Lose a Job, Find Yoga and “SEVA”…

So many of my students are engaged in volunteerism for as many reasons as there are people.  In yoga philosophy, the belief is that service helps improve one’s karma.  The world “SEVA” means “selfless service.”  Should you ever make it to Kripalu in Western Massachusetts, you’ll find the kitchen and cleaning functions staffed by yogis signed up for 6 months of SEVA.  Is it really selfless? At Kripalu, Seva yogis may partake of the great yoga and live in the Berkshires.  I think all of you whom volunteer feel like you get more back than you give. If you’d like to share your story, please send it to me in an email. I wanted to kick off with Mary Jo’s story, as she, like some of you, came to yoga and seva, in part, through loss.  We’ve all heard the cliches,” when one door closes, another door opens” or ” the glass is half full,” but true stories help bring them to life and give us hope. Thanks for sharing, Mary Jo! Also if you know anyone in need of meeting/event planning services, tap in to the YogaHotDish network –I’ll put you in touch. What’s better than a CMP who knows how to breathe deeply and stay calm?!

My Yoga/Volunteer Story by Mary Jo, Certified Meeting Planner
My new life adventure started when my position as a meeting planner was eliminated  after working for the same company for 20+ years.   Sound familiar?   The day I learned of this, I went through the normal gamut of emotions —   from surprise, sadness and disappointment — to a little bit of glee (or maybe a sense of freedom) as I began to think of the possibilities awaiting me.

I quickly took stock of my situation and began strategizing as only we planners tend to do so well and began making lists starting with the names of other companies I might want to work for (because I do still need to work), names of people I wanted to reach out to within the industry, but I also started another more personal list of things that I wanted to do for me now that I would have some extra time on my hands.  #1 on this list was to be good to Mary Jo; #2 was to spend more time with family and friends; #3 was to do some volunteer work.

The first item on my personal list, was to stay true to my yoga practice and continue with my total fitness plan which has always been so important to me and key to my remaining healthy and active during this next phase of my life.  I had practiced yoga through classes at the onsite fitness center at my former employer for probably 12+ years, but was now faced with finding another outlet for continuing this practice.  How lucky for me to have found Shaila Cunningham and Yoga Hot Dish.  Shaila is an incredible instructor and her 90-minute classes go by faster than I could ever have imagined (classes at work were 45-minutes). You know at the end each session you’ve worked, but you still walk away feeling totally refreshed and re-energized.

This March I was able to take a family vacation for the first in years it would seem to the Grand Caymans which allowed me some very major quality time with my son and his family – which started me well on my way to working on goal #3.

I accomplished goal #3, by starting to volunteer at the Family Room at the Ronald McDonald House at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, located at Region’s Hospital.  What an incredible experience this has been!  Each Tuesday afternoon from 1-5pm, I can be found baking cookies or warming up something I’ve made for dinner for the families, or helping out with some housekeeping tasks just like I would be doing at home – but it’s just not for me.  It’s for those family members who don’t have the time to do this today because they have more pressing matters to tend to and they’re tired and exhausted and they just need a little break.

The facilities at Gillette are new and unknown to many.  The Family Room opened just under a year ago and consists of a full kitchen/living/great room combination, plus four bedrooms for families who want to/need to stay a night of two while their child is in the hospital receiving care. The space is absolutely beautiful:  very homey, very well done and offers a respite to the families in need who have children staying at the hospital.  The families are so appreciative of what is there for them and many of them ask how they can give back which is amazing to me considering all that is going on in their lives at that particular time.

The Ronald McDonald House at Gillette, like their other facilities depends primarily on volunteer support.  If you’re thinking of volunteering, I would highly recommend you think about giving a little bit of your time and energy here.  It makes you feel so good to know you are helping someone which in turn you find is really helping you in totally unexpected ways.

Volunteers are needed during the day but also through the Cooks for Kids program where groups of 3-5 volunteers actually cook for the families at the center.   I encourage you to give it a try – I promise you’ll like it.  The volunteer coordinator is Carynn Roehrick.  She can be reached at 612.767.2788 or croehrick@rmhc-um.org.  I know she’ll welcome your call or email.

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Shaila Cunningham

Shaila Cunningham

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