broken tree heart

What’s harder?

A. Having a broken heart

OR

B. Loving someone with a broken heart

The answer is A.

Heartaches acute pain can pack a punch that threatens to knock out those we love. Most of us have also experienced being knocked out by its punch. And, it isn’t pretty. Valentine’s week is especially tough for the heart broken.

When someone you love has a broken heart almost everything you do for them is an act of service. This is also when your words have an incredible power to comfort, heal and uplift. Here are some things I try to say because there were times when I desperately needed to hear them.

10 Things to Say that Serve a Broken Heart

  1. “This is going to hurt for much longer than you hope it will. I need to tell you this so you don’t expect more from yourself than what is possible”.
  2. “You will likely do something desperate or embarrassing if you haven’t already. You might even do it multiple times. That’s alright. We’ve all been there.”
  3. “Yes, my life is busy but I have time for you.”
  4. “He didn’t know you. He knew a version of you in a bad relationship. That isn’t who you are in total”.
  5. “I want better for you. I know you miss her a lot. But you could receive so much more love than what you were getting.”
  6. “Be sad. You’re giving this fight to get happy again all you have. But whenever you need to take some time to be sad you shouldn’t feel bad about it.”
  7. “I need you in my life. He may not have needed you and that hurts, but I do.”
  8. “Yes, I think you’re correct. You made some mistakes. So did she. But you’ll get a chance to do better next time and I know you will.”
  9. “Yes, I am tired of talking about him, but I’m happy to keep doing it if it is still helping you move on. Is it?”
  10. “I love you and I’m not saying that to make you feel better. I really love you”.

What do you say?

What do you like to hear?

The comment floor is open.

Pinkflowers

How can I help?

Recently, a friend’s young and insanely full of life husband passed away suddenly. I was with her the day before he died. It still runs through my mind every insignificant thing we talked about that day. Even writing this now, it is hard to believe this isn’t a fictional story. When truly awful things happen to people we care about we want to help them. We want to be doing something (anything) to make them feel supported.

I came across the Lotsa Helping Hands website when offering to deliver food for my friend following the funeral. Someone had set up a private community page for her. Once accepted into her community, I could sign up for days to do tasks and deliver food. These communities can be used for shorter term support like during the early days of grieving or when someone is recovering from a medical issue. It was originally designed to provide longer term support to care for caregivers. These are the people that provide daily assistance to another person like an aging parent or a special needs child.

The possibilities to coordinate and serve each other through these sites are endless. I just wanted to pass this on as we are all likely to need it some day. Please tell everyone you know.

You can find them at www.lotsahelpinghands.com.

Would this have helped you during a difficult time?

Device Love

Do you think of Facebook as a place to serve? If not, check out these seven ways to serve your Facebook friends more. This is just another way to weave more serving into your day.

  1. If you really like it – Like it. Sometimes I read a funny status update and literally laugh out loud. Then that’s the end of it. I don’t like the post or engage with the poster in any way. The same goes for interesting shared articles. I enjoy the message and then quickly scroll on to other updates. It’s a missed opportunity to send a small positive message to the poster. And let’s be honest – it takes half a second of effort. This isn’t about liking every post that comes our way. It’s just about giving others more genuinely positive interactions.
  2. Broaden your circle of commenting. Most of us limit our comments on Facebook to things posted by our bestie, our family, and the people we talk to offline anyway. Facebook is a great place to interact with our close friends. But we may miss a chance to strengthen our broader social networks. Think about the last 10 comments you’ve posted and consider if they were all to one group of friends. If so, maybe it’s time to give others some love.
  3. Support the dreamer in your life – Share their content. If you have someone in your life that is trying to get a new community service or business venture off the ground consider sharing their posts. This is a simple act of support. It shows that you want to help them spread the word. It also sends information to your network that could be useful to them.
  4. Consider compassionate online celebrating. When you get engaged, most people in Facebookland will be happy for you. The same goes with when you get pregnant, when you have a baby, when you celebrate an anniversary, when you get to go out with your mother on Mother’s day (because she is still alive and vibrant), when you take that trip to Paris, when you lose 20 pounds, and when you realize you’re gorgeous and that everyone should see your face frequently so they can appreciate just how gorgeous you are. When these things happen, most of us on Facebook are genuinely happy for you. Please don’t censor happiness out of your posts. Just try to consider the feelings of those in your audience that may be wishing for what you have in that exact moment. Try to post with humility and with compassion. This isn’t a science. I don’t know exactly how to do it. But if merely thinking about it makes our posts more compassionate then I hope we will be serving someone.
  5. Do not accept friend requests from people you do not know. It opens all of us up to privacy issues or something worse like pictures of discount sneakers routinely showing up in our Newsfeed. Please don’t do this. You’ll serve us all. Thanks.
  6. Write unique Birthday messages. Someone recently told me that writing only “HB!” on someone’s Wall was an appropriate birthday message. I thought it seemed a bit impersonal. Try to take an extra minute and craft a sentence or two that expresses a unique message for that recipient. Our online friends are worth it.
  7. Defriend your ex-boyfriend and anyone else you might use Facebook to make jealous. Does defriending them seem too mean? Then create a list that sends your updates to everyone but them. Sure making them jealous was fun the first few times. But you’re better than that. Plus it is probably making your posts less authentic. This makes it harder for your real friends to experience the real you. Do yourself and the defriended person this favor. It will serve you both.

