Pay it Forward

While I was still trying to recover from the “storm” of trauma, I often thought to myself, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Later, through much time and reflection, I came to realize that bad things happen to ALL people, just the severity differs. We are ALL walking in this life journey together, and trying to survive. Without seeking help and guidance from another person, our hardships might seem impossible to overcome. We will often feel defeated and depleted.

I’ve been able to grow significantly (mentally, emotionally, and spiritually) after my trauma, by extending my helping hands to those currently facing the storm. I’ve come to realize that the key to living a more purposeful life is by using my gifts to pay it forward. I’m going to share personal stories of how I’ve experienced and witnessed another “paying it forward.”

A close friend, of mine, was experiencing a difficult break up with the love of her life. She appeared to be in an emotional battle with herself, and kept questioning what she could have done differently to salvage the relationship. I noticed that she was depressed, and it was significantly affecting her everyday life (not to mention she had children of her own). I was currently reading an inspirational novel, Fierce Hearted by Holly Gerth, and knew that I had to purchase it for her immediately. When the novel arrived, I wrote these words on the inside cover, “You will get through this hard-time because you’re “fierce hearted” and I believe in you. Without hesitation, I visited with her, gifted her the book, and explained how it has helped me with my personal struggles. Two weeks later, my friend was able to move forward with strength and dignity. She thanked and praised me for the wonderfully written novel by Holly Gerth. I was able to share my passion for reading to help a friend during a devastating time in her life. I highly recommend it for any woman needing a boost of self-confidence, or facing a traumatic hardship.

An old friend and classmate of mine, Lauren Starkey, pays it forward each day for her career. Lauren is a certified Music Therapist and works at Ruby Memorial Hospital. She starts every morning, on her way to work, praying for the patients that she’ll be working with that day. She’s given a caseload of about 20 patients that could be on any floor, and facing any trauma (cancer, addiction, etc.). Lauren’s job is to simply play “her” music to help grant patients peace and serenity during various treatments. One patient in particular requested that Lauren write and create an original ballad, with her, to help put her mind at peace. Lauren and her patient collaborated and crafted a perfect and original song together. The patient played the song on repeat during all hours of the day to help her cope with her current situation. Doctors were blown away by the drastic turnaround for this patient and incredibly, she was discharged from the hospital shortly after. Lauren expressed that was truly a rewarding moment for her in her career. Lauren also provides her services to hospice patients, and their family members during the last moments of life. She has witnessed many patients taking their last breath, while standing and playing in a circle with loved ones. Lauren has been thanked on numerous occasions, by family members, for providing them with the opportunity to remember and reflect on the song opposed to the tragic loss of their loved one. Lauren also plays local Bridgeport gigs at Cody’s restaurant on Thursdays. If you or a loved one would be interested in music therapy, Lauren Starkey is open to providing services. Lauren is one of the most inspiring and positive souls that I know with a mission that’s driven to help others.

God designed and crafted each one of us for a specific reason at birth. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” If we are blessed with natural born abilities/talents and fail to use them, it’s a disservice to not only God and ourselves, but those around us. I encourage you to use your gifts, and “pay it forward” to live a more purposeful life.

Let’s change the world one smile at a time!


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First and foremost, I’m a Christ lover and follower 🙏. I’m a dedicated single mother of two children, A.J. (5) and Martina (3) 👫. A hard-working, passionate 4th Grade Reading and Writing teacher at a Public Elementary School ✏️📓. I’m a book nerd, life-coach obsessor/follower, avid runner/fitness enthusiast 💦, and coffee addict☕️. I'm a survivor of trauma, but refuse to let it define my identity.

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