istock photo 

Diwali, the Indian festival of Lights, is just around the corner and I am sure many of you are getting ready to celebrate it with the usual enthusiam and spirit. Each year during this time, I try to see what I can give instead of what I can expect as gifts. 

To most of us Diwali has always been about celebrating all the bounty that is given to us – as businessmen close their books to start a new year or as we paint our homes or buy new clothes, as we say prayers to welcome Laksmi into our houses, it is all about celebrating our abundance and our families. We are a culture rich in spirit and soul and I think Diwali always brings that forth. So this year, in addition to all that is already mentioned, I am planning to do something different, and I hope you will too: Think of one way, one tradition, one small thing you can to do pay your abundance forward. Help out one person who needs something without expecting anything back at all – help a poor person feed themselves for a day, help a child learn to read, help an elderly person by offering to take them where they need to go. It doesnt have to cost you a penny but it should mean something – abundance isnt just about wealth, it is about spirit. How will you share your abundance? Tell me…

So now, here is what I am going to offer my readers – I am giving away one-free phone mentoring session with me (30 mintues) on how to become a food writer or one free, premium-level food writing class (starts October 25th 2010). All you have to do is either post a comment here about how you are paying it forward or send me an email. All the entries received will be added to a magic hat (okay a ziploc bag) and my eleven-year-old will pull out the two winners – one for the phone session and one for the class.  The winners will be announced on this site on October  20th.

Information on the classes is available here -

So in advance, I wish all my readers and friends a very happy and prosperous Diwali. I hope the New Year will bring you all that your heart desires!

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  1. what a great idea! I am always happy to help any new bloggers by sharing information I have. I recently received an email from a reader asking about freelancing and shared with her my experience with working with Robyn Webb.

    and a few weeks ago I got together with Domenica for a session of sharing our knowledge: she taught me about pies, I taught her some photo skills.

  2. Great idea.. I find writing a good post very tedious and time consuming.

  3. What a coincidence! This morning I was thinking of ways to better my life and tried to remember the last time I was truly happy. This time last year I volunteered for the Pediatric HIV/AIDS Care in Washington DC helping young children forget about their family problems. I decided this morning to return to my volunteer work and give my time to children who truly need and deserve it.

  4. When i was working in new delhi, i took a series of cooking classes there (the only foreigner in the group). I would like to share what I learned there (as well as the spices I brought back)

  5. As a person who loves food, I also enjoy sharing my creations with my friends and family. In the name of paying it forward, I am going to bake more!!

  6. Ah, paying it forward—Each fall I work with my daughter on picking the grapes from her vineyard, preparing the lunches for all the volunteers, and enjoying the company of all those who cut the grapes for the wines in the autumn sun. With the abundance of work, we sleep very well and in the following twelve months taste the sunshine, earth, and rains of the previous year.
    Why a writing course, you ask? A vineyard cookbook with stories of each recipe was suggested. Yes, I would like to embark on that journey.

  7. What a generous idea! I will use the inspiration you provided to return to hospice volunteering. As another reader noted, the last time I felt truly happy was the time I was doing something for someone else. Thank you for reminding me!

  8. wishing you a fine celebration, Monica. I am paying it forward by writing about several musicians who sre little known in the US, helping them find those who will like their work.

  9. I blog about food (and life) in Denmark, my home country for the past two years. My goal is to help other immigrants in this country understand more about how to get a job here, the uniquely Danish approach to child care, where to bargain shop for quality food at the lowest prices, and understanding Danish attitudes and behaviors. It can be hard to be far from one’s home country…and isn’t it nice when others share what they know to make your new life better? Thanks for your great site!

  10. I am volunteering at the local food bank two days a week until Christmas. Not only will I be stocking shelves, but I am creating recipe cards for the kinds of things they have at the food bank, non perishables… not usually in my repertoire, but to help these people make great food with what they have available.

  11. Hi Monica,

    I have been following your blog for a while now. I have been trying to create my own but struggling with techniques. It’s a work in progress for sure.

    Paying it forward is such a great concept. I try & teach my daughters the importance of it & how it is not always about money but about sharing something you are passionate about. My cooking comes from generations of women in the kitchen. I learned from my mother & grandmother who learned from theirs.

    I try & pass this knowledge on to my daughter & their friends. I not only include Indian food but food from all around the world. I want them to know the food I grew up with but I also want them to that there is so much more out there to enjoy. I also have their friends over whom I try & teach as well. Regularly kids are in my kitchen learning & trying new foods. They not only eat the food, but take part in the whole cooking process. We talk about where the food comes from, how it is grown, how spices are best used, & the combination of all which creates the final result.

    It may not be a big thing but I feel food & it’s stories & culture tell us a lot of where we came from. It brings the world closer together one bite at a time. At the table it doesn’t matter who you are. You can enjoy & talk about the food & create new memories to cherish. Sharing my knowledge & joy of cooking with anyone who has a desire to learn, cook, or even eat is how I pay it forward.

  12. Your generous spirit certainly shines through in this post, Monica. I try to pay it forward through little things – helping a stranger who can’t quite reach the top shelf in the grocery store, holding the door for a Mom struggling with packages and children, just little kindnesses. And most importantly through my grandchildren by teaching them respect and kindness toward other people.