Agree?

Disagree?

What did I miss?

LoveKeys

It’s hard to ignore the elephant in this month – Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day stirs a variety of emotions for people (and not all are positive emotions). I feel  blessed that Valentine’s Day sits in the middle of our glorious February. It reminds us that we get to decide what a day focused on love means. We get to decide how we spend this month and with whom. We get to live our unique versions of love.

I encourage you to focus February on serving those you love. As in January, you will find this month’s service ideas below. Try them if you feel inspired or create ones of your own.

February Service Inspirations

1. Make a special Memory game and give it to a loved one.

  • Select 10 photos of you and a special person together (or places you’ve been together).
  • Print 2 copies of each photo in 4×6 for 20 total pictures.
  • Paste each photo on an index card. Make sure each index card is the same color.
  • Trim the extra photo around the edges of the index card.
  • Play Memory with your loved one revealing moments together at each turn of a card.
  • Let them win (optional).

2. Prepare an Emergency Kit for your family or someone else you love.

3. Stock someone special’s car with healthy snacks.

  • Custom made trail mix and water are great ideas. I like almonds, cashews, and dried cranberries but there are many options out there. It’s inevitable that they will end up in their car hungry or thirsty. That’s when they’ll think of you.

4. Give flowers or a plant.

  • This might seem cliché, but I’m a firm believer in the power of nature to heal and restore.

5. Give them your undivided attention.

  • This shows up in almost every list. It is one of the very best ways to serve someone. Anyone. It is especially a good way to serve those you love.

Who do you love?

How would they want to be served?

Serve Simply Service, by sharing or tweeting this post. Thanks in advance!

DecThis is our dog. His name is Deacon Dillon Earl. Most of the time, we call him Deac for short.

A few days ago, I was talking to an online friend (that I don’t know well in real life). He was dealing with suddenly becoming internet famous and not knowing how to adjust to it. I have absolutely no experience in being famous so I could only offer my real life experience of adjusting to divorce and remarriage. Throughout the conversation I kept referencing things my husband and I had recently discussed. He asked, “Do you two typically have such deep conversations?” And this is where Deac comes in.

Let me tell you a little more about Deac. He sleeps a ton, but when he’s awake he has a lot to say. He is sarcastic and witty. He is short tempered and fiercely loyal. He has an ongoing vendetta with my super sweet mother that happens to not be “a dog person”. He thinks he outranks the kids and they should constantly “freshen up his water”. And he has apparently lived a life full of celebrity interactions and coincidental brushes with current events. We talk about Deac and what Deac told us often. By often, I mean every day. By every day, I mean several times a day. It’s funny. We like it.

And it allows us to not take life so seriously.

 

Service can seem like a serious topic. It gets people thinking about the big things in life – love, legacy, and purpose. But it doesn’t have to be so serious and it doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. Below are 10 easy ways to serve in 5 minutes or less. So you can start serving right now.

