Spirit, Stuff, and Seekers (a #1000Speak post)

I had a beautiful post written for this month’s 1000Speak, all about Spirit and Stuff and kindness to strangers. I spent hours crafting it, working late into the night to hone it to perfection a readable state, and was so tired I was falling asleep at the keyboard. That was my mistake, because with a few misplaced fingertips, I deleted the entire thing, and replaced it with an insouciant ‘v’, which sat at the top of the screen, laughing at me as the cursor winked.

No amount of pressing ‘undo’or hitting the ‘back’ button would return my post, so I shut down and went to bed angry at myself and disappointed. I was angry and upset and determined not to join in because clearly I was incapable of creating a #1000Speak post this month. BUT…the spirit of compassion worked its magic on me, alongside a few happenstance events and discoveries in my life. I decided to make the time to re-write, because it matters – it’s bigger and more important than me and my mistakes and my disappointment. The Village needs me and my voice, as it needs you and yours.

Be The Village

In my beautiful, lost post, I suggested that it might be easier to be kind to strangers, even not knowing who they are and whether they’re really ‘deserving’ of kindness and support, precisely because of the unknowns – when we know people, we tend to judge, and perhaps decide for ourselves whether they are worthy of our intervention. Anonymous recipients allow us to just feel a glow of having done the right thing without wondering what our donation will really be spent on (though I suppose there’s the added advantage of an organisation making sure that monies are appropriately allocated).

I think I also urged you to remember the SPIRIT of the season, in amongst all the having and giving and receiving of STUFF – that your internal happiness meters will raise more with delighted celebration of kith, kin and togetherness rather than wasteful indulgence and excess. I probably suggested a few charities like Crisis UK, which offers homeless people a place to go on Christmas day (or the American counterparts like this Volunteers of America project in OK), and ensure that they have the best day possible, with their material needs well met for that day (we’re talking low-down Maslow here; food, shelter, water, human contact.) I even linked to an initiative by gravy (for reals) company Bisto, which is running a ‘spare chair‘ initiative, linking families with lonely elderly, encouraging them to provide a meal and a few hours of company over Sunday lunch for an old person who would otherwise be alone.

Then, after my post deleted and I discovered a friend was undergoing a wickedly bad mental health crisis, I also thought that it would behove me to point you in the direction of some organisations which support people whose mental health is fragile, and under extra pressure due to the time of year. The Samaritans offer a phoneline that anyone can call to talk and air their struggles. For those in America who are desperate, there are hotlines run by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. These organisations are LIFESAVING, and need donations to keep going, but equally, YOUR intervention could be lifesaving if you happen to catch someone at the right moment to give them a boost and let them know they matter, and to encourage them to continue. Keep talking to each other, lovelies.

Today I discovered The Compassion Collective, which is asking for maximum donations of $25 in order to support refugees in crisis, who have nothing at all. By crisis, we’re talking people who are living in mud, without blankets, food, or clean water. With little hope. With such desperation there have been reports of children’s feet rotting and their mothers begging to be shot so that they no longer have to witness the children’s suffering. I’ve heard about parents sending their children out into the ocean on rubber rings, hoping they’ll make landfall somewhere safer. I’ve read about people with no other options, drowning by the boatload as they flee situations most of us can’t even envisage in our nightmares.

The Compassion Collective is brand new, and has the compass as its symbol, because compassion is humanity’s North Star. The call is for us to be remembered as the generation who stepped up and helped when there was need. That we fed the hungry, clothed the naked, sheltered the homeless, and MADE A DIFFERENCE. That we LOVED.

In 24 hours, they raised over half a million dollars and they’re now on their way to the round million bucks. That’s a beautiful testament to the love and compassion in people’s hearts, and it will do a HUGE lot of good.

Let’s keep the good GOING, shall we?

1000Speak

Because here’s the thing – people get LOST at this time of year:

LOST, and overwhelmed by all of the STUFF there is to do and see and buy and prepare and organise and manage and keep up with. They become slaves to the commercialised norms of Christmas and break under the weight of expectations placed upon them by convention and culture.

LOST, because the stresses of the season are too much to take, and their minds shut down (seriously, if you have a friend who you know has mental health issues, DO make a point of checking in with them and make sure they’re ok) and they wonder how/if they will be able to carry on.

LOST, because there is no-one left to remember them, and the people who might notice them are wrapped up in their own worlds.

LOST, because they disappear from the front pages and the tv screens as we tune into Christmas movies and new releases and latest gizmos and recipes and being with our own people and trying to just keep up with our own lives.

LOST, because they’re on the run from harm, and they have no-one.

I want you to look past the STUFF, re-engage with the SPIRIT of the season, and be SEEKERS.

