Help! How Do YOU Answer the Call?

Help!  How Do YOU Answer the Call?

Help.  We all need it at times for a million different reasons.  It can be as simple as someone opening the door for you when you have an armload of groceries or as complex as a stranger pulling you from a burning building.  In either scenario, you are truly grateful for that gesture.  But does that make you think of how YOU can help someone else?  I sure hope so!  Whether you help a stranger or a loved one, the fact that you thought about them and chose to assist is more meaningful than anything.

 

I believe in random acts of kindness & helping total strangers- I wish more people did but nowadays we are so busy in our day-to-day dealings that we don’t see the opportunities.  Or, perhaps instead of being blind to opportunities we are suspicious of them and we just don’t want to get involved because we’ve heard the stories of how the Good Samaritan ended up in trouble.  I find it sad that our society has shifted to one where we all just mind our own business when we see someone in need.  We don’t really think to help people unless they’re someone we know & they ask us.  And what about helping those that aren’t people?  Animals need help, too!

Here are 4 easy ways that you can help:

1.       Random Acts of Kindness – I love to do these acts.  Not only do they take the person you are helping by surprise, they make YOU feel good, too!  When I go out to eat, if I see someone eating alone & looking lonely or sad I ask the wait staff to bring me their bill. I pay the bill anonymously, tip generously & write a little note to the person which the wait staff delivers.  It usually says something along the lines of “It was my pleasure to buy you dinner tonight, thank you for making my day.”  And it TRULY is my pleasure.  When I see the smile on their face as they look around to see who bought their meal, I can’t help but get teary eyed. There are lots of ways we all can do these acts- some for free even!  Open doors for strangers, let the person behind you in line go first, let the guy trying to change lanes in traffic get in front of you, tell someone their shoes are amazing or simply smile at a stranger & give them a genuine hello. Such simple acts go a very long way!

2.       Donate – Donations aren’t just monetary- you can give your time, old possessions that you aren’t going to use but are still good, you can even give your hair! I had gorgeous Pantene commercial hair– very long & shiny, many times girls would say they wanted it.  Then I learned about Locks of Love, the charity that takes hair donations & makes wigs for kids who have lost their hair from cancer treatments.  I chopped off my beautiful tresses & my stylist sent them off to the charity.  I felt so good about it that I didn’t care that I now had a hairstyle I couldn’t make sense of – all that mattered was the kid who got my hair.  Another time I had a bunch of old rugs, towels & blankets that I wanted to donate. I looked up an animal rescue that needed them for bedding & took them over right away.  I didn’t get a receipt for a tax write off but I was OK with that – I helped homeless animals & the people doing all the work – which meant so much more.   It’s easy to donate in the obvious ways & it’s a great gesture to make. But when I donate to the lesser-known causes, I feel much more fulfilled.

3.       Helping The Less Fortunate – Times are hard & people are losing their jobs, homes, families.  How can you help?  Giving money to the person standing on the corner holding a sign is quick & easy but I prefer to take it a step further. I will go to the nearest fast food place & order a meal complete with a drink & dessert and then take it to that person.  If they have a dog with them, I buy a bag of dog food in addition to their meal.  If they have kids there, I buy kid’s meals so they get a toy. Occasionally I’ll get the “I don’t want food, I want money!” response, but that’s OK.  I leave the food & wish them the best knowing that they will eventually eat it & not be hungry.

If you do something with the expectation of getting a thank you, at times you will be disappointed. Do it anyways & forget about getting anything in return – that is the true spirit of helping others.  You can volunteer at your local soup kitchen or animal shelter if you like & get the same results (although at the animal shelter you may get some tail wags!).

