Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sweet Service



About three weeks after HOB left, I was getting pretty tired of being wrapped up in my own cocoon of pain. It was exhausting to feel so bad for so long. I was sick of it and afraid it would cripple me for life. I needed some relief from it. However, I couldn’t figure out how to get out of the vicious cycle of self-pity and hurt.

One morning before work I watched a Wayne Dyer movie called The Shift. In it, he suggests that one of the best ways to help yourself out of your own pain is to be of service to others. I was feeling pretty weak and still sick to my stomach most of the time, but I was so tired of being in emotional pain that I decided to try it. On the way to work I repeated over and over again, “I will be of service to others today. “ I trusted that the universe would provide me with opportunities to do just that.

It did.

Walking to my office, I saw Freddy, a student who had taken one of my classes last semester. I stopped and I asked him how he was doing in his current English class. Freddy is not your traditional student. In fact, instead of going toward Freddy, many people, seeing the tattoos and rough clothing would run the other way.

I could feel my heart beat faster and to me my voice seemed weak as talked to Freddy about his new class. Part of me wanted to run away and hide. Now, this may not seem like an act of courage on my part, but remember, I was a pretty broken woman in those days. I could barely lift my head off the pillow in the morning and drag myself to work. Just asking about Freddy’s semester was a huge step outside of my world of hurt.

He told me he was doing OK, but felt like he was behind all the time. I smiled, and told him lots of people felt the way he did. I urged him to go see his teacher during office hours. We chatted for a little while about his life. Just before we parted ways, I looked him straight in the eye and said in my old, confident, bossy teacher voice, “You can do this, Freddy. I know you can.”

Suddenly, I felt a little lighter. I realized the film had been exactly right. I had stopped thinking about my problems for only about two minutes, but it had made a tremendous difference. I felt a glimmer of hope. I repeated my mantra and set out on my workday.

Being on a college campus, especially on a community college campus, means you have numerous opportunities to be of service to others. Lucky me. Throughout the day, I remembered my mission, and found plenty to do. I stayed after class to help a struggling student with her writing. I hugged a co-worker I knew was going through a rough time in her life. I stopped in on another co-worker and asked about his ailing father. I picked up trash I saw on campus. I held doors open for others. I let harried people go in front of me at the xerox machine.

Little by little, I began to feel better and better.

Late in the afternoon, I saw a student staring into a vending machine in complete exasperation. I stopped and asked if the machine had robbed him. He pointed to a Snickers bar, hanging by the corner of its wrapper. “I paid for that candy bar, but it's stuck,” he said. I looked at it, used one of my tremendous hips to shake the machine, but the candy bar just hung there, tauntingly swinging back and forth. “You could always put in another dollar,” I suggested. “Buy another Snickers and that one will fall too.” “I don’t have any more money,” he said.

I pulled a dollar out of my pocket. “Here you go. Try it now.” He smiled and took the dollar. I started to walk away. “Thanks!" he called after me. "You want one of the bars?” I turned, smiled and shook my head.

I continued on my way, pausing only slightly as I heard the machine suck in the dollar bill, followed by two thunks as the candy bars fell down. Suddenly, I broke into a huge smile and walked a little faster with a lighter step.

That student may have walked away with the candy bars, but the feeling I walked with was pretty darn sweet too.

42 comments:

Slamdunk said...

Lots of wisdom here Betty. Thanks for the reminder of where my priorities should be.

Out on the prairie said...

That kindness doubles, it gave the other person a great feeling and returned to make you feel good also.We need more of this around our world.

Leah J. Utas said...

Good on you, Betty. Helping others helps us.

Flartus said...

You are a big woman. And I don't mean hips.

I recently remembered that part of the motivation behind my interest in teaching was to SERVE. Oops. I'm heading back on track now, and this post is full of good advice. Thanks. :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm going to try that advice today. You uplifted me this morning.

ellen abbott said...

It's amazing how good it feels to help others isn't it?

Eva Gallant said...

That was an awesome post! You are inspiring!

Old Kitty said...

Good for you BB!!! I so believe in karma - so may you experience wave upon wave of good things your way! Take care
x

Pat said...

BIG SMILE! Positive thinking! I love it!

Parsley said...

I have to say this is a secret I've tried NOT to keep. I too find therapy in service. Good for you Betty. Keep it up! It will make the world and your life better!

Madi and Mom said...

