Today, I've got a (hopefully) inspiring and heartwarming story for you.
Early last week, I made a quick stop at the store to pick up a few things. On my way into the parking lot, I saw a couple of men (in their 50s or 60s) asking for donations next to the stop sign on the way out. It was dark and cold out but I kinda forgot about them while I was in the store.
Getting back to my car, I set the big bunch of organic bananas (and some household things) onto the passenger seat. The men were still there. On my way out, I stopped and offered them the bananas. One of the men ("John," I later learned) took them, thanked me, and asked if I had a blanket. My heart sunk. I'd been meaning to carry blankets in my trunk on cold nights for this purpose and hadn't gotten around to doing it. (Note to self: Take action on intuitive messages.)
I turned around, went back to the store and bought two blankets for John and his friend. When I brought them back, I asked if John ever used the services of one of our local shelters. He told me he couldn’t stay there because he has a dog. My heart sunk for a second time. Throughout our conversation, John showered me with thanks and blessings.
When I came home and shared the story with Olivia, she was so moved that we immediately created an action plan. The next day, she confirmed that two of the local organizations that support our homeless needed blankets. We crafted an email to our Unitarian Universalist Community of the Mountains (UUCM) requesting folks bring blankets on the following two Sundays. Olivia's goal was to get 100+ blankets.
The first Sunday, we delivered 34 blankets to one of the groups. Amazing for only three days notice! The leaders of the organization were deeply grateful and invited Olivia to give them out later in the week when they'd be gathering for a meal and to give other resources. She enjoyed connecting with several of the people and learning about their situations. These aren't "lazy" people who are trying to take advantage of something. Few (if any) would choose this life. Each one has had a series of events that got them to the place where they are homeless. One man's son died and the devastation and grief cause his life to spiral out of control. Another had a medical bankruptcy after insurance wouldn't cover her expenses. Just like everyone, each of these people has a story. All we need to do is stop for just a moment and listen. We are all ONE.
The second Sunday is this weekend, so we don't yet know how many blankets will come. We're hopeful!
Creating this giving project filled each of our hearts with so much love. Kindness is contagious.
This is the kind of thing we can do when our self-care practice is strong. It's more evidence that self-care is neither frivolous nor SELFISH; it's an act of generosity that allows our care for others to be sustainable.
Giving when we are full and have something to offer can flood us with the same yummy feelings we get from being in love. Wha'd'ya say, are you ready to commit to your self-care practice now? 😉 How might it help you be more generous?
With gratitude and joyful wishes for you,
P.S. Several people at our UUCM told me that the tangibility of this initiative was especially motivating. This might even turn into an annual event!