Archive | August, 2018

The Gift

29 Aug

The last 18 months have been exceptionally difficult for my family and me.  In May of 2017, my job was eliminated at the healthcare software company where I had been the marketing leader for the past 18 months.  The combination of anger, betrayal and the blow to my self-esteem from the loss of a job where I had an incredible team, felt I was well respected across the company, and was delivering great work, was a terrible setback that I really wasn’t sure how to recover from.

Layer onto this my age and the stage of life and career that I occupy and it has been very difficult to find new work.  I have been lucky to find a variety of consulting projects that have supplied limited income and I continue to push in that direction.

That said, during this time, we have been stunned to experience kindness after kindness from friends and family who know what we’ve been going through and have been eager to help.  There have been two incredible and extreme expressions of this kindness.  Both of them have reinforced our faith in both the value of friendships and in the nature of humanity to do good.

But one gesture in particular really has opened our eyes to the concept of paying it forward. The short answer is dear friends of ours, whom we’ve only known for a short period of time provided a gift for us that was both something we dearly wanted and needed and well, was costly and therefore, we couldn’t afford.  It was given without any expectation of repayment whatsoever – only a request that when our fortunes change for the more positive, that we do something similar for someone else.  Deal. And what they provided was so valuable for us as a couple, for us individually, everything.

But what they and our other friends have given us was far, far more than what they intended. They and the other kindnesses big and small have opened our eyes to the power of kindness and to doing as many good things for others as we can.  We obviously don’t have the financial means to do much, but we can give of ourselves – our time, our efforts, our talents, our labor and more. We can thoughtfully give away things we don’t need rather than just throwing them away, and we can thoughtfully volunteer and provide value to our volunteering far more than just “showing up.”  This has manifested in donating more time for organizations, giving away things to people that need them without any thought of selling them for a profit, taking more time and effort in the things we’ve volunteered for, being there for friends and family when they need favors – and offering without even being asked.

Bottom line is, now when the call comes, the thought process isn’t “can we?”, “do I have time?”, “ugh, I don’t want yet another commitment …” to “Ok, what needs to be done? What can we do? We’re in. We’re happy to help.”  And when faced with an in-the-moment situation where you can either help, or go on with life, we step up.

It’s one thing to help a friend through a moment. It is entirely another thing to make them better people. These people helped unlock something in us.

Those in this story know who they are and what they have done for us. Thank you for making me a better person, for making Robin and me a better couple, and better citizens of the world.

As you were,

Stew

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