Life's Tool Box – A Guide for Parents and Educators

August 29, 2012

A Way to Excel

Filed under: Tools for Life Posts — by Life's Toolbox @ 2:02 am
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  This time of year calls for reflection.  Children and teachers return to a new year of school.  The summer heat gives way to cooler evenings.  Leaves blaze with color before falling to remind us winter is around the corner.  And we take stock.  We count our blessings and pray they continue.  We think of who we are, the people in our lives, families and communities, and maybe we think of how we can be different and make a difference.

In the context of all the fall preparations, I opened up an excel spreadsheet to coordinate volunteers in my community who are cooking meals for a recuperating friend.  As I did so, I found another spreadsheet that coordinated housing for those displaced after a storm last year.  Filling the columns and rows, creating a log of emails and schedules, reminds me of something beyond boxes that is worthy of reflection, and celebration.

Hurricane Isaac is approaching the gulf coast, an area still rebuilding from Katrina’s direct hit.  Seven years ago, we witnessed via TV images, the devastation of the Mississippi coast, the heart break of the Superdome, illustrations of people so in need of the caring and kindness of others.  Since then we have seen more local and global suffering than anyone would like.  But as our prayers acknowledge, life is uncertain, and illness and trauma happen.   We can hope that disasters are averted or ameliorated.  What seems at least as important is to know, to really know, that there are many who stand ready to help when hard times hit.

My email box is filling with volunteers, and the spirit of each and every email is extraordinary.  People are reaching past their busy, private lives, offering their time and effort with amazing generosity.  People are thankful for the opportunity to help, and ask if they could please do more.  It seems, in this hectic season, being part of a helping, caring community is making people feel good.  It certainly is making me feel extremely blessed to live where I do, to share my life with those who know how important it is to care for others.

There are dozens of psychological studies about the benefit of charitable, helpful behavior.  For the recipients, of course, but most astonishingly helping helps those who provide the help feel better, be happier, have greater fulfillment and purpose in their lives.  In this season of reflection and celebration, I can’t think of anything more compelling than the spirit of care.

As the emails continue, I will probably be spending some more time filling in my excel boxes.  In my thoughts and prayers for a happy and healthy new year, I will think of how my community excels.  I will remember the time they cooked for my family, the way they opened their doors to those in need, their willingness to care for each other.  And I will pray that we are all blessed with a year of only good things.  And if life offers us challenges, as individuals, or as a community, may we be granted the strength, compassion, and privilege, to generously give our efforts to make a difference.




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