Friday, October 31, 2008

Wellness Activity: Volunteering

I spent last night volunteering and it made me feel really good. In this case, I volunteered to make telephone calls for Barach Obama at the home of someone I didn't know, but who lives in my neighborhood. I'm not sure how much I accomplished, but the camaraderie was very satisfying.

In the last year, ever since my mother died, I haven't volunteered. When she was alive, I spent the last two years of her life playing my Autoharp and singing at her assisted living facility once a week. Once she died, I thought I'd be able to go back there and sing again, but it makes me too sad. And while I could do the same activity at another senior facility, I spent so much time playing and singing for my mother that I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to do it again without feeling sad.

Still, as Dr. Bernie Siegel says in 101 Exercises for the Soul: A Divine Workout Plan for Mind, Body, and Spirit, "Volunteering is very important for creating a meaningful life. It helps you define what you are here to accomplish by actively doing it. For this exercise, choose one way to volunteer in your community, and make it more than a one-shot deal. Think about what the right form of service is for you. What skills do you have? What do you enjoy doing? Who would you like to serve?"

When I re-read this chapter, I realized that rather than continuing to wait and hope that I can sing for seniors without feeling sad, it's time to find another activity. As some of you know, one of my dogs died last December, and the other died a few months ago. I miss them terribly, but I promised my husband that we'd wait for at least six months to adopt another dog.

So...I've decided to volunteer my time at a local animal rescue organization. That way, I can walk dogs, which I miss doing, and have dogs to love, which is something that makes me feel good.

What volunteer activities do you do? How does it make you feel?

9 comments:

Jazz said...

I volunteer at my kids' schools when I can...I've done everything from chaperoning special events to helping with class projects to teaching poetry writing. It's fun, and I know the teachers appreciate the help.

That's great that you're going to volunteer with animal rescue. Have fun with all those lovely doggies! I bet you'll end up falling in love and bringing some home with you...

KJ said...

I volunteer once a week at my children's school doing math activities with second graders. I have loved the times in my life when I didn't work and I had time to volunteer more in my community. I do believe that service is a wonderful tool for happiness as we can easily get lost in it and forget ourselves!

Gianna said...

I've been volunteering for Obama from home..you can do it by signing up on the website..they send you phone numbers...and you report back on the calls all by internet...this includes helping people get rides to the polls.

Since I live in a state that very well may determine the election, I've been very happy that I can do this from home, since I can't leave my house most of the time!!

The internet even brings presidential campaigning right into your home...

It's fun talking to voters too.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Jazz and KJ,
When my son was young, I used to volunteer at his schools as well. I worked in the classroom once a week, helped with school events, and drove carpools for field trips.

Jazz, yes, I do plan on falling in love with a doggie and hope that when I do, my husband will be ready to have another canine friend.

KJ, I wish you could help me with math (smiling face). And yes, it is much easier to volunteer when you aren't working full-time. Since I used to be a freelance writer, it was easy to schedule volunteer activities.

What I loved about working with seniors, was that even when I wasn't feeling great, they were so glad to see me it made my day.

Susan

Wellness Writer said...

Gianna,
Isn't the Internet amazing? It is very possible to do all kinds of volunteer work at home. And, in the past, I have taken lists of people home so I could make phone calls for politