Saturday, January 9, 2010

Goodies for the Soul

There is an inspiring woman in my community named Dawn Pletcher that has organized an impressive and generous organization called Goodies For Our Troops. I can't say how long Dawn has been organizing volunteers to wrap and pack the various goodies and personal items, as well as solicit donated items from vendors, that our troops overseas would love to receive. All I know is that since I first met Dawn requesting donations while sitting at a card table at a local grocery store entrance two years ago, I have been a supporter....albeit from a distance.

At the time of my first awareness of Goodies For Our Troops, my son was still a civilian, safely working at his job as a vintage race car technician. Now he's stationed in Afghanistan, and is on Dawn's list to regularly receive Goodie packages.

Today was my first opportunity to physically take part in the process of preparing the items for shipment, and I must say I was not only inspired by Dawn's vision and leadership in pulling off such a huge undertaking, I personally got to take part, and had a soul-filling experience.

As I walked into the activity room of a local senior citizen apartment complex, I was greeted by a young man that asked me to sign in and to write a personal note to one of our servicemen/women. Next, I received my assignment from Dawn to cut bubble wrap for the folks wrapping the Goodies at a table at the far end of the room. Our work went quickly, yet there was time to chat and get to know those working nearby. I found l loved mindless work that was still productive.

Soon, we were finished with that job, so I looked around the other tables for where my help might be needed. This time, I graduated to wrapping and once again the friendly conversation with some new friends continued.

Why I called this day Goodies for the Soul is because it was clear that the folks that filled that activity room were all there because they wanted to help. People wanted to give something to our service men and women that expressed their gratitude. The level of true, heart felt caring was palpable.

A side effect of this lovely organized week-end of "giving" was that all those that were donating their time were experiencing a lovely gift themselves.....the gift of community, caring, sharing and even love.

I have to admit, I have wanted to help and contribute my time to this great cause for some time, but before I experienced it, I did not expect to walk away filled myself. I imagine the feel the energy that Goodies For Our Troops produces today is probably much like that during WW ll, where all the supporters, safe on U.S soil, had the opportunity to say thank you to the troops by rolling bandages, taking over factory jobs and rationing.

Although my fellow volunteers, some of which had traveled from other communities to lend a hand, were there to honor the U.S. troops overseas, I, a very proud Mom of a U.S. army private, and citizen of the U.S., unexpectedly walked away with the greatest gift of all.....a soul goodie.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Story of a Recovering Pleaser

I previously suffered from a condition called pleasing. My condition started benignly, where it seemed normal and right to try to please all those that I came in contact with. However, after forty years, I caught on to the fact, that my pleasing was actually a sickness. I didn't always feel good when I was pleasing.

What made my pleasing a sickness was that my desire to serve was not fully coming from my heart, but rather from a place of wanting to earn approval and even love. Being validated as a good person was important. I'm not sure why I didn't know that fully at the time, but for some reason, having proof was vital.....hence the desire and actions to please.

I am currently in my 17th year of recovery, and feeling quite healthy, I must say. The good news is that I didn't lose any friends (at least that I know of), my family still invites me to gatherings and gives me gifts on my birthday and Christmas, my son grew up to be an independent and loving man and my husband is still happy he's married to me.

What I learned in my recovery process was that all I had to do was say "YES" to the things that made me feel do the things that brought me joy. Whether it is doing a favor, lending a hand to a friend, working on a committee or taking a job, I now know that if that action does not please me, then it will not serve someone else.

To fellow pleasers that read this and are believing I don't care about anyone else, take note......putting your worth and value as a being on this planet in the hands of someone else that you have tried to please, is dangerous business. You may or may not receive praise and lavish acknowledgements for pleasing, but if you are not pleased with and by yourself, unconditionally, you will never fully live in joy.

If you would like to start a local chapter of "Pleasers Anonymous", feel free to contact me. I have a feeling you would be in the company of many friends.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Instinct ...The Natural Guidance

While I was walking my dog this afternoon, I noticed that his actions appeared to be completely instinctual. Thor didn't stop to think what he should sniff and what he should avoid. His movements were natural as if he seemed to know what was right for him in any given moment. It made me wonder what it would be like if humans followed their noses the way animals do.

As Thor walked me around the block, I noticed how excited he was to be outdoors. It was apparent that being outside in the wild, so to speak, brought out an uninhibited joy. He tugged me along sniffing every spot that another dog or cat preceding him may have left a message. (My husband calls this part of his walks reading pee-mails). He also left his messages for those that will follow.

At times, he would stop and sniff the air as if to bring himself present to what else was possible and available to explore near by.

The most fun observation of Thor being instinctual was his delight. He was not following anyone else's plan for him. He was on a leash, so he went where I directed, yet he seemed to find joy wherever we went.

As I appreciated his enjoyment of natural freedom, I wondered what happened to us humans.

Did we forget that our natural tendency and instinct is to be happy? Did we forget that joy is always within us, waiting to be expressed? Or do we believe that others have the say on whether or not we could follow our bliss? Does our own fear of what may come in the future block our present moment instincts? Or have we simply gotten into the habit of planning every detail of our lives, missing the spontaneity and creativity that comes with freedom.

Whatever the reason, I believe that we all have the ability to grow our natural instinct to live happy, joyful lives.

Perhaps if we sniffed the air, we would discover bliss was near by.