I have been very fortunate, I have often had help from various people in my life, and even those who are providing a service are considered part of “my team”. This team contributes to my life, they help to keep my life running smoothly (as much as a team can do). From friends I have received places to store my winter tires, dinners, advice, understanding, more food, to just name a few. From my paid team a litany of services, but also a place where I am known, a valued client, a happily bantered conversation, as well as recommendations and referrals.
In terms of my friends and family, I have often been overwhelmed because I don’t know how to give back; I never feel that I have given as much help to them as they have given to me. For many years, I worried about this. I had no tangible, give-it-in-a-gift-box skills to say thank you. I don’t bake or knit or cook really. I have nothing I can make with my hands to give. I can bring wine, and I have done. Still, I often felt it wasn’t enough. Along the way, I realized that I may never be able to repay them for what they have done for me, and that’s okay, they weren’t looking for a big payback anyway. I realized that I would do my best to say thank you in the ways I knew how, and to pay it forward, to help, whenever I could, for others who would come my way. I try my best at this – I refer people; I connect them with others in my network; if it’s writing in papers or online/websites, I’ll offer to edit and provide comments. In short (or in length), I give whatever I have to give, whatever I can do to help. A lot of what I can do doesn’t fit in a gift box, but if it can be of use, I feel all the better for it. I know I’ve made an impact. This is what helping often means to me, this is where I believe it shows up in my life, on a regular basis.
I have also volunteered and will do so again one day. I have taken a hiatus for the past few years for various reasons, but I know I’m not done giving and helping in this way. I also want to be more aware and make a more purposeful decision about where I will put in my help. That doesn’t mean all spontaneous help is out the window, just that I know that some volunteer work can be like a second job, and I want it to be something that aligns deeply with my values, somewhere I think I can truly have an impact. I’m still working out where and what that will be, but I know it’s in me to help. And even before that decision is made, I’ve been considering where I can do more, in smaller amounts, and still do something to help others, to help the world.
It’s not lost on me that the helping feels good, but I know that it is because I know how it feels to be the person who was helped. It doesn’t mean I think I am the best helper (not by a long shot) or morally superior because I help, it’s important to stay humble. I just know that it’s the way I want the world to be, so I try to be it, as much as I can.