I truly believe that good things come to us with the right intention and the right practices.
Sometimes we set our intention (an important first step) for our businesses to grow but if we don't take the right action to make this growth possible, it doesn't happen in the ways we intended.
I know that one of the ways my business has grown is through acts of creative tithing.
Tithing means giving 1/10th of something away and creative tithing means giving 1/10th of something away in support of what feeds your soul creatively.
and by away I mean no strings attached, do with it as they wish - hasta la vista baby
(I used to call this "giving money away" but since I read Kristen Walker call it creative tithing on Scoutie Girl, I decided I like that better, too)
This is not about charity.
Supporting charitable causes is a good thing also, but there is a kind of imbalance there that creative tithing doesn't produce. It isn't about some elite someone 'up there' giving a handout to someone 'down there' because that would mean agreeing that the person/business you are tithing to is in need of your help and that is not what this is all about and not something you want to help create for them.
And, tithing isn't just about money -
it is really about expanding ourselves and about how nothing expands without everything else expanding right along with it.
For this post we'll focus on money- because if our creative venture is a business, the money factor is something we will all have to deal with.
The act of tithing is an act of gratitude, and even more importantly maybe, it is an act of faith. Gratitude for what we have been given and faith that there is more to come; lots and lots more.
Now, we can always find a reason not to begin -
(and you certainly do not have to do it, at least not with money, but the energy around money is very powerful)
maybe your shop has been slow and you are thinking you will do this when things pick up or maybe things have been hopping for you, but you never know this busyness could all end tomorrow and you need to hold onto what you have earned, right?
Just like any other practice you can always find a reason to not ... well, practice.
(but this is exactly why practice is so effective - it is like that treadmill ie clothes rack, we all have in our bedroom - we really don't want to get on there and do it, but we know we like how we feel afterwards, and if we waited until we felt like it, well ... we'd never be able to eat anything really good ever again!)
The thing about tithing is not to be thinking about the 10% that is gone. Nothing has "been taken from you". And if you have given that 10% in the right place and in the right way (and you will know that you have done this because it feels AMAZING), something new has just been magnetized into your life -
that wonderful shop with the quirky little amazing pieces that make you smile (buy one and give it to someone else to make them smile or keep it for yourself, why not, you deserve it!), that author whose book meant so much to you (buy another copy and give it away), the blog that you never miss reading every week (buy a month's worth of advertising on it) or buy that blogger's ebook since you read all the stuff they write for free!
And don't forget the person who put that craft show together where you met so many amazing people and learned so many new things- why not send her a piece of your work! There are as many ways to do this as there are creatives who inspire and support us!
Buying from new artists who are just starting out is also great if you truly love and value their work. You are not doing anyone any favors by buying something that you do not like.
(I once saw a seller post in the forums about her lack of sales. For some reason her post stayed with me. I looked at her shop later on and could see that she probably needed to work on her technique before she tried selling her wares. But, the spirit had overtaken me and I went ahead and bought something and then I emailed my friend and asked her to buy something, too! I felt all good about myself until I noticed a week or so later that this seller had filled her shop with this item since it was now her "best seller" and this was not a good thing - I definitely had not helped her to expand)
When I first started tithing I took tiny, little baby steps. I gave away 10% of income that was over a certain amount and also money that sort of came at me out of the blue. But since I often find that out of the blue income will magically meet up with an out of the blue expense, I knew I had to open myself up to imagining something bigger for myself. I had to commit.
So, I just do a weekly tally of profits and use 10% to support and promote other creatives.
I sometimes keep the dollar bills in an envelope because I think cash sends a message to my subconscious in a bigger way than numbers in my paypal account can
(and I like the way it smells, I do, it is kind of a sickness).
Recently I got a large chunk of cash from the sale of an old domain name.
Now there was a big part of me that wanted to hold onto the whole thing; put it away for the ebb that inevitably follows the flow. I mean it was all fine and good to tithe 10 bucks here and 20 bucks there, but 10% of this was $180.00!
This felt like way too much!
I took a deep cleansing breath.
(yes, I live in New Jersey, so I took a fast, deep cleansing breath)
I knew that I was very thankful for this unexpected money. I knew that there was alot more unexpected money out there for me.
I knew a group of girls who would benefit most decidedly from a certain book "The Daring Book for Girls" - so I ordered 10 copies and am going to have a little croquet tournament, yup, that's right, the game with the balls that can crack your head open if you ever get hit with one- what's life without a little challenge, I say - when I present them (this is just one of the great creative ventures in the book).
About 3 hours after I ordered the books, I got an unexpected wholesale order for almost this exact amount. This has happened before.
I once had this happen to me in reverse.
Many years ago, I bought a hand drum. It was $195.00. When I got home I realized the salesperson had rung up the drum for $1.95. I knew I should call the store or go back to the store or do something.
I kept waiting for the store to make an adjustment in my checking account, but the adjustment never came. I sat on it, I think secretly hoping that I had just spent $1.95 on a $195.00 hand drum, but also knowing deep inside that this was not my money anymore.
