I’ve talked quite a bit recently about my plans for goal setting in 2018. Resolutions are so often something people throw around loosely, cheap ideologies that get lost in the mountain of old habits and routines that ultimately expose themselves. Or at least, it appears like that. But there’s something magical about the New Year. Although I believe fresh goals and intentions should be set year round, it’s difficult to be anything but inspired when the world around you is suddenly re-evaluating their ways of life. Whether your second cousin on Facebook actually gives up Diet Coke for more than a week is besides the point. People are recognizing where they need change. Simply identifying an area of growth is an accomplishment all on its own.
It was during these thoughts that I began to struggle with my own goal setting. Until recently, I had been feeling a consistent discomfort. Not physically, but emotionally and perhaps spiritually. Something wasn’t sitting right. Something was unsettled and I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it. The little messy parts of my life had suddenly organized themselves and pieced together a beautiful portrait of everything I’d overcome. So why the discomfort? There was a point where it felt that each new year presented a new series of questions, from family hardships to devastating breakups to alarming health concerns, it was easy for me to zero in on why I viewed this holiday in particular with such disdain. It sucked. Until, it didn’t anymore. I made changes that ultimately shaped how I ended up here. Moving out of state, letting go of stale relationships, and renewing my passions brought to me place where it finally all made sense. Now I’m contemplating wedding cupcake flavors and puppy names, so far from where I once was.
And, maybe, now I feel a tiny bit guilty. Or like, definitely feel some unnecessary guilt for finally figuring out what makes me happy. Perhaps even unworthy of the good fortune I’ve found. How could it all come together so simply? Although I know it was anything but simple when I broke down in the middle of a grocery store in 2013 after another exceptionally difficult year. But those memories fade easier than one might think. So here I am, surrounded by a pile of goodness that my heart had found and claimed.
In fact, I feel so much good in my life that I’m overwhelmed at the prospect of seeking anything else. I’ve spent the past twelve months establishing positive habits, treating people to the best of my ability, and learning my faults as a means to overcome them. As I approached a new year, I wanted me resolutions to focus outside of myself and the small circle I inhabit. I wanted to make a bigger impact than just me aiming to drink a gallon of water a day or reading a new book every month.
So I channelled back to my yoga training from a couple years ago and revisited the idea of seva. “‘Seva’ is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘selfless service’ or work performed without any thought of reward or repayment. In ancient India seva was believed to help one’s spiritual growth and at the same time contribute to the improvement of a community.” As part of our 200 hours for yoga teacher training, we were required to fulfill one hour of seva. Although an hour didn’t seem like much, it allowed me to open lines for further service down the road.
And I’m here, down the road. Seva taught me to believe that when given such good fortune, there’s *sort of* something I would label as a “moral compulsory response” to pass it on. I made that up, but it’s feelin’ right. I needed to do things. I am wholly capable and, thus, in order to balance the universe, I must spread the kindness outward.
So, why am I sharing all this? I’m not looking for thoughtful comments or cheap praise, I’m mostly seeking out two areas in particular requiring your action.
One, I need help learning about causes near and dear to you. I’ve evolved my mission a million times and have opted to participate in all opportunities that call to me. But there is so much more outside of my vision. What speaks to you? How can others take part in your fight?
Secondly, I’d like to open your doors to new ways to give outside of financial donations. To show others the notion that even the tiniest effort to spread more goodness is a step in the right direction, no matter how small.
I’ve made it my resolution to simply be more proactive about creating change when I recognize areas of need, rather than moving along and staying in my lane (typical introvert reaction). I’m working to resolve it, to work towards a better way, a proactive attitude and more fulfilling presence. Here’s how I’ve gotten started so far.
After listening to a riveting Radiolab episode (Match Made In Marrow if you’re interested), I decided to add my name to the Be The Match registry. After my own recent health scares, I’ve never felt more apt to help those in similar situations at little cost to myself than a few weeks of soreness. You can order your own kit here for free and they’ll send you everything you need to become a donor. As a side not, about one in 430 people end up donating.
Next, I’m donating ten dollars to a different cause each month, starting with the ASPCA. Teaching isn’t exactly the most lucrative career but refraining from two coffees out means I can put my money to something that’ll last much longer than my caffeine high.
Then, I’m volunteering at our local animal shelter, Lost Dog, monthly by attending adoption events in the area to introduce dogs up for adoption to potential owners. I used to volunteer at an animal shelter through middle school and I’m so excited to take part in these events again. I’m a huge animal lover (Dan can vouch for this) and while our townhouse is currently puppy-free, I’m determined to seek out furry snuggle elsewhere. Selfishly, this is as much for the dogs as it is for me.
Lastly, I’m focusing on the smaller things. The every-day-do-a-little-more things. Cleaning off my neighbors’ cars during a snowstorm, baking muffins for coworkers just because and setting up meal trains for all the new mommas in my life and those who could use some extra support. If you can, why not do?
I’ll be sure to update regularly on opportunities that might interest others. Until then, I’m looking to your for ideas!
What is your favorite way to give back? Please share!