Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.
Today, I was supposed to be in Texas attending a board meeting, for an organization I serve on, due to weather our meeting was rescheduled. Sometimes, it is easy to forget how we share our talents and serve others. Many an evening when I am away from my family attending board meetings, I must confess that I sometimes forget why I am giving my time. Meetings are meetings and doing the business of any organization, non-profit or otherwise, feels simply like business.
Yet, this is how I serve. I often need to remind myself, that this is the greatest way to give my time and talents…even if it seems like a little bit. What is the greatest way you can give yours?
Last week I wrote about the “mid-life thing” and then days later a reader sent me a New York Times article entitled Writing Your Way to Happiness. The basic jest of it was that recent scientific studies say that writing can make you happier, lower your chance of sickness and have overall improvements on health and well-being.
We all “write” all day long, thousands of emails, texts, even Facebook posts but that type of writing is like showing people your living room. My mom used to say the living room is the room you want people to think you are, rather than your bathroom, which is who you really are. In other words, that kind of writing is for an outward perception, the writing the article is referring to is from an inward perspective.
What are you really thinking? Feeling? Doing? As someone who writes, alot…I think this falls in line with the mid-life posts, the last week. Writing is simply a gift you give to yourself, it is a time to fill yourself up, when you write from your heart and hear your own voice anything becomes possible.
While they say, don’t believe everything you read….this post is proof that once you begin to really listen to yourself through writing….. you can write your way to happiness.
I have to admit that I love the Academy Awards, it is my Superbowl Sunday. While we all love to see the celebrities, the red carpet fashions and the after parties. What we don’t always realize is how many fundraisers and charitable events these stars have been supporting this past week. There were more than a few winners before the academy awards even began….
It kicked off last Wednesday with a Vanity Fair event to support Oxfam, an organization that addresses the elimination of global poverty. Thursday was a A lister’s event called Unite4Good, which honored celebrities for their philanthrophy…who knew? Hallie Berry received an award for her work with the domestic violence non-profit the Jennesse Center, Jeff Bridges for his work with No Kid Hungry and Ewan McGregor for his commitment to Unicef. Friday, celebrities dashed to an Alfa Romeo luncheon in support of the non-profit Girl Rising. By Saturday, it was time for the big Night Before Party in support of The Motion Picture and Television Fund. That was simply the week before!
Last night, the biggest fundraiser was Elton John’s Annual Aids Foundation Dinner which has raised more than $321 million for the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS since its inception in 1992. So while we all wanted to hear from the winners, the real winners of last nights Academy Awards were the incredible causes that benefitted from all that star-dust.
The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others.
As I mentioned the other day, a number of my friends are disillusioned with their lives, a little lost and are questioning whats next? The more I have pondered about this the more clear it becomes to me.
We feed everything but our souls. I am as guilty of this as the next, taking care of ourselves is always the last on our list.
We give and give and then we realize that we are empty. We are not sure how it happened but somehow we do not feel complete or full anymore. The longer we starve the core part of ourselves, the hungrier we become.
What fills you up? For some it is the simple act of going to church, for others its being in nature, lighting a candle, journaling, a moment of solitude to really listen to yourself.
Whatever it takes, to fill that part up inside you, at least once a week…do it. The fuller you become, the closer you are of finding yourself…..and once you find yourself….then you can follow Gandhi’s advice and lose yourself in the service of others.
In the last few months I have had coffee with a number of friends, and friends of friends that are in search of something “more”. When the first few friends called, I was flattered that they thought I could help give them some career direction. Then I realized that many of these friends thought that the non-profit sector was for them and that was why they were reaching out. Being a connector, I love trying to help. However, when the phone kept ringing and none of these people knew the others…I began to wonder why?
Most of the people I have met with are my age, yes…I suppose that you could call it “mid-life,” but none of them are in crisis, nor do they drive red sports cars. All of them have had successful lives, families, careers and are accomplished in many ways…and yet, every single person I have met with feels that somehow they are not living their purpose or their potential. It seems that the more meetings I had, the more similar they all became.
Do we all start down life’s path in search of ways to support ourselves and our families and then once we are on that road, we realize that somehow we need to get off? Yet, how do we continue to provide for those we love and feed our souls? The reality is that I am not the one with answers, but simply more questions.
I do believe that service to others feeds the soul and my advice to all (whether good or bad remains to be seen) has been to find a fit to use your gifts to their greatest potential and to a place that fits you. There is room in life to give your free time and have a job, sometimes they are not one in the same.