WTG BB!!
We should all walk in someone else's shoes for a day!!
I'm proud of all you have accomplished one day at a time.
Hugs Madi and Mom

jenny_o said...

Such good advice. I know this and still find myself immersed in my own problems from time to time. It's good to be reminded.

I truly believe that your posts are another form of service to people you haven't even met in the real world sense, but still know and affect every day.

Linda said...

I'm not familiar with the film you mentioned, but its message was certainly right on target. And may God bless you for putting it into practice, even when you didn't really feel like it.

Larri @ Seams Inspired said...

Excellent. ☺

Laura said...

Such good advice. It's a hard thing to do when you're feeling so bad, but it does help. I'm happy that it's helping you...but think of all of the people that you're helping!

Joyful said...

Wonderful post. I have always found service to others to be a good way to distract me from self absorption. Of course we need to grieve a little too and work through out pains but it seems you intuitively knew when you had enough of that. Good for you. I know you touched so many lives that day, and they in turn, touched yours.

Donna said...

Love Dyer....and it Does work. Glad it helped You!! Nothing like helping make other peoples worlds a little brighter...
(((HUG)))

Shan said...

I love this. It was for a similar reason that I became a literacy tutor volunteer back in the day. It helped me, hopefully I helped my student and it took the focus off of my problems. Without a glaring spotlight, they suddenly didn't feel *as* enormous and overwhelming.

julie fedderson said...

What a great philosophy! Here's hoping all that good karma you're spreading comes back to you threefold!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The greatest joy in life is giving to others! And yes, it's the surest way to forget our own problems. Good for you, Betty!

Baby Sister said...

I bet those people were so glad they crossed your path. :) It's amazing how little acts of service can make someone so much better. A good reminder for me. Thanks Betty. :) *hugs*

Anne Gallagher said...

You're such a good person, Betty. You really really are.

Pat Tillett said...

What a great bit of wisdom! I'm glad you are feeling better, even if it's only for short periods of time.

Brian said...

Sweet indeed, that made me smile!

Ms. A said...

Wonderfully written and very true, at least from my perspective. About the only time I'm not wrapped in worry about everything in my life, is when I'm doing something for someone else. It helps.

totsymae said...

Thanks for your selflessness in sharing your story to help me remember the value of being of service to someone else. It does get better and I speak from experience.

Gigi said...

Darn! I wish we were in the same time zone! I sure could have used this post today. But that's okay, I'll take this kernel of wisdom and use it tomorrow.

Ann said...

A win win kind of day all around.

Daisy said...

This is such a wonderful post, Betty. I've heard that before too and have put it into practice before too. It really does work, and it does help you heal. Thanks for the smile today. :)

ladydazy said...

I just love reading your blog. In so many ways I can relate to what you are saying here.

Oh and Wayne Dyer is such a wise man. I've love reading and seeing his stuff. :)

LittleSilkDress said...

Sounds like a personal victory for Betty!!

Just want to let you know that I have been reading your blog every morning and thinking about you. Can't comment on your posts at work, though so I always tell myself I'll do it when I get home. There should be an onslaught of "catch up" comments coming your way soon!!

Marlene said...

today's post is a real heart warmer. Bless you!

Brian (not the cat) said...

It's a good strategy, and I'm glad it made you feel better. I think a large part of our sense of self-worth relies on how well we serve those around us.

Hilary said...

This post made me smile. You are one sweet lady. I'm glad your heart is beginning to mend.

Lazarus said...

Bossy my friend, I've been out of the loop for a while, on a honeymoon and other assorted distractions. I didn't realize your husband had left. His loss, which he'll regret someday, I'm sure. You are too cool and too smart and too awesome to stay single for long..unless you want to be. How about focusing on compiling some of your best posts into a book, that would be fruitful for you and, also, a potential best-seller. You are a very talented writer, share that in a bigger way now that you have more free time. You go girl!

Elizabeth Grimes said...

That's wonderful! I get in that cycle as well, and this is great advice. Thanks.

Green Monkey said...

Hi Betty,
Helping others also helped me. And we have an appreciation for Wayne Dyer in common

EmptyNester said...

Wonderful advice Betty! When are you going to write a book? Seriously. When?

Sara said...

Love this!! I'm feeling more positive and generous just having read this!

Annie said...

woo hoo Betty!! That's the girl.

KleinsteMotte said...

Aw that is really so great to hear:))

Blogger said...

On Bonus Bitcoin you can get free bitcoins. Up to 5,000 satoshis every 15 minutes.