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Dignity Health 2017

Musician Terrie Miley always wears a smile. What makes her unique is who she smiles for, and how she keeps it up.

As a hospice musician, Miley’s everyday work involves going to see patients who are in their final hours and using music as a way to help people tell their stories. "The story of their lives," as she puts it.  

Image via Dignity Health/Upworthy.


While many of us would do anything to avoid the idea of coming face-to-face with our own mortality or sharing space with a total stranger who is on the brink of death, Miley has chosen to face it every single day in hopes of bringing them peace in their final hours.

Most people who volunteer walk away with the knowledge that they’ve made a difference; Miley walks away knowing that she has just said goodbye.

But with such intense emotional labor comes the need for self-care.

For Miley and her colleagues at Dignity Health, the team decided to enact a mindfulness program consisting of meditation and breathing exercises to help their employees feel present during those long, hard hours on the job.

The premise for this program is a simple but powerful one: To be compassionate towards others, we first have to be compassionate toward ourselves — if only for a few minutes.

For hospice workers like Miley, then, finding moments of pause gives them the peace and attention needed to do this work in a healthy way.

And when it's built into the work culture, this kind of reflection isn't just an afterthought. It's a practice, and it's one that's transforming how caregivers like Miley approach their jobs.

How do they do it? Have a look for yourself:

This program helps you focus on the now. And the effects on your health can be enormous.

Posted by Upworthy on Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Miley knows better than anyone that while helping these patients is rewarding, it can take a mental and emotional toll on caregivers.

When offering the humble gift of musical bliss and human connection, it’s not always easy being confronted with life’s biggest hurdle: death.

"Hospice is challenging work, in ways that you might not consider," Miley explains.

Because Miley’s job description includes being present for those who don’t have loved ones in their final hours, it requires a level of emotional investment that she has to sustain in every moment of her work.

Whether it's a guided meditation after lunch or a walking meditation on a break, these moments of reflection make all the difference for caregivers like Miley, who too easily forget themselves while caring for others.

For Miley, it’s a reminder of why we need to slow down during the daily grind.

Life is short, and while that knowledge may sit in the back of our minds, it’s important to remember that our day-to-day existence is about so much more than work.

Miley's story is an important reminder that for every connection we offer to others, it's just as important to pause and reconnect with ourselves.

To make this work sustainable, then, mindfulness is everything.

"When you’re in hospice, it is definitely about the moment. It is about being present with that person and creating healing in that moment," said Heidi Summers, senior director of mission integration and education at Dignity Health.

Miley puts it best when she says, "Being present is the only thing that matters."

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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