Oih. These Fall months have been challenging for our family. Small business and self-publishing are really hard. And scary. Sometimes I feel like it’s ‘Us vs. The World’ and I’m ready to put up my dukes. Other times, it feels more like He-Man and I are Frodo and Samwise just after they blew-up Middle Earth’s Mt. Vesuvius while unloading a piece of unwanted jewelry.
You know the part: The world crumbling around them, lava slowly consuming the rock they’ve taken refuge on, Frodo is in serious need of a Band-Aid and some Chapstick…It’s a precarious situation. They finally resign themselves to just letting the lava consume them.
But it doesn’t. They’re saved by really nice, gigantic birds and the end of the story is simple and beautiful and poetic….all the good things. It kinda makes me wish we lived in the Shire…He-Man could be the chiropractor to the Hobbits. I could write stories for Samwise’s cute little Gamgees and we could learn to really love turnips.
But the reality is, we’re here on…um,’Top Earth’? Where we are now exactly where our grad-school admin said we would be at this point in private practice. It’s nothing surprising but it’s still really, REALLY intense. At the end of every month I think, ‘Phew! We made overhead! There’s going to be another month. A few more years of this and our business loan will be paid and He-Man’s patient base will have grown enough to stand on its own.
A few more years of this.
It’s a daunting idea. (Where are those really nice, big birds when you need them?)
During the past year, I’ve found myself saying (usually with fist clinched to the sky), ‘When we’re finally established, I’m going to know what small-business desperation looks like and I’m going to know exactly how to help…’ OR ‘When we’re no longer terrified of the monthly bills looming in front of us, I’m gonna start an organized relief effort for other families going through the same thing.’
Recently, as I caught myself thinking this yet again, another thought immediately followed: ‘Why are you waiting? Your needs are met. Your family is safe. You are still in a position to do so much more to help.’
Although some of the ducks I would like to have in a row aren’t there yet, I knew this idea was true.
A woman I greatly admire shared a story about a London woman who made quilts for refugees in Kosovo after their Civil War. Thousands upon thousands had died and millions were displaced. With the changing seasons coming on, cold and starvation became a threat as their nation began its recovery efforts. Having driven from her home to deliver her offerings to that particular country, she was en route back when she felt a prompting that, indeed what she had done was a very good thing BUT there was more she could do, specifically for her neighbors and the people around her. The result became a lifetime of spreading good and hope and joy to others.
This has nagged at me. Human misery is rampant right now. It comes in all shapes and sizes. It knows no limits and wants only to consume those it targets.
I know there is more I can do when those around me are faced with soul crushing hurts but have wondered what/how considering my limited resources.
Recently, I happened to connect with a beautiful family who’s dealt with the trauma of juvenile cancer. Gratefully, after aggressive cancer treatment, their son’s prognosis is promising now. They are an amazing family. Their strength is breathtaking.
In hearing their story there’s an element of it, shared by their sweet mother, that has haunted me ever since our first conversation.
In keeping the many appointments they faced in order to heal their son, their family was introduced to an idea unfathomable to most of us: There are children in the foster care system who endure cancer treatment and chronic illness alone.
My heart can hardly handle the concept.
And consider this:
In the past year, our country has become more divided by politics. Violence and natural disasters have devastated communities and our world has seemed to plunge deeper into despair and depression.
How many of those people are grieving the loss of a loved one?
How many face the prospect of every night alone?
How many people are facing the daunting task of drug addiction recovery?
How many children do you know who feel broken, awkward or bullied to the point they are suddenly and wholly withdrawing and manifesting symptoms with potential consequences that are later unbearable?
How many people do you know whose marriages have ended recently?
How many residents of your local care facilities are getting regular visitors? Can you imagine, there are many who aren’t?
How many people you know are battling cancer or chronic disease?
I imagine as you read this list, several people come to mind. I suspect you’re desperately seeking ways to ease their burdens too…yet you don’t know how or are afraid your meager offering wouldn’t be worth it?
I’ve milled over this for months and have come up with an idea. May I propose:
‘The Bad Day Box Brigade’
The idea is a simple one. Mindfully reach out to those around you who are suffering. Realize that usually there’s little you can do to fix another person’s problems BUT providing a moment of relief, regardless of the ‘Whys’ or how brief that relief such a gift can give, it may help that person or family endure the hardest parts of what they’re going through. I propose accomplishing this through a box of individually wrapped surprises they can unwrap when they need it most.
It’ll look a little something like this:
Dear friends did this for us years ago. It brought moments of joy for our children when they needed connection and support from others. I will try never to underestimate the little gestures from this experience.
It made all the difference for us.
I’d like to organize efforts to fill personalized gift boxes of such surprises for those who need the support. This offering can be anything from bubbles to matchbox cars, from chocolate to chapstick, from hand lotion to postcards. Anything to ease the hurt another is feeling.
And that’s not all. There must be a way to connect one another, to prove to those who need encouragement that they are not alone.
To accomplish this, I will be placing a self addressed, stamped envelope and blank card in each box, inviting the recipient to write words of support and love to another who needs it. Through this effort, I believe we can create a network of people who are able to lift each other and help others find the strength to do so as well.
If you would like to and are in the position to help, please join me in this effort. I’m looking for the following:
1. Love letters. Encouragement. Quotes to inspire and enlighten.
2. Small, wrappable gifts for all ages. You donate the items, we’ll wrap ‘em for you.
3. Pretty Boxes
4. Ideas, opportunities for service, specific outlets to reach out to.
5. Teammates!! Let’s branch out. Together, our offerings and potential to lift where we stand increases.
6. Someone to help us design a mission statement and perhaps a logo?
7. Postage and stationary. Boxes that will be mailed will be around the size of a medium USPS priority package so flat rate postage in that amount would be most helpful.
Please keep in mind, we’re just getting started. If we can organize this effort we have the opportunity to do great good. There is so much of it out there. We can be a part of it. Please, please share your ideas. I want to hear them.
Perhaps the title of this blog is a bit misleading. I don’t suffer from the grand delusion that we can save the world this way BUT I do believe, through well-placed support, we can help save the moment for someone and if saving that moment provides enough relief for a person to get through the day, then maybe ‘saving the world’, at least for them, isn’t that far of a stretch.
Let’s do this…Who’s in?