Today is the end of Volunteer Week.
I’ll share a bit of history in the origins for this week of recognition.
In Canada, National Volunteer Week was first conceived in 1943 as a way to celebrate the contribution made by women on the home front to the war effort. After World War II ended, National Volunteer Week declined in popularity until the 1960s when it revived and eventually began gaining popularity in the United States as well.
National Volunteer Week in the United States was first established via Presidential Proclamation signed by Richard Nixon in 1974, as a way to recognize and celebrate the efforts of volunteers. Since then, the original emphasis on celebration has widened; the week has become a nationwide effort to urge people to get out and volunteer in their communities. Every April, charities and communities reinforce the week’s official theme (“Celebrating People in Action”) by recognizing volunteers and fostering a culture of service.
Why bring this topic to the Coach’s Corner? Today is my Volunteer Day. Each Friday, I offer my coaching services to Veterans and the Military families who have so courageously put themselves in harm’s way. I am not sharing this for any self-recognition or praise, rather to acknowledge the many volunteers in our midst who quietly go about the matters of doing for others.
For some, it is a payback for benefits they may have received. They may be grateful for a previous hand-out or gift or support. In essence, they are returning the favor to others in gratitude or appreciation for support they received in a time of need.
For others, it is a pay-it-forward. Perhaps they have lived a very blessed life and have not noticed the volunteers who supported them. Or, they may not know from whom they received assistance; nevertheless, they want to give time and talent so that others may prosper.
Regardless of the reason or circumstance, we are a ‘community’ of souls – each reliant on others. I see a volunteer as one who chooses or willingly expresses to undertake a service to the benefit of others without the expectation of compensation. Where would we be without the millions of volunteers who contribute to each and every one of us?
Take a moment today. Look around. Who has contributed, crossed your path, made a difference for you today? Who has made a difference just because they are giving – just because they are willing and they can? Do you see them? Would you say: Thank you, to these generous souls.
It really is all about one’s perspective.
What do you see in this picture – – a weed to be mowed or killed with a good shot of Round-up? Something that gets in your way of having a beautiful lawn or garden? A pesky annoyance? Has it been there for so very long that you no longer even notice that once yellow burst of color has now lost its glow and has become a white fluff of the stuff that begs you search out the allergy medicine?
Or – do you see the possibilities of a wish coming true? That long ago story told by a loving grandparent or parent or even an older sibling. The story I know is when you close your eyes and think really, really hard about something, you see in it your dreams and in your imagination. Were you told: if you bend over and very gently pick this delicate white mass of airy wisps’, close your eyes, dream, wish and blow that your wish will come true? You do this and open your eyes to see your wish floating with the breeze and you patiently wait for your wish to be fulfilled.
I recently learned that the dandelion is the only flower that represents the 3 celestial bodies – the sun, moon and stars. The yellow flower resembles the sun, the puff ball appears like the moon and the dispersing seeds represent the stars. I also learned the dandelion flower opens to greet the morning sun and closes in the evening to sleep. This knowledge heightens my excitement of my wish reaching the desire of my wish. Just breathe in the idea that this tiny flower/weed has such enormous symbolism.
Back to perspective.
How different is my frame of reference on this tiny flower/weed when I see it as the sun, moon and stars? I think of the morning sun as it gently awakens this yellow burst of petals and in the evening as the sun dips and the moon rises how those tiny golden blades slowly close for a snuggly rest. And after only a few days of sun and rest, this tiny flower/weed closes tightly, the canary color fades as seeds are produced. The now matured flower stalk boldly rises several inches – raises its now fluffy seed head to catch the next breeze and begin once again.
Ok, Coach! Just what in the world does this ‘perspective’ story have to do with me?
Hmmm…Take a look around. Are there ‘weeds’ in your world’s garden or lawn? People or processes or tasks or thoughts, etc., that, in your experience/perspective, are weeds? Perhaps you see these as something to be dug up, rooted out or hit with super-strength Round-up. And, perhaps this is correct!
However, what if you take a fresh look – from another perspective! Is it possible that these people, processes, tasks or thoughts are dandelions that need only to be experienced as the sun, the moon and the stars?
What about you? Would you take another look – not as the gardener, but as the plant? What if you are the dandelion! Are you willing to allow the morning sun gently awaken your yellow burst of viewpoint and experience the moon slowly close your mind for a snuggly rest? And what will it be like to give permission to boldly rise as your newly developed mindset catches the next breeze and begins anew?
Think about it…close your eyes, and think really, really hard about it; see in it your dreams; experience it in your imagination. What if you breathe deeply then very gently pick this delicate white mass of airy wisps’ – your ideas, your goals, your thoughts – and breathe life into them? Now, open your eyes. See what you are doing – how you are being. Follow those seeds and begin to plant your new garden.