giving back

Spreading The Love

By Catherine Lang-Cline

We go through our lives doing the same thing every day. We wake up, we eat, we go to work, we hang out with family and friends, we go to bed, and restart the next day the same way. A normal life can be a lovely thing. Sometimes we want something more. Sometimes we wish we could make some sort of difference outside of the walls of our home, our work, wherever our life is taking place. 

Let’s say that the best thing about your job is that it can pay your bills. You are not the only one that feels that way. What if you could escape that job and the daily march of your day and do something that touches your soul and warms your heart, maybe something that changes a life or changes the world around you. One of the best ways to achieve that "difference" is to volunteer or join groups that match your passion or a group that can appreciate and use your talents. Spread the love! 

Let’s start simple. Maybe your head sings when you read? Head to the library or bookstore and browse. Don’t leave without picking up something. Maybe to are ready to join a book club that will hold you accountable? Do you love knitting or racing or back in the day you used to camp more? Find ways to find that love again. Sure, it can sometimes feel ridiculous or someone may try and talk you out of it, but this what YOU need to show YOU that you love YOU. Who cares if you are the only 40-year-old on the dance floor? You love to dance!

Let’s take it even further. Let’s say that you want to make a difference in politics, in helping the disadvantaged, maybe there is a disease that has affected you or a family member. There are many, many groups out there that you can join or volunteer to help in their mission. I love small business, mentoring women, and the arts just to name a few. As a result, I have joined boards, given donations, offered my talents, and ran a few races in support of these groups. Sharing that love with these groups has in return, filled my soul. A full soul is telling yourself that you are loved. The bonus is that you love and passion are now helping others feel loved.

There are many ways to spread the love, you might have a talent for accounting or design or organizing things. Not everyone does, so you would be a godsend to many groups. Ask what they need, ask how you can help. You might simply find yourself in a soup kitchen lending a hand. You will never understand how your hand is making a difference in someone else’s life.

People that read might feel lonely if they can’t talk about the book.
People that run or race would love to have someone keep them accountable.
People in need can use so much of everything.
Find your people and spread the love.

Change Your Life By Helping Other Lives

By Catherine Lang-Cline

Let's be honest. Sometimes after doing everything that you need to do to keep your own life on the rails, it seems that you are too tired to help another individual, or there's simply, not enough time left in the day. But that's not true, you're just thinking too big. You can start helping others and in return, start to reap more happiness in your own life.

When I was growing up, my family didn't have much. My parents stretched their one income to cover themselves and their five children, but when things got really tight, they relied on others to help. Not sure if it is why I am charitable, but I am immensely grateful for everything that I have worked for and do believe that if you work up to a certain point it only becomes greedy if you don't give back in some way. It starts with determining what you can do.

The three "T's" of charity are; time, talent, and treasure. If you have absolutely no time, start simply by writing a small check. Many organizations can take all the small checks they receive and do some really big things with it. The size of the check does not matter, but where you put it may. Even a small amount to a cause that you believe in will make you a part of that cause. A few dollars toward someone's goal for a race or drive will make you feel part of the team. Your donation can go toward things that are even more game-changing. Buy a Thanksgiving dinner for a family, Christmas gifts for a small family or individual, there is no end to the giving that can be done to immediately change the life or lives of people. Yes, I have bought Christmas gifts for a family. On the list, socks, towels, blankets, very basic needs that are sometimes just an impulse buy for us. Do one of these acts once and year if that is all you can do. It does make a difference.

Do you have a particular talent? Organizations are in desperate need of skills that you are not only good at but really love to do. Maybe you have skills in IT, cooking, accounting, cleaning, driving, marketing, design, planting a garden, you get the idea. Many organizations need you! Think about causes you believe in, diseases that have affected your family, things that bring you joy. Contact one of those groups and see what they need help with. It does not have to be a big commitment, maybe it is just a one-time thing. One of my favorite gives was painting a plate that would be auctioned off for a local charity. I have artistic talent and love painting so it was perfect. It took about two hours but the joy I felt doing it lives on and I wish I had the time to do another plate!

Time is a big luxury. It is very precious and very difficult to just give away. But this kind of giving back could be the most rewarding. If we plug it into that talent you have, some of the things we just mentioned, spending the time to do things that you love, that ends up benefiting others, is the pinnacle of rewarding. For example, I serve on boards that aid the arts, business, and women in leadership. I am passionate about all of them and make the time to serve on those boards. It is replenishing my soul just as much as it is giving back. If you don't have the time for board work, think about activities in which to get involved. Maybe extra hands are needed for planting an urban garden, mowing lawns for the elderly, stuffing envelopes, being a ticket-taker at an event. It could be minutes or hours. All of it is rewarding and will make you happier. Stack up a couple of activities throughout the year. There is also mentoring. If you have fought adversity, if you have life lessons to share, or maybe just want to give a person better perspective, think about becoming a mentor. You would be surprised how much you can help an individual and how rewarding that feels. Still not feeling a connection? Maybe you can contribute in a way that is all on your own?

This Chinese proverb says it all--
If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help others.

Helping others has brought me happiness and a full heart and I am pretty sure that it could work for you too. Why? You are doing something that gives you joy. You are being a part of something you believe in. You are making a difference in someone's life, in a big way or in a very small way. It will not only make you feel amazing, but it will be your own impact in this world. Not only do you tell others that they matter, but that you matter. Volunteering and working with charities has changed my life. Even the smallest of investments I hope that you will find it in yourself to find the same happiness. Give.

Mentoring — Getting Help and Giving Back

By Catherine Lang-Cline    

If you are an entrepreneur, I am guessing that you started your business with a great idea for a good or service that you really believed in. You may or may not have gained some business knowledge along the way before creating your own business but regardless, there is no way you could have been prepared for all of the nuances involved with running a business. So what can you do? You can get help.

The first thing you need to do is admit that you need it. And just so you are aware, everyone needs it. That is why large corporations have Boards of Directors and advisors, they get the expertise they need. And you can too.

To get started, think about where some of your weakness are. These are the first areas that you must seek help for and you could start with finding an advisor, or better yet, create an advisory board for your business. You can ideally pay this board or just buy them lunch, but meet quarterly and discuss the issues of your business and the areas that are not your strengths. Is there someone on your list that you would love to have as an advisor? Ask them. You will be surprised as to how much people are willing to help if you respect their time and their expertise

You can also find a mentor or maybe a couple of them because more than one opinion on something is always better. But a mentor is more like someone you aspire to be like in business, in your personal life or both. They can share how they achieved their status and guide you around some of the potholes that they encountered. There is nothing better than someone who can help navigate you to your goal.

Now that you are well on your way to growth with your new advisors and mentors, start to think about how you can pay it forward. Once you have been in business 5, 10, 15 or more years, your experience to someone that is starting up will be invaluable. And by this time, you really know more than you think. Think that you don’t have time for that? Well, someone else did make time for you and I am guessing that they were busy as well. Which means it can be managed and scheduled a bit on your terms. After all, they are coming to you for help. Maybe you meet with your mentee quarterly to discuss problems and give them a to-do list to walk away with? You will be amazed as to how much you know and how much you can guide them through the issues of starting business. And an added bonus— you just might get a free lunch out of it.

Having done both, I can tell you that the power to give help and get it is incredible. If you start working with a mentor or advisor, be on-time, be courteous, and really listen to what you are being told. Ultimately, it is your business and your choice to move forward with any advice, but really take the knowledge to heart. And if you are mentoring or advising someone, be on-time, be patient, and speak about your own experiences because it is those life-lessons that teach the most.