4.       Take a Risk – We truly grow when we take risks.  Recently, my boyfriend & I helped an injured pelican at Newport Beach.  The bird had a big rusty fish hook in its beak & a fishing lure stuck in its wing.  He grabbed the bird’s beak while I put the bird in a bear hug to keep it steady.  As the bird struggled to get free from my hug, he pried the hook out of its mouth & pulled the lure from its wing. I thought I was going to get dragged into the water or hurt by this huge & strong bird but I held on. In minutes, the pelican was back in the water & swimming away from us, happy as could be. Last year, I heard a kitten crying in distress. I went outside, following the cries until I found the kitten clinging to my neighbor’s screen door 6 feet above the ground. It didn’t belong to the resident but he said he would pass my info on to the kitten’s owner. I took the kitten home & cared for it until it’s owner called me.  She could have been mad that I took her kitten but she was very grateful when I took the baby back to her. It was a risk worth taking! Don’t be afraid to extend yourself beyond your comfort zone.

 

How do YOU help others?  I’d love to hear about what you do to make a difference!

Carrie

About Carrie

Hi there! I’m Carrie and I am a licensed embalmer, crematory manager & funeral director at O’Connor Mortuary. I am so blessed to have found my calling in life & am grateful to practice it at an amazing place like O’Connor. I began as a part time service director in 2004 while I was finishing mortuary school then served my embalming apprenticeship & worked my way up from there. I’m experienced in all areas of the funeral profession & love every aspect of it. I live in Huntington Beach where I enjoy riding my bike or skateboard on the boardwalk, spending quality time with friends or relaxing at home with my pets. Thank you so much for reading my blogs, I’d love to have you comment as well!

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  • Patricia Kolstad

    Carrie:
    Thank you for this reminder that random acts of kindness is really all about giving without the expectation of getting back. We’re all capable, but I find that we get caught up in our everyday lives and forget to act out the simplicity of it all. We are fortunate that we work for a family who creates an atmosphere of “give back”. I am thankful that our team uses these acts of kindness, not only with the families we serve, but to each other. When acts of kindness are part of your work ethic, it spills over into our lives outside of our profession. To move in the direction of kindness . . by using the word “yes, I can help you” or “what can I do to make this easier for you” is providing support. We can all find ways to make someone or something better. Whether it’s monetarily or through our actions. It’s easy, as I have found. Handwritten cards to let someone know you’re thinking about them. A phone call to a loved one or friend you haven’t talked to in a while. What a blessing to us and to them. We all have it in us to share ourselves . . . we just need to “do it!”

    • Carrie Bayer

      Pat, we are fortunate to work for a family that puts such emphasis on helping others & as you said, it does trickle into our daily lives. I feel doubly blessed because my family instilled this in me when I was very young. As a kid, I was always rescuing animals, helping my dad with home improvement projects, going to work with my grandparents to help them, etc. It just seems natural to me. Thank you for sharing! Carrie

  • MollyKeating

    Carrie,
    I love this post. I especially love the incredible examples you give. Following your own advice is often much harder said than done but here it seems you are in the wonderful position of preaching what you do – so awesome!
    What stood out to me the most was your emphasis on attitude as we give & help. I so often want results, thank you’s, or recognition but you point out the important part – the act itself and the heart we have behind it. That will be what I work on & the big inspiration that I take away from this post. Thank you so much for the great & beautiful help you give!

    • Carrie Bayer

      Molly, I promise you that once you focus on helping without expectation of return you will see amazing things happen within yourself. You will notice that warm & fuzzy feeling that you get inside will come more frequently & it will be stronger each time. That will motivate you to recognize more opportunities to do something for another. And you will find yourself smiling more. And it’s not just important to smile at strangers- we must smile at ourselves, too! We deserve to receive our own smiles the way others deserve them. I hope you enjoy practicing! Love, Carrie

  • neil

    Carrie –
    I agree we all need to do more to help our fellow neighbor. Sometimes we can just lend an ear to someone who has had a bad day. I hate having to go visit friends or family when they are in the hospital yet it is the right thing to do. Supporting your friends or family during difficult times or even when a death occurs can be one of the most cathartic ways to grow your own spirit. I have saved about ten lost dogs in my neighborhood since I have move to SJC five years ago, that makes me feel like a super hero, I come home and start singing the superman theme song and pretend I am flying around the house, poor Lisa I know. I love your post, it is a great reminder that we are one and we are community it we are willing to put our selves out there. XO

