Volunteerism: Pre√ to the Afterlife

Volunteers Can Keep Their Shoes On

I suck at volunteering. I’m far too selfish, over-committed to other things, and, okay, lazy. I truly respect and admire people that volunteer their time and efforts. They will receive greater credits in the afterlife ledger. Volunteers? Move to the right for expedited check-in. No belts or shoe removal required and you can keep your laptops in your bag.

But what about those who donate money, but not time? Does that decrease our positive valence in the eyes of the eternal life judges? Is volunteering inherently more worthy than financial service? That entirely depends on what you value more. Personally, I treasure every spare moment, but not the pennies in my wallet. Donors also make the world a better place.

According to Harvard Health writer, Stephanie Watson, volunteering isn’t just good for the world, but healthy for us, too! It contributes to increased social connectivity by volunteers interacting with others during their selfless deeds, which in turn results in lower levels of loneliness and depression. It also appears to lower blood pressure and contribute to longer lifespans.

However, even with these perks (both earthly and celestial) clearly in mind, I cannot motivate myself to give up a Saturday out of my precious time to dish out soup, clean beaches, or even rally at the Capitol around causes I am passionate about. Why the hell not? Am I a bad person? No. I am not; I have my moments, but overall, I’m a decent person. I give a lot of money to charitable and philanthropic causes yearly (listen to Spaz on Health, Teammates for Life episode to learn the difference). Does that count? Will I get to move to the front of the coach, cattle-herding-like line in the afterlife because I was generous with a dollar? Maybe not so much. I never give more than I can afford. I never do without so that others can have. I give the little extra I can because I work two jobs and have a tiny amount of padding right now in my life (subject to change with any unexpected car or home repair expense).

Vianna Saves Girls Lives with Basketball

What makes someone deliver unselfishly of themselves to the universe? Are they born different? Are they more evolved? Yes. And yes. Take Vianna McGugan, for instance, who is my old friend and classmate. She retired from her work at Pfizer and now devotes her life to saving young girls from early pregnancy, rape, and even death in Uganda. Vianna is saving lives by introducing basketball to these young women and linking that with continuing their education in schools she is creating.  She created the organization Teammates for Life to provide the scaffolding for all the amazing lifesaving projects she does. This remarkable woman doesn’t just mail a check (insert sheepish grin); she goes and lives there, in third world country accommodations, fights entrenched misogyny and tribal antagonisms, digs wells, and recruits the young women she coaches. In her stateside time, Vianna is fundraising, sharing awareness, and collecting shoes and clothes not only for her girls, but for entire villages. She definitely has a spot in the expedited line to glory, glory in the highest. Her hopes are to grow the program from 30 girls to hundreds. See how you can help (if you’re an armchair do-gooder like me) by clicking here to donate. Even we lazy philanthropists can support Vianna so that she can get more girls out of their oppressive villages and into school and sports.

Raina Saves an Animal in Some Way Every Day 

Another volunteer that takes my breath away is my sister, Raina Spaziani. She is involved with so many animal charities that I have lost count. She donates over $40,000 a year to animal rescue organizations and initiatives. Additionally, she is in the process of developing her own no-kill cat shelter. She spends every spare moment raising funds for organizations like Pet Pals, providing transport for dogs and cats on death row from the South to shelters and homes in the North. She devotes a large part of her time petitioning and demonstrating for legislative change and tougher laws on animal abuse, building dog houses for neglected and chained dogs, and even going so far as to chain herself to a dog house in the blistering hot summer sun to raise awareness and create legal change around animal neglect and abuse. She is so committed that she suffered years of bullying and threats because she called out identified law enforcement agents for animal cruelty. The abuse still goes on. But, she continues to fearlessly speak out with a visceral rage against cruelty of those that cannot defend themselves. Raina literally saves an animal’s life every day of her life. For a while I had to stop opening her emails because every time I did, I ended up with a dog.

Lisa is a True American

My dear old pal, Lisa Middents, brings it in the activism category. She too will be in the accelerated afterlife line. She rallies, demonstrates, writes letters, coordinates and organizes protests, educates, and brings her family, too! She is a liberal for justice, so if that’s not your thing (if not, my suspicions are that you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog, so I may be talking to myself right now) you may not agree with her politics, but you would still admire her dedicated fervor to truth, liberty, and justice for all.

She is an American fighting for the country and inhabitants she loves—all inhabitants. She takes volunteerism to a new level and is passionate about Meal on Wheels, and coordinated this walkathon too, all the while tending to a dying and beloved father.* Lisa is unfailingly kind, generous with her time, and passionate about the good fight. She’s most certainly another front of the line candidate. I am entirely confident that she won’t have to take off her shoes in the afterlife.

 She Ruined Designer Handbags

Not that long ago, I shared with my sister Raina that I owned a designer handbag that cost a small fortune. Aghast, she said to me, “Do you know how many animal’s lives I could save with that money?” And so now, I think about my purchases with that ruling the abacus—how many lives could this pair of boots, purse, new curtains, ring save? Both animal and human? I’m not saying that I will stop shopping and plan to give all my money to charity and philanthropy (you didn’t listen, did you?  And you still don’t know the difference, I suspect.) or to live in a hut without indoor plumbing . But I am far more considered. Sad news for Nordstroms: She has ruined designer handbags for me forever.

