I was told by a friend and mentor, “When you help others get what they want, you are helping yourself get what you want.” With that said, I tell you how my life has truly been rewarded!
First, as a point of clarity, by no means am I advocating helping someone solely for the purpose of reciprocation, but rather, helping from a moral, sincere heart, and you will be rewarded, if only by knowing that you have made a difference in someone’s life.
Now, let me move on with my story…
Here I am, at the time, a 52 year-old city girl who had recently relocated to Atlanta, simply because I was ready for a change in my life. The short of the long is, I had never been to Atlanta, only knew one person living in Atlanta, and she was someone with whom I had worked many years before. We had renewed our friendship to the tune of regular telephone conversations. During one of our conversations, she said to me, “Carolyn, there is a lot going on in Atlanta, you should be here.” I am sure she really did not expect my response when I said, “okay”. Within forty-five days, I had packed my belongings, shipped them to her place, and prepared for my first trip to Atlanta, to visit her, 10 days after my things arrived…was I ready for the move or what?!
I had, for many years told myself that I wanted to relocate to a warm weather city. I had no idea where, when or how, it was just a dream of mine. This apparently was my time and I took advantage of it. Believing it was truly my time…my opportunity to walk in my faith and take the leap. I started sending her money before I arrived to help her with some personal issues she was having at the time. So, when I arrived, my initial reward was not having to pay rent for several months, as I lived out the comparable money I had sent ahead. I helped her in a time of need, because I could, and she helped me realize a latent dream of moving from my home city and exploring the possibilities of new adventures in a new ‘warm weather’ location. I loved it!
The day I arrived in my new home city, which was within 30 days following my visit, she had arranged for us to attend Evander Holyfield’s ‘Real Deal’ weekend event at his estate. That event, and others I was privy to attend with her, led to my meeting others with whom I networked, and started building my foundation of new acquaintances. This includes being the Managing Director for a breast cancer organization, which afforded me the opportunity to be caregiver to a couple of ladies, one of whom stayed with me for a while. Both times were very rewarding experiences, especially knowing that I was able to personally make a difference in their lives during a time of despondency.
Having owned a small health food store chain, I was very much into natural health and wellness. As a result, I was able to bring a different perspective to the Health Ministry service where I volunteered at the church I had joined. I became certified as a ‘teacher’ and helped coordinate several classes and projects, including one where I produced a journal to help people along in their pursuit, with applicable scripture. As a result, I was able to touch the lives of hundreds of people in their quest for optimal health and wellness…how rewarding, and it continues as I run into some of them from time to time, and they express the impact it continues to have on their life.
Imagine, doing what I loved…helping people improve their state of health and wellness, and bringing balance to my own, in the areas of mind, body and soul/spirit. It was an awesome reward!
Then, I was invited to an event featuring renown motivational speaker, Les Brown. I had put on one of Les’ first speaking engagements in my hometown area many years prior, and was able to renew my friendship with him. As a result, I became director of his speakers training program and coordinated one of his ‘best ever’, as he said, training conferences. That was a time of growth for me, and I met speakers from around the country. Here in Atlanta, we hosted his most successful, sellout, Motivational Monday speaker’s showcase event, and produced a CD.
That led me to the introduction, by one of the speakers, to an organization for newcomers to the Atlanta area. This is the group that introduced me to hiking. Here I was, about to celebrate my 56th birthday, and as a tradition, I try to do something challenging that I have never done before, so I went on my first hike. We hiked Blood Mountain in the North Georgia Mountains. It was one of the most exhilarating things I had ever done in my life…I was hooked…experiencing nature, in the raw, the fresh air, blue skies, it was awesome!
As it turned out, a few years later, the hike leader was unable to continue due to a change in his work schedule. Sensing my love for hiking, he asked me to take over leading the hikes…wow, what an opportunity! As I prepared myself for this new venture, I became certified as an Outings Leader through the Sierra Club so I could really understand what was entailed, behind the scenes, as I took on the responsibility of leading people on wilderness trails. This is where I kicked in my marketing background and grew the attendance to the hikes through my online newsletters…my first official hike included 30 people! All previous hikes were considered good if 8 to 10 people attended. Henceforth, never having missed a monthly hike for the last three years, plus, every month we have people being introduced to hiking and experiencing the same joy and exhilaration I felt on my first hike. It is so very rewarding when my hikers tell me how the experience has changed their life, particularly as it relates to their health and peace of mind. It is comments like that, that are so rewarding to the work I do that motivates me to continue, knowing I am helping men, women and young people to open up to the possibilities of new adventures and experiences in their life.
A couple of the most profound rewards was when one of the hikers who had been stationed in Afghanistan, returned home and came to one of the hikes, and told everyone how much he appreciated the newsletters and photos, and how they made him feel so connected to us, and inspired. Another was a public school teacher of 17 years, who was so inspired to explore life’s possibilities after going on several hikes with us that she did not renew her upcoming contract, took a job teaching in Dubai and went zip lining there, that she had been to afraid to do when we went zip lining and horseback riding together, before she left. She is now enjoying teaching again and living her life to the fullest!!! I am both honored and humbled to know the work I am doing is having that kind of impact on others. The feedback is the best reward ever!
There are many other stories that I may share from time to time…but the purpose here is to let you know, when you help others, you are truly helping yourself. My life is so rich now, I look forward to finding a way to help someone every day, even if it is as simple as finding someone without a smile, and giving them one of mine…I always get it back…a big reward for a small gesture!