Finding Holiday Peace of Mind

Winter Sunrise by Jim C.
Winter Sunrise by Jim C.

“The Simple Path
Silence is Prayer
Prayer is Faith
Faith is Love
Love is Service
The Fruit of Service is Peace”
Mother Teresa

How are you finding holiday peace? I have to tell you- I am not finding it at big box retail stores. It’s not in the canned music on the radio station either.

Instead, I am finding peace through time with friends and family. I am also finding it through tiny bits of service.

I don’t have much extra money these days so I look for creative ways to serve others. Last week, a good friend of mine gave me a pail of dog food. She lost both her pets a few weeks ago and I said yes to the food for my dog Jordan. Here’s what happened on the way to my mom’s, less than an hour after she gave me that pail.

I was driving up a long hill and noticed a small dog running across the road. I slowed down. Then a young teenage boy appeared, running after the dog. I slowed down even more. Next thing you know, the dog runs back across the road and the boy is flailing his arms as if to stop traffic.

I remembered that dog food in the back of my car. I pulled over and flipped open my hatchback. I grabbed a handful, sat down on the ground, dropped the dog food next to me. Can you guess the rest?

I called the dog and here he comes. It takes less than one minute. The boy grabs the dog while it goes for the dog food. In between hugging his dog, the young man says at least three or four grateful thank you’s in a row. I said “thank you for helping me do a good deed today.”

My Grandson Gavin (L), Anna, My Daughter Michelene (R)
My Grandson Gavin (L), Anna, My Daughter Michelene (R) making sandwiches!

At my church two weeks ago, fifteen plus volunteers assembled 240 ham sandwiches to make 120 lunches for the hungry families of FOCUS Pittsburgh, the Orthodox ministry center in the Hill District. Jim and I delivered them next morning and wow, was that a good feeling.

Small ways to serve, and BIG ways to serve. I read with interest the woman who went to Toys R Us in Bellingham, Mass and paid off $20,000 worth of layaways. (I wondered how much her personal wealth is. Maybe that was most of it?) Or 9 year old Jarrett who cashed in a $160 tablet he won in a school fundraiser, grabbed tags from the angel tree and bought gifts for 15 children. Amazing.

It’s nice to do great big things but it is also very fulfilling to do small things. I believe it doesn’t matter if you do non profit work for a living (I did for a long time). When I get paid for work, I don’t count it as service. We all have a few extra hours to do something for someone else less fortunate this holiday.

My friend Daleen recently wrote a post on keeping dollar bills handy for those Salvation Army buckets. I personally never pass one up. I give small amounts but when I think of those like me (who also give small amounts), I bet those add up to BIG amounts.

No matter your contribution, this is what I believe the season is really all about. Kindness, compassion,  new birth and life. We owe it to ourselves and others to give in the most generous way we possibly can.

Join me on my graceful journey.

18 Replies to “Finding Holiday Peace of Mind”

  1. Another great, thought provoking post! For some reason, I am not stressed this Christmas season, even though my shopping is not done! I am NOT a last minute shopper and this should have me stressed out…but it doesn’t. We will have a nice, peaceful (but certainly not quiet!) holiday!
    Merry Christmas to you and your wonderful family!

    1. I am entertaining on Christmas Day and the day after but that is not causing me stress. I actually love when my family comes over and we all eat together. I’m glad you are NOT stressed! Merry Christmas to you and your wonderful family as well! xo

  2. I remember reading something that the Dalai Lama once said, which basically was: “People often fret, stress or worry about taking care of themselves but once they begin to take care of (or serve) others, they automatically, and without additional effort, begin to take care of themselves”

    I know sometimes after I’ve have a bad day at work and it is one of my “hospital nights”, I’ll leave that ER later that night thinking how wonderful life really is.

    1. Michael, your words from the Dalai Lama are beautiful. I completely believe in what you are saying. And truly, a bad night in the ER would make one think how blessed a life we truly have. xo Joanne

  3. Beautiful beautiful post my friend! Wonderfully inspiring, and an excellent example of sharing our blessings outward, and continuing the ‘ripple’ process. During my recent departure from WP, I must say that it meant so much to me to have connection with you through Pinterest. It’s not a small thing to me, when I am feeling too alone to write, but I enjoy collecting inspiring and helpful images to my boards, and to see your Likes and Repins really warmed my heart. Thank you Joanne. Truly, you matter and help others much more than you may realize. God bless you. xo Gina

    1. Gina, I adore following you on Pinterest as well. I love your inspirational pins and they often are my favorites. You too help others way more than you realize. Blessings to you for a happy holiday!

  4. Thank you for these wonderful reminders, Joanne. Your dog story made me smile for two reasons…one, because of the wonderful way you were there at the right moment to help that young man and his dog. You might have saved them from some sort of catastrophe, but God was there! and two, because I would have thought the same thing about the dog food, but AFTER I was almost home or where ever I was going. You thought of it when it needed to be done, I would have thought of it much later and had regrets of not thinking of it sooner. Sigh…oh, well. that’s the way the dog food crumbles…col (chuckle out loud).

    Merry Christmas dear friend,
    Marianne xo

    1. Marianne, I love you said “the way the dog food crumbles”- so funny! I don’t know how I thought of it- I guess God put the thought there but I had the time to stop and I’m so glad I did. It was a blessing to help another person and keep the dog from harm.
      I hope you have a wonderful holiday week ahead! Merry Christmas! xo Joanne

  5. Hi Joanne, beautiful Christmas story. Ironically I just read this quote: “To be useful, honorable, and compassionate is to lead a happy life & to make a difference in others! Isn’t is a coincidence that you were on the road just as the dog ran, and it isn’t it a coincidence that you had dog food in your car

    1. Hi Cindy, You and I both know there are no coincidences ;). I love that God made me available to someone in need. I believe there are many other good people in the world- MANY MANY- you included! Blessings to you and your family this holiday and into the New Year!! xo Joanne

  6. A coincidence is God’s way of remaing anonymous, and he was doing his work that day! Thanks for sharing such wonderful examples of kindness!

  7. I came to read your post today.
    Once again, as always, I am bathed in Grace.
    Thank you for sharing your kindness with me.
    My world is so much nicer because you are in it.
    Heck, the world is a better place because you are in it.
    I am one lucky girl you swirled into mine.
    Love ya, girlie.
    I LOVE that you are of service to others.
    You INSPIRE.

  8. What a powerful, touching reminder, Joanne. Mother Teresa’s Simple Path is a prayer in itself.
    At Thanksgiving our church made 187 sacks filled with sandwiches, homemade cookies, apples and oranges, and drinks of boxed juice to give to the teachers of 187 children to take with them after school on Wednesday afternoon to have at least one sack each of “back up” food.
    When you think of that long weekend break, it makes you wish more could be done.
    Thank you for this wonderful post.

Share your thoughts....