It’s a week after the Montecito mudslide. The town is uninhabitable and the residents and neighbors are grieving over the deaths and the loss. The 101 freeway is still closed. There are dozens and dozens of agencies and fundraisers assisting those affected by the disaster. I want to help too, but feel confused by the choices.
Confusion over choices means STOP. This allows me to separate anxiety about my own life’s challenges from my neighbors needs. For instance, during the Thomas Fire I left the area to take care of myself, but set up my room rental in the event that my housemate knew someone who needed to evacuate for a few days.
Being an expressive arts facilitator, my initial response to assist was to grab a group and teach them how to relieve stress using crayons, collage, movement and journaling. But I need this for myself first. Discussing ways to assist with friends and letting the ideas marinate has created space around my reaction to just do something already.
This process of intention, inquiry, reflection, research/discussion of ideas, then back to reflection is an excruciating process for a do-do-doer such as myself. It also makes me feel like a grownup. The only action required is to pray for help on helping.
Finally, a breakthrough in the most serendipitous way.
Yesterday a friend called while on my way to walk on the beach. I pulled over and chatted while strolling through a tree-lined suburban neighborhood. On the way back to my car was a familiar landmark: a church listed on the Red Cross website for an upcoming blood drive.
Initially I had rejected this idea because my ego wanted to help out in a bigger, bolder, creative way. But this is not where I am at. I’ve done large creative projects as a donation in the past but today is not my past. And I've just had a magnificent dance with procrastination regarding my own projects, which yielded these insights.
- Showing up for myself is the only way to help.
- Donating blood is enough.
- When procrastination invites me to tango, I’ll watch Tim Urban’s comedic Ted Talk on the topic. Or not.