I have found myself in a very fortunate position. I am happy. And I don't just mean happy enough or happy-ish. I mean happier than I ever expected. I am enormously grateful for that happiness, and for the life I now live which now feels so full of potential and promise.
Going through times of huge stress and coming out of the other side
has made me look outside of myself more, and has made me more sensitive to the suffering of others. I now more than ever see the value in an unexpected kind word or small gesture and the huge difference it can make to someone when they need it most.
I like to think of myself as a generous person by nature, but in looking back, I still feel I could have done more for those in need.
As Christmas 2017 approached I happened upon an Instagram post promoting a "Reverse Advent Calendar". It involved adding an item of food or everyday essentials to a box for the 24 days of advent and then taking those items to a local food bank. I was instantly inspired by this idea. The thought that I could do something to help someone survive over Christmas was so powerful to me that I set to work on creating my food box with spare items from my cupboards and a few additional items I purchased. I took the box to my local food bank and left feeling rather emotional, but with a smile and a warm fuzzy feeling. :)
I now plan to give more regularly to the food banks throughout the winter and as long as they exist. A first world country like ours shouldn't have them at all, which is why I believe it is the duty of those of us with a little extra cash to help those who are struggling to survive.
Along the same lines on new years day, when thinking about new beginnings, I started thinking about what I should do with my wedding dress (it had spent 4 and a half years hanging up in a suit bag). A friend had suggested that I donate the dress to charity, so I pulled up google and found a website called Wish for a Wedding. Founded only in the last couple of years, this charity provides donated dresses for the weddings of those with terminal illnesses, helping to ensure that their wedding day is just as beautiful and happy as anyone else's, often at very short notice. If your dress is not used within 12 months or is not in good enough condition to be used, the dresses are also used to make burial garments for babies that are no longer with us. Wish for a Wedding even keep in touch with you and let you know what your dress has been used for/who has worn it which is a lovely touch .
As soon as I found this website, I decided that this was the place for my dress. Knowing that again, this was an opportunity to help bring some happiness or comfort to the life of someone else was an amazing feeling.
These little gestures are just the beginning of my desire to be more generous and thoughtful, but knowing that I can help others regularly and in small ways, has been the perfect start to my new year.
If you are interested in donating to a local food bank this winter (it isn't too late) you can search for your local one here: