6 Ideas that “Serve Us” in Service

My youngest child is about to graduate from high school and although it is a melancholy time for me and my whole family it got me to thinking about all the ways in which my life and our lives as a family is also ending in one area and about to take flight in other areas. Throughout the years of my children’s entire school career I have volunteered and served their education. I realized this week that I now have to look at new ways in which I can volunteer and serve not just my children’s extended education but also the world I live in. While it may have seemed easy to serve under the guise of being their mom, volunteering was not always easy for me.

I have always believed that we are all here to help and support one another in whatever ways our success characteristics show up but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a struggle sometimes. To say it was easy for me, an introvert, to stand tall and proud and open myself up the way I did by volunteering throughout these past 22 years, is to say that touching a hot burner is no big deal. It was a very big deal but the more I did it, the more I learned about myself and the more I wanted to keep volunteering and serving. I had to keep my motivation in the forefront which is that my children should learn not only from the words I say but also through my actions.

“Service is one of life’s great joys. It’s a privilege to be in service. It’s a great relief, a gift, to be faced with a job that you know absolutely you must do for the benefit of someone else; as long as you give yourself to it. You don’t need to worry about anything but doing that job well, and the satisfaction, when you do, is very beautiful.”
Claire Messud

To serve means to do work FOR somebody else; a helpful action. There is no “I” in serve or in volunteer. When we serve the needs of others we leave our own personal self out of the equation except in the physical doing of the action we are called to perform.

Not long ago someone tried to make me see that the only time we serve others is when it isn’t too uncomfortable or time consuming; that the only real time we volunteer is when we are serving our own interests in the tasks we perform. I took it as an offense at first because I don’t generally see myself as a selfish, self-serving person that way. I had to find out if he was right so I volunteered, out of my comfort zone, I read a lot and I did some soul searching. What I learned was that anything we do out of our normal routine of life like making time to serve the needs of others even if we know it is for their betterment and benefit is going to compromise our personal time and feel uncomfortable. We tend to think of ourselves as inadequate to truly serve other’s needs. What is your story?

A painful life experience can always be used in service to others. You must be willing to be vulnerable and open to share the details of your story and all that you went through. Although it is your personal story about how you handled yourself, what you learned and now how you share the lessons is what makes you unique. Your perspective belongs only to you but can absolutely help someone else see something similar in a whole new way. You and your story matter a lot.

According to Dr. Rick Warren, pastor, theologian, philanthropist, and author of “The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?” “Serving is the opposite of our natural inclination. Most of the time we are more interested in “serve us” than service. Many people fear serving others because it makes them feel as if they will be viewed as weak, vulnerable, less than or that they will feel those things about themselves. But I believe life is backwards. Yielding to the service of others actually makes us feel whole, important, empowered, special, loving and kind.

I had to ask myself some tough questions:

*“Is LIFE supposed to be about the “I” or is there room, throughout my whole life time to leave the “I” out and make our existence about LOVE and TEAM for surely there is no “I” in those?

* Could it be that serving the needs of others wholeheartedly is just too simple a concept and therefore too simple an action to give meaning to our own existence as well as to those we would serve?

This led me to think about all the ways in which I have been outside my comfort zone in service to other people and trying to understand my approach to that service. Was it personal or was I actually in the shoes of the people I was serving? Honestly at times I would have to say a little bit of both BUT as I am getting older it absolutely is more in the shoes of those that I am serving because over the course of volunteering all these years in many different ways I have learned an important lesson:

Everyone is the same when there is a need, any need, to fill or support and the pure gratitude and gratefulness and love that comes as a result of fulfilling the need is actually quite addictive because it is coming from deep inside of the receiver and the giver.  For me ego gets left at home in a drawer, buried deep under a pile of photographs and papers and books and life lessons written in my gratitude journal.

“When we fix others, we see only brokenness. Fixers trust their own expertise. When we serve others we see the unborn wholeness of them; we collaborate with it and strengthen it. Others may then be able to see their wholeness for themselves next time.” –Rachel Naomi Remen

A person that can see their own wholeness, whether in big ways or small, is a gift because then that person will want to give to someone else. It is a natural, unstoppable feeling that is like a pull from deep inside your gut, the feeling to serve it forward.

So what can I do, now that I too am taking on my own life now that my children don’t need me as much?

I am a life coach and that is how I choose, among other ways, to serve others. Through my training and heart toward my new career I find myself volunteering a lot. With each new client I serve I am equipping myself to serve more people in a deeper, more wholehearted way.

Dr. Warren lists 6 ways to recognize your own power and willingness to serve others’ needs:

1-      Make yourself available to serve: make myself available to serve by always being ready when called whether it is through the PTO at a school, taking on extra responsibilities at work or when a client calls in between session meetings.

2-      Pay attention to needs: I try my very best to pay attention the needs around me. I look for ways to help people. I try to stay flexible in how I approach structuring my day having learned very well as a mom that days, months, life itself does not stick to any kind of structure or schedule; stay open to the road twisting. Dr. Warren quotes John Wesley, and Anglican cleric and theologian with this motto: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.” Wow!

3-      Do your best with what you have: This is where those fantastically unique success characteristics come in to play as well as keeping an open mind and a positive attitude. What are all the things that make you so equipped to serve others? The overall attitude is to just do what needs to be done and don’t worry how you look or what kind of time it costs you. Know for sure that you are absolutely good enough and needed enough to manage the task at hand.

4-      Do every task with equal dedication: Lead with your heart. Big or small tasks, seemingly trivial or vital tasks, perceived need or not, help as equally as if it were life or death. That kind of passion is what makes a great world better.

5-      Make sure you finish what you start: Serve and volunteer until the task is done. Don’t leave your post mid-stream. Be the person that others can always count on from start to finish. You build trust from them to you and from you to you.

6-      Don’t toot your own horn:  Stay humble and modest. Don’t brag or boast about what great deeds you have done. Your efforts will speak a whole lot louder than you ever could anyway. Become like beautiful wallpaper. Pleasant to look at and admire that serves an important purpose by making the atmosphere that much more special.

Here are a couple of questions for you….

What matters most to you, how long you live your life or how you live your life?

Does the “how” in either case only include what matters to you?

Dr. Warren says, “When you attempt to serve in ways that you are not equipped to serve, it feels like forcing a square peg into a round hole.” At times I agree with this statement. It may feel like it wastes your time but can still teach you a lesson. Better service comes when you know your abilities and stories and talents and can use them wholeheartedly and willingly. However by challenging yourself to a new task you have an opportunity to see what more you are made of.

There is a Danish Proverb that in a nut shell says: “What you are is the universe’s gift to you; what you do with yourself is your gift to the universe.”

After I read that proverb I had a thought: Why is it that the smaller our world seems to get the lonelier we feel? Perhaps it is because we are not reaching out enough in aid to others? How would you answer that question?

So, in a round-about response to the person that tried to lump me in with those that only serve for their own fulfillment I remembered the cliché, “You never know until you try.” If you want to truly know what you are made of, all of your gifts given to you by the universe, all the potential still locked inside of you, all of your personal success characteristics, take a look at this short list and see how you can start to serve others.

Call To Action:

1-      Always lead with your heart. Make a list of what brings you pleasure when you take action.

2-      What would you like to do but feel inadequate to try? What have you always wanted to try but felt scared or found a reason not to do when presented with an opportunity?

3-      Ask others what they admire about you and the things that you can do or they have seen you do. This is meant to enlighten you as to how you are seen in someone else’s eyes.

4-      Ask yourself, where have I already experienced success? This can be in a big or small way. Where would I enjoy experiencing success?

5-      Experiment by volunteering to serve anywhere and take note of how you feel and felt.

Were you charged? Were you indifferent? Were you bored? How involved did you allow yourself to get? Did you lose track of time? You might just learn something wonderful about yourself just because you tried.

 

Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear how living outside your comfort zone in service of others was the best use of your time and life.

“The interior joy we feel when we have done a good deed is the nourishment the soul requires.” –Albert Schweitzer

Images by bing.com

If you would like to explore more about personal growth, building and strengthening your success characteristics, or discovering what more you have inside of you please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. You can reach me by calling 203-560-3061 or send an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com.

