I started 2010 with an ambitious goal to give away something every day for 2010. My Ugg boots, a Prada handbag, dresses, books, CDs, a North Face jacket. I bought a hula girl bobblehead when I was in Hawaii for a person I met through Twitter and mailed it to him in the UK. I gave away my first class seat on a United flight and took their place in economy. I’d get heartwarming stories back from recipients as well as cards, gifts and blessings. My “pay it forward” resolution was making me happier than I had ever expected!
After a couple of months of giving away things via Twitter, I switched to giving away my time to hospice. I was assigned a wonderful 94 year old widow who had colon cancer and MS. She was a fireball full of wit, humor, wisdom and grace. Each time I would arrive at her house, she would extend her hand to me while she checked me out up and down to see what I was wearing. She said more women should wear dresses – not only because they were flattering, but because they were comfortable, provided air conditioning in the summer, and were easy to get off when you wanted to get some action with your hubbie (no lie – her mind was more like a 24 year old than a 94 year old!). As a hospice volunteer, we are taught to maintain our boundaries, as one can get depleted if we are emotionally attached to our patients. I know this, but I couldn’t help opening my heart to her. She became a true friend and confidante in the seven months I knew her and it hurt when she left, but I know she’s dancing up a storm with her husband now, as happy as can be. “Paying it forward” as a volunteer was an incredible life-affirming and energizing experience.
My hubbie and I together gave our time (and home) to kids in the foster care system and met some wonderful, resilient, and inspiring people. There are definitely a lot of “pay it forward” experiences going on amongst many of the social workers we met. Respect.
I also ran the NY Marathon for the Colon Cancer charity and raised almost $700 in a few weeks. It was amazing to see my body respond to the training, getting faster and fitter each week, and as I stood at the start line of the race with my fellow 45,000 runners, my four-months of training all came together to help me run 26.2 miles faster than I had ever done so in my entire life. And, I did it for a good cause. I was on cloud nine.
Giving time, love, material possessions, compassion and energy were all ingredients in my “pay it forward” 365 resolution this year. As a result, I was surprised many times by kind acts by strangers, moments of epiphany, and miracles too countless to measure. But I also realized that giving too much too soon doesn’t do anyone any good either. I had a health scare which I discovered was a manifestation of stress. When the doctor asked me if I was stressed, I said I didn’t feel like I was. But when I explained a few things that were “on my mind” (hospice, fundraising, fostering, running a company, caring for a handicapped dog and elderly parent, training for the marathon, etc.) I realized I needed to balance my life and change my ways. So I became a bit more selfish and made sure my battery was full before I topped up anyone else’s.
For 2011, I’ve already been thinking through some ideas for resolutions which I’ll post soon. In the meantime, I wish you a new year of good health and good love.
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