And this is where I find myself today... Giving of myself and feeling overwhelmingly thankful.
Today, I drove to Staten Island and volunteered in an attempt to make a rather bleak Thanksgiving for many just a tad bit better. But the story really began a week ago... or even three weeks ago.
When Sandy hit, like many of us in the area, I had no access to TV... but I was watching news updates on Facebook, listening to reports on the radio, and things seemed bleak. As I ventured out the morning after the storm to assess the damage at the office (after all, in such a stressful situation, I knew many people would need to get their nervous systems tuned up and I wanted to make sure I'd have a place to do so!) I was in awe. Huge trees had toppled everywhere across roads, homes, telephone wires... This was so much bigger than I had imagined... Tears streamed down my face as the I drove, overwhelmed by the circumstances the NY/NJ area had found itself in, and as one who feels better when she's DOING something versus sitting on the sidelines, I ached to be of service somehow. I immediately put my offer out the the Universe... I posted on News Station sites offering help, I called the Emergency hotline in my town offering my services to emergency personnel, I started collecting non-perishables, I called the State Volunteer hotline... And yet I kept finding dead ends or limited response. Sure, when I got in touch with someone, they were grateful for my offer, but no one seemed to want to utilize the help I was offering.
I decided I needed to take a different approach. I prayed.
And what I determined was that I would be most useful using the gift I'm best at: Treating my patients, who were all living in the same overwhelmingly emotional soup that I was. After all, I am armed with one of the best tools for addressing stress known to the modern world!
So that's what I did.
But still, it ate away at me... thinking of these people that were cold, homeless, and had lost so much so suddenly on a holiday that's supposed to be about celebrating bounty, prosperity and stuffing ourselves silly. I was planning my "Annual Thanksgiving for those with nowhere to go" and wishing I could somehow invite all those who've been affected so drastically by the storm...
And then, an interesting turn of events occurred... All but one person canceled their Thanksgiving plans with me... I was wondering how this would all pan out... That's a lot of cooking for just two people... I was supposed to go grocery shopping that day... But I went to church, and they mentioned SandyThanksgiving.com. They were looking for volunteers to help serve food and clean.
I signed up immediately.
As the week went on, I got so many tempting offers from family and friends to join them at their meals... but I am not one to ignore such "coincidences"
And I'm so glad I listened. (Click here to read Part 2)