is the foundation for all natural laws (What you give is what you get!).

Happy Giving!

To learn more about how to ignite the power of The Law of Giving visit

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Full Circle - Social Entrepreneurship at Its Best

Cindy Jenkins has been an entrepreneur unawares for most of her life. Even during her 20 years with a “day job” in the legal field, she always had some sort of business on the side - reupholstery, carpet cleaning, remodeling, and paint and wallpaper. But it wasn’t until she attended the FastTrac SC program that she realized why. The program teaches basic entrepreneurship principles including how to start a business the right way. Her first attempt was a business development company that taught her the downside of spreading yourself too thin. The upside is that it led her to the nonprofit sector. Cindy and nonprofits have turned out to be the proverbial “match made in heaven.”

About the same time she was being drawn to nonprofits, she discovered Groupon and their innovative business model. They send discount deals to thousands of subscribers in their free daily email, and promise that the participating businesses will gain a ton of new customers as a result. As any true entrepreneur would do, Cindy started thinking on how that model could be used by nonprofits.

One morning, she literally woke up with the entire Full Circle idea in her head. All the details - the name, logo, colors, business card – were crystal clear. The concept is simple. In addition to promoting a daily deal, each deal-offering business would also choose a nonprofit to support. Every time a deal was purchased, the nonprofit would receive a percentage of the purchase price. The customers would receive a great deal. The business would receive new customers and oodles of exposure to new audiences. And the nonprofit would receive a donation. Everybody would win! And as Cindy had learned in FastTrac, when everybody wins, everybody wins.

Full Circle is currently running a Sweepstakes to help them get launched in Charleston, SC with plans to expand into other markets soon. The prize is $500 for your favorite nonprofit. To find out how your favorite nonprofit can be the winner (or to help Chicks with Checks win on behalf of one of our favorite nonprofits!) , visit

Together, we can make 2011 the Year of Giving.