January 17, 2013

How will you serve?

Today I'm grateful for volunteering and service! I'm grateful that I am well, and that I have the ability to give back to my community.

from http://www.serve.gov/mlkday.asp

I learned about National Day of Service three years ago when I was serving as an Americorps VISTA member. The office where I worked was not on holiday, but as Americorps members, we were not to come in to work that day. Instead of using the holiday as a day to lay on the couch, however, we were challenged to make MLK day "a day on, not a day off". We were challenged to find volunteer projects and serve our community as a way to honor Martin Luther King Jr. As a VISTA, you are essentially a full-time volunteer...so I have to admit that I wasn't all that into it. Another VISTA volunteer and I got up early that morning to help out at an MLK day breakfast and speaking event. We helped set tables and arrange food, but for most of our time there we were able to sit back and listen as community members were honored and Dr. King's message was echoed. It was a beautiful event, and by the end I was so glad that I had been able to take time off from my regular work to be present in this celebration. I probably didn't make much of a contribution to the event that day, but the event had a big impact on me as a volunteer.

I have to admit that since that year, I haven't given much thought to the National Day of Service. I guess for the last two years it hasn't really been on my radar. I imagine that part of the reason for this is that my office isn't off for MLK day. Usually, the Day of Service is on a Monday, "a day on, not a day off" for those who do get that day off from work. This year, the official day is Saturday the 19th, and for some reason, I have been getting a lot of reminders. I have been getting Americorps alumni emails about the day and have felt the push to see what's going on in my area.

I love the idea of a day of community service as a memorial to Dr. King. What better way to honor his memory and move closer to his vision of community? Go here to listen to or read some of Dr. King's words. Get inspired.

So I've decided to get involved. I don't have a whole day to dedicate, in fact I don't have much time at all this Saturday. But I know that I (and you!) can do something! So this Saturday, I'll be headed to the Red Cross to donate blood.

Do you want to find a way to serve this weekend? Click here for more information about the National Day of Service. The search function on that web page didn't work for me...so in case it doesn't work for you either, try here to find out what is happening in your community.  Serve.gov is a great resource any time of the year to find ways to volunteer in your community! Get out. Do good. Feel good.

January 7, 2013

2013: Best year ever?

Whew! After a few weeks of celebrating and traveling, I am back and ready to get back to the regular (crazy) routine. I've been thinking a lot about goals and resolutions over the last little while, as I am sure many of you have as well. While New Year's Eve doesn't top my list of favorite holidays, I do love the spirit of renewal, new beginnings, re-defining yourself and deciding what you want your next year on this Earth to look like.

This year I've felt especially inspired to set goals. 2013 is going to be a big year for us, I can feel it! I want to get back to what's important.

I want spend more meaningful, intentional time with the people that I love. I want them to know that I love them. I want to hear what they have to say and hear what is happening in their lives and learn from them. I also want to spend more intentional time with myself, and with my Father in Heaven. And I want to document it more! More pictures, more journals, more blogging.

I want to love people more sincerely. I want to be present. Whether I am with a friend, a stranger, a therapy client or consumer, I want them to know that they are important to me, and that I value what they have to say.

I want to spend time learning the things that I love. I want to rekindle my relationship with my camera, and my sewing machine. I want to try new recipes. I want to master my brand new (thanks to loving family members) power tools and build beautiful and useful things. I want to write.

I want to be healthy and strong. I want to eat good food and run and be active.

I want to floss more.

Do you have resolutions or goals for 2013? Write them down. Share them with someone. Check in with yourself every once in a while. Seriously, 2013 is going to be an amazing year!

This is what my year is going to look like...

How about you?

December 13, 2012

Holidays in the office

I'm taking a little break from the music tonight to share something that I'm grateful for at my job: FUN! And holiday decorating.
I have a wonderful group of co-workers. If I didn't, I'm not sure that I could do the job that I do. Social work jobs can be tough, and draining, and if I'm really being honest they can be a little thankless and can breed cynicism sometimes. On the other hand, they can also be incredibly rewarding and compassion-building and just incredibly important. Sometimes though, on the tough days, on days when you get bad news, or can't seem to help, or maybe it's the day AFTER you had meetings with 20 different people and you have an unshakeable feeling of dread at the amount of documentation you are going to have to do today (anyone in any field that has to document encounters with clients will understand that)...it's just nice to focus your attention on something that is the complete opposite of serious. Like, tracing and cutting stars out of construction paper. 
So, it's not Martha Stewart. Whatever. It's also not even really holiday looking, except Santa flying over the earth! (we have a theme contest each year, and this year was "memorable moments in history". Ours was landing on the moon...hence our astronaut below). But it still makes me smile to walk into the office to see stars covering the windows, walls, and ceiling, our whimsical rocket and muscular-looking astronaut. It's just fun! And the kids love it.
This is our makeshift astronaut, planting his American flag. The picture by his head was actually made by a consumer in our office, isn't it cool? Not sure what's going on...maybe it's the astronaut's view from the moon? His thought bubble? Whatever. It's an a pretty sweet looking picture, and he made it with spraypaint!
It doesn't matter what the decorations are. It doesn't matter if it's decorations or something else. What is important is to recognize that it is so much more than okay to take time to just do fun and silly things. At home. At work. By yourself or with your family or friends or even strangers. It's good for your health.
Today I'm grateful for holidays and friends and fun and getting excited about stuff like construction paper decorations. I'm grateful for a fun, happy, caring group of coworkers who teach me every day to find solutions, love people, and not take myself too seriously.
Really, don't take yourself too seriously.