One of the main questions I ask the people in my Manifestation Workshop: On Being Human to ponder is, “How may I serve?” I have a really wonderful way that we play with this idea but I won’t spoil it. You’ll just have to come. (But if you do, you must introduce yourself as a Positively Positive reader so we can hug!)
I first heard Wayne Dyer ask this question, and, at the time, I was deep in the throes of my waiting tables misery. Still, it gave me pause. I hadn’t been living my life like that in my twenties. I was a wannabe actress (I say wannabe because I would say that I was an actress but did nothing really to pursue this dream) and I felt envious and why not me? when other people booked jobs. I lived in the land of scarcity. I took Wayne’s question to heart. I chewed on it and slept on it and drank wine with it. How may I serve? I repeated like a little chant even as I was taking orders for tuna sandwiches. (Oh the irony! The irony!)
I was unhappy and I realized quickly that this way of living, this idea of serving others – well, to put it quite simply- it made me feel better.
I decided that one of the first ways I would do this would be to donate all the money from my wedding. We didn’t have a big wedding but it was beautiful. It was held at the yoga studio where I was teaching at the time and everyone was barefoot and read poems and sang and drank the wine that had been graciously donated. I had a cello player there. It was everything. I asked that people not bring gifts but rather donate to The Red Cross to help Haiti earthquake relief efforts as it was just after their big earthquake. We didn’t break the bank, but let me tell you, this felt really really good to do. I joked that I would’ve still loved a wok (since we didn’t do the traditional wedding registry) and I got four woks. So I served others and got four woks. I have a whole post on how much we don’t really need but that’s a whole other
Also this: before you paint me a martyr – I didn’t have the money at the time to do a fancy wedding and I also had anxiety about planning (still do.) This was an easy and love-filled solution.
The other day, one of my readers posted the following note on my Facebook page.
Hi Jennifer, I am admiring what you do and a big fan. You are changing the world for the better! Wishing you a never-ending energy and happiness in doing so. I am not sure whether you can share this story or maybe it will just inspire you to write another beautiful piece as I am not a writer. So, here is the story. I am visiting my mum in Ukraine. After twenty years of service, she makes $300 a month, which is just enough to pay bills and buy basic food. Lately, I have been reading a lot about giving. I am just a selfish beginner using various excuses (mostly that I don’t have enough yet, making $100,000 a year). Yesterday changed my life. I spent it with mum. We were in exactly the same situation with the same resources. Yoga class. Mum offers one of the yogees to take her mat to our car and bring back for the next class, so that she doesn’t have to carry it on the bus. We made lunch. Even before having our meal, mum put some food on the plate and brought it to our neighbour. After lunch she packed a lunchbox and drove to take it to grandparents. Our friend invited us on a little boat trip. Mum packed a huge basket with fruit and vegetables, home-made wine, home made-non alcoholic drink, made baked apples. All of it she left on the boat. In the evening our neighbour came over for a short visit and left with some peaches for her and her husband. What did I do with my opportunities? I was taking. Same day. Same circumstances. Different people. ~ Yulia Kryvychenko
I can’t even begin to tell you the ways in which I loved this. I immediately created a meme for my instagram.
What will you leave on the boat? Seriously. There is so much we carry around that we simply don’t need.
I.e. four woks.
And also? If we had done a traditional wedding and gotten all those gifts like china and bowls and table cloths and pots and pans, my guess is that they would be collecting dust. I don’t keep house that well and I don’t cook (just ask my husband.) I’m just saying that some of the things I think I need, I in no way, shape, or form, “need.”
Also this: “All of it she left on the boat.”
That sentence slays me. I love it. The poet in me is drooling over that line.
She made it clear that her mom didn’t make a lot of money yet it was important to her to give.
All of it she left on the boat. I almost want to write a book and use that as a title.
I wonder what I would leave on the boat? Could you leave not only what you don’t need but maybe what you do? Think of this – you’re hungry. But so is someone else. Would you be willing to feed them and leave it on the boat, metaphorically?
There’s a lot to think about here. But riddle me this: what are you willing to leave on the boat?
I say leave what isn’t working out so well for you anymore. I say leave your grievances and complaints and fault-findings and need for excess and comparisons. I say leave some love too. Leave some love on the boat while you are at it.
Post in the comment section what you are willing to leave behind on the boat. Literally, metaphorically, whatever way you want it to mean. I will get back to each and every one of you lovely boat folk.
p.s., speaking of Wayne Dyer – his daughter Serena wrote a new book called “Don’t Die With Your Music Still In You” (get the book!!) and she will be signing copies at my Nov 8th Miami workshop. His other daughter Skye will be singing. They are like family to me and I am so excited! Book soon as I am only doing one. Xo jen
* * *
 I once asked a girl at a table next to me in Philly how her pancakes were and she replied “It was everything.” I love the expression and since have borrowed it so thank you Pancake Girl.
 We don’t need four woks, for example.
 Is this what they are called? Memes? I can’t be sure but whatever it’s called, I made one with a clever little app on my iPhone that I use whenever I distract myself from writing my book.
Jen will be leading a Manifestation Retreat: On Being Human in Ojai, California over Labor Day as well as New Years. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing and for ALL levels. Read this post to understand more. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you (Dallas, NYC, Seattle, Atlanta, Miami, South Dakota etc,). Jen is the guest speaker 3 times a year at Canyon Ranch and leads an annual retreat to Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health every February, as well as an annual retreat to Tuscany. She is the founder of the popular The Manifest-Station blog. Jen and author Lidia Yuknavitch (“The Chronology of Water”) will be leading a Writing + The Body Retreat Jan 31-Feb 1. Follow Jen on Instagram and Twitter.
Image courtesy of Simplereminders.com