Kindness is Currency, but Currency is not Necessarily Kindness

Maybe this is my Birthday Manifesto.  I turn 31 tomorrow.

About a month ago there was a big blowup in the garden blogging sphere by some individuals that take pleasure in stirring the sh*t. I guess that works for them, so good for them.  One thing that I never addressed was this: it upset me personally that someone called me out on a blog by saying that I must be getting paid to participate in blog commenting, rather than doing it as a friend.

Now, those bloggers don’t know me from Adam.  I’ve never met “in person” any of the people who attacked me, let alone the ones attacking my friend,  and I think that it is easier to hide behind the online wall if you haven’t met the person.  But, this blog isn’t about those people, this blog is about me and my observation.  I thought about the ideas behind the title a lot yesterday, because I was out running around town, seeing current friends and meeting new friends, showing some of them how to tweet, tweeting pictures of others, talking them up on Facebook and other various places.

And, NO, I wasn’t getting paid to do it.

I do have some paying gigs.  I’m a freelance writer and marketer.  It is my JOB to have paying gigs.  But, just because I’m talking something up doesn’t mean I’m getting paid for it.  Actually, remember that little FTC disclosure thingy?  If I’m tweeting, blogging or facebooking about something from my OWN accounts, or under my OWN name and I’m getting paid specifically to push THAT item or talk about THAT thing, I MUST disclose it.

Kindness is Currency

I read a similar quote, “Goodness is the Currency of the Soul” on one of my Yogi tea bags one day.  I loved it.  Because, I live that.  I’ve been freelancing and writing and marketing for about 2 1/2 years now.  Before that, I worked mostly in nonprofits.  My work is my life and my life is my work, because to me, everything is interconnected.  Consilience.

Here’s how I do things:

  • If I’m genuinely excited about something, I talk it up.  A LOT.  Regardless of whether I work for the entity I’m talking up.  They could give me NOTHING and I’d talk them up if I love them.  Because, you see, they’re giving me pleasure, or sustenance, or friendship or something else.  Just because they’re not giving me money or freebies doesn’t mean I’m getting nothing out of the deal.
  • I like to pay it forward.  I’ve had a lot of people help me during my life.  The most help has come from my parents–financially and emotionally.  They believed in me even when they didn’t understand what the HECK I was doing, and they supported me well beyond they had to, under “parental obligations.” My birthday’s tomorrow, and my Dad always talks about remembering the day I was born.  Some parents stop everything when their kid turns 18. I don’t understand why.  My parents never stopped anything.    I’ve had great mentors through school and work, great friends that propped me up on lousy days, and a wonderful husband.
  • I don’t view my life as a series of one way transactions.  I view it as a series of two way interactions.  This makes a big difference in the next one.
  • I believe in Karma.  Everyone gets what they have coming to them eventually.  Largely, because they did it to themselves.  Be generous, nice, sharing, giving and loving, and the world will reciprocate.  Be stingy and abusive, and the world will reciprocate.   Looking at every interaction as a transaction of “I give you something then you owe me something” doesn’t set a person up for a happy life, or a particularly “rich” life.  And, you will NEVER GET MORE THAN YOU PAY FOR.  You close your heart to possibilities you might not have ever dreamed of.  I know that sounds new-agey, but I, personally, have experienced it, every single day.

Truly, Kindness is Currency.  If you’re a friend to someone, if you help them when they need help, and listen to their problems, and listen to their joys, and you promote them in their life and work, they will BE THERE FOR YOU WHEN YOU NEED THEM.  I don’t think a lot of people believe this, but that’s probably because they are not good friends to others.  Here’s my example:

About a month ago, I found myself in San Francisco with NO access to any of my money other than about $200 in my PayPal account and some personal checks.  (Long story leading up to that.)  I was 3,000 miles from home, without my husband or family, and I had five days of travel left.  I couldn’t have even GOTTEN HOME without someone helping me change my airline reservation, if I had needed to get right home.  But, everything turned out ok.