4 Powerful Ways to make a Soul Connection

0001Black Swans

How do you receive messages from the universe?

In what ways do you stop what you are doing to listen to the messages?

Where in your body do you feel connected to the messages being sent to you?

How do you show gratitude for the messages?

“Gracious acceptance is an art…..an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving….. Accepting another person’s gift is allowing him/her to express his/her feelings for you.” –Alexander McCall Smith

For me, messages come along every day. I hear them in simple quotes that come along just at the “right” time, I hear them in lyrics to a song especially when I’ve heard the song many times but THIS time I am really listening, I hear them in certain words that people use that get my attention, I hear them in stories that clients tell me or stories that I read, or when emotion and energy are high. These messages are the ones that let me know that I am about to learn something and really need to pay attention.

I recently met someone that my soul connected with quickly and deeply. I wasn’t looking for this kind of connection and I wasn’t prepared for it when it came. I remember saying to this person upon our first face to face encounter how weird I was feeling at the moment we hugged “hello” because I felt like I had known him all my life. I felt peaceful and alive. I was easily able to maintain eye contact with him during the entire time we were in conversation, I was not distracted at all by what was going on around me, I recognized little things we had in common, passions for causes larger than ourselves that were in complete synchronicity to our life purposes, we connected in the same kind of spiritual/life language that each of us spoke and our curiosity about life itself seemed very much aligned. It was powerful for me because I had never known a connection like this in my life.

The connection for me was undeniable and I know it will stay with me forever.  I’d like to believe that the purpose for our encounter was to exchange an energy vibration that we each needed to recognize in order to move forward with our own life purpose. We are not friends or colleagues or acquaintances. As quickly as the connection was made it was gone. We were just two souls passing through each other’s lives for an oh so brief moment and I believe that the purpose was to leave a message. For me the message was to stay open, live with passion, receive with humility and gratitude, consider everything that comes my way and pay it forward and to find the love, endlessly, in everything I do.

“To regret one’s own experiences is to arrest one’s own development. To deny one’s own experiences is to put a lie onto the lips of one’s own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.” –Oscar Wilde

A soul connection doesn’t happen very often, at least not for me. It’s kind of like when Bugs Bunny knew in his body that a carrot was beneath his feet and his whole being would vibrate and shake and tremor. Do you remember that cartoon episode? That was a soul connection; no doubt, no hesitation, no second guessing. He was so in tune with his own soul vibrations that he knew to trust it when it showed up that strongly.

Perhaps you have had a similar experience like when you catch a suspended moment in a stranger’s eyes or when you seem to easily strike up a conversation with someone when you know well that making small talk is not your strongest character strength. I believe that you were recognizing the other person’s amazing beauty and vibration. You found a comfort in their soul and connected to it right away. These micro moments of recognition, of messages that are trying to reach your soul are so powerful and everlasting that you are changed forever. The universe is speaking to you, asking you to be present, to notice, to stay open, and to recognize your own beauty and vibration because you matter too.

“Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, Amen.” –George Saunders

Listening to your soul vibrations, making a soul connection to the messages that are being sent to you is a practice worth strengthening. Very often we block out the messages that come to us for reasons like we don’t feel deserving, or we don’t want to hear that particular message or we were taught at a young age to stay focused on what is right in front of us….not to read too much into things, etc.

What would happen if we stopped to smell the roses, to savor the moment a message was sent?

How much more connected to our soul, our inner voice would we be?

What beauty would we find with this new, enlightened realization that the message was trying to send?

I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” –Dr. Brene` Brown

The soul connection I felt to this new person that swiftly breezed through my life was a strong vibration that forced me to take notice. It opened up words inside of me that have been sitting at the surface of my soul but for some reason I was denying their existence. Words like reverence, awe, grace, spirituality, forgiveness, wonder, and self-worth. These are scary words for me to delve into. Each one of them is asking me to face demons that I feel I am not ready to face. But what if the message is that the universe feels that I am ready to face these words? What happens if I keep denying them? What happens if I open up each word one at a time and discover their power and their soul and make a connection?

So, that is what I am going to do. I am going to open each word and learn more about myself, about connection, and about how to use these amazing words to strengthen my existence and purpose.