10 ways to serve in 5 minutes or less

  1. Tell someone a joke. Laughter is good for the heart.
  2. Save someone from a work conversation they aren’t enjoying. “Hey I hate to interrupt, but can I borrow you for two minutes”.
  3. Actually take your reusable bags into the store with you.
  4. Actually take your reusable cup into Starbucks with you.
  5. Contact an elected official via social media to quickly advocate for a cause you believe in.
  6. Pray for someone.
  7. Make a small online donation to a charity you support.
  8. Teach someone something. Anything.
  9. Text someone a specific compliment. (e.g. I admire how much patience you have with me).
  10. Give someone you love your undivided attention.

This is just a start.

What other ideas do you have?

Resume

I recently received an unsolicited message through LinkedIn. The person sending it wasn’t a friend nor a professional contact. We have two people that are mutual connections, but I don’t know those people very well. The message was asking me to set up a time to review his resume and help him make it better. So why was he sending this message to someone he didn’t know? The short answer is because I happen to work for one of the top international recruiting companies. When Microsoft or Johnson & Johnson hire a new CEO, my company may be the one that recruited them in. I also used to work for one of our peers. He reached out to me because viewing the resumes of executives is something I do frequently. He wanted my help.

I used to hate it when people asked me to help improve their resumes. Friends asked often and it became a burden to find time to work on them all. It’s funny how the gifts that come easiest to us are often the hardest to share. I can’t promise that I can spend hours on each resume, but I will review yours if you ask me to. I’m good at reviewing resumes and I can probably help you. And that’s what we are here for. We’re here to help each other.

What are you good at?

Have you been able to share that talent?

Lockers

I don’t remember that much about being a teenager. I know it had its “ups and downs”, but I made it out alive. Yesterday, I held a workshop for a room full of high school students (9th-12th grade). Initially, I wasn’t sure how the day would go. I worried that focusing on the topic of service with teenagers would fail to hold their interest. I was definitely wrong. The last activity of the day asked the students to break into four groups and prepare a presentation on their top 10 ways the adults in their lives could serve them better. We received 40 answers, but there was plenty of overlap in what they wanted. Below you’ll find the consolidated list.

  1.  T.L.C. This is also known as Tender, Loving, Care. They acknowledged that they would not show affection back, but they still wanted it.
  2. To be a priority. This was said in many different ways from “don’t forget about us” to “remember what time you said you’d pick me up”.
  3. One day off. Defined as 24 hours to do whatever they wanted without any obligations.
  4. Teach them about finances. They wanted help understanding how to navigate the financial world. This included help figuring out strategies to buy the things they wanted.
  5.  “Real life” skills training. They thought the school curriculum should teach more skills that would apply to their home and work life.
  6. Freedom to explore their sexuality. They didn’t want to elaborate on this one, but it was on the list.
  7. One free mistake. They wanted to be able to make one reasonably small mistake without getting in trouble.
  8. Teachers being more predictable. They had a hard time guessing when some teachers would be in a bad mood.
  9. Room to fail. They wanted to be able to take some risks and learn on their own.
  10. Lowering the cost of college application fees.
  11. Considering their opinion. They acknowledged that they have limited life experience, but they still wanted their parents to place some value on their thoughts.
  12. Exposure to more diversity. They wanted to travel and meet people from other countries.
  13. Shadow an adult in the work environment.
  14. Let them choose their own college. They still wanted the parents’ guidance, but wanted to make the final decision.
  15. Feel permanently supported. They needed to know their parents support would never go away, even if they made mistakes.
  16. To be checked on when they are sad.
  17. More privacy. This one wasn’t a surprise to me.
  18. Help talking through social problems at school.
  19. Discuss their preferences for attendance and/or behavior at their extracurricular events. The group was not in agreement on whether they wanted their parents at their sporting events or other activities. Many felt parents were overly critical in their attempts to help them perform better. Some were embarrassed by excessive cheering. Some just loved having the support and the immediate ride home. The room was definitely divided.

ANY SURPRISES TO YOU? Most surprised me.

The comment floor is open below. Serve on!

Tractor

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.  – Aesop

Protect. Survive. Teach. This list sums up my parenting goals in their simplest form. I focused more on the first two goals (i.e. protect and survive) when my boys were younger. Let’s call that phase of life “provival”. When parenting in provival mode most of the life lessons you teach are meant to stop your kids from hurting themselves. Other lessons teach them key life skills (like not going to the bathroom in their pants) that help you all stay sane. I remember that phase well and have great sensitivity to those with young children currently parenting in provival mode. Protecting and surviving is probably all you have the mental, physical or emotional capacity for so I will tread lightly with offering tips for kid friendly service projects. These projects are meant to be quick and easy and to plant the basic principles of service in your child’s heart. Do them if and when you have the energy for them. Don’t feel bad for a second if that time doesn’t come until your child is much older. Practicing service can never come too early, but it can also never come too late. Serve on!

