Thursday, October 16, 2014

Volunteering Up Close and Personal, the End of the World is Not Yet Here, and other Thurday Thoughts

For many retirees, volunteering of some sort is a regular part of their retirement lifestyle.  This is unsurprising, since statistic after statistic has shown that volunteering can improve quality of life, and even extend longevity.  It often takes us multiple tries to find the volunteer gig that works for us as individuals.  In your search, it's worth noting that one other thing is true-the happiest volunteers are those who interact on a personal level with their volunteer subjects.  Whether it's reading to children, teaching English to immigrants, any number of other volunteer activities, the reward is in the interaction.  This is not to say that other types of volunteer work (volunteering, cutting and pasting and cooking for example) are not needed in large ways. Just that in order to get the deepest reward, people also need to interact, on some level.

In my own retirement I am finding that to be true in spades, as they say. I do number of volunteer activities, many of which are even done at home.  Quilts and blankets for preemies or Habitat for Humanity subjects is a perfect example. However, my most rewarding activity is working with residential homeless women. I may have mentioned that as part of this volunteer gig we interact with the women. In other words, we bring a meal, and an activity.  We sit and eat WITH these women, and dance, craft or game WITH them, rather than to or for them. Other folks from my church walk with the women twice a week, some lead with a prayer group-our days are full.  

The advantages of this type of volunteering are numerous.  First, we get to relate to this fairly small group of women (25) on a regular basis. Second, we are enabled to see what THEY want and need, rather than what we believe that they want and need, or think they should want. There is a huge difference between the first one and the later two.  Since these our women who are chronically homeless and now  learning how to live in a structured environment and be on their own, it's very important that they can express, and we can understand what is required to move forward.

So while I volunteer in any other ways, my primary volunteering will continue to be getting as close to one on one as I am able.  Meanwhile, in other thoughts on this Thursday:

  •  This is not the End of The World As We Know it. In this country, you have a higher possibility of getting shingles, the fly, pneumonia, or dying from alcohol or cigarette related illness.  Is Ebola a concern and do we have t find better ways to deal with it? Yes. Does the CDC need to get their act together and take a lead?  Absolutely. Do I think further steps should be taken? Of course.  Do I believe in stocking water, food and medicines for emergencies? Yes, but as much for being stuck at home during the flu or a blizzard as for a pandemic. Preparation is just good sense.  Although I watch and read Fox TV rarely, I encourage everyone to read the rant here.  As the man says, the fear mongering around us is "counterproductive"  Some day there may be a pandemic.  I've watched Contagion. If that time comes, you need to relax, be prepared and do what you are told. Meanwhile, everyone should take a breath-a big one-and think about what would have if they had to stay in their homes for a month because of a pandemic.
  • Syd has a wonderful blog post today about letting go. When I read this, I wanted to say "Yes!! This!!".  The best part of retirement (in my opinion) is freedom-freedom of time primarily. Like Syd, I have long lists of what I WANT to do and what I SHOULD do. While I have not eliminated things from that list, as she has, I have no compunction about ignoring something on this list, and if it doesn't get done one day, I don't necessarily feel the need to add it onto the next day.  As long as I do a certain amount of healthy and challenging things, other things can fall by the side without guilt. Retirement should, I feel, be done at it's own pace. Now, if you sleep till noon for a full week or find yourself sitting in front of the TV twelve hours, or your yard has taken over the house, then it MAY be time to consider a to do list.  Meanwhile, to paraphrase the movie Pirates of the Caribbean, the list is just really a guide, after all. 
  • Soups are one of the most frugal things about fall. Here in Colorado we are as they say in the between.  The weather is  as well. Yesterday the high was mid eighties, today the high will be 72. However the nights have gone to the high thirties meaning the heat comes on in the morning until the house settles at 70.  Outside this means that my crab apple tree is still green, but the leaf vines that cover my house are red and gold. As the weather cools we eat a lot of soups. Soups are easy, you can substitute as need and with bread and salad they make a whole meal with ease. So far we have had homemade minestrone, a copycat Olive Garden creamy Tuscan soup, and broccoli cheese soup. I'll try and share a few of these recipes in my next frugal food post.
  • Studies have shown that learning new things is an important way to keep our brain sharp. This is especially true when we learn new hands on type skills, not just "book learning". I was not aware until recently just how many ways there are to learn hands on skills on the web.  While it's nice to have group classroom instruction for some things, learning online lets you go at your own pace. In my case my current projects have to do with drawing with colored pencils and learning to use my camera phone well.  Between utube, free online classes and tutorials, I'm definitely learning as I go.
 And now, it's time for me to ignore that list of mine and go sit by the window with my newest kindle download for awhile.  Retirement, anyone?


  1. Hi Barb. I'm sure you're just a wee bit relieved that you don't live in Texas anymore. When I think about some people who told me they hated New York and were moving to Dallas for a 'safer, better' life, I now cringe. They're just a few blocks away from the epicenter. Ugh.
    Who knew? and better yet, who knows?

    1. Cindi, I have a grown daughter who lives with her significant other in the greater Dallas area. I feel confident that she is doing okay, as does she. I doubt that people who moved to Texas are going to flee, and life goes on as usual. Dallas is a large city and this is just one hospital, and Dallas is just a small part of Texas. I travel to the Dallas area regularly and intend to continue to do so.

  2. I only have one volunteer job, tutoring at our community college. And I would agree with you, it's the interaction that makes it rewarding. For me, it's been a real eye-opener.

  3. Volunteering allows us to give back. We can use our knowledge and expertise outside of paid employment. We not only give, but receive. I do believe our lives are richer for having volunteered. We can support causes through our actions vs financial contributions, especially in retirement when we may have more time than money. I think of tending to myself, my family/friends, my community. Volunteering allows me to tend to my community both local and global. I think of my dad with his Type A personality who went from being a mixed farmer to a bilateral amputee. He volunteered in capacities that were unlikely had he still had 2 legs. My volunteering allows me to honor him.

  4. I enjoy delivering Meals on Wheels to about 10 folks in my tiny town on Mondays.I love visiting with them, hearing town history, and providing a hot meal.Other than that I'm not wanting to schedule too much else in this first year of retirement.I do take Art class on Tuesday with a new friend and we often got o lunch.Other than that I am finding I keep really busy with many activities that range from cookin, baking, reorganzing all my recipe files, making crafts, napping! Walking and kayaking.. retirement is good!!


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