Paula Swenson

Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

Don’t confuse Service with Servant!

In Abundance, Art and Creativity, Business on March 14, 2010 at 4:06 pm

There is a lot of buzz these days about SERVICE. Customer Service, selfless service, active service … the dictionary lists no fewer than 12 definitions for service, but the most basic, in the terms I’d like to consider here is this: work done by one person or group that benefits another

Notice that definition says nothing about being downtrodden, under-appreciated, taken advantage of, nor creating a situation of indebtedness.

Recently my colleague Trish talked volunteering at a Hospice, and Trish mentioned that she always leaves with a very full heart, feeling that she gets even more than she gives. I think perhaps TRUE SERVICE fills us rather than empties us. Which is not to say we don’t get tired, etc, and need to be kind and refill our own wells, but rather that Service provides some intrinsic rewards.

Service, in my view, has an extra value component — it is not just doing for others. I think about Service like Food. Anything you eat will stop you from being hungry (junk food, cold stale vending machine sandwiches, dirt, school paste . . .) but some things you eat also give you vitamins and nutrients, and the BEST foods (like the highest SERVICE) also give you full sensory experience; you enjoy the eating of them, the taste, the smell, the texture in your mouth – eating becomes a sensual meditation and you are totally in the moment, PRESENT and aware of how wonderful food really is! Likewise I think true SERVICE is fully engaging. You are aware of the impact of your actions on others and it brings satisfaction and joy on a very deep level.

It occurs to me that GRATITUDE and SERVICE are linked and that when we truly serve, we experience the true gratitude of others — not necessarily in words or thank yous (although that may be) but in seeing the shift or the change in the other(s): the student who ‘gets it’ , the patient who is resting more comfortably, the child who proudly ties his own shoe, the person smiling at the image in the mirror upon seeing her new hairstyle, the shoulders that relax as a burden is lifted, the coaching client glowing with success!

Nobody wants to feel like a servant — but we all benefit from giving and receiving SERVICE.


Who would you be if no one knew who you were?

In Time and Change, Travel on March 7, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.
~ Matsuo Basho

Sometimes we travel through the physical landscape and sometimes our journey takes us inward. Perhaps the very best journeys are those which do both.
My friend Brandy recently gave up a lovely flat, sold all her belongings, quit a job which she loved and set out to see the world. Yes, you read that right, she left a place she resonates with and a job she loved to travel indefinitely. She has become voluntarily homeless, and her journey is one of inner, as much as outer, exploration.
I encourage you to check in with Brandy here, and follow her adventures, I can assure you it won’t be boring.