  1. Handing out happy: Join in with your child to make “Happy Awards” out of paper and any other art supplies you have around. This can be a very quick project or more elaborate based on your time, supplies and energy constraints. Once done, take the awards along on your next errand run. Allow your child to nominate people displaying happiness and give out their awards. This act of service is sure to brighten up everyone’s day and make grocery shopping a little more fun!
  2. Walking and serving: Help keep your community clean and beautiful. Take a 15 minute walk with your child around your neighborhood looking for litter to collect. Make sure to bring a plastic bag and plastic gloves for collecting trash. Depending on the age of your child they can be in charge of identifying trash only or actually be a part of the collection/disposal of the trash.
  3. Drawing with a purpose: Turn coloring time into a service project by dropping your child’s finished masterpieces off at a local hospital or nursing home. There is nothing like the beauty of a child’s creative mind to add a little joy to someone’s day.
  4. Running a mini-food drive: Have your child ask family, friends and neighbors for non-perishable food donations. They can even make an advertising sign to help promote their cause. Be sure to take them along when you drop off donations to your local food bank.

TreeBranches

It still seems strange to me that Peyton Manning chooses to shout out “Omaha!” while calling plays. To me, it’s a tame word for him to have chosen. I probably would have gone with something like “Eagle!” or “Raptor!” or even “Dragon!”.

This week’s post is being written from Omaha, Nebraska. As a girl from New Jersey, I’m not sure I ever expected to end up in Omaha (or Nebraska for that matter). We are staying in a part of town called Old Market which is filled with mid to high end restaurants, boutique shops, and many (read: many) art galleries and art inspired stores. The area has lovely historic architecture that is really beautiful. It’s the kind of place I could visit over and over again. So I’m not sure what I expected from Omaha, but I know it has far exceeded my expectations.

I’d have to say the same thing about the feedback I’ve gotten from you on your passion for service. In the last month, I’ve had all kinds of conversations about what service means and how it is playing out in your lives. I’ve also uncovered ways to serve and organizations that weren’t previously on my radar. Thanks to all who have shared these. I’ve compiled a list of ways readers are serving that have recently come my way. Maybe some of these will become additional inspiration for your next act of service or even your lifelong service mission. Or maybe not.

Either way, I know you’re serving in some very important ways already. (Visit these posts if you think you aren’t serving anyone because I bet you are). I look forward to learning more from you all so please keep sharing. Serve on!

 

