One of the first things I built into my business more than 11 years ago was giving back. I started giving back even before there was really anything to give back from, it was one of the developers I worked with before I had a fixed team that got me started on Kiva micro-loans. Having been able to get off of welfare through a small start-up loan, I knew how life-changing these loans could be and I chose to support female entrepreneurs in financially vulnerable parts of the world with small micro-loans. The beauty of platforms such as Kiva is that with an investment of as little as $25 you can get started when you pool together with other lenders which is how these websites work. The loans are paid back most of the time and you can either take that money out or keep it circulating.
Some of the other projects I have given to…
When I met Ashu (the twin thing) and two-thirds of my team was in India I learned about the need to build toilets in India for the safety of women and girls. Without indoor toilets, women and girls are forced to defecate outside in the fields which puts them at risk of sexual assault and health issues. I don’t remember how I found Milaap, but I found them because it was the only platform with projects that were building toilets throughout India. I had asked Ashu, friends of ours, and my team members in India when we were still doing web design and online marketing but no one knew of any such projects that you could donate to. At that time I was also tithing to my source of spiritual growth which I felt was Ashu because he had been such a catalyst in my spiritual awakening. I sent him maybe $1100 over a period of time that he felt highly uncomfortable accepting. He decided to give the money to charity and went to talk to the guys in the Milaap offices but then decided to give it to the charity his mother was involved in, as it was easier.
My mother who is a devout online follower of Sadhguru got me into planting trees, she wanted everyone to plant trees for her 80th birthday and we did that through Treesisters.org. I really loved the idea of planting trees as it’s such an important part of being good stewards of our planet Earth, so I continued donating to this organization after the initial birthday donations in my mother’s name.
During my research for my work, I found that sex trafficking and sex slavery are the fastest growing industry clustered under human trafficking which affects mostly women (51%) and girls (20%) men and boys only account for (29%) of those being trafficked. “After drug dealing, human trafficking is tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest criminal industry in the world today, and it’s the fastest growing,” according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Elizabeth Smart was abducted at the age of fourteen and held as a sex slave for nine months. Through her foundation, she is using her own horrendous experience to create awareness and to work towards ending the victimization and exploitation of sexual assault through education, healing, and advocacy. Being a victim of sexual assault myself as a child by a caregiver, as a teenager by another family member, and as an adult, in my marriage, I want to see this changed for future generations.
Money in the hands of women is going to change the world
I think this is where women becoming affluent is going to be a game-changer in this world, because it means that we get to invest our money in what is important to us. For too long men have decided how money is being spent and they have done great things of course that have served the good of humanity, but in a masculine way and from a masculine perspective. The fact that women now have their own money to spend to find solutions to their own problems, problems that men often don’t face will help make this world a safer and better place for the other half of humanity. This is not some feminist man-hating babble (I love men) this is the reality we live in, even now in our sophisticated society we see that it was built for and by men because they had the money and therefore the buying power.
An example of this is the medical industry where not only doctors, scientists, and researchers have mostly been men, but most of the cells, animals, and humans studied in medical science have also been male: most of the advances we have seen in medicine have come from the study of male biology. “For much of documented history, women have been excluded from medical and science knowledge production, so essentially we’ve ended up with a healthcare system, among other things in society, that has been made by men for men,” Dr. Kate Young Source: The Guardian
This is WHY I am so passionate about helping both men and women heal on the deepest level because that is how we heal society on the deepest level. Part of my mission is to help women heal their historical and ancestral wounds of poverty so that they can use their buying power to invest their money into what is important to them on all levels of society.
Giving back for what we have received
It is what I created in my own life as well, my success has little to do with business strategy and everything with the healing I have done. I know this for a fact because from my days as an online business coach I have seen that there are plenty of people who have the strategy down pat but still can’t make ends meet because of the subconscious wounds they carry inside. Subconscious wounds of poverty from previous lifetimes, their ancestral lineages, patriarchal wounding, and so on. It’s by tackling these subconscious wounds within myself one by one that I was able to create the affluence I now enjoy in my life and spend money on the things that matter to me.
For example, during the start of the pandemic, I asked my clients and followers to share their $100 and under products or services on a Facebook post. I then bought for $500 from the various products and services that were listed. Many small business owners and especially brick and mortar (offline) businesses were suffering during the global lockdowns. My business has always been online and I have been location independent since 2017 so my business was hardly affected by the shutdowns, I was in a position to give back.
So when a Facebook friend of mine approached me with his idea to feed migrant worker families and Hindu illegal immigrants from Pakistan that were living in roadside camps and bearing the brunt of the pandemic as all those afflicted by poverty did – I was game. He set up his campaign and I was the first to immediately donate $250 which set the tone for others to follow. I remember being out to dinner in one of Amsterdam’s most expensive restaurants with my family during that time when I received a $250 gift from one of my readers, (the biggest money gift I was ever sent).
We were celebrating getting our house in Ibiza in a restaurant my son had fallen in love with in the Okura hotel. I personally prefer one of their other restaurants which is less expensive but has amazing food, because although I love dining out I don’t like overspending on overpriced food. Let’s just say that the money I was gifted didn’t even cover the dinner bill for three people that night, but teppanyaki is an experience one should have at least once in a lifetime and my son loved it so much, he wanted to go again before we moved to Spain. This often happens to me though that when I spend money, new money comes in without me having to put any effort into it. We were literally having dinner when I received a notification of the payment received. I didn’t need the money for myself, so I donated it again to this project in India enabling them to create more groceries packets to distribute among those in need.