I am starting with soul connections because that is the strongest feeling and word combination that has attached to me. Each of us has a unique energy or vibration that we live with and that lives within us.

Sometimes we let it drain out of us when we are feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, angry, lonely or unlovable. Sometimes we feel an abundance of energy and find it hard to contain. We may have recently had a lot of good things happen or we may be awakening to a new understanding or awareness that has changed our lives from the inside out and we feel compelled to connect with people of the same energy and awareness. I think that most of the time we live in a steady stream of energy that when honed properly guides us through our day to day and helps us make decisions and connections.

Have you ever noticed how you feel connected to someone romantically but not to everyone you meet?

Have you ever noticed how you feel connected to someone with a bit more compassion than normal, or clarity about their story, or playfulness or negativity?

Have you ever noticed feeling connected to someone but not recognizing connection back from them?

What were you meant to connect about?

Each soul connection vibrates your own energy toward that person’s own energy. Some people are meant to stay within a soul connection for a long time and some are meant to stay only for a short time but each connection serves a purpose. We may never know the true purpose but I believe that staying open to allowing those connections to be made and then knowing when to let go is very important. I don’t believe in empty soul connections. I may not feel the same energy connection toward someone that has a strong energy connection to me but that doesn’t mean that my purpose in their life is meaningless or vice versa. I do believe that when the purpose is served the relationship will end and we will both be better for having made that connection, if we allow for that learning and awareness.

So how do you begin to create awareness toward a soul connection?

Here are 4 ways that have helped me to create connection:

Live with intention:

“You’ve been given the innate power to shape your life….but you cannot just speak change, you have to LIVE change. Intent paired with action builds the bridge to success. You can’t just want it; you have to do it, live it… BE it! Success isn’t something you have, it’s something you DO! – Steve Maraboli

My soul connection came about because my intention was to network with people who had the same intention as I do to help bring about a positive change, one person at a time. Had I not taken the leap of faith and initiated the conversation, the connection, then none of this would be possible.

Ask for connection through the universe and through reaching out to other people:

“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” —  Maya Angelou

As I mentioned above, I reached out. I made the connection live through declaring my intention to connect. I always ask the universe to please guide me to the people that can help me so that I can then in turn help them. Every person I meet has the potential to connect me to the next person and get me to where I want to go. I know when I’ve connected positively because the feedback is intense and positive.

Seek out attributes in other people, places and activities that make you feel alive:

“Seek out that particular attribute which makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive, along with which comes the inner voice that says, ‘This is the real me,’ and when you have found that attribute, follow it.” –William James

This is an on-going process for me. I am always looking for ways to expand my knowledge, my connections, and my tribe. I try to look for people and groups and activities that are of the same thought processes and intentions as mine. I believe more soul connections are possible if I surround myself with people who think about the world and see the world the way I do or hope to. However, there is always something to learn from those that exist outside of our own attributes. Staying open and curious will always lead to some stage of enlightenment.

Leave something behind that your soul can connect to when it goes to the next plane of existence:

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies…something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die…It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.” –Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

This to me is one of the ultimate ways in which we make soul connections that last not only in this life plane but carries over to every other life plane that our soul has. Great examples are the souls of my children. I have endless, as far as I know, opportunity to change and shape and mold their souls from the way it was when they were born into something that is a reflection of my existence when my hands, my heart, my words are taken away. The same holds true when someone says to you that you are unforgettable. You have left a seed of yourself in their soul to last through infinity. What could be better than that?

Call to Action

Make a list of ways in which you can start to create intention toward making soul connections. Take small, meaningful steps toward bringing your intention to life. Recognize when a connection is grabbing your attention. Take time to notice where in your body you feel connected and notice how you feel. What words come up for you at that moment? How can you use those words to create more intention and pay it forward?

Good luck. I hope our souls meet someday…..

Journey On…..

If you would like to explore more about making soul connections or would like to learn how to activate your intentions toward purpose please call for a free discovery session in my Art of YOU coaching program. You can reach me by sending an email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com

 

 

Is there a difference between a hope and a wish?

