Special thanks to our guest writer this week.
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill
About a year and a half ago, I found myself on the brink of emotional and mental burnout. The frustrations in my life stemmed from multiple areas – my inability to break into my career, mounting school loans from graduate school, unhappiness in my relationship and an ever-increasing fatigue from the job I had taken in the meantime to make ends meet. Eventually, that frustration melted into melancholy which then gave way to a quiet numbness that pervaded my life.
Ultimately, I grew weary of my own ennui and decided that I had to make a change. I started aggressively networking with anyone and everyone I could find in my field. I looked at my finances and created a realistic budget to take the pressure off of my school loan payments. I broke into my career. I left my controlling and emotionally abusive boyfriend. I reached out to family and friends. I breathed a sigh of relief. I smiled. And still, in the midst of all of these great changes in my life, I still felt like something was missing.
On a whim, I did a quick internet search to see what volunteer opportunities were nearby. On an even greater whim, I signed up for volunteer training at the local hospice. I wondered if I was ready to take on such emotionally taxing work. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to make a difference.
Recently, I started working with a small group at the hospice that sends financial aid and various resources to a sister hospice in Uganda. Through a video chat with the workers in Africa, I learned that their hospice also runs a daycare and helps young students get the money, clothes and supplies they need to go to school.
After the meeting, I started collecting gently used clothes I find. I searched through closets. I washed. I folded. And as I looked at this pile I had collected, I thought, “This isn’t nearly enough”. This past Wednesday, as we did another Skype call with the Ugandan hospice workers, we each went around the room to say hello and give a quick update. As I gave them my status report, their faces immediately lit up with big, bright, brilliant smiles. From thousands of miles away, through the magic of the internet, I saw these wonderful people clapping and cheering…for me. “Thank you”, they said. “Thank you so much! We really appreciate it!”
In that simple gesture of genuine gratitude from a group of humanitarian workers in Uganda, I finally found what my life had been missing.
Affirmation: My life has meaning. My contribution matters. I can make a positive difference in another person’s life.
Call to Action: Test the boundaries of your comfort zone and reach out to help someone new.