What Line Will we be in?

So, the big question: What line will we get in if we only donate but don’t volunteer? I like to think we help the rock stars of change make their music. Without funding, they are unable to accomplish their miracles. We may not be born equal in the do-good area, but we can certainly help the gifted change the world, which can’t hurt our cause either. (Let’s face it—it’s always about us.) My bet is maybe we’ll have to take off our shoes and show our laptops, but there’s a small chance we’ll be able to keep our belts on.

God Bless You

*Good night, Paul Middents, rest in peace. You were an amazing American, serving your country for 34 years as a Captain in the US Navy. You are upon whom your daughter modeled her dedication to nation and liberty. It was a privilege to know you. You were always kind, and you tolerated our teen years. God bless you.

 

 

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Colette Lopane-Capella, the Meryl Streep of Psychotherapy

The Therapists’ Therapist

Colette Lopane-Capella of  New Day Vitality Psychotherapy in both Westchester and the Bronx, New York is a therapists’ therapist. It’s not because she sees only other therapists in her practice, but because another therapist, such as myself, can understand how truly talented she is. I know how difficult and nuanced our craft is and how spot on every one of her answers were when she was interviewed for Therapists Talk! on Green Ink Radio.  By the end of the interview, I wanted to grill Colette on every conceivable diagnosis, her preferred treatment modality, and her therapeutic approach to confirm if we were on the same page.

The Meryl Streep of Psychotherapy

While she is my junior by a few years (okay, okay, probably more like 20), she has the innate confidence, wisdom, and compassion that separates the great from the good in the world of therapy. Think of Meryl Streep, Emily Watson, and Jodie Foster. Now compare them with Jennifer Anniston, Kirsten Dunst, and Cameron Diaz. I think we would all agree that the second set is a very competent group of actresses , and have even had moments of greatness on film, but they are not The greats of film. Same with therapists. A lot of us are damn good therapists, but there are very few greats. Colette Lopane-Capella is one of the greats. Let’s just say that Colette is the Meryl Streep of psychotherapy. Watch her and cheer, baby!

And She Said Yes!

I met Colette through a shared Facebook group. I once again did my new weirdly wonderful thing and reached out to Colette and asked her if she would be interested in being interviewed for Green Ink Radio and she said yes! As with Gail Doy, something about Colette spoke to me. Her pretty, sweet face and her soothing energy reached out from the flat media screen of my phone like a  genie-in-the-bottle vapor mist, and before I knew it, I was asking her if she would like to be on Green Ink Radio! Just in case you think I do this all the time, I don’t.  I encounter thousands of people in my Facebook groups and so far only one woman compelled me to reach out from Facebook, and one on Twitter. My upcoming interviews with Suzanne Giesemann and Corbie Mitleid were also intuitive connections but through different channels (more of that in upcoming blog posts and podcasts).

Colette is in Love

Colette is a rare thing, a young woman unabashedly in love with her husband and vocal about her gratitude for her happy union. She is also madly in love with her work. Both passions show in her joyous commitment and enthusiasm. Her dogs too are up there in the love triad of her life (a girl after my own heart-I have a boneless, chubby, dachshund-mix rescue melted onto my lap as I type this).

From Pet Therapy to Eating Disorders

Colette sees individual, couples, family, and support group clients. She even has a Pet Loss Support Group! She created the group because her heart was breaking as she was losing her beloved dog. And while at the vet’s office, she noticed others were grieving as hard as she was. She went on high alert and inquired if they offered a support group for the devastated families. They did not. So, Colette immediately created one and has provided empathetic care to many grieving pet owners over the years. She also offers animal assisted therapy! Sign me up!

Check out her adorable co-facilitator of change–Aurora.  

Her specialty areas are Eating Disorders, ADHD, Depression, and Anxiety. Colette sees clients in her Bronx and Westchester offices, both of which are beautiful, intentionally healing spaces. And while she is physically in New York, the good news for the rest of the country is we can contact her for phone sessions. She uses a secure server and some insurances will cover the sessions. If not, she will consider a sliding scale on an individual need basis. You can call Colette at 914-752-4759 to set up an appointment or to obtain additional information. You can email Colette at vitality@clopanetherapy.com You can follow her on Facebook at New Day Vitality Psychotherapy, or go to her website at clopanetherapy.com

Colette also has a blog and covers great subjects, from relationships, to work stress, to holiday challenges, to self-esteem (just to name a few of the covered and ever-growing topics). Also, cool news: Colette has a brand new podcast, too! Listen in to discover how to find the right therapist, hear her fabulous Green Ink Radio interview, or do some quick and easy mindfulness practices. Her pithy, cool topics, range from 1-5 minutes. Super easy to tune in.

I really like Colette. Her generosity of spirit is evident in both her professional and personal lives. If she lived closer, I’d ask Colette to hang out and go for tea and to the dog park (with her dogs, not mine, because mine are the anti-therapy dogs–hating most people and all other dogs). She’d be the girlfriend (or the therapist) you’d call when you really needed some compassionate support.

I  think after listening to her interview, you’ll totally agree and probably want to do exactly that–call her, that is, not go to the dog park.