I’ve passed the two-month mark at my new job as a supervisor at Koko Black, and I’m absolutely loving it. To be honest, I can’t believe I’ve lasted this long – I still remember being so overwhelmed my first week there, and reckoning with God some stressful, sleepless nights about how impossible it was for me to even going to last a month in the place. Of course, there’s still some bad days – but I work with such a lovely group of people that I find myself smiling more and more there, even on the craziest of afternoon rushes. Plus, the sweetest old lady customer held my hand the other day for a full minute and told me that I was doing a lovely job. Um, what other occupation allows you to have such a genuine (albeit slightly awkward) interaction with other human beings?
However, a question that I’ve been getting asked quite a bit, usually out of concern when they learn how much (little) money I’m making, and in perfect innocence with no offense taken by me, is “Why don’t you find a real job elsewhere?”
There are plenty of reasons I could name (among them – this is a real job; I cannot properly function in office spaces; I want to open my own cafe in the future, etc etc), the chief one is that I love the fact that I get to both experience and display generosity in real, practical ways at work now.
One of my colleagues experienced the loss of a family member recently – and there was a morning last week where I was opening the store with her. My train was a little early that day, so I had 20 minutes before work to kill. I was going to sit in a nearby courtyard to have a much needed zone-out, but something led me to keep walking on to Coles to buy the brightest flowers I could possibly find to cheer her up. To be honest, the whole walk there (and even while looking for them), I could hear my brain telling me things like – Flowers are so overpriced – they’re not worth spending on! You can just give her a hug instead! You just had to pay off some crazy bills! That’s half your hour’s wage gone!
I realised what was holding me back (what always holds us back, I think): The idea that I didn’t really have “spare” cash should let me off the hook. I had come to my own conclusion that I did not have enough to give, therefore limiting my own actions. It’s not common to meet rich people who actually say and think that they’re rich — because they think that someone else, somewhere, has more.
In the grand scheme of things, the flowers didn’t make that much of a dent on my budget. And somehow, I felt so much richer having given those flowers than if I hadn’t spent on them at all.
The best thing about this is, a few days later, someone else at work (who didn’t know about the first story) bought me some flowers because she saw how tired I was from working some crazy shifts. Proverbs 22:9 says “The generous will themselves be blessed” and I can’t help but see this promise come to pass here. I’m also so glad to be in the company of the most generous people at work and at cell and church – I can only hope to do more of the same even as I learn from their example.
There are plenty of ways to be generous(time, money, etc), but of course my favourite way to do so is through sharing food. I’ve purposely adapted this granola recipe to make a massive batch so that it can be divided into several jars to share. The ingredients – especially the olive oil, maple syrup and brandy – are slightly costly for something as simple like granola, but it pays off in terms of the final texture and taste. You definitely don’t want to use maple-flavoured syrup instead of actual maple syrup here!
6 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 cups sunflower seeds
1/2 cup poppy seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
2 cups coconut flakes
2 cups mixed nuts – pecans, walnuts, pistachios, almonds
1 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1-2 teaspoons of sea salt to taste
1 cup dried cranberries or dried apricots
1 rooibos tea bag
2 cups boiling water
1 cup brandy
1. Pre-heat oven to 145 degrees celsius.
2. Combine granola ingredients and 1 tsp of salt in a mixing bowl and stir well until combined. Spread mixture over parchment paper lined baking sheets and transfer to oven.
3. Stir every 15 minutes until granola is nicely golden and toasted, about 45 minutes.
4. Combine all other ingredients in a large mixing bowl and let cranberries soak in the liquid for at least half an hour (although overnight will be better). Drain and pat dry with a paper towel.
5. Remove granola from oven and season with more salt to taste. Leave it in the oven for a few minutes if you like your granola extra crunchy. Let cool completely over a wire rack and toss cranberries through.
6. Store in airtight containers for up to 1 month. Never buy store-bought granola ever again.