Getting Real, Giving Out, and Giving Away / by Michelle Cowan

Okay, I'll admit it; the hurricane was a difficult event for me. (I'm resisting the urge to call it a "traumatic incident.") My power only stayed out for two days, I had everything I needed, and I received some outside support, but yes, I went through it alone. And that can be traumatic. (Okay, there, I used the word.)

It directed me into touch with new, strong parts of myself, but it also prompted a lot of emotions that I resisted and suppressed in order to get through the event itself. Now, the emotions are bubbling to the surface. Things having to do with my family, with relationships, with myself and my own history. All of it. Plus, I felt unempathized with.

I didn't have much physical upheaval other than the loss of some fridge food, a bit of car and window leakage, and a couple of hot days without electricity. But I didn't have the direct emotional support many others experienced. Oftentimes, helping someone else makes it easier to get through trials. In families, that kind of bonding/mutual assistance typically occurs naturally. I chose to ride it out alone and was not completely prepared for all that it exposed, finding myself without a ready shoulder to lean on.

So here I am, feeling the emotions and letting them play out as usual, learning many new things about life, the world, and myself. Sigh...

So where does the self-absorption end and the giving begin? I want to give of myself to a greater cause. I am admittedly reconsidering doing Team in Training, wondering if primarily nostalgia motivated me. Despite all of my very real and valuable reasons for wanting to participate, maybe it's time to raise money or advocate in a new way, for difference organizations, using methods that better reflect who I am today...

Still, I learned today that the Honored Hero I am training on behalf of passed away on Tuesday. Ten-year-old Johnny Romano, skateboarder extraordinaire. It shook me up a bit. He was so, so young... Keep his family in your thoughts/prayers.

At the same time, I wonder if I'd be better off advocating on behalf of ANAD or NEDA or NOW's Love Your Body project. There are also a few literacy groups I stand behind, not to mention the fabulous program Purple Songs Can Fly at Texas Children's hospital. The latter is connected with cancer support services, giving kids in treatment the opportunity to write and record their own songs. It's an amazing program, and I hope to be up there helping in the coming weeks.

For now, I want to be content giving as I can give right now, living life as a light to others. I want to do my part for the community. I want to help. But time is limited. My energy is limited. I have quite a bit to offer, though, and am longing to do so. I want to see where I should invest my resources.

Part of me would like to fundraise for one of the causes I mentioned above by coming up with my own fun events and ideas. We'll see what surfaces. It's always a good time to give, and I'm hungry for it right now. Reaching deep within often leads to reaching back out. Here I am, an emotional basket case, admittedly so, but knowing that perspective is in order. I give myself time to work out the kinks and also give some time away... I'm praying for inspiration for where to send it.