A few months ago, Past Niki roped Future Niki into a small, reasonable commitment that even she (I mean, I) wouldn't have the heart to back out of.
A friend of the family went out on a limb to gather a group, organize supplies, and create "Spring Blessing Bags" for homeless people in our area. Her second time lassoing up friends and family in the past several months, I figured helping was the least I could do.
The agreed upon date of April 1st arrived, and a dozen of us came together on a Saturday afternoon with our contributions in tow. Everything from deodorant, sunglasses, shampoo, and feminine products, to fruit cups, granola bars, bottled water, and so much more was assembled to create our goal of 100 bags.
The following afternoon, I was asked to help a smaller group pass out the bags at the church a few miles away where they provide meals on Sundays. My instinct was to reject this additional request without question, holding onto time spent at home without even a second thought as to why I would be saying no.
Thankfully taking a step back, it was a no-brainer that anxiety or wanting to work on my blog were both lame excuses. How can I encourage moving past social fears if I'm not willing to push myself in these small moments? How can I write about fulfilling experiences if I don't seize these opportunities in the first place?
The chance to see our donations personally accepted by those in our community, and to gauge how we can better help out in the future, was far too valuable to blow off.
Was I excited to drive to brand new places and interact with strangers? No, but I honestly expected nothing more from myself when I originally volunteered. Once again, I needed to trust a decision I made out of compassion and confidence, rather than reacting in moments of anxiety over unnecessary and unreasonable fears.
Now that this prior obligation has come to pass, I must say that Past Niki was so right, as the experience predictably showed the rewards of setting ourselves up for success in times of ambition and courage.
This "obligation" unfolded into something far from it, revealing with each new moment how not only worthwhile, but surprisingly easy it was to make such a big difference for so many people.
A few hour's pay and three hours of our time lit up the courtyard by the meal window so much more than I could have anticipated. Not only were the people we met thankful, at least one woman to the point of tears, but many were starved of much more than food, and were strongly in need of the companionship of our visit.
And of course, my heart grew a size or two as I received one of my favorite gifts, being humbled, thanks to the friends we made and the quality time we spent together, and I know I'm not the only one.
And we got Starburst candy as a thank you! (Reds and pinks rule :) )
The more we put our absentminded fears and ill-weighted priorities aside for the greater good, the more purpose and motivation we will continue to conjure in our own lives, proving it's easier than we think to put one foot in front of the other and be the change we wish to see in the world around us.
Plus, if I'm going to fulfill my big dreams of volunteering overseas someday, I would be wise to practice on a smaller scale in my own backyard every chance I got.
Let's all be brave enough to discover our potential by helping those around us find theirs; and hell, the world could sure use some extra generosity these days.
P.S. We'll be doing another Blessing Bag event this summer, so if anyone in the Cleveland area is interested in volunteering please let me know :)
And if you missed my intro post, you can check it out here!