Mutual Benefit Plus

I mentioned earlier this week, that I was hiring someone to help me with some clearing.  Well today she started working on my son’s room.  Ironically, the person that was helping me was someone I had met a few years ago and only today did I remember it.  When I became reacquainted with this woman a few weeks ago, I kept saying that I knew her from somewhere but couldn’t place where.  She was a teacher, but I knew we had never taught together, so I kept searching my memory banks but to no avail.

Today, I realized that I had been to her home for a Buddhist gathering with a mutual friend.  It was such a relief to have finally solved the mystery and then I was able to enjoy getting to know her better.  She shared her knowledge of Buddhism.  I told her about my seeking.  We talked about teaching and tutoring.  And we cleared my son’s space.

It was fun to have someone nearly twenty years my senior, singing Elvis tunes, enthusiastically cleaning out a closet.  She helped not only get a room in order, but she lifted my spirits as well.  I love the way it feels when a transaction produces mutual benefit, like paying someone to do a job I cannot do.  But I love it even more when I connect with another person and both of our lives are enriched in a variety of ways.

The Help

The primary focus of my blog is support.  The support we get from others is what makes navigating our paths easier, if not more enjoyable.  Today I want to acknowledge some of the help I’ve had this week as I travel my path.  I am grateful that these people have helped me this week.  By no means is this an all-inclusive list.  It is simply a representation of how blessed I am.

To Karen, thank you for helping me get more connected with my spiritual community.  To Laura, thank you for sharing your trials and triumphs with me, as well as breakfast.  To Kimberly, thank you for sharing your daughter with us, and for taking the time to find out we have so much in common.  To Laurie, thank you for your gift of music and your smiling face (and for helping me find what I needed a couple of weeks ago).  To Antoinette, thank you for helping me find a piano teacher for Taylor.  To Bailey, thank you for putting together my raised bed and planting my veggies.  To Colette, thank you for helping me rephrase my self talk.  To John, thank you for helping me find my inner warrior again.  To Todd, thank you for lifting me up in prayer daily.  To Aunt Andrea, thank you for your love… you’ll never know how much I admire you.  To Kelly, thank you for your endless love and support… without you, life would be much harder and much less fun.

Today I encourage you to express gratitude for the help in your life.  Express it to them, and express it here if you like.

Why I Walk

On October 6, 2011, my father lost his battle with lung cancer.  Soon after, my sister’s best friend lost her father to lung cancer as well.  The following spring  my sister and her friend suggested that we walk in the Fight for Air Walk to raise money for the American Lung Association.  My step-father had also been living with COPD for some time so lung disease was profoundly affecting all of us “girls” (all in our 30′s & 40′s).  I thought participating in the walk would help my healing process, so I volunteered to captain the team that we named “Daddies’ Girls.”

My step-father continues his struggle with lung disease and Daddies’ Girls continue to walk.  This year will be especially important for me.  Not only will I be raising money for a good cause and supporting family and friends affected by lung disease, but I will be walking after being in an accident last fall which left me unable to walk on my own for 2 1/2 months due to multiple fractures in my pelvis and a fractured hip.  I also had 9 fractured ribs which made breathing difficult.

I am currently receiving physical therapy to regain the strength in my legs, and the mobility in my hip and knee (which was also broken and lacerated).  I also had several other injuries that didn’t affect my ability to walk, but have required rest for the healing process.  I began walking on my own a couple of weeks ago, and started focusing on this year’s Fight for Air Walk.  I am looking forward to being out in the May sunshine, with my “girls” beside me, as I continue doing something that makes a difference.

I walk because I can.

Daddies' Girls team photo from 2012 made it onto the 2013 brochure.

Daddies’ Girls team photo from 2012 made it onto the 2013 brochure.

Fight for Air Walk3Fight for Air Walk2Why I Walk

The Best Thing

As my son and I exited the interstate one evening several years ago, I spotted a man just at the end of the ramp, on the left.  He had graying, reddish, tousled hair, and a ruddy, weathered complexion.  As I slowed before turning, he smiled and held up his cardboard and Sharpie plea for money, complete with “God Bless You” as a thanks,  in advance.

Before I go any further, I must confess that I am not one to roll my window down and give strangers money.  I’m not heartless or stingy.  I simply don’t believe giving cash to someone who his homeless and asking for a handout is helping them in any lasting way.  If anything, I believe it keeps them in their current circumstances, enables them. 

You may think that a middle class white woman could not possibly understand the plight of those who resort to begging.  Only a few years before, I was newly divorced with three children and no child support.  I had a college degree, a student loan to go with it, and had not landed a job yet.  My lease was up on my apartment and I couldn’t afford to keep it.  I know more than you think. 

As I said, I’m not one to give out cash from my car.  I am, however, one who listens to my gut (some may call it heart or spirit).  I felt compelled to tell this man that I wanted to help him (and I did want to help somehow), and to explain why I couldn’t.  The desire to help this man was strong and I didn’t know why, but I knew I had to tell him.

As I rolled my window down, I slowed to a stop.  My son, anxious by nature, asked why I was stopping.  I assured him it was okay as the haggard man walked closer to my door.  The man was smiling, in spite of an open wound on his arm that looked infected.  Upon closer inspection, I could see that there were thick staples holding it closed.   These weren’t surgical staples.  He told me a friend had stapled it together with a staple gun.  I didn’t doubt it at all.  

I told him that I didn’t know why, but I needed to tell him that I wanted to help him yet wasn’t able.  I explained that the new SUV I was driving was a gift from my father and that he was a car dealer.  I wanted him to know, not because I felt guilty, but because I wanted him to understand my situation.  I told him I was a mother, raising four children by myself (yes, another child and divorced again).  I told him I wanted to help, but that I lived from paycheck to paycheck and didn’t have any money to spare.  (And I still didn’t know why I was telling him this.)  He sweetly patted me on the hand and said it was okay and started to walk away.

As I began rolling the window up, I noticed some change in my console.  (It was my son’s but I would pay him back.)  I quickly rolled the window back down and yelled out to the man to come back.  I held the handful of change out, expecting the man to hold out his palm to receive it.  I said, “This is all I have.  Please take it.”  I understood how I was supposed to help when he answered, “I don’t want your money.  You just gave me the best thing you could have given me.  You looked at me and talked to me like a human being.”  He squeezed my hand and went back to his post.