When you fly on an airplane there is always a safety speech before takeoff. And the thing that has been ringing in my head since my last flight is, “Please secure your own mask before assisting others.”
That one sentence pretty much sums up this semester for me. Spring semester always seems a bit harried, and this semester is no exception. I’m not getting things done in as timely a fashion as I would like. I’m a little overextended and feel like I’m focused a lot more on caring for others than making sure I’m ok myself. But a conversation with a student last week made me revisit a tip on this theme that I wrote a couple of years ago. I need to stop and secure my own mask before I can assist others. You simply can’t effectively help others if you are in risk of not keeping yourself going.
The “secure your own mask” bit also hits close to home in a different way when it comes to charitable giving. I’m sure I’m not the only person who hears the phone ring, sees the number of their alma mater, and lets it go to voice mail. I know they are looking for a donation. Sometimes it seems like every charity I’ve ever donated to is reaching out for a contribution at the same time. And I want to assist others. But my husband and I have some medical issues that are challenging financially. So rather than stretching myself to assist others as much as I would like, I smile, politely said no (or agree to only a tiny amount) and proceed with securing my own financial mask. It won’t be this way every year. And it’s ok to say no to charities if you’re not feeling particularly financially secure yourself. It comes back around when things are steadier financially.
I am hopeful that summer will unfold differently for me. But it’s only because I’m taking steps to secure my own mask first. Then I can proceed with assisting others.
A couple of weeks ago I discovered a smartphone app called Pact that pays me cash for doing things that are good for me (that I happened to be doing anyway). So far I have earned $4.61 for exercising and eating fruits and veggies. And I don’t know yet how much I’ll get for this past week’s success, but I’m thinking it’ll be close to another $2.00. Not bad. Not bad at all, considering that I really haven’t even had to change my behaviors.
This week I started using another app that rewards my good behavior…but with this one the reward goes to charity. Charity Miles tracks the miles that I run, walk, or bike. For every mile I walk, a corporate sponsor makes a donation to a charity that I pick from a lengthy list of options. Again, I was going to be walking and running and biking anyway. Charity Miles just adds a little extra bonus that helps a good cause. It’s a win/win. If you have a smartphone and you like to move, maybe you should give it a try. The charity you help will appreciate it!
I wish that I could give more to charity. While I make donations to various causes from time to time, I always seem to wish I had more to give. And sometimes it seems like there just isn’t any extra money to give. So how does someone without financial resources give back? Volunteering!
For every charitable organization that exists, there is at least one way to volunteer your time. It could be something small, like when I provided a bit of entertainment with my guitar at this year’s PILF auction. Or it could be a much larger commitment, like a regularly scheduled shift working at the local food bank. Or anything in between. Yesterday I ran a three mile race that benefited Special Olympics. And I noticed that everywhere I looked I saw someone in a yellow “volunteer” shirt. And the event, with 4,000 runners, simply wouldn’t have worked had the volunteers not been there. They gave a little bit of time on one day, and made a huge difference. Every major event or ongoing cause needs volunteer assistance. Opportunities abound, and provide a very rewarding experience.
Wish you could give more to charity. Try giving your time. Volunteer. It makes a difference.