|"When you give of yourself, and genuinely care for others, the universe will provide that love, care and happiness for you too." --Anne-Marie Bauer|
In the Flow of Abundantly Happy Moments--by Anne-Marie Bauer, syndicated from servicespace.org, Oct 04, 2013
Recently at a one-day Awakin retreat in Princeton NJ, we were asked to reflect on the notion of abundance and scarcity. And in particular, in which ways these notions manifested in our lives. The theme was carried throughout with various readings, shares and again during a writing exercise, when we were asked to think of a gift that had been given to us and how this gift had an impact on our lives. One personal reflection of mine, took me down memory lane to about seven years ago, to a time when I was experiencing some hardships that wanted to come in a sequence of one after the other.
At the time, I had started a job in a city that was new to me, and as a fairly new nurse working night shift, lost a lot of sleep with a three hour commute each day. I lost my first patient within a month of starting this new job, then, lost a relationship with a loved one, who went to fight a war in Afghanistan. Subsequently, I lost 10 lbs (on an already thin 5’9” frame) and the desire to take care of myself. I became depressed and felt like this new life I wanted for myself was slipping away from my fingers. I was surprised I was able to function at all at work. However, a turning point came my way, by way of being given a gift, (a gift still with me today) and along with it, a feeling that was not only spirit lifting, but life changing as well. Somehow, from this gift came the energy to get well again and with that, the motivation to give back in small ways to anyone I crossed paths with. Which in turn, kept me in a flow of abundantly happy moments.
I was gifted Ali. My white and orange cat that has been my greatest gift to date. Seven years ago, when my two best friends recognized my already thin frame shrinking to a life threatening weight they tried to convince me to take care of myself, but to no avail. They persisted however, and found a way to change my behavior by having me take care of a kitten. And truth be told, it worked. Before her, I was able to somehow get myself to work each day and care for others, but not myself. But when Ali entered my life things changed. If I didn’t eat, she wasn't interested in her food either, and when I did eat, she would then want to as well. It perplexed me, but mostly scared me when I noticed the times she wouldn’t eat. So, I began to eat and watch her eat beside me. AND sure enough, as I started putting on weight, soon there after so did she. She really did bring a lot of joy to my life back then (and still does) and I didn’t feel lonely and isolated when she was around. This happiness I realized then started flowing into other areas of my life then too.
As I began to feel happier, I found myself talking to people again and met two elderly neighbors on my block. First I met Sunny-who would sit out on the sidewalk, rain or sunshine and look out for anyone who didn’t “belong” in the neighborhood. And then Walter, who would sit on his stoop in the middle of the night and keep watch as well. Amazing to me because neither of them needed to do this, but they felt it was their duty to be the neighborhood watchmen.
I would often pass them both as Sunny would take the “day shift’ and Walter the “night” one. Soon they took notice of me as well, coming in and out at odd hours and inquired all about it. I told them I was a nurse and worked night shifts. We became friendly and I would often hand Sunny water or bring him breakfast as I came home in the morning. And one night around three/four in the morning, coming home from overtime at the hospital, I noticed Walter sleeping sitting up on his stoop. It caught my attention not only because of the hour, but because this stoop had no rail to where Walter could rest his back on. There was about a 5-6 foot drop to the ground from where he was sitting and I felt an urge to make sure he would not fall. I walked up to him very slowly as not to startle him, sat down next to him, wrapped my arm behind his back and tapped him on the shoulder. “Walter, wake up please”. I asked. He did, and as expected was startled to a point where he began to rock back. My arm behind him still, caught him and brought him forward. I told him: “Walter, it is nice that you always keep a lookout for all of us here, but, who’s going to look after you if you doze off like this? You could have fallen and severely hurt yourself!” He smiled, looked down at his feet, then lifted his chin up, turned to me and said, “my dear, you are.” He thanked me for caring enough to wake him and promised not to sit on the ledge of the stoop like that again. And thankfully he didn’t.
In the months that followed I started to realize there was a certain flow I was taking part of. As my happiness began to increase, so did the happiness of those around me, or perhaps it was just my perception, but I doubt it. There were many ways in which I found myself making other people’s days brighter by small random acts of kindness and vice versa. I got to know the people in my town, the lady at the post office, the gentleman at the hardware store, the kids at the coffee shop, who by the way would refuse to let me pay for anything as they knew I would always stop in before my night at work, and of course Sunny and Walter, who were now happy to know they had a nurse to call on when they needed. And so was I, as I had my neighborhood “watch dogs” looking out for me.
I am happy to remember this time in my life when I could feel that flow of abundance around me. The feeling of knowing that when you give of yourself, and genuinely care for others, the Universe will provide that love, care and happiness for you too. I'm finding it important to remember this, particularly when faced with hardships. In serving others, you will inevitably be serving yourself as well.
Anne-Marie Bauer is a trained nurse deeply interested in the relationship between inner transformation and service. She is currently exploring inner and outer landscapes through meditation, yoga, travel and volunteering.
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The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.
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