    • Carrie Bayer

      Neil, I have seen you go above & beyond to help others & it inspires me to do more. Your love for animals is amazing & you aren’t afraid to help them- I wish more people would follow your lead. Over the years, you have helped me in ways I can never repay or express enough gratitude for. You are truly an example to follow when it comes to helping others. Thank you! xoxox Carrie

  • One of the basic tenets of Buddhism is to “live a Bodhisattva life”, which means you live your life, every day, motivated by pure compassion and love.You do work to cultivate what are called the 6 Perfections:1] generosity, 2] ethics, 3] patience, 4] effort, 5] concentration, and 6] wisdom. Easier said than done, for sure. But, every morning, I set my intention and motivation to not harm anyone, and to help others wherever and whenever I can. Kind words, kind actions; money when appropriate, but always love and compassion. Now, let me say this, I failed this week, when speaking with my father’s wife about his impending death. I became ensnared in my own self-cherishing thoughts, and my “story” – so, despite everything I wrote, I still stumble on the Dharma path.

    Really nice post, Carrie.

    • Carrie Bayer

      Kim, thank you so much for enlightening me on this basic tenet of Buddhism- I absolutely love this! If we all could remember to keep this first & foremost in our daily intent, the world would be a much more serene place. We all get tripped up on our day-to-day dealings & forget to put others first. But, if we don’t care for ourselves first then we can effectively help others. Neil’s blog a few weeks back is a great reminder of just that. Thank you so much for sharing with us! Carrie

      • Carrie Bayer

        Oops- I meant if we don’t care for ourselves first then we CAN’T effectively help others. I’m sure you know what I meant, silly me!

  • Jeff

    Carrie,

    This is such a sweet side of you and I love the truly practical and meaningful ideas you put together here for us to do. Yes, we are rushed, suspicious and afraid to risk showing love to others. But on those occasions where I do risk it, I have never regretted it.

    I generally shy away from homeless encounters, OK, I actively avoid them. But on the occasion of this story, I was waiting for my car to be serviced on a Saturday and was standing outside of the establishment and saw a young homeless man walking through the parking lot. I heard that still small voice (I choose to believe that is God) saying “Give him something when he comes by.” I knew what I had in my pocket and I know which denomination God wanted me to give to him and it was by far the most of what I had in pocket. I watched him as he began to come my way and then he suddenly turned and began to go another. I was surprised at my disappointment when I was confronted with the idea that this encounter might not happen. I avoid this stuff. And now I am disappointed by it???

    As suddenly as he had changed course away from me, turned back my way. He politely asked if I could spare a couple of dollars. I said “Sure” and gave him more than he expected. He was surprised and thanked me and I asked him his name. Then I asked him if he was OK? He said yes but that he had just come from New York and people here have been mean to him and trying to beat him up. It is hard to know what was true in his story yet the easiest thing to believe was that people were mean and that he might be abused living on the street. I told him I would pray for protection over him and that God would keep him from harm. He was very grateful and said he would pray for me too. I would cherish any prayer he might think to say to God on my behalf.

    We are all just people. We all have the same value, inestimable. That brief encounter cost me money I didn’t need, a few brief minutes of time I would have wasted in solitude and judgement, the energy to listen to understand and the effort to just say that I cared for him. I didn’t try to fix him or preach to him about how he should do this or that. Prayer fits right into this. Praying for others is asking for something good for them that I cannot provide or do.

    Carrie, your essay has reminded me that I must be proactive against my nature to act when the opportunities present themselves. The sad part of this one story is that I have willfully avoided hundreds of opportunities to do something similar. My selfishness at times knows no bounds. I desire and commit to do better.

    Blessings upon you ten fold for your random acts of kindness.

