The Wonderfully Selfish Act of Giving

What a beautiful weekend. Mother Nature has blessed the Pacific Northwest with something very rare for this time of year – sun and blue skies. My husband and I made our way south to the Oregon Coast for a fun-filled beach weekend with friends. There’s nothing like the view of the vast, blue open sea with a glowing, orange horizon to fill you with inspiration and complete awe at the miracle of life and all the possibilities it brings.

Oregon Coast Moon

Oregon Coast Night

Something about the crisp ocean air and starry skies reminds me that life is so special. Why live life without doing something that matters to you? So many of us go to work every day and go through the motions to get a check at the end of the month. It’s a noble thing to work to provide for your loved ones. But sometimes, do you ever think there’s got to be more?

I’m one of those optimistic thinkers that believes there is. Why can’t I support my family and fulfill my own spirit by doing something that has meaning to me? Something that keeps me alive?

Today we celebrated the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. There’s someone who was passionate, who stood for something he believed in with his whole being. Who believed in something that was bigger than he was and was willing to pay the ultimate price to see the realization of his dream.

What do you believe in?

I’m fortunate enough to work at a large company that had a special celebratory event commemorating Dr. King, and our keynote speaker echoed this concept. You might remember this guy. He played basketball for some team in L.A. back in the day.

Magic Johnson

In the words of Earvin “Magic” Johnson, “The check won’t wake you up in the morning.” After retiring from the NBA, Magic Johnson could very well have lived the rest of his life on a sunny beach in the Bahamas. Instead, he decided to start the Magic Johnson Foundation, which addresses the health, educational, and social needs of inner-city communities. He saw a need and is passionate about fulfilling it.

What need do you see?

Why not take your strengths (as defined by Marcus Buckingham as something you look forward to doing, lose track of time doing, are usually successful at doing, and feel energized by after doing) and apply those strengths to promoting a cause you believe in? You don’t have to quit your job to do it; volunteer even just a couple hours a month.

Do you love planning parties for your friends? Why not volunteer to help coordinate an event for an organization like the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation? You get to have fun picking out table centerpieces and planning logistics, and help kids with cancer and their families. Do you love being outdoors? Why not volunteer to help clean up a local park or beach? You can enjoy the scenery and make it more beautiful at the same time.

Me? I believe in proactively taking responsibility for your own health. “Pay” for your health now by buying and eating the right foods, exercising, and investing in your mind and spirit, rather than paying for it later in healthcare costs, prescription drugs, and the frustration that your body can’t keep up with you. I believe that there are too many people out there who don’t do this because they don’t know any better. They frankly don’t know what they’re doing to themselves. And in turn, they teach their own bad habits to their children.

I believe the children are our future. (Sorry, I had to quote Whitney Houston…I know that song is in your head now.) Let’s teach them healthy habits at a young age.

So a while back, I decided to take what I love to do (write), and volunteer my writing time and skills to Treeswing, a Pacific Northwest organization that promotes healthy, active lifestlyes in children and their families. I occasionally write for their newsletter and website. It’s selfish in that I get to do what I love and get more experience doing it, but I’m also contributing to an awesome cause at the same time. It’s a win-win situation.

It doesn’t have to take much time. All you have to do is give what you can. Give a few minutes here and there, and if it’s doing what you love, how can you lose? I firmly believe that the more you freely give, the more the universe will return to you in ways you never expected.

There are plenty of organizations out there that are desparate for a helping hand. Check out United Way to find a volunteer opportunity that excites you.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

What matters to you?

P.S. Today I officially started my husband’s Transformation Challenge program. My plan is to blog regularly about the experience. I’m thinking I’ll create a separate page for those blogs. Stay tuned.