Giving back to those who have given us life
The most recently added charity project that touched my heart was again on Milaap and it’s to take care of the elderly who have been put out on the street by their families. I could have never imagined that this was such a large-scale problem or even fathomed that it existed. It came up in a recent client session where the client saw that she had been made homeless by a family member in a previous life in China. As an old man, she had been forced to live in the streets. My mother who has over the years also grown to be a good friend lives with me and my son and we have been full-time together since 2018 when we started traveling the world together, so I couldn’t imagine abandoning her.
My mother is of a special breed, although she has never owned much or had a lot of money – she is a self-made woman who has lived an incredibly rich life including living six months in a tipi with her Native American boyfriend while re-fencing his 20 acres property in Nevada, showering in the wild with an improvised shower he created for her while in her 50s. She is a beautiful and rare songbird who does yoga, prays, mediates, etc. She would simply not fit in, in your run-of-the-mill elderly home. She would shrivel up and die there. She loves life too much. One of my fondest memories of her, while we were traveling, was one day at the beach in Jumeirah, Dubai where she danced in the street with some other people playing music and then played with her bare feet in the sea like a little child. I remember sitting there watching her play, her eyes shining bright, and thinking to myself what a good idea it was to go traveling as a family.
I have this vivid memory of my dad about a year before he died. It’s summertime he is sitting outside in a t-shirt and a sarong which was his favorite way to dress if he didn’t have to go out (If you hadn’t guessed by now, I was raised by hippie parents). I was in the kitchen cooking, he was sitting at the garden table outside, the windows between us open and he calls my name and says ‘A dirty mind is a joy forever’ and then starts cackling at his own joke. This was so typical of my dad, that I remember thinking this is how I am going to remember you when you’re gone and this is how I do remember him, There are more memories from his final days but this one is my fondest. In the same way, this memory of my mom that day in Dubai is etched in my memory.
It has been such a gift to be able to give back to my mom, who cleaned houses in order to put me through private school in the United States before she took her American exams to continue as a registered nurse which was her profession back in the Netherlands. We now live the lifestyle of the people she used to work for including a cleaner who cleans for us. She gets acupuncture, alternative medical treatments, massages, facials, pedicures, and all the vitamins and minerals she feels she needs. Her pension is quite small due to living abroad and working part-time to take care of me. The pension she received after my dad died is almost ten times more than what she receives from her own work, but they were only married ten years so even that isn’t so much. If she had to live on her own she would have to scrimp and save and even then she would probably spend it on others. Having her with us gives her the care she needs, the love and companionship she needs, and the financial support she needs to live comfortably while she enjoys the golden days of her life. Giving her that security and comfort are important to me.
So naturally, being someone who has taken care of her elderly parents I was shocked to find that there are elderly people who are forced to live on the streets not getting the food, shelter, or the medication they need. This is why I loved to be able to contribute to the Help Foundation campaign on Milaap and will continue to do so in the future. Even if I can’t do for these people what I do for my own mother or the care I gave to my father together with my half-sisters in his dying days, I can make life a little bit better for these people who are forced to live in the streets with no relatives to care of them and no government aid to fall back on.
Giving opens the way for receiving
Actually a fun fact – for some reason (perhaps Mercury Retrograde?) I was unable to make the donation myself. I tried multiple times on my phone, my laptop, with different credit cards, and even through a bank transfer that was blocked by my bank because it doesn’t allow donations to India as a security measure. So I asked my philanthropist Facebook friend to make the payment for me and send me a link to pay him back, he did make the payment for me but refused for me to repay him. This was the same Facebook friend that I had sent $500 for the groceries packages to feed people in India during the pandemic. As they say, what goes around comes around – even in a positive way. I am currently working with Milaap to make future donations possible again towards this cause, as I did for years in the past when I was helping fund the toilet projects in India.
So often when we think of money, we associate it with greed and other negative states; of which I think lack is one of the biggest negative states around money that we can get caught up in. But money can also be an incredible force for good in our lives and often when we start giving, the Universe steps in and helps us. Those who give, receive and although that shouldn’t be your motivation for giving – it is often a side-effect of it. According to Florence Scovel Shinn, grandmother of metaphysics ‘Giving opens the way for receiving. In order to create activity in finances, one should give.’ I think this is why philanthropy is such a big thing among business owners and perhaps it’s why giving even when I had so little to give initially has helped me to continue to give when I came into a position to be able to give more.
Giving it ‘forward’ to future generations
It has also taught my children to give, my youngest son is a big tipper because he has taken on my current money mindset and not the poverty mindset I was brought up in (as we heal, we heal future generations). He works in a beach bar now and often gives his tips to the Senegalese selling on the beach, he has seen me always give money to them as well. Having been married to a Senegalese man, my son’s father, I know the constant struggle they are in to not only meet their own needs but also send money home to their parents and family. This is so deeply ingrained in their DNA that my son sent us money from his very first paycheck! Talk about ancestral conditioning.
If we see beggars or if we are asked to give money, my son is always the one to advocate for the person in need. I remember one time there was an older woman with missing teeth coming up to our table in a Pizza Hut and I only had a €50 bill on me. She insisted on hugging us and she had tears in her eyes of relief, she didn’t speak English and we hardly spoke Spanish at the time but she explained that she was going to the shop to buy food with it. Yes, in some cases people will buy other things with the money that we may not approve of or that aren’t good for them but it’s none of my business what they spend it on. It’s a gift and gifts come with no strings attached, otherwise, it’s not really a gift, is it?
What about you? What are your favorite ways of giving back?
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