    Jeff

    • Carrie Bayer

      Jeff, thank you so much for sharing your experience with this young man. I’m confident that you will be in his mind for the rest of his life because of your willingness to help him. But the thing is, you went beyond just giving him money. You gave him your time, your faith, your care & accepted him just the way he was. I know it’s hard to extend ourselves when we feel we should, but I’m excited that you actually felt disappointment when it seemed you might not get to interact w/ this man. That tells me that you will be more likely to recognize future opportunities to help others & that you will move toward them rather than hope they come to you. Recently, I was at 7-11 near my house & the homeless man outside was so skinny & looked sickly. I bought him a hot dog, slice of pizza, cookies & a huge Gatorade. When I handed them to him, he threw them at me, screamed profanity & called me horrible names. Other customers looked at me like I was crazy for standing in front of him. I smiled at them & said, “It’s OK.” I wished the man a good day & went on my way as if it had been a good encounter. The point being that others were watching for my reaction. I didn’t freak out or run away which is what they may have expected from me or done themselves. I kept calm & positive- maybe they will follow my lead & try helping even if it may not go well for them. Bless you, Jeff- I’m proud of you for reaching out this time & I encourage you on your future gestures! XOXO Carrie

  • Lori

    Carrie,
    You have such an amazing heart.
    I love the suggestions you have given and the stories you have shared.
    I sometimes find myself thinking after the fact, “I should have………..”
    You are correct when you talk about how wonderful we feel when we do help.
    It is a gift to us as much as it is to those we are helping.
    Keep helping others and sharing your stories with us!!!
    MWAH!!!xoxo!!
    Lori

    • Carrie Bayer

      Lori, it’s that little voice inside that prompts us to act when we see the opportunity. If more of us listened to that voice & did what it tells us to, I believe this world would be a much kinder place. Let’s set the example for everyone to follow! XOXOX Carrie

  • Anne

    Carrie,
    Angels come in all shapes and sizes. I know we are capable of much more that just work, play and nourishing and being nourished in our immediate safe circles. When we venture outside of that in a giving, loving way, we are blessed more than it is possible to describe. I have a feeling you are one of the angels of HB. The fact that you held your ground when the homeless man’s troubled mind did not allow him to receive your gift impressed me.
    I am glad you were not discouraged by that.
    Love you
    Anne

    • Carie Bayer

      Anne, thank you so much for your kind words! I’m not sure if I’m just stubborn or crazy but in these circumstances I don’t get discouraged when things take a different path. I find it motivating to be truthful. Some people say I put myself in danger when I do these things but I’m very cautious and aware of my surroundings when I do. Sometimes it takes a brave heart to do what is right or needed at the time. I have a feeling you are the same way, given your past blogs & our wonderful conversations. We are kindred spirits! XOXOX Carrie

  • Carrie,
    I love this blog. I get a lot of pleasure out of Random Acts, and giving. I found that it is so much more powerful when I can use it as a tool to teach. I have attempted to raise my kids to HELP! Many times, I have stopped with them to set the example. One day there was an elderly woman unloading very heavy items from her car, all alone. My 3 daughters were in the car with me at the time, 16, 14 & 12 yrs old. I made a quick U-turn, and the girls new immediately what was up. We jumped out of the car, introduced ourselves, and asked if we might help her. She was beside herself. She even let us into her home, which was beautiful and offered us drinks which we sweetly declined and headed out the door. As we drove away and she waved and yelled thanks, you couldn’t have wiped the smiles off our faces. Another moment that stands out was a day my 8 year old son and I were at Panda Express with 2 of my daughters. A young man approached us and said he needed to get home but had no money for the bus. We were very close to the High School, but neither of my girls recognized the kid, or I would have driven him home. I had a ton of change in my wallet, but no bills. I dumped the change into a cup and handed it to him. He was so sweet, thankful, and appreciative and ran across the parking lot to catch the next bus. That wasn’t the best part, the best part was the look on my boy’s face. He was absolutely beaming. Then he turned to me grabbed my neck and said “I bet he wishes you were his Mom too!” There wasn’t a dry eye in the car on the way home that night.

    Thanks for sharing!! It was great to relieve these moments, and look forward to more.

    Kari

    • Carrie Bayer

      Kari, you are helping to change the world one act at a time. And, teaching your kids to do the same is going to ensure the example will be set for others well into the future- I’m so grateful for that! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences & showing others how wonderful it is to be a helper. Carrie