Yesterday I was hanging out at the S.A.M.E. Cafe, writing and watching. This week I decided I'd just be there, on call, ready to step in if another volunteer cancelled and Libby and Brad found themselves short-staffed. My opportunity came around 1p.m. when Brad said he needed help with the broccoli.
The other day, while sitting, writing and watching, the Denver Botanic Gardens delivered loads and loads of fresh picked herbs (sage, oregano, chives) and boxes and bags of various varieties of squash. I asked the delivery person if that was all organic produce and he said, "It's from the Botanic Gardens." He saw me waiting for the answer to my specific question and realized that I had no idea what he meant by that. "Yes, it is." OK - that's cool.
Brad and Libby Birky, owners of this wonderfully different cafe, feed the hungry whether they can pay for it or not. Everyone enjoys a beautiful, fresh and mostly organic lunch six days a week. (If you're unfamiliar with S.A.M.E. Cafe, read my previous blog by clicking here.)
Back to the broccoli, lots of brown things lodged in the florets necessitated a good, long soak in salt water which meant that after taking care of that, I needed another job to do. Because the menu this week included roasted beets, it was now my task to dice beets. Not one to shirk a job, I diced beets that were not much bigger than my thumb nail and I had to ask the Universe, "Really? Can't you make beets any smaller? Is this a good as you've got?" After about an hour of chopping, I felt like I had graduated and was ready to dice peas. But Brad didn't need anything like that. My talent would be go underappreciated that day.
Summer is all about the fresh produce and lots of chopping. Nothing goes to waste - not the beet greens not the broccoli stems. Everyone loves the S.A.M.E. Cafe and that love rubs off on the patrons. Although I cant' cite a specific scientific study to prove my point, I can if I substitute love for happiness.
Borrowing from the book, "The Mindfulness Code" by Donald Altman, "(Dr. Richard) Davidson's work has helped to identify the brain circuits that stimulate feelings of happiness, contentment and well-being. He has also shown that happiness can be learned. ... What is produced is a more enduring sense of well-being that goes beyond a short-lived positive feeling. Those who train their brains to produce emotions also naturally act in kind and compassionate ways." Patrons and volunteers feel this elevated atmosphere and come back for more and more warm-fuzzies.
Davidson's reaseach probably won't suprise volunteers. I surmise that volunteers already know this innately. We know that we can transform ourselves into beings dedicated to creating happiness by bringing peace and kindness into any room. Volunteering is one way to turn on the mind’s happiness circuit. Owners, such as Brad and Libby, definitely have all their circuits firing at optimal level.
Brad taking care of business at the S.A.M.E. Cafe which is preparing to celebrate it's fourth anniversay.