Tag Archive | giving

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

How many times has someone told you that he or she was going to do something and then it never materialized? How many times have you promised something to another only to let that person down?

Promises are powerful. They are given to fulfill a need of another. When someone makes a promise it is usually made with the best of intentions and in that moment, the person believes that he or she will be able to complete the offer. Then the person goes off like a busy little bee, involved in the tasks of daily life, and his or her words become a distant memory.

The problem is that the recipient of a promise remembers every word said. Often, spoken words are a life jacket to a drowning person and that person clings to them for survival.

After my mother and sister passed away (my last two remaining nuclear family members) and my divorce became final, a few people told me that I would never be alone, that I was a member of their “family”; I was their sister. Surviving unimaginable grief, I clung to those words as a source of comfort. Then, as time passed, holidays came and went, special occasions were celebrated – graduations, birthdays – and no offer of inclusion was made.

My story is just one example of the many letdowns people experience. What about a child who is promised your attendance at a dance recital or sporting event? A boss that is guaranteed a completed task? A friend that is offered help with a problem?

Heartbreak and disappointment are the result of empty words and offers made in haste, even with the best of intentions.

The next time you are about to make a promise think about what you are going to offer. Take time to reflect before you state it. Weigh the pros and cons and examine your life situation to be sure you can fulfill your end of the deal. Think about the long-term ramifications.

Be honest about your capabilities. Stop being a “yes” person or “the big man on campus”. You can’t please everyone and it’s much better to do nothing or say you can’t do something than offer an empty promise.

Examine your motivation for making the offer. Are you trying to make someone feel better for the moment? Do you want to be liked? Are you trying to gain something for yourself?

Remember that your words may only be words to you but to another they can mean the world. If you’re not sure that you can fulfill a promise, then don’t say anything. Adopt the rule in life to say what you mean and mean what you say.

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If You’re Feeling Helpless, Help Someone

I am a firm believer that when you are going through a difficult situation or experiencing pain, one of the best ways to promote healing is to help another person. Taking the focus off of yourself, even if only for a brief period, works wonders and often provides the distance necessary for clarity in your personal situation. Helping another person is medicine for the soul

I have often spoken about the grief and loss that I have experienced with the death of my family members and divorce, so whenever the opportunity presents itself, I try to follow my own advice.

A few weeks ago, Hurricane Sandy ravaged my home state and the communities in which I spent a great deal of time while growing up. According to forecasters, my home region was a direct bulls eye of the storm. Living through the night of a Hurricane was a scary experience. It was the first time that I was alone in the house during such a terrifying event and I had all kinds of crazy thoughts as I waited in frightened anticipation of what would happen. Would a tree fall on the house and I would be trapped inside with no one here to help me? Would the roof be ripped off the house? Would we flood? Would I be lying dead inside and it would take days before they found my body? How would I handle the situation alone?

When the light came up, I experienced feelings of fear and intense loneliness. I was truly on a path of self-pity! However, as the days followed and I watched the events unfold and saw the extent of the devastation in surrounding communities, I began a shift in my attitude. Instead of feeling sorry for myself and my situation, I counted my blessings for surviving the storm unscathed and only mildly inconvenienced. I began to take the focus off of myself and put it where it belongs … on helping others.

For two weeks I focused on coordinating a relief effort and along with more than 100 volunteers, we were able to collect enough items to fill three large trucks to transport to a few southern New Jersey communities.

During the transport, one of our destination sites rerouted the truck to a different location. Just before reaching the rerouted destination, the truck was stopped by a police barricade where the driver was informed that he could not continue into the town. The truck driver decided to go directly to our second scheduled location. Along the way, while on a road that was not part of our mapped route, the driver stumbled upon a small church with a tent community (yes, displaced people are living in tents). He stopped the truck and met the residents, all of whom had lost their homes and personal belongings. They were struggling to stay warm. The driver unloaded all the items that were earmarked for the original destination, coats, blankets, bedding, clothing, food, and gave them to these people. I believe our truck was guided to that location – directly to the people most in need!

Those are the kind of miracles that happen when you step away from yourself and shift your focus to serving others. I no longer think those crazy thoughts that consumed me for a brief period. Had I not made the shift I would be wallowing in pointless self-pity wasting precious time, and I would have missed watching something positive come from such horrific destruction.

So, the next time you are down, lend your hands or heart to someone else. It is truly the best medicine!

Celebrating New Beginnings

Happy Holidays!

This time of year, from Thanksgiving through the New Year celebration, is a season that provides for us the opportunity to stop our busy lives for a moment and give thanks for our many gifts and blessings; it’s a time of birth and renewal. No matter what your religion or belief structure, it’s a time when we can come together and celebrate new beginnings.

Often, however, we get so caught up in the festivities that we forget the true meaning of the season; we are so involved in “getting everything done,” that we miss the message. We may be more cognizant of this fact during the holiday season, but in reality many of us miss the message every day, all year long. We spend so much time worrying about ourselves, fulfilling expectations, and striving to get ahead, that we forget that we are here to love others unselfishly and to help those less fortunate.

We plow through life with blinders on and are oblivious to what is going on around us.

I would like you to take a moment during this holiday season, as another year comes to an end, and examine your life; take a look at where you are heading and see if you are pleased with the direction. Ask yourself a few questions:

When was the last time you held the hand of a friend in need?

When was the last time you drove an elderly person to the supermarket or to a doctor appointment?

When was the last time you offered assistance with no expectation of something in return?

When was the last time you put the needs of another ahead of your own?

When was the last time you decided that compassion was more important than being right and offered someone forgiveness?

When was the last time you asked to be forgiven?

When was the last time you said, “I love you”?

Use this special time of year to look within and allow your inner beauty to come out. Offer your gifts to others. Reflect on what is important and let the true meaning of life into your heart. Stop going through life mindless and self-centered. Slow down, take time to live, and share your blessings.

May peace and love fill your heart and bring you joy this holiday season and throughout the year!