“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
There have been many quotes I have used to begin posts on this blog but none have had as much of an impact on me as this very powerful string of words.
I lead a very fortunate life. I may not be rich in terms of dollars and cents but I am wealthy. I have roof over my head, a job that I love and I am surrounded by a wonderful network of friends and family who are nurturing, loving and supportive. Perhaps that energy is the fuel that brought me to this moment in my life, the moment when I realized I wanted to give more of my time to people who could use a hand and in a way I felt I was best able to help.
There is no set of standards for helping others. There is no rule book, no guideline and no complex set of algorithms. It is a simple equation. Time + Effort = Results. And for some, the results of our time and effort can make more of a difference than we will ever potentially realize.
A small group of people, including myself, spent a little over two hours of our time a week ago Sunday and the outcome of our concerted efforts will provide dinners for deserving families in our community. It was two hours out of our Sunday. We chatted, we had cocktails and we laughed. And in that small window of time, we made a huge difference. We created meals that will allow people to, not just feed their family during a tough time but, feed their family a home-cooked meal made with real food. And next Sunday, and maybe every Sunday this winter, we will do the same thing again with some familiar and some new faces and, hopefully, take another small amount of weight from the shoulders of the families we are trying to help.
If I can subsequently find myself while losing myself in the service of others, point my compass in that direction any time. I go to bed with a tired body, but with a full heart. And if my journey has taught me anything, it is that life is not defined by what you have. Life is defined by what you give.
After all of the negative posts, press, photos, social media, flyers, riots…..I can’t stand it any more. There is still so much good out there, laying in wait, hoping it feels safe enough to come out and be the captain of the ship in this swelling sea of anger. But I didn’t want to wait for that to happen. I needed positive energy back in my life….so I took the helm of the tiny ship I knew I could control and pointed it towards the water I knew would be still and serene.
My crazy eleventh grade teacher used to ramble on about something to do with the law of cause and effect, you get back what you give. I prefer its more poetic version “the ethic of reciprocity”. Either way, both ideas embody the notion that you do get what you give. Doing unto others is not just a lesson we learn as a child. Doing unto others should be stamped into our DNA. Doing unto others should be as commonplace as breathing. But sadly, it’s not.
I have been so eager to use my time in the best way possible, to make a difference to those who may need a hand during the months that our small town economy hibernates. Too many families who thrive in the summer feel the pinch as they stretch their Employment Insurance dollars to attempt to fill the space where their full paycheques used to reside. It is a sad reality, but a reality nonetheless.
I haven’t coined the proper name yet, the words elude me, but the idea is a good one and today I learned that many others understand what I am trying to do and support my idea. I want to continue making Crockpot Freezer meals for families who could use a hand. By providing them with what is basically a home-cooked meal, I’m hoping they feel the support of their community. And that community, and even the communities outside of our tiny geographical location, spoke loud and clear that they are on board. In less than 24 hours of posting a Go Fund Me account, I received $1,000.00 in donations which will make about 6o meals, 60 meals made with chicken, beef, pork, potatoes and vegetables, that will serve 4 to 5 people each and allow for leftovers.
In the angry sea I noticed a tiny light on the shore and, as I got closer, I realized there was an army on that shore. And when this angry storm finally settles, I hope everyone is able to see that light and know that their army is waiting.
The lodge where I am employed is closed for the season, our quaint little village resembles more of a ghost town with a few tumbleweeds rolling down the main street and the silence at night can be deafening.
But in these times of serenity, behind the doors of seemingly empty kitchens, a group of women and men are readying themselves to wield sharp knives and give even Gordon Ramsay a run for his money in the chopping department!
Our small group of devoted volunteers meet for a couple of hours over a couple of weekends to create crockpot freezer meals to help a few families who may be struggling, for whatever reason. Last year, it was a young family who had lost their home in a fire just after delivering twins. This year we are doing our best to spread the meals to a few families and not just one.
There have been a few hurdles along the track to finding these families but the ribbon at the finish line is getting to be within striking distance. Although the meals are being prepared in an inspected and certified kitchen, many of the choppers have not taken a food safety course, so there was a question as to whether the food bank was going to be allowed to accept our donations.
The joy of living in a small town is that you can literally ask your neighbors if they know of any families who could benefit from our knife skills and they will immediately give you a list of names. And I have recently discovered that, as long as the meals are labelled with all ingredients (which they are), the food bank will give us that long awaited green light and accept the meals – so the only thing left to do is shop and chop!