  • Because I couldn’t rent a car, my friend Natalie drove me all the way up to San Mateo, about twice as far as she was planning to drive me that day.
  • UPDATE:  And, Heather put $100 in my PayPal account, immediately, no questions asked, when I called her.
  • My Dad put some money in another bank account of mine, and I had those checks with me.
  • Jayme (my friend, client, and roommate during the trip) rented a rental car and paid for the whole hotel bill on her Amex without BATTING AN EYE, and let me write her a check from that account.
  • Laura (sweetheart, photographer, and friend), let me write her a check, and she got me some cash out of the ATM.
  • Jayme drove me around all week.
  • Christina (total love and great garden designer/coach) and her husband ferried me to downtown San Francisco and back.
  • By the end of the trip, I had relaxed, I had seen EVERYTHING I wanted to see, I had spent great time with friends, and I got home safely.  In LARGE part because of my friends and family.

Would those people have done all of that if I were not their friends?  Probably not.  Have I done a bunch of extra special things for them?  Not really.  Will I do more? Absolutely.  But, I’ve also done extra special things for OTHER people, and I think the good energy comes back. People are more willing to do things for those who help other people, as well as themselves.

Currency (Money) is not Kindness

One time, someone I know accused my parents of trying to buy my love with money.  I can only laugh at that, because (and this is for you, Michael)  THEY DON’T KNOW ME.  Or my parents.  The thing is, you can’t buy feelings with money.  You can buy time, you can buy stuff, and sometimes you can buy attention, but you can’t buy love.  (There’s a song about that, remember?) You can’t buy authenticity.  You can’t buy enthusiasm  (not real enthusiasm). (That’s why a lady DJ on a local radio station drives me so bonkers. Her voice is RELENTLESSLY HAPPY, but COMPLETELY FAKE.)

Money gets you what is on the list.

Money gets you exactly what you paid for–and nothing more.

Money is necessary to live, but it doesn’t make you happy.

I’ve had times in my life when I had more time than money, and other times when I had more money than time, and the money had nothing to do with weather I was happy or not.  Once you’ve hit the basic amount needed to live and pay your bills, the rest is gravy.

What’s the Point?

At Pomegranate Books, for whom I do social media and internet related things, we have a shelf of ARCs  (advanced readers copies).  If you bring in a can of food, you get an ARC, or two.  Sometimes, I bring friends into the shop and pick out an ARC for them.  Some say “THANK YOU!” and others say “But, I don’t have a can of food.  I don’t have any money with me.  I can’t take this.”  More often than not, it is the friends that do a lot for others, volunteer, have helped me out, and pay it forward who say “Thank you.”  It is the ones who are used to just transacting money for everything, EVERYTHING, that won’t take the book.

I take as many as I want, because I do a lot for Pomegranate, and I do a lot of other people.  It all evens out.

Kindness is currency, but currency isn’t necessarily kindness.



Filed under This and That

7 responses to “Kindness is Currency, but Currency is not Necessarily Kindness

    • Thank you, Heather! Much of this, I’ve either experienced, or am able to articulate, from time I’ve spent with you.

      Our talk last Friday with some new clients really drove it home. “We don’t just play by the list. If you want ONLY a list to check off, you need someone different from us.”

  1. And everything you wrote comes through loud and clear to people who actually KNOW you.

  2. Nicole R. Johnson

    AMEN Sista! You are a genius…not only because you write beautifully, but because you have the courage to write what others will not.
    Love it!

  3. Loretta

    You are amazing, wonderful, and genuine, Katie. I plan to give credit to you as I quote this before tomorrow’s yoga class. It will be dedicated to you on your birthday. I’m totally cool with your sounding new agey!

  4. It’s too bad nasty folks exist but you know what Katie? I’m glad you had a chance to get your feelings out there . Now you can continue being your wonderful self. And don’t dignify their behavior with any further response. Rocketh on!

  5. Bravo and well-said Katie; I feel privileged to know you, and have seen how hard you work for others. Your ideas about Karma and paying it forward are right on. I was hearing stories this week about people so caught up in transactions and so fearful of being cheated that they trusted no one, they appreciated no one, and they got no joy from anything. That is sad. I see someone like you who gives so much and radiates such joy and enthusiasm into the world and I am inspired to continue on THAT path. Thanks for sharing and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

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