The next week I had a craft show. I took credit cards from my customers, but I couldn't actually put them through because I had no phone service. When I got home and ran the cards through I had two $100.00 declined cards. I couldn't believe it - I had never had any declined cards before and these were my only two large orders from the show!
A couple days later I went back to the music store with my receipt and told them that a mistake had been made. They fixed it. And as you can probably guess by now, the next day, both my declined credit cards, all $200.00 worth, went through easily.
Now, in my mind at the time I did not connect these two things, but I do now, although I am not sure how this connects to my post, but it is rather interesting, don't you think?
Of course, you do not have to give your money away but if the plans for your crafty venture include making more money than tithing with money can be a powerful act to do in the present moment that expresses thankfulness for the past and faith in the future at the same time.
But, it is definitely not the only way to do this. If money doesn't feel like a good discipline for you, there are other ways to work on expansion and expansive thinking with creative tithing.
We will talk about some of these in Part II, next Wednesday.
Spending our money consciously is a very dynamic thing and by making the decision to spend some of that money on the creative people that feed our soul- our whole world can expand!
What do you think?
In Part 1, we talked about Creative Tithing in monetary terms.
You make money in some kind of crafty, creative endeavor and you give 10% of it away to someone that has inspired you creatively.
The act is very powerful.
It is an act of expansion. You are expanding your own thinking about what is possible for you (ie there is more where this came from, alot more), you are drawing something new and creative into your life and you are expanding someone else's creative world, too.
If they also tithe 10% this goes on and on forever and ever ...
(just sit with that for a second and really let our power sink in!)
There are also ways to practice creative tithing and creative expansion without using money as our practice point.
One way is with applause.
Yes, as in put our hands together, whistle through our fingers, scream bravo until we lose our voices - tell 'em that you love 'em - applause!
This is a very easy practice point, but very powerful.
When you see something that someone has created and you love it - TELL THEM! Convo other sellers on Etsy just to say WOW!
This can't help but send little ripples (which can turn into tsunamis) out into the world.
Encourage people. It's not about blindly saying - “you can do it”.
(although that's nice, too!)
It’s deeper than that. It’s seeing the truth of the other person, especially when they can't see it yet for themselves.
Also, remember to practice expansion by practicing gratitude when you get this kind of applause.
If someone tells you how great your work is and your first thought is - well, then BUY something for pete's sake - the energy just stops ... right there ... clunk.
Or, if you think- "what? my work? it's just ok" - clunk.
Now, if you really allow yourself to take it in and let it expand the way you see yourself and the way you see the world - stuff happens, big stuff happens!
Another great practice point for creative tithing is with your time.
There are as many ways to do this as there is creative inspiration out there.
Time is a very powerful tithe.
You can always make more money, but we all get just a finite amount of time in a day and to tithe some of this into the creative community is a very powerful thing.
If you sell on Etsy, making treasuries to promote other sellers is a huge tithe of your time. Giving your time to creative people and creative groups expands your world in very powerful ways.
Your talent is also a very powerful practice point.
Giving away your talent in terms of work, skills, mentoring, training, information, etc is a huge way to expand.
Our talent is something that we are called to express. It isn't so much a gift to us, as it is our gift to everyone else! We are called to pass it on. We cannot waste it!
If you are called to paint - paint! If you are called to write - write! You never know who will read your words or see your work and in what way they will be moved and inspired to bring more of that creativity into their own life!
Donating your work to charities that support the arts and schools are great ways to practice creative tithing of your talent.
You don't have to be a teacher to be a teacher. You don't have to have it all together to pass on the stuff that you do.
(and have you ever learned anything really true from anyone who wasn't a total train wreck at some point in their life?)
You are always mentoring somebody - even when you are just doing a really good job, maybe especially when you are just doing a really good job
You can tithe other abundances in your creative life, too, everything from supplies to connections - it is kind of endless.
Now, these are all practices. And practices need to be practiced to work (and just like the practice that you put into your craft and the practice called exercise - it doesn't just work for other people, it has to work for you, it can't not work).
If we didn't do things unless the outcome was guaranteed we would never do anything of value.
Faith comes from first doing the thing – not necessarily knowing that everything will turn out the way we want it to. And creative tithing is not a religious act, but it is an act of faith.
Tithing your time and talent and praise and money probably will not work in any positive way for us if we do it grudgingly
(if a situation feels wrong then don't do it - the lesson for that type of stuff is most likely about standing up for ourselves and our value and saying no to things) -
because tithing keeps our energy at the level of the act, so making it a selfless act
(as much as possible, we are not expected to be Mother Teresa here)
and letting it go is very important.
I also think it is very powerful to do the thing that is the hardest thing, for us to do.
For some people it is easier to give money than time - for others it is easier to give away their time than to part with 10% of their creative income and I do think that maybe always doing the easier thing can dillute this a bit, so try to do the thing that makes you uncomfortable and work with that once in a while.
Because creative tithing is about expansion and expansion is about growth and growth is about challenging ourselves.
What else can we do; what do you think?