Over at ArtbyChrysti, Chrysti has started a discussion about the act of giving with intent, in relation to her current 29 days of giving project. Her post made me really sit down and think about giving and kindness. I always think of paying it forward when people are just generally kind to each other during the day- letting someone into traffic instead of blocking them into a driveway, or holding the door open for someone, even when they don’t have their hands full are two of my favorite examples. Sometimes people seem surprised when I do these things, it makes me a little sad. I don’t always have time or money to give, but I make time in those little ways by just showing kindness or thoughtfulness to strangers.
My other favorite act of giving is what helped me choose my career- I am an art teacher, and I chose teaching and art for many different reasons. I chose teaching because after working with a group of students from the inner city teaching them to embrace their creativity and invest in themselves, I felt like there was no other job I could do that would be as rewarding, to myself and others, as teaching. I chose art because it has a way of reaching into everyone– not just people that already love art or that are “good at art”- it helps people express themselves, let out the tension or frustration or pressure of the day and create, and I honestly believe we need more of this in our lives. Every day I get to help students that are not always successful in other subject have a chance to shine in my classroom, and that is one of my greatest rewards. I don’t make a lot of money, I don’t get to leave my job at the end of my work hours and leave my job behind- I get to work early, stay late, and obsess over tiny details of my week to come in my free time, but it is worth it ever day because of the excitement I get to share with my students every day. Even if I could afford to quit working and work as an artist at home, I believe I would still want to teach at least once a week, because teaching is the most rewarding thing I do each day, outside of motherhood.