Cheryl's Hundred

The other day, a mere couple of blocks from home in my affluent neighborhood, I was shocked to see two people curled up in a doorway. So covered in blankets and rags, they almost escaped my notice. Every week there are new people trolling the streets, their shopping carts piled high with recyclables. What kind of country are we becoming, really?

I have moments of cynicism when I wonder how much good any one of us can do, when it feels like the world is broken beyond repair. What will it take to make our world better? What is required of us as human beings? How do we rise to the challenge, day after day after day?

I struggle with my own brokenness as well. Miserliness was etched into my DNA long before I had anything to say about it. It’s not a fatal mutation; I see that now. And it needn’t keep me from living a full and generous life, although that will always be hard work.

I have found a way to make a difference. For me. For now. Every time I surprise a stranger with a gift, I look them in the eye and promise wordlessly to shoulder a tiny fraction of their burden. Whatever they’ll give me for $100. Sometimes I get more than I paid for, which I normally would consider a real bargain.

In 2011, I’ll be giving away 100 C-notes.

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11 Responses to 100 Hundreds in 2011

  1. kathleen says:

    I have been deeply moved by your crisp, snap-shots of the lives you’ve touched through your One Hundred project. Today I was profoundly touched by your willingness to share your process of healing your own broken places. I am inspired by what you are doing and how you communicate what you are learning and becoming. Thank you. I have been grieving the death of my best friend, who died of breast cancer. The sting of that loss–even though we “knew’ it was coming, shocked my system into my own form of miserliness,that was completely contrary to the person I had always been. I felt unwilling, and incapable of giving love in the same way I once had. Without my dearest and closest friend, whom I loved with a child’s wild and happy abandon, some proud and traumatized part of my heart, declared that no one else would ever be good enough again for me to trust my unfettered heart with. I am learning from you, and healing. My month of “hundreds” takes a different form, as I open myself to giving freely to others–both strangers, and acquaintances–my unguarded kindess. Like you, I do so in honor of the one I lost. Thank you for your inspiration and companionship.

    • Kathleen- Thank you so much for reading and for adding your comments. I love what you shared about miserliness taking many forms. I am so sorry for the loss you have suffered; life can be unbearably hard at times. I am grateful to be able to accompany you and be part of your healing from afar; that gives me hope, too. Best wishes for some joy in 2011. Jill

  2. Angie Hitch says:

    Jill~ Like Kathleen, I continue to learn from you and be moved by you as we all go on this journey of giving together. I am grateful for you and what you do.This has made me a better person. xoxo

    Kathleen~ You and I have grief and loss in common. I lost my best friend in an accident on New Years Day 2008. Nothing prepares you for that. Nothing. I have read a book ( twice, actually) in the past six months: “Let’s Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship” by Gail Caldwell. Such a beautiful book. It helped me understand that I was not alone in intolerable grief. Good luck to you on your journey, also.


  3. Ginny says:

    With your good deeds you have incouraged me to find ways to do some good for people around me. I make bread and give it away also do some sewing. People seem so grateful for what I’ve done. I just like doing it. I don’t want any thing in return. In the past I was helped when I was in need to.

  4. Pru McDonald says:

    In the act of giving, whether it be a C-note or simply a smile, invites us into a special club, whose members act as links in the giving of LOVE, with no expectations… simply the joy of giving, bringing joy to the lives of others. No millionaire is richer in spirit than the spirit of those who give freely of themselves.

    Generosity, Compassion, and Love are the secrets of a happy and fulfilled life. May all who read this, and to Jill who began and who SHARED this miracle of giving, find continued happiness and joy in the New Year by giving yourself to others! Blessings to all of you in 2011 and always!

  5. Hillary says:

    Thank you for your beautiful writing and reminding me that in this collective we each have our own story and we each need the help of those around us.

    This year, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer and went through surgery and chemotherapy to treat it. I have learned more this year about my community and about accepting gifts given, than I have the rest of my life. Last night, as a thank you to about a dozen friends who really went above and beyond, I made a special dinner, and gave them each a teapot from my collection of teapots. It felt great to know to know that when they tend to themselves by making a cup of tea, I’ll be there in spirit.

    I hope you continue to share with us your journey in practicing the generosity of your spirit.

    Have a wonderful New Year – I’ll stay posted to read more.

    • Hillary- Thank you so much for writing. What a wonderful way you rounded out what sounds like a really challenging year! I bet there will be lots of cups of tea drunk in your honor in 2011 and beyond! Best wishes for health and wholeness in the New Year. Jill

  6. DJan says:

    I am thrilled that I will have continued inspirational stories from you, as well as your thoughtful writing. I sincerely hope that 1/1/11 will usher in a year of healing and happiness.

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