  13. I would absolutely love to win. Please enter me in your drawing, and I hope those little 11-year old hands find my name!

  14. This is a lovely idea.
    One way I pay it forward: Since I was laid off last year, I’ve found that I can help people (friends, ex-coworkers, my kids) get jobs. It’s nice to get SOMEONE working, even if (so far) it hasn’t been me!
    Being out of work provides another reason that I’d love to take the food writing class – I have sooo much time on my hands. It would be nice to get some of what’s in my mind – about what’s been on my stove, in my oven, and in my stomach – down on paper.
    Oh, and of course, I always cook to share with other people!
    Eleven year old fingers, find me!

  15. I work in an environment where compliments or nice words are seldom passed along to co-workers. People thrive in environments where compliments are passed along or nice gestures are done to others who don’t expect anything from you.

    I will find 3 co-workers this week to compliment who I normally would not go out of my way to talk with.

    Every Friday I like to take breakfast or lunch out to my tree crews. It is kind of a karma thing and an opportunity for me to interract with my crews.
    It is something that makes you feel good in return…no matter what is said back.
    Just let it be random.

  16. I have a family member (the main breadwinner in their family) who recently had a health crisis. Their doctor has told him he cannot work, but needs to focus on physical rehab. He has also had to COMPLETELY change his diet–among other changes, almost no sodium. I keep him supplied with really high quality spices & salt-free seasoning blends, and have helped them find tasty recipes that fit his requirements so that he could still enjoy what he eats. Our extended family has also pitched in to help pay their bills until he is approved for disability pay. (Also, I love Devany’s idea of the recipe cards at the food bank! I may check into that at my local food bank as well…)

  17. Monica, you are a great spirit and a great part of the food blogging world. Thank you for sharing your gifts.

    Blogging in general is an important way to pay it forward, and for my part, every post I write is about providing my readers practical solutions to eat healthy, interesting and inexpensive food. Finally, I think one of the key reasons blogging is growing so rapidly in popularity is because it rejects the general negativity that suffuses the traditional media. Your uplifting post today is a perfect example!

  18. Thank-you Monica.
    Good timing too. Yesterday I set up a meeting to mentor someone on getting started with their quilt blog. We will discuss goal setting, as well as blogging basics. Happy to help out.

  19. Hi Monica! I actually attended your food writing workshop in DC in September. That one day was oozing with tons of useful information. I’d love to take it to the next level and what an honor to have you help me do it. I believe in “paying it forward” on a daily basis. I don’t think about the kind gestures so much because I hope I always open the door for a stranger, offer to help someone in need, or share what I know with others (especially about food!) without hesitation. I was laid off as another wrote this year, and am finding that I want to do what I love, and that includes writing about nutrition, food, health, and taking photos of FOOD! Thank you for your inspiration!

  20. I’ve been planning a strategy for taking my food blog to the next level, so a mentoring session or a class would be a welcome addition to this plan.

    As for sharing my abundance, an interesting opportunity arose for me recently. At the same time that I am trying to push my career in this new direction of writing, I received an email from an acquaintance of my father’s asking my advice for entering the profession I’ve worked in for 12 years: editing. I’m offering her a mentoring session to pass along as much practical advice as I can for getting her started. I hope it will be beneficial for her, and it feels appropriate for me — passing the torch, in a way, as I make space in my life for the new challenge of writing for a living.

  21. Thank you, Monica, for sharing information on Diwali, the Indian festival of Lights. It sounds like a wonderful festival and a great opportunity for individuals to truly appreciate their families and culture.

    Some of my family members are disengaged with each other. One way I would like to celebrate my family is by making a concerted effort to bring them together, at least, once a month for a family dinner or barbecue. The few times this year I was able to see them I left those gatherings wondering how long it would/will be before I see them again. Hopefully by bringing my family together more often it will spark a lasting tradition of seeing each other regularly, instead of just a few times a year.


    Brigette (@brigettebrugada)

  22. I believe in karma. Or as a friend used to say “what goes around comes around.” Little things can make a big difference. Listen to NPR? Give to their pledge drive. Have a food drive at the office? Bring some cans. Know how to cook a weird vegetable? Help a friend (online or otherwise) learn how to enjoy it as well.

  23. Thank you for your beautiful and generous offer.

    I love the “pay it forward” concept. We’ve adopted it a little differently at our children’s school. The parent’s at our school are EXTREMELY generous and giving of their time and finances. In addition, they participate in many worthy “other” causes. Therefore, our school “pays it backwards”. If a parent asks the school to participate in sponsoring an “out of school” activity that goes well with the school’s mission, our school will try to assist (either with a small sponsorship or by publicizing it to our mailing list). It is a way we help build a successful community for all.

    Thank you for all of the wonderful work you do!

    Lael Hazan

  24. This is such a generous offer, Monica, and I also appreciate hearing a bit more about Diwali — previously, my only knowledge had come from one episode of “The Office,” which is probably not the most reliable source of information. Personally, I recently paid it forward by adopting an sweet older cat who needed a “forever home,” and have since been donating regularly to the awesome shelter that was her temporary home before I found her. Next step: actually volunteering there. 🙂

  25. Kristin Hoddinott – you win! You get to pick whether you want a mentoring session or the writing class! Let me know.

    I want to thank everyone for entering and please do keep paying it forward and I promise to do the same.

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