Earlier this week, a dad came up to me at the local cross country meet and exclaimed, “Geesh, every time I think I did good with volunteering; I show up and there you are AGAIN – volunteering and doing something ELSE!” I quickly retorted with a slew of reasons justifying WHY I was there and why I was volunteering yet a.g.a.i.n.
“I’m here because my kids are everywhere!” ha ha ha ha. “I’m here because the coach is so busy and should not be running the drink table!” ha ha ha ha. Why do I have to feel the need to validate my volunteering? Can I simply say I do it because it feels good? I am here because I simply can be.
People often tell me how I do too much. I will be honest and say it goes in one ear and out the other. I am not the type of person that likes to be told what to do anyway. However, when you chide me for doing “too much” – it makes me want to do even more. Seriously, when can one do too much good in the world? And contrary to what many may deem an inappropriate amount of tasks for me, I do have a good gauge of when to say no so that I am not over-extending myself in the name of good.
Last week, in Not All Mothers Are Created Alike, I shared with you a huge skeleton that lurks in my dark closet; at the expense of what makes me feel bad, I discovered what makes me feel good. I like helping people. I like to volunteer. I do not do it for the notoriety or the gratitude; in fact, I would anonymously help everyone if I could get away with it. Selfishly, helping others makes me glow inside….it is my crack. If I do not shoot up daily with a good deed, I find myself cranky – literally on edge, pacing until my next fix.
Admit it. We all like to feel good. I have several things that make me feel good: my three munchkins and my hub, Ben & Jerry’s, music, my cats, walks in the woods, a good run, a bottle of wine or a strong beer, laughing with friends, and yes, giving myself to others.
I am hard-wired to give to others. I cannot change this aspect of myself, nor do I wish to change this character trait. I wish I could change my lop-sided boobs or my wide girth. I wish I could erase my insecurities. I wish I could be less hard on myself and more forgiving like Mandy (see Forgiveness).
But let me ask YOU this……if you had the ability to make someone else’s day, someone else’s life better – why wouldn’t you? Right? Sometimes it’s an act of volunteering that significantly impacts another’s day.
I have proof. Yes, you see – a really brilliant friend of mine started a random act of kindness amongst a small group of us. Perhaps it was not so random as her husband secretly aligned the friends of this chosen few with another - a “Secret Sister” if you will (for the love of God, I refuse to say that other “S” word yet……December is approaching fast enough). For a pre-determined period of time, each Secret Sister has to deliver a token of appreciation to their assignee. It can be something small and homemade – or it can be something more grandiose. We have no idea when our Secret Sister will arrive or what our small gift of appreciation will be. I can tell you this, however, twice now, I have come home completely raggedy and worn from the day’s events to find a special surprise. Something for ME and ME alone. Someone was thinking of me today and paid forward a small act of kindness. The warmth I feel from this act is nearly rival to the intensity I feel when I give.
I am so addicted to giving myself to others. I am going to become more stealth-like and pay it forward more anonymously (however, I cannot hide at cross country!). Cross country is just one example, but I do it to help the coach (who volunteers her time to coach our kids), but I do it for the kids. It is amazing what a small 5 oz paper cup full of Gatorade does to a kid who's just clumsily plowed through a mile and a half race. The sweaty, breathless smile of thanks from these pubescent creatures makes me giddy. (Yes, I am weird and no, you would not be the first to tell me that).
If you knew how the recipient felt upon your act of kindess, how you may have possibly made their day better – perhaps, even made their life better – would that be your driving factor? If not, take the selfish pleasure in getting “high” like me.
You DO have the ability to make an impact on someone else. I do not have a lot of money or material things to give. Some days, I do not even have a lot of time to give. However, there is always something of me that I can give. There is always something of YOU to give.
Just think if everyone of us gave a little of us, every week.....imagine the kind world we would live in.
Try it. Share with me your ideas because I am going to need them!