Feeling powerless? Try action-motivation-action

This past July I was driving in Austin and heard a news story about Syrian refugees who were stranded in the middle of the Mediterranean in a political gridlock with slim hopes of making it to a safe haven. They apparently had embarked on the journey KNOWING they only had a 50/50 chance of making it to Italy. Can you imagine?  Like many, I have been listening to similar crushing stories over the past year but this one really shook me. I was mad and deeply sad. I couldn’t stand on the sidelines any more. I had to do something. Now.

living intentionally

More than 100,00 refugees and immigrants have risked their lives attempting to cross the Mediterranean in 2017 alone, according to the UN refugee agency. When we see devastating images like this, the challenge to all of us right now is to continue to stay awake to what is happening in the world, to quietly discern how we can each help and to continue to take care of ourselves.

I was on vacation at the time and planned to be “unplugged,” but when I got home, I began making calls to nonprofits serving refugee clients locally to see what I could do. After a couple of hours of research, I finally connected with a wonderful, small volunteer-run nonprofit that serves political asylum seekers. The organization had put out a Facebook post that they needed drivers to take clients to meet with ICE officials in San Antonio and to doctor and legal appointments.

I offer my time when I can to Casa Marianella, driving clients who come from places like Honduras, Iraq, Turkey and Africa to their appointments; I know it has to be better for them than taking the bus in a city they don’t know. I am friendly and kind and assure my passengers (often through facial expression and sign language) there are many in my community who want to help them.

I often feel I’m not doing enough, but, this morning while at a hurricane Harvey benefit class with yoga teacher David Swenson,  I had an important realization.

So many of my friends and family have shared that a day doesn’t go by when they don’t think about our current collective hardships: our volatile political/economic climate, extreme natural disasters, threat of nuclear war and a litany of other crises near and far. But, they feel paralyzed, small and overwhelmed, thinking, “What can I possibly do to make a difference?”

While on my yoga mat this past Saturday, I reflected deeply on this and realized that day in July when I dropped everything to determine how I could possibly be of service to refugees and immediately took action-something inside me shifted.  The act of responding to where my heart was guiding me to help, felt very profound. And that first trip driving my new friends Ernesto and Cameron to a doctor’s appointment felt micro and macro at the same time. This small action galvanized me to begin helping in other ways, too.

I call this powerful sequence the “Action-Motivation-Action,” effect.  When we heed the call to help-no matter how small the action-we feel motivated to keep doing more. And we inspire others around us to do the same.  Now every morning after I meditate, I wake up and ask, “Who can I help today?” whether it be gathering clothes my son has outgrown for my friend who is a single mom, donating my time to lead a workshop on resiliency for teachers, or driving a woman from South Africa to meet with her therapist to work through PTSD.

Where is your heart guiding you to help today?  Action-motivation-action. I challenge you by this Friday to heed this call. You have no idea where this might take you   P.S. If you’re in Austin, Casa Marianella is now looking for temporary host homes for their residential clients (call to find out more). Another program I love is Women for Women International where you can sponsor a sister in a war-torn area for $35/month and personally connect with and cheer her on.

Interested in living intentionally? Here are 3 ways I’d love to help:

  • Attend one of my self-renewal retreats and receive high-level support, mentoring for living intentionally. P.S. My Sept. 29-Oct. 1 Esalen retreat has just 5 spots left and my Oct. 27-29 Kripalu retreat has just a handful of spots left (lodging is almost sold out at both venues).
  • Schedule me to speak in 2018 to your organization, company or team on resiliency, stress management and mindfulness. Learn more.
  • Explore the idea of facilitating or joining our Personal Renewal Groups for women (in 10 countries worldwide); becoming a RTA-Certified Facilitator can be a great way to support your own growth, empower women locally and learn the art of self-care. Our online training is $100 off through Sept. 30 and includes private coaching with me!
living intentionally

Join me here in the Berkshire Mountains of Western MA at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health Oct. 27-29 for New Way of Being: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat.

Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by transformational coach/speaker/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about living intentionally, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining Personal Renewal Groups based on her award-winning self-care curriculum.  She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 15 year-old son. More on her background here.