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As promised, I’m going to spend a little time talking about moments in my life where someone lent a hand and furthered my journey. The concept of pay it forward isn’t new, but it’s still important.

Paying it forward means doing a good deed for someone without getting anything in return. The truth is, when we do something for someone else, we get a lot in return.

Recently, Michael Norton gave a TED talk on how money can buy happiness. In it, he describes how spending money on other people radically effects how happy you are. If you’ve got ten minutes, the video is worth watching.

On some level we all know this, but it is often not part of our daily consciousness. We’re all so busy trying to survive, get ahead, and take care of ourselves and our family that we don’t think about the small things that make all our lives better.

In 2002, I was working like a slave building my art career. I’d paid my dues and it was going well. For the first time in my life, I had money in the bank and wasn’t living paycheck to paycheck. Then, the unexpected happened.

My youngest son had just entered 7th grade. Against my better judgment, I had allowed him to attend a local public school. Santa Fe is known for its poor education system and his school was no exception. Almost immediately he was bullied. His clothes were thrown in a toilet and some tough kids shoved his head in also. I didn’t know this. All I knew was that he wasn’t happy.

I did all the things mothers do to try to resolve the situation, but nothing worked. Eventually, in a meeting with his teacher and the principal, a long tale of bullying came out. My son was terrified to go to school and miserable while there. He was failing all his classes and I worried for his mental health.

When all recourse failed, I pulled him out and put him in private school. The tuition for the remainder of the year was $7,000 – everything I had managed to save. It was just before Christmas and I had planned on purchasing a plasma cutter. For those of you unfamiliar with direct metal sculpting, a plasma cutter is a critical tool. It’s also really expensive (around a $1,000) and I was so happy I would finally be able to buy one.

My son’s tuition set me back more than a year – a year I couldn’t afford if I was going to continue developing my art and my business. Nevertheless, his education and mental health were more important so I did what most mothers would do – sacrificed what I wanted and needed for him.

At the time, I had just started seeing someone. Over lunch with him, I burst into tears recounting my tale of woe. My date and I had known each other professionally for years, but we weren’t close. He offered to buy the tool for me. I turned him down. Our relationship had not developed to the point where I was comfortable receiving expensive gifts from him.

My refusal crushed him and, over days, I discovered something about him I had not known. Deeply committed to the importance of art, he truly wanted to help. Even if I weren’t in a relationship with him, he would have made the same offer. Eventually, he convinced me and the tool jumped my career exponentially. It cut my time in half and vastly improved the quality of my art which led, of course, to increased sales.

I married this man and he is still the love of my life and one of my greatest inspirations. To this day, he continues to help creative people achieve their dreams through gifts large and small. Even strangers are recipients of his generosity. In honor of him, Pipe Dreams will be released on our wedding anniversary.

I’ve been fortunate to have had several people reach out to me when I needed it most. Those of you who have read Shaping Destiny know what the foundry owner in Boston did for me. There are many others. Sometimes the gifts were large. Sometimes they were so small as to be almost imperceptible. Regardless, each moved me forward on my journey.

I’m going to pay it forward with, Pipe Dreams, and I hope you’ll help.  As I noted yesterday, 25% of the sales from my launch will be donated to someone so they can further their dreams.

How about you? Has someone gifted you what you needed at a critical moment or furthered your path by being generous?  Let me know. I love hearing from you.