In yoga teacher training, I’d do whatever I could to get out of the karma yoga – cleaning the bathroom, mopping the floors, or whatever menial task was assigned to me in the name of selfless service. It wasn’t so much about the actual cleaning, but rather that my time was being taken away for nothing in return.
As a waitress, a job that is now referred to as a server, it was the same type of work as the karma yoga… except I was rewarded with a tip at the end. This completely switched up the whole exchange. Waiting tables wasn’t what I wanted to do, yet it provided a means to an end — I was paid! There was nothing selfless about being a server.
Years ago, when I was already deep in my styling career, someone suggested I volunteer my service to a charitable organization – like Dress For Success. I listened to the advice…sort of. After going through the motions to see what was entailed, I discovered a grueling sign-up / training period that was way too daunting for me to get past.
I ended up at New York Cares, a local non profit that has a slew of volunteer opportunities across the board from hospital beauty visits to playing basketball with kids. I enthusiastically attended their one hour welcome session only to realize afterwards that I couldn’t (wouldn’t) find the time to actually perform the service. (It’s not too late!)
Then there’s the school. They always need volunteers. Between the PTA and all the other committees, there should be pretty much something for everyone, right? I’ve managed to keep quite the distance from most of these activities until a friend became president of the PTA. Then it was harder to stay away. One second, I’m hanging out at the recess yard chit chatting with my friend (El Presidente) and the next thing I knew I was wandering around the school after the Holiday Fair holding an industrial grade coffee maker trying to clean the thing out. (Too large to fit under the bathroom sink!) Was I out of my element. 100%. But when it was over (and I finally found the school kitchen sink), I felt good in a way that only comes from giving selflessly. (Btw, restocking books in the library is way more my thing.)
Now, I’m a mom – the ultimate sacrifice of time, energy and pretty much everything else. Is it selfless? Completely. Could it be considered Karma? I actually do believe that the kids we get are a result of karma…but that’s another post. The point is that I willingly do my mom stuff…out of love. It’s not selfless service. It’s parenting.
Selfless service is about stepping out of your comfort zone to give without getting anything back. It’s often inconvenient. And it’s one of the best ways to get out of your own head, and focus on another.
I was recently given the supreme opportunity to serve.
I didn’t get trial jury duty–the one that takes 2 days, 5 days tops. (The one that DH got out of work for 2 days and ended up at the movies.)
Nope, I got called in for the big guns — Grand Jury Duty (yes, I meant to capitalize this term!) which is a minimum of 2 weeks, and up to several months.
My first reaction — sheer panic.
Then — I’ll get out of it, like I always have.
Until finally– — Oh, just do it.
It is the law to serve jury duty so not exactly a volunteer situation I’m faced with.
But it is a step in the right direction of giving without getting anything in exchange.
Who knows? This time, it’s Grand Jury Duty.
Next time, President of the PTA.
(Or more realistically, getting back involved with New York Cares.)
How do you feel about volunteering your time and do you ever do it?