The Think Write Thursday topic for December 22, 2016 is to talk about how I stay positive when it feels like everything is going wrong.
A few months back I went through something pretty stressful as part of my job. I don’t want to go into the gory details here but the end result was that I was suddenly left without someone to do the daily preparation of congregate meals and Meals on Wheels at the COA for a period of two weeks.
On that first morning I was in a panic. I knew the home bound seniors in our community would be waiting for the delivery of their meals. And I knew twenty or so other seniors would be showing up and expecting a hot lunch in a few hours. It felt, in that moment, as if everything was going wrong.
But then something amazing happened. A volunteer arrived to deliver meals. This was a volunteer I fully expected to bail in light of the things that happened but instead he looked at me and said, “I’m here. How can I help?” And he completely took charge of the kitchen. He figured out how to light the stove and he looked in the freezers and said to me, I can have chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans ready by lunch time. In the meantime, a different volunteer and two staff members also sprang to action. They went to the grocery store and bought bread and meat and cheese for sandwiches. And just like that, we had lunch and meals on wheels.
Throughout that week and the next more good people came forward to help. My boss was a source of amazing support and advice throughout the crisis. He coordinated with the school department and cafeteria employees to provide lunches for the seniors. My colleagues in other departments were not only sympathetic but also kind and understanding. Members of the community made donations and offered to help. And the seniors who came to the COA for lunch and activities were patient and grateful that things kept moving along without (much of) a hitch.
To me, the one at the pointy end of the ship, this all felt miraculous. I was completely overwhelmed at the beginning of the week. I had lots of sleepless nights and thought the only solution would be to shut down for two weeks. Instead, good and decent people jumped in and worked hard and, quite literally, kept a ship that felt like it was sinking not only afloat but moving forward, too.
My point in telling you all of this isn’t to make you feel sorry for me or to have you praise me for getting through this. My point is to show you that even when things seem to be at their worst there is still goodness in the world. And if you focus on the good stuff it’s much much easier to deal with the bad stuff. This situation is probably one of the worst things I’ve ever been through in my career and yet, when I think about the people who stepped up and helped, I get all verklempt. It would have been easy to be bitter and angry about what I had to deal with but instead I was left feeling uplifted and joyful by the goodness that surrounded me.
And that is what makes this story important. Not the crap and betrayal and hurt but the goodness and loyalty and love.
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