I’ve realised that it is no longer enough for us to just mean well, or to do incidental good – we need to be mindful, take responsibility, and make actions with INTENT. I know, I *know* it’s a huge ask, but these people – these lost ones – are our human brothers and sisters. They matter, but as has ever been the way with the marginalised, they won’t know it unless those of us in the mainstream make purposeful efforts to reach out to them.

SEEK opportunities to include people who otherwise get forgotten. Make eye contact and give someone a smile. Especially if they seem to be alone, or if they’re working to serve you over Christmas.

SEEK chances to connect with people you know, especially if they have mental health issues. You don’t have to be their therapist, but just check in, say hi, and let them know you’re thinking of them. It could make a HUGE difference, and even if not, no-one loses when you invest in friendship.

SEEK ways to encourage the growth of community in your local area. Whether it’s donating to a community centre or a local initiative, or getting involved yourself, just find something and DO it. It might take time or money, both of which are precious commodities, but we all need each other, and ACT! This is YOUR community, and it’s important to help it get stronger.

SEEK organisations to donate to, which are helping people in desperate need: homeless shelters; refugees; domestic violence refuges; clean water initiatives…any of them and more. This action costs, yes, but do it anyway. Please, please? Because you CAN, and without going into protracted arguments over the relative merits of moral/ethical outlooks…you’re human, they’re human, and it’s the right thing to do. If you didn’t get me a Christmas present, do this for me instead. I’m aware I’m not going to be any good at justifying this because no-one (least of all me) has the right to tell you what you should do with your money, but seriously…you should do this. I’m aware most people who read this blog already donate to organisations which help, and I’m thrilled that my readers are such an altruistic and genuinely compassionate bunch, but there are always more needs to be me. Help meet one more…for me?

Lastly, though, lovelies, SEEK ways to self-nurture, because otherwise you, too, might end up LOST. Draw lines in the sand and start over. Create time-outs for yourself. Say “No” to things without justifying it. Take tea-breaks from life. Ask for help. Don’t bend over backwards so far you snap. Chances are you’re the lynchpin in your own life; if you take time to widen the goalposts, lower your expectations a little, find ways to keep connected with your own inner spark, and what matters to you, you’ll cut through the dross and noise, and make the season golden.

Have a brightshiny Christmastime, and know that my wish for you is this; in every way you seek, you FIND. I have a feeling that what you’ll find is, as ever, #LoveWins.

Be SEEKERS, my lovelies, and find ways to be the gold.

Be Seekers and find ways to be the Gold

This month, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion continues to work toward a better world with a focus on COMPASSION.

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43 thoughts on “Spirit, Stuff, and Seekers (a #1000Speak post)

  1. Pingback: Spirit, Stuff, and Seekers (a #1000Speak post) ...

  2. Pingback: Lovelies, Merry Christmas | Considerings

    • Thanks so much Hotberg. I hope that the human spirit prevails and that we ALL live with compassion, hope, and love this season. Have a gorgeous holiday, and I hope you have LOTS of happiness 🙂

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  3. Pingback: Compassion For Christmas, #Christmas #Compassion #1000Speak | Her Headache

  4. Thanks for such a wonderful, inspirational post, Lizzie. Action stations…golly! I’ve crashed in my couch feeling like mashed potato. My brain has gone somewhat dead and I have been thinking I don’t need to think about food because we’re eating out tomorrow but then I just remembered dinner tonight. Think I’d better go and find myself a nice chook to roast.
    For me “charity” begins at home. It’s been a difficult year with my ongoing health issues, my daughter’s health issues and then all her end of year concerts and performances and we have a son as well. My husband gets depression and just a sense of being completely overwhelmed by the unrelenting juggernaut called “life”. I am much more upbeat but I don’t have that responsibility on my shoulders.
    I saw a friend this week and she really touched my heart and made me feel better. She didn’t do much and indeed she had schizophrenia and health issues herself but despite her diagnosis, she still thinks logically and at least seems pretty good. She just cared. Showed respect. These aren’t big things so why are they so hard to come by? Why don’t people encourage each other more instead of crushing them under foot? It doesn’t really make sense to me.
    I know you do you ten things of thankful so I thought I’d say how thankful I am for the community I’ve found through #1000speak. I am also grateful to my husband, Mum and Dad who support me financially, physically and emotionally when at times, I can give very little in return. That is very humbling. Thankful for friends who pitch in. I have really needed the village!
    Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and appreciate you’ve had a fair bit of change yourself this year and hope Christmas goes well! xx Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhhh Rowena there’s nothing wrong in organising yourself first – that was my last point; that before we can do anything else properly, we need to self-care.

      I’m so glad you have a village of people around you – in Real and in the 1000Speak community. It SO matters to have people who care, whoever and however they happen. Demonstrating care and respect for others is ALWAYS a good thing, in my book, and I think it happens more than we think it does, but maybe we notice the negatives more.

