There are times when all of us feel a bit down or, not right, frankly.

Joan has advice for those times.

Joan: I am a firm believer that when you are going through a difficult situation or experiencing pain, one of the best ways to promote healing is to help another person. Taking the focus off of yourself, even if only for a brief period, works wonders and often provides the distance necessary for clarity in your personal situation. Helping another person is medicine for the soul.

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I have often spoken about the grief and loss that I have experienced with the death of my family members and divorce, so whenever the opportunity presents itself, I try to follow my own advice.

Let me share a story with you.

A few years ago, as most of you can recall, Hurricane Sandy ravaged our home state and the communities in which I spent a great deal of time while growing up. According to forecasters, our home region was a direct bulls eye of the storm. Living through the night of a Hurricane was a scary experience. It was the first time that I was alone in the house during such a terrifying event, and I had all kinds of crazy thoughts as I waited in frightened anticipation of what would happen.

Would a tree fall on the house trapping me inside with no one here to help me?

Would the roof be ripped off the house?

Would we flood?

How would I handle the situation alone?

When the light came up, I experienced feelings of fear and intense loneliness. I was truly on a path of self-pity!

Q. How in the world did you get out of this?

Joan: I took a step back. I watched the events unfold and saw the extent of the devastation in surrounding communities, I began a shift in my attitude. Instead of feeling sorry for myself and my situation, I counted my blessings for surviving the storm unscathed and only mildly inconvenienced. I began to take the focus off of myself and put it where it belongs … on helping others.

Q. Where did you go from there?

Joan: For two weeks I focused on coordinating a relief effort and along with more than 100 volunteers, we were able to collect enough items to fill three large trucks to transport to a few southern New Jersey communities.

During the transport, one of our destination sites rerouted the truck to a different location. Just before reaching the rerouted destination, the truck was stopped by a police barricade where the driver was informed that he could not continue into the town.

The truck driver decided to go directly to our second scheduled location. Along the way, while on a road that was not part of our mapped route, the driver stumbled upon a small church with a tent community (displaced people living in tents). He stopped the truck and met the residents, all of whom had lost their homes and personal belongings. They were struggling to stay warm. The driver unloaded all the items that were earmarked for the original destination - coats, blankets, bedding, clothing, food - and gave them to these people. I believe our truck was guided to that location – directly to the people most in need!

Q. That’s a mini miracle! What are your thoughts on that?

Joan: These are the kinds of miracles that happen when you step away from yourself and shift your focus to serving others. I no longer think those crazy thoughts that consumed me for a brief period. Had I not made the shift I would be wallowing in pointless self-pity wasting precious time, and I would have missed watching something positive come from such horrific destruction.

So, the next time you are down, lend your hands or heart to someone else. It is truly the best medicine!