WAYS YOU’RE SERVING

  1. MLK Day of Service (http://mlkday.gov/): Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'” On the MLK holiday, we are being challenged to “take a day on, not a day off”. Go to this site for information on group events and ways you can support in your local community. I know many of you will be doing this on Monday!
  2. David’s Hope (http://www.davidshope.org/): This came to me by way of a local Police Chief. His wife has made several trips to Kenya to do community development for a small rural town. He will be making his first trip this Spring. I like their website because in addition to donating money and going on mission trips, they refer to prayer as a distinct way you can serve their organization. If you can’t find the money or time to serve right now, maybe prayer is a contribution you might be interested in.
  3. Acts (http://actspwc.org/): This is a local Virginia non-profit so you may need to research other organizations similar to this in your area. What I found interesting about this organization was that it has a volunteer job called Senior Link Caller. The Senior Link Caller makes phone calls to homebound seniors in the community. Calls are to check-in and connect, and to assist with referrals to resources if they have any immediate needs. This was passed on to me because I lost my grandfather last year and wrote a post about it. The thinking was that it might be time for me to call someone else’s grandfather.
  4. Tigerlilly Foundation (http://tigerlilyfoundation.org/): I recently met the founder of this organization. Beautiful woman! She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32. Since her recovery, she has built a non-profit organization that focuses on financial and emotional support for women between the ages of 15-40. I’m thinking about running in their 2014 Pink Boa race.
  5. Life Missions (http://tlc-missions.com/): My cousin left Thursday on a mission trip to Nicaragua with this organization. She will be serving on the medical team. Go Tammie!
  6. Pets On Wheels (http://www.fpow.org/): This is another local Virginia organization, but if you do a search there are likely similar organizations closer to you. Pets On Wheels connects pets with people living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. A friend’s dog used to be a part of this program which was just another way this family dog shared love and served. He is nearing the end of his life and time with his family. She reminded me of his service this week in a tribute to him. I think our dog might be a perfect candidate for this program too. Something I’ll have to talk to him about.
  7. Learning to cook: My hairdresser told me last week that she has a New Year’s Resolution to learn how to cook better and serve more home cooked meals to her family. She invited a friend over to teach her a new dish which I thought was a great way to learn and spend time with someone. Needless to say, she was very proud of the meal she served that night.
  8. Caring for graves: At the start of the holiday season, there is an effort to place wreaths on the graves of soldiers in many cemeteries across the county (US). Driving to the airport a few days ago, Arlington National Cemetery was still a beautiful tribute to our soldiers with the wreath covered tombstones in glorious display. During the rest of the year, you can find volunteer opportunities to maintain and beautify soldier’s graves all across the country. This is a passion of a fellow reader.
  9. Serving your Parent Organization: If your child attends a school, there is a pretty good chance you have a PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) or something similar that supports the teachers and administration in making the school the best it can be. There are a variety of ways to serve from time donated to fundraisers to serving on in a Board or Committee leadership group. If your children are grown, this is still a place you can serve the schools that helped build their foundation. I heard from a passionate grandmother that has been in a PTO for over 25 years.

Spirtual Service

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of walking my extremely wonderful and recently divorced friend through setting up her eHarmony profile. I was impressed with the depth of the questioning process. One of the questions took a long time to answer because it steered our conversation off-topic. It asked her to select the type of religion(s) or spiritual affiliations that she seeks in a potential mate. There were many options and she could select all that she would be willing to consider. One option was “Spiritual, but not religious”. She had a hard timing imagining exactly what that meant.

I shared with her my perspective though I’m not in any way suggesting that this is an official or all-encompassing description. It is just how I view the distinction between “spiritual” and “religious”. For me, the word “spiritual” refers to a core set of beliefs. The most universal is the belief in a supernatural force that exists in the world. Spiritual people may call this God, the universe, or many other names but it always relates to the idea that there is an unseen order in the world. This order can’t be proved empirically or through our senses, but a spiritual person still believes in this concept. I view “religion” as the particular set of rules and rituals that a spiritual person guides their life path by. So in that sense, all religious people should be spiritual. But all spiritual people don’t have to be religious. They may choose to pursue their spiritual path on their own and without engaging with organized religion.

There are other concepts that are typically believed by “spiritual people”. Some examples are:

  • Faith that positive things will occur. (Also called “trust in the universe” or “setting intentions” and many other names.)
  • Giving thanks for what you currently have.
  • Believing that life is a series of lessons and that negative things happen for the purpose of teaching those lessons.
  • The importance and power of setting time to build a deeper spiritual connection. (This is called by many names from prayer to meditation to advanced yoga practices.)

When I think of the last bullet, I realize that I’ve tried all three of the examples and have absolutely felt a deeper spiritual connection while doing them. I now see serving others as a spiritual practice similar to prayer. There are three things that I look to get from my prayer or meditation time. At times, I have experienced each of those things while serving.

  1. It clears my mind of the non-stop internal chatter. When I’m focused on serving others, I’m also enjoying the rare mental silence that allows my heart to awaken with spiritual awareness.
  2. I’m not focused on myself or the importance of my place in this world. I feel part of a system that connects us all at our core. This concept reminds me of a quote I once read (but can’t for the life of me remember who wrote it) that described people feeling like individuals to waves feeling separate from the ocean.
  3. There is a peace that comes over me. It is like I briefly understand my place in the world before my mind wakes back up and starts telling me how important I am again.

I know these are very hard concepts to get across through writing, but I believe that many have experienced these through their own spiritual practice. I hope some of you have experienced this through the practice of service. If you have, I’d love for you to share it with me. I’d love for you to share it with others. No pressure though, I’m happy to have shared a connection to you just because you chose to read this. Until next week, serve on!