Thursday, May 30, 2013

Character

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I never thought I would say this, but I watched an episode of the show Chopped today that moved me to tears.  For people who haven't seen the show, the competitors are challenged to make 3-course meals with a set of mystery ingredients per round.  The competition was among 4 of the most humble and gracious lunch ladies, who unlike competitors I've seen in other episodes, rooted for and had nothing but love and respect for each other.

The focus of the episode was on improving children's nutrition and eliminating hunger.  It shed a light on something I was completely unaware was a problem in the U.S.  I was incredibly saddened to learn that 1 out of 4 children in America regularly goes hungry because their families can't afford to feed them enough.  I think it's important not to trivialize the issue even though compared to the rest of the world, we are fortunate (see this chart for 2010 world hunger statistics).  What tugged at my heart strings the most was how dedicated and genuinely compassionate these women were despite having unglamorous, low-paying, and often thankless jobs.

Stop Hunger Now is one program I found that is taking measures to solve the problems Chopped addressed. They aid in the distribution of high protein, nutrient-rich meals and other necessary resources to the world's most vulnerable people.  They operate meal packaging locations in 18 cities throughout the U.S. and will be opening four new locations, including several international facilities, this year.


The message of this episode reminded me of some words which strike a chord every time I read them:

"You can't do everything to make this world a more loving and peaceful place to be, but you can definitely do something. And I think it's essential for anyone who wants to feel their life has purpose, who desires to feel fulfilled each day, to figure out what that something is going to be. It doesn't have to be loud or public; one person can make a huge difference simply by spreading love as they move throughout their days. Holding a door open matters. Letting people merge on the freeway. Smiling at a stranger, lending an ear, a shoulder, a hand. It all counts. The surest way I know to be miserable is to make life all about what is or isn't happening for you. Because it's such a small worldview. It's a population of one, and we are built for connection, not isolation.

I know many people who think they will give back once they "make it". As if tomorrow is promised, and it's okay to think of today as a rehearsal or a place-holder leading to some fruitful outcome in the future. Today counts. Today is the only day you know for sure you've got. You can make a difference today, all day long. Life may unfold exactly as we'd like (although it rarely does!), or it may be full of twists and turns that throw your plan right on its head. Waiting to make a difference is a way of letting ourselves off the hook.

For people who've figured out what their purpose is, managing energy becomes the thing. You cannot be all things to all people, and you will never please everyone. If you spread yourself too thin, you won't get anything done well. If you're a giver by nature, saying no is a tough pill to swallow. Sometimes you have to say no to how you're being treated, because taking care of your heart and protecting your ability to shine really must come first. Otherwise what do you have to share, and where do you expect the fire to come from to get things done? To show up for the other people in your life, and to be of service? You have to figure out what feeds your soul, what lights you up from the inside, and then you really have to honor that and stoke that flame. Because that's your purpose, that's your gift, and you're meant to share it."

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

I really liked this post, especially the message at the end, which is the same mantra I've been trying to live by lately: "Be in the present."