      I love that you wound a TToT into your reply and I hope you have a glorious Christmas (and that you found something for dinner!). Mine should be quietish and beautifulish, thank you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. O.M.G. Lizzi…you have written so much awesome within this tiny page. With each paragraph, I could feel a megaphone being raised to my lips with a resounding “Oh YES! THIS!” springing forth.

    Each of your paragraphs spoke to me in a very personal way, but this one plain punched me in the nose:

    “I’ve realised that it is no longer enough for us to just mean well, or to do incidental good – we need to be mindful, take responsibility, and make actions with INTENT. I know, I *know* it’s a huge ask, but these people – these lost ones – are our human brothers and sisters. They matter, but as has ever been the way with the marginalised, they won’t know it unless those of us in the mainstream make purposeful efforts to reach out to them.”

    Just today, these words crossed my mind, “Surely people know my intentions, right? They know where my heart is, right?”
    Maybe not. Good intentions aren’t enough – thank you for confirming.
    My dear, sweet, Lizzi – I do hope you have a wonderful and blessed Christmas. I know that I tend to be quiet and disappear for days at a time, but you are never far from my thoughts and you are always in my heart. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • My sweet friend, your words are balm to my anxious mind, because that paragraph was the one which worried me most. I felt very much as though this post could fall one of two ways – either wishy-washy, or preachy, and I hoped to walk the fine knife-edge between the two, because I rather want to be incredibly insistent that people take action, but I know it’s not my place – it has to be between them and their conscience and their heart.

      Our best intentions are shown through our actions. Your actions (and your words) are beautiful, love-filled and easy to decipher. Mine at the moment are less so, but I mean well and I am finding ways to do good things, perhaps as offset, even though I know it doesn’t work that way.

      YOU have enabled me to do some wonderous love-scattering in the world lately, and I’m so grateful. I have plans to scatter love your way soon, but just know that the seeds of kindness you sowed are growing.

      I hope you have a Christmas filled with health, hope, and HAPPINESS, and even when you’re quiet, I adore you. I just imagine you off with your wonderful family, having glorious times In Real 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Honeybee, what a gift you have bestowed upon us! I am glad you decided to rewrite it . 🙂 I am seeking and will continue to seek in the year ahead and do for others. Just the other day I was telling my kids that we can do things for strangers but close to home we know people who need the kindness. They need a hug, a visit, a lunch and a smile. So I encouraged them to scatter kindness to them first and then broaden their reach. No matter, it’s the scattering that matters. xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I hate that too, when I write something and lose it all, having to start over.
    But you are right, and it’s a great lesson, that sometimes the second attempt turns out even better in the end.
    You represent #1000Speak extremely well Lizzi.
    Working on my post for Christmas. I like the longer window of time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Kerry. I’m glad you think I did a good job with this one. I did get pretty sulky though, behind the scenes. I guess it’s more about what we choose to do once the bad stuff’s happened that shows our character. Perhaps.

      Looking forward to yours 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think so, because we’re freed (to an extent) of the responsibility of knowing what the ‘end user’ is like and how the money will be used – we just get to feel altruistic and happy to have helped.

      Thank you, Sarina, and thank you for sharing it *HUGS* I feel like I haven’t seen you around in ages – you doing ok?

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      • I have my on / off moments
        Also super busy at work + travelling a lot this month so I’m not always around.

        As for giving and knowing the end user, the fear is also of raising an expectation in someone else, which one may not always be able to meet. Sigh, I may just write a post on the matter. In general people see me as being very stingy, since I find it so hard to give.
        (hugs)

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        • No, that actually makes a lot of sense because if you create an expectation or dependency you might end up enabling rather than really helping. Charities and official organisations are probably better placed to manage people’s needs in a ‘bigger picture’ kind of a sense.

          I hope the travelling is fun, and the work not too taxing.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. And the Compassion Collective went over their million dollar goal before they hit 40 hours!! So beautiful. Thank you for sharing your compassion!! Christmas is a bit challenging because my mother decided to leave this world on a Christmas Eve day. As I’ve done a lot of healing work around our relationship, each year is better (this is the 3rd year since) and better. Have a blessed Christmas.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I love this. Through the darkness. Through the storms, you are a shiny glittery ball of light and compassion. I can’t imagine a world without your ray of sunshine, so thank you, my sweet sweet friend, for reminding me of what is truly important.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ohhh my sweet friend, what a lovely thing to say! Thank you *grinning HUGE* I think deep down, my nature is to be a bit *twinklysparkly* and I hope I never lose that. I hope I never stop trying to inspire people to shine brighter and be the best they can be…#LoveWins, my dear, and I ❤ you *blows kisses*

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