One of the most important things we teach our middle school students, at my day job is to,” Find your magis (latin for more) and find a way to give back the gifts that have been given to you.” My sense is if we can all find our “more” and a way to give it back, then I will be having a lot less coffee.
“Believe that you can and you are half way there!”
Happy President’s Day!
I was recently asked a question about leadership and when I recognized it in my life. To be honest, the question took me a bit by surprise and required some thought. After giving my answer, I reflected upon a trait that many of us rarely recognize, the gift of leadership.
In a world where we all desperately seek followers, who are our leaders? These are words I often share with the thousands of students who will come through the non-profit leadership organization I have the privilege of working for.
This President’s Day ask yourself the same question, are you a leader or a follower? Be thankful for all of the wonderful leaders we have had in order to enjoy the freedom we all celebrate today.
All week we have been bombarded with images of love, flowers, romance and the trappings that come with Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy flowers and chocolates as much as the next girl…but sometimes it seems that we miss the point.
The gifts are great and thoughtful but love is all about the gift of oneself. The more love we have, the more there is to give. Rather than obsess about the card, think about what you can give of yourself to another? My guess, is the answer is the greatest gift of all.
Thank you for all the love you share and give to make our world a better place.
Since this week is all about love, it seems only fitting to talk about the newest matchmaker in town. This isn’t your average speed dating site, but rather a brilliant concept that connects volunteers with non-profits who need help on specific task and its called CatchAFire.
So often when we think about volunteering, we think about stuffing envelopes, collecting trash or the most mundane activities. In 2009, Rachael Chong had an idea to connect professionals and their skill set to non-profit organizations. Rachael had a vision to “forward a cause you believe in” by using your professional skills to help a non-profit organization. So if you are a graphic artist, who is passionate about the environment….Catch a Fire would connect you to an environmental non-profit that is working on a new logo. You get the idea….
Rachael’s platform CatchAFire.Org is an amazing way to make a difference. She is changing the face of the non-profit workplace, creating a pro-bono movement and making our world better by inspiring people to share their gifts and talents for a greater purpose. I think her bio best sums her up by saying, “Rachael wants to leave this earth known as a leader who empowers others to be better than her.”
This Valentines week, I would say Catch A Fire is a match made in heaven and definitely something to love.
“It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” Tom Brokaw
As I listened in these non-profit workshops last week about the challenges that non-profits face. You have to admit a business model that relies solely on donations is not optimal? Yet, that is the reality for over 1.9 million non-profit organizations.
At the end of the day, the goal isn’t about making a buck but rather about making a difference for others.
Last week I spent two days at a conference for non-profits, called Alchemy. I sat in a room with 70 non-profits from all over Southern California and was fascinated by the diversity of the non-profit organizations. As we all introduced ourselves, I listened to the wide spectrum of services these organizations provided…everthing from promoting horseback riding in Pasadena, projects for the arts, makeover’s for homeless women to employing Veterans.
Some of the organizations were brand new and others had long histories but as I listened to each organization talk about their mission, they all had one thing in common that made them the same. That one thing was passion. Each person was dedicated and passionate about what it was that their organization did to make the world better.
Of course, not all of the causes spoke to me…or did I really understand. But who am I to judge? It was bringing people together who take their gifts (the fashionista who did makeovers on homeless women and the retired recruiter who finds jobs for Veterans) to make another’s life better. A room full of diversity and yet we were all the same….simply trying to share our gifts to make a difference.
As millions of us watched the Super Bowl yesterday and of course those very pricey ads. I thought it might be worth revisiting the one of my favorite philanthropic friends. His name is Max Page and you might remember Max from his starring Super Bowl ad as Darth Vadar, a few years back.
Max has been a patient at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles many times in his short life for multiple heart surgeries. I met Max and his family, a few years ago, as we worked together to launch the Junior Ambassador Program at CHLA . The Page family are some of the most philanthropic people I know, and have used their situation and celebrity to the benefit of others time and time again.
Last week Max revisited his friends on the Today Show but didn’t get to share what he is up to these days. Max continues his acting and his passion for philanthropy, At the wise old age of 10 he is a spokesperson for the non-profit GenerationOn.Org which inspires children and teenagers to get involved in making a difference. Max’s heart may have been defected once upon a time, but today it is his heart and use of the Force that continues to inspire us all.