In 2014 my life was full of change. The biggest change, without a doubt, was being unemployed. I hadn't been unemployed for an entire year since the early 1990s, when I chose not to work so I could be a stay-at-home dad for my oldest son. That was a great experience.
Not working last year was technically my choice, but that choice was prompted by my position being eliminated by the company I had worked for for 24 years. Instead of staying with that organization and taking a newly created position, I decided to take the generous offer they made me to leave. It's not too often that someone offers you money to go away, so I jumped at the chance. I was a bit worried at first, but in hindsight I really should send them a thank you note.
I spent a lot of 2014 looking for a new job I was passionate about. I didn't have any luck, but the extra time I had on my hands helped bring some good things to my life. For starters, I was able to rejuvenate myself. My old job was incredibly stressful, and the stress had been eating me alive for years. When I walked away, I could feel a huge weight being lifted off of my shoulders. Not having that job stress for an entire year was an indescribable luxury.
Being unemployed also gave me more time to write. I definitely wrote more for this blog, churning out 114 posts in 2014, the highest annual total in the six years of the blog's existence. In addition, I was able to write for some other online outlets, including To Write Love on Her Arms, The Fix, and The Huffington Post. The money I earned from writing for those sites totaled exactly $0.00, but the exposure has been great; and you can't put a price on that. (I did take on some paying freelance gigs, too, just so I didn't feel like a total slug.)
In December another very cool thing happened to me. I was chosen to participate in a blog called Causes and Effect. Causes and Effect: My Year of Giving Daily began in 2013, the brainchild of entertainment and culture journalist Melinda Newman. Melinda decided to donate $10.00 every day of the year to a different organization or individual that needed it, and to write about her experiences daily. As she wrote in her first blog post, "The only criteria is to give the money to some outlet that needs it that day more than I do." In 2014, Brian Mansfield, a music writer for USA Today, took over the blog from Melinda.
For 2015, Causes and Effect will live on thanks to 12 different writers, each one responsible for a single month. Yours truly has December. That gives me almost a whole year to think about charities I want to donate to, and to get suggestions from my readers. So feel free to contact me through my blog with the names of charitable organizations you think could use the money, along with a little publicity. (Note: There's a "Contact Form" in the righthand column of the web version of this blog. It's right underneath the list of "Most Popular Posts.")
In the meantime, I'll be sure to stash away $310.00 so it's ready to give away to 31 different charities/causes come December. While $10.00 may not seem like a large donation, at least it's something. I like how Melinda Newman addressed this in her first Causes and Effect post in 2013: "I don’t expect my $10 to change the world, but my hope is it will somehow change me. And I am reminded of this quote by Edmund Burke: 'No one made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.'"
I like to give to others and I like to write. I'm hoping Causes and Effect will be a perfect fit for me.
I can't wait 'til December.
P.S. I urge you to follow the Causes and Effect blog via email. That way you'll find out what charities and causes are benefiting from the $10.00 donations on a daily basis. If you go to the blog, you'll see a link at the top of the page that says, "Subscribe to Causes and Effect by Email." Just click it and sign up. Here's the link to the blog: http://myyearofgivingdaily.tumblr.com.