Several years ago, a friend gave me a copy of a book she said changed her life. The book so affected her, that she bought seven copies to give to people she thought might be likewise affected. I was one of those people. And she was right. I’ve often said that book is one of the top 5 books I’ve ever read that made me a better and more informed person. The title was Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich.

Ehrenreich, a highly educated social critic, went undercover as an “unskilled” worker to reveal the truths about low-income living and low-wage jobs and how hard it is to break out of poverty. (I remember in high school reading Black Like Me, a similar book in which a white man went “undercover” to examine what it was really like to be black in America.)

If my friend hadn’t given me that book, my attitudes toward poverty might never have evolved. This is what art and literature can do for us, they can open our hearts, minds, and souls. So in the past few years, I’ve made a conscious effort to view art not just as something that can bring me satisfaction, but as something that might also brighten someone else’s life or experience.

So now whenever I attend a book signing, I don’t always buy one book, I often purchase two, and I think of the perfect person to receive the other book. If I’m in an art gallery and find a note card I love, I buy a second one to give to someone else. I’ve been purchasing season tickets to theaters for years, but lately, instead of just taking my husband every time, I sometimes invite a friend who might appreciate the show, especially if she/he has never attended that theater before.

And, of course, I also buy art to give away on my newsletter each month. I try not to pick only things that appeal to me. I try to buy all varieties of art, jewelry, books, music, etc., to give my newsletter followers the most diverse choices. It’s fun to see who enters the giveaway each month, and who likes what. My winners are always so excited and grateful, and it makes me happy to think that artist’s work found the perfect home.  I have only two rules for the giveaway; I can’t know the artist and I have to buy the art. It can’t be given to me. The artists are always so grateful and pleased to achieve not only a sale, but some additional exposure.

If we could all think a bit more about gifting art to our friends and family, we would not only help our hard-working artists, we would bring a little joy into the lives of others. And if you’d like to sign up for my newsletter to see the monthly giveaways, click here. 

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