I'm taking a pause in my South American blog entries to talk about my volunteer experience that I had today. I know I can get quite emotional, but this was something that really touched me. I haven't really done any volunteer work in Seattle (whereas in Milwaukee I was involved with the Ronald McDonald House), and decided it was time so I reached out to a friend and we decided to feed the homeless today.
There are things, events, and people that greatly impact your life as a human being. Sometimes you are the "impact". I think that we have a responsibility to give back and pay it forward because we are more blessed than we think...and this is why:
1. It puts life into perspective.
We all have rough days. Sometimes work is difficult and it seems we are challenged or unacknowledged more than not. Sometimes the dating scene is tragic and it feels like we will never find the love of our life. Money issues, stress, anxiety, divorce, and every negative feeling in the world sometimes puts us in a bubble. Today I handed out soda to homeless people - some of which did not look even homeless at all. Some were middle aged men semi-dressed up like they had just left work and some looked like college students. All of them had one thing in common: grateful eyes and a genuine smile when I handed them their soda and asked them how they were. When you think you have it rough, think of everything you do have and realized that there are people who wished they did.
2. It puts positivity into the universe.
I believe in karma, and doing nice things for other people. Paying it forward puts that kindness into the universe. Positive, caring people attract positivity in their lives. Make a goal to do something nice for someone maybe twice a month. It doesn't have to be volunteering to feed the homeless or donating all your money to a church. Acknowledge that there is someone in your life that could possibly need help. Ian Maclaren said it best: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about".
3. You will never know when you need help.
Life is a crazy thing. No one is granted immunity from bad things happening in their life. People (as well as the universe) will not forget what you have done for others. Today after my friend and I volunteered, she told me that the girl that was helping her pass out fresh baked chocolate chip cookies was saying some really inappropriate things. We were passing out hot dogs as well, and many people in line got back in line for seconds and thirds. This girl said, "Wow they could enter a hot dog eating contest!" ARE YOU SERIOUS?! Who says that? These people (most of them) do not have a home or the resources to even make a hot dog. It was a completely ignorant and inexcusable.
4. You will feel better.
I'm not writing this blog to show that I volunteered and that you should all think so highly of me. I want to bring awareness that these opportunities to help people exist on a daily basis. It is a fact that you will feel better for helping someone. This is not selfish on anyone's part, because you actually did something good and good feelings were a result of that.
5. You will (hopefully) inspire others.
I'm inspired on a daily basis...it is that creative person that lies within. One of my best friends, Madonna, inspires me to help others. I know she is involved in a lot of volunteer activities in Hawaii, whether it is through her church or just by networking. Her genuine caring of people and the way that she leads a non-selfish life, are some of the reasons I am lucky to call her a best friend.
I know you're thinking: enough with the quotes! There is one more that I could not see more fitting. It is by the late Maya Angelou (someone who had really inspired me). She said:
"The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so that you can be a rainbow in someone else's cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God - if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That's what I think."
Food for thought. Go out and make this world a more bearable place for someone.
Bellisima = "Extremely Beautiful" in Italian, and how i would describe the world, and how I view it through travel.