Thursday, July 23, 2009

It’s Not About Us

My Administrative Assistant quickly grew to be far more than that. Soon, because of her talent, experience, all around fabulousness and positive attitude, her responsibilities grew until she basically ran our "front office". Scheduling appointments, talking encouragingly with people experiencing every kind of "disorder" you can imagine, doing all the Accounts Payable and Receivable, working with health insurance companies in billing and claim follow-up, payroll, transcribing notes she'd take at our weekly staff meetings and working closely with me, the Director, Bonnie was a wonder. She even bought the coffee (from the agency's funds for this) and kept the waiting room and everyone on staff supplied with hard candies in our offices which reflected the seasons and holidays! It wasn't long before we became good friends, too.

Bonnie's talents and experience encompassed far more than many kinds of office/secretarial/accounting skills. She had also worked as a courier who routinely carried hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of diamonds and other precious gems to and from the jewelry district in Boston, worked with retail jewelers and was very involved in the world of wholesale jewelry to being in a partnership herself in this work. I learned many things from Bonnie!

Here's something perhaps a few women reading this may already know, but if you don't, it may well come in handy one day. Have you ever had a necklace chain so tangled with itself or other chains in your jewelry box that it seemed almost impossible to straighten out? This is the jeweler's solution. Place the tangled chain(s) on a flat surface and pick up two pins…one for each hand. Slowly work with the pins in the links of the knots in the chain(s) and before you know it…presto! No more knots, and what had been tangled and impossible is now usable again! I wouldn't have believed it unless I'd seen it, and now periodically repeat this maneuver myself.

Are there parts of your life which seem tangled in knots or as complicated as fine chains woven together so you can't tell one part from the other? Do you find yourself frustrated more easily, smiling less often, and your thoughts focused more on the things or people you have difficulty with? This is not the way God meant us to live and gets in the way of the purpose He created each of us for. And August is a perfect time to do something about it.

Even if you have no vacation time in August, everyone can still intentionally set aside even as little as a few minutes every day (hopefully a few times a day) to step outside yourself, to breathe deeply and refresh yourself to prepare and receive a new perspective. Now, you may be asking, WHEN??? Be creative with what you do. Un-multi task as many things as you can. Do one thing at a time, purposely, and enjoy the process. Look out the window at the changes in the sky, even if it's raining. Clear your head whenever you find yourself snarling up in critical, frustrated, negative thinking by picking a word that will help you stop. Sometimes people find the word *stop* a good place to begin with this. Remember that old saying you most likely learned at one time about "slowly count to ten instead of getting angry"? Well my friends, this works because it puts you back in control of your thoughts. You get to decide where to place your attention. Choose something you like, that brings you peace, that puts a smile on your face and warmth in your heart, and place your focus there. Take this time to pray a short prayer, to "have a little talk with Jesus" J

Learning to step outside ourselves helps us to become more clearly focused on the things which are most important. When we recognize that in life, "it's not about us", that our purpose here is for more than just an "I" centered life, or life focused on "me" or even "us" when that *us* is only a very few, we find life to be more deeply satisfying. We are able to extend to ourselves more grace even as we do so with others. Forgiveness and freedom for ourselves becomes more easy for us as we extend it more generously to others. This is a recipe for peace and happiness no matter your circumstances. It can be the beginning of a better quality of health as well as a better way of living.

In the blog of a Paramedic (Peter Canning) I recently read, I find this quote summarizes it well: "Any time you step out of your own life and get to see the world in a new way, it can't help but make you a better person ". This was written after volunteering 8 days in Gulfport, Mississippi immediately after Hurricane Katrina. Working in 100 degree weather, in the worst conditions imaginable and 12 hour shifts, he wrote a post entitled, "What's Important" and it was about the lives surrounding him during that time. What he could do, how much he could give, the amazing things he could share which he didn't even know mattered to others, all resulted in huge blessings to him.

August is a great time to prepare for the coming months ahead, when things ramp up everywhere and school begins again. Why not take this time to think about how you can "step out of your own life", in what ways you can offer your gifts and talents to bless others and discover new and deeper blessings in your own life as a result.

This month, let's get outside of ourselves remembering in life, "it's not about us" in order to be a blessing and as a result, to find more joy!