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Think Write Thursday

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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This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. This is an interesting story, and one that perfectly illustrates that goodness is always present, even when it may initially be hard to find. I love that the miracle started small with one volunteer stepping up, and grew and grew to include almost everyone involved in the situation. I’m glad you shared your story of goodness!

  2. I think when our sense of mission is strong & we show good character in difficult circumstances, like minded people feel that & are inspired to work with us. You had/have such a great mission in that project, I’m sure it has drawn a dedicated bunch who have faced adversity before and realize many hands make almost anything possible. I expect you yourself will draw on this experience & feel more equipped in your next challenge.

  3. This is really a poignant story – help comes when and where you least expect it. This is an especially good lesson for me to learn. And, it is a good reminder for me to stop and look for helpers – Mr. Rogers was so right – they are around us we just need to look!

  4. The world is full of hope and goodness. And I often find that – when the chips are down – people step up and do the right thing. Thanks for this great reminder, Carole.

  5. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” — Mister Rogers

    Stories like yours give me hope in an increasingly dark world, Carole.

  6. I kind of believe in the Law of Attraction—you are a person who volunteers and works hard to do good in your community, and when you needed help, the universe gave that back to you. (My mom would say “What goes around, comes around.”) You are a helper, so it makes sense that you would be surrounded by other helpers. And many of them will be wearing cardigans.

    When the going gets tough for me, I usually remind myself that “This too shall pass.”

  7. I know that people can be really disappointing sometimes, but your story shows that the opposite is always true. I have a friend whose mother died shortly after I had my accident and surgery, and when I contacted her to express my sympathy and also my regret that I could not leave the house and would thus miss the wake and funeral, her response was to ask me if she could come over and bring me a pizza, despite the fact that it would be a 20 mile one way trip for her to do that. People really can be amazing.

  8. That is a wonderful story that reminds us that most people are good and are willing to lend a hand to help those in need. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I think also it’s a true testament to the fact that you are a nice person. People want to help and come around when friends and colleagues are in need. xo

  10. This post is so timely, not because my situation is similar but because of the attitude of not giving up and seeing the best of the situation. My son, who I am very close to, told me last night that he and his wife are moving very far away. It’s a trial move for 14 months, but still, I am devastated. But they considered how I would feel, and how the “other” mother would feel, and leased a two bedroom condo so that either one of us can visit and have a place to stay any time. It will still be hard, but I have to stay in the positive mode. You have helped. Thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful holiday.

  11. Despite the stress, these situations celebrate the resilience of both you and the kind folks who stepped up to help! And you are the sort of person whose jindness gathers the kindness of the universe.

  12. Beautiful story. People come though in a the worst of times, but they are more than willing because they know you will support them in any way they need. They know you and how you operate and care for others. It’s all payback for the wondeful person you are and because people of the world have good hearts!

  13. I’m sorry you had to go through that but so happy that your volunteers stepped in and helped figure it all out. They all knew what needed to happen and helped make it happen. Happy Holidays!

  14. What a beautiful story, and a great reminder of the constant goodness in the world. There are times when I can’t see it, but thank goodness I have people like you to remind me. Your post made me verklempt!

  15. This story reaffirms the goodness in most people…thank you for sharing it and reminding us that there are many who do care about others.
    …and I am really curious: how did you get it to snow?!

    Happy Holidays and

  16. I’m glad things turned out well, and I can imagine the stress. I’m amazed [but I shouldn’t be] that there are people who are so thoughtless. So many people depend on those meals and to just abandon ship.

  17. We are going through an absolute personal nightmare, and it is our friends, who have supported us through this, who are making a horrible situation more bearable. You are right, there is a lot of goodness in the world if you just let it come to you.

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