 

hope 001   “If there’s a single lesson that life teaches us, it’s that wishing doesn’t make it so.”
Lev Grossman, The Magicians

Is there a difference between a hope and a wish? The Webster’s dictionary defines hope as the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. The word wish is defined as to want, desire, long for. In an article written on the website  www.differencebetween.net  an example is given in sentence form that states thus:

“’John wishes he could pass the exam” and “John hopes he passes the exam.” In the first sentence, John has this impossible desire to pass the exam, but he doesn’t think he could. Meaning he’s hopeless so he wishes. On the other hand, the second sentence implies that John thinks it is likely for him to pass the exam, but there are still some chances of failing it so he hopes for his success.”

I find that the more I have learned about wishes the less empowered I have felt about this childhood word yet I also find that I use it often in everyday conversation. Take today for instance, it is snowing and I said to my daughter, “Oh I wish it would stop snowing so that we can get on with our accomplishing while the year is still so young.” I know very well that the year will move along and the snow will stop falling and the season will change. The distinction I make at this moment is that although I know my wish will not affect the change I am seeking I hold hope within me that I just have to endure the passage of time to get to the next season. Wishes may get me nowhere at this moment but without the wish the hope could not be born and that hope carries me through to the next possibility. Hope offers the starting point to the next possibility.

What I have learned so far is that it all starts and ends with hope. As I was nearing the end of the article from the website, I read,

“Simply put, “wish” should be used when referring to an impossibility or to a desire with little chance of coming true. “Hope” should be used in a sentence that implies a longing for things or events that are highly probable to happen.”

The pessimist in me would simply wish for the world to heal and for there to be peace on earth but the undying optimist in me doesn’t want to believe that I am referring to an impossibility with little chance of my wish coming true. I want desperately to hope that peace is highly probable and that I can start right this minute to work toward that outcome.

Where do I start? I often find that when I have a question in my heart and I say it out loud that within days an answer comes around. Has that ever happened to you? Deepak Chopra says, “If you live the questions, life will move you into the answers.” I have to hope that in order for him to say that he has experienced the actual power of those words. So, in the case of my wish for peace my actions could be something as simple as starting with a prayer for peace. Where will that lead me simply because I asked the question and created an action step? Now that this hope is part of my consciousness I imagine that I will be much more aware of possibilities toward affecting peace. A next question might look like, “What can I teach my children so that they too can affect peace on earth?”

“We dream to give ourselves hope. To stop dreaming – well, that’s like saying you can never change your fate.”
Amy Tan, The Hundred Secret Senses

Today I attended a webinar featuring the author, Shane Lopez, of the new book, Making Hope Happen. In his book he talks at length about how hope is necessary but not sufficient for happiness and that it is a valuable virtue that sustains us. Shane Lopez is a hope researcher. Listening to his presentation I could not help but be mesmerized by his message and research:

“Hope encompasses awe, interest, joy, excitement and euphoria however, hope also walks hand in hand with fear and can hijack us. If you have hope for something you want don’t let go of what kind of leap of faith it will take to work through all the steps toward your goal. Big thinking without stick-to-itiveness is not hoping, it’s wishing. The message is clear”, he says. “Hope matters. Hope is a choice. Hope can be learned and spread to others. How well we hope determines how well we live.”

I believe this because I see it with my coaching clients. As we work together to achieve their goals I can feel their hope rising and their determination gets stronger. Their energy is contagious. In order to build hope we must first hold hope within us. I can think of no other way to spread the idea of hope than to bring it in to conversation.

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
Shel Silverstein

Call to Action

1-      How can you hold hope within you?

2-      What is one way you can spread hope to others?

3-      If you could hope for something, what would it be and why?

I invite you to share your hopes with me. If enough people read about your hopes then we have successfully created energy around your hope and I do believe the universe will respond kindly. I also invite you to go to shanelopez.com and take his hope assessment. It will only take 2 minutes, no personal information required, but the results are a fantastic catalyst toward discovering your own level of hope and how to start creating the world energy we need to balance the turmoil. Journey On….. with hope, Lisa.

If you would like to learn more about how coaching with Lisa can help you please email to: lisa@journeyoncoaching.com