On my one year anniversary I wrote from my heart about what I thought it took for me to reach my first milestone: Acceptance of self, understanding, community, structure and knowing when to ask for help. I forgot to add one valuable component: BEING OF SERVICE
On the days when I feel at my lowest and the most disconnected from myself are the days when I feel purposeless. Those are the days when I stay under the blanket and binge watch TV series like Vikings or Games of Thrones, or Harry Potter movies, just to disappear into a another world. But, once I get tired of hiding, (and feeling sorry for myself), I get to work. I look for ways to be of service. Trust me, helping others, helps you in so many ways too. I have found so much of myself by being compassionate and caring when I can. The big and the little things do make a difference.
TURN YOUR PASSION INTO A MISSION
I was lucky when I first gave up drinking, as at the same time I was also just starting up my own writing group. The little club I founded has proven to be one of the stabilizing factors of my journey. It became a space for creative growth with a fantastic energy which not only helped me but also helped the other writers in the group. It brings me such joy to hear them say they have learned, grown and found their own voices just from being a member of our group. Aside from identifying a hobby (which has always helped me) and bringing together other creatives with a passion for writing, being in charge of the group gave me responsibility and purpose.
LOOK FOR THE MOVERS AND SHAKERS
I try often to get involved in community clean up campaigns, fund-raisers and the like but last year I turned it up a notch. I made a point to surround myself with people who were actively making changes. I went to social enterprise meet-ups to find out who was involved in what and volunteered for projects. I couldn’t help out monetarily but I volunteered my time, helping with food and clothing drives and by writing articles or blogging for free.
In my community, there are always people who need assistance. Banks, churches, social enterprises are always posting notices about items needed. I try to clear my closets at least twice a year, and my pantry more often than that. My sister has a toddler so I’m always giving away baby clothes and toys.
Writing has always helped me. This is why I blog and I suspect this is why many of you blog as well. So I started writing encouraging and uplifting pieces for online journals that publish such work. I did it for fun and to keep myself busy and there is nothing more rewarding than reading comments which say that you’ve helped someone. Most online journals have a “Write For Us” section or you can simply send them an email to ask.
Many times I feel very wrapped up in my own life and my own issues. Which is also okay because I know I have to put my stability first, but I do make an effort to be there for my friends and family as well. Many times what people need is someone who will listen to them with kindness and without judgement. When someone is telling me about themselves, or a raw deal they are going through, I try not to interrupt them with my own feelings, thoughts, and stories. Simply listening, without going into my typical “must find a solution mode”, helps.
We all feel cut off from friends and family and very alone at times so it stands to reason that your own loved ones also feel this way now and then. I try to remind my over-analytical self that sometimes when a loved one is being distant, it has nothing to do with me, and that they might be going through something as well. So I send a text message or call just to let them know that I’m thinking of them. Little gestures go a long way too.
BE KIND & COMPASSIONATE
These days, life is so busy. I’m always rushing about, juggling two jobs and my constructive extra curricular activities, but I do try to remember that kindness goes a long way. I hold doors open for strangers, I chat with the people who serve me food or cash my purchases at the grocery or drugstore. I smile at people and say Hello or Good day. It makes a huge difference to my mood and the way people respond to me as well. Even a simple smile, a Hello, or compliment could lift someone’s spirit! Some days I’m a right proper grump and don’t feel like being courteous, which happens to all of us, but I regret it after as I’ve found that on those days, my mood inevitably deteriorates further and I end up under that blanket, hating the universe. So I try.
“Compassion is not prevention of all negative certainty, it is a home floating on the sea of fear, that equally brings assistance to those sinking.” ― James C. Emlund
Helping can be just about anything as long as it is done with sincerity. Never underestimate the difference YOU can make in the lives of others.
Hugs and love, Phoenix