So last month's vow went alright. We didn't eat fast food as much and were better about what we ate when we did go out. I cooked more and healthier, but it's still an ongoing process.
This month I've chosen to take a different route. Rather than focus on one of the Precepts, the spirit of my practice is what I've picked.
I don't usually have very much trouble being generous. I'm not perfect, so there are definitely times when I could be more generous.
The issue I have is with receiving generosity, complements and gratitude. When I give any of those, it's not that big a deal to me. I sincerely mean it, but I don't have to yank it out from somewhere deep inside, but for some it is.
I don't react to the way I'd like to compliments naturally and sometimes I could see it as being rude. I have trouble receiving and just saying thank you. It comes alright in situations like work, thanking people for what they've done, but compliments are tricky. Also many offers of generosity, I receive reluctantly or awkwardly. I have trouble accepting help, probably out of pride, but who knows.
Zen monastics traditionally would go out into the community and practice takuhatsu, or alms begging. They would accept whatever was placed in their bowl with equanimity. In addition to providing food for the for the temple, it provided the monks with an opportunity to practice acceptance. For those donating to them, it was an opportunity to practice non-attachment and generosity. (Watching TV just now, a commercial reminds me that Trick-or-Treating is similar to this but joy is the currency of the transaction)
So my vow for October and for the rest of my life, is to live with "open hands." This is the best way I can think of it. Living with open hands isn't just about giving freely, but receiving freely as well. Everything: the good and bad in all situations, feelings, people, compliments and criticism, gifts both given and offered. I will try my best to keep my hands open to neither hold on to or reject.
I'll start by saying thank you to everyone that reads my words, whether you comment or not. Thank you to everyone that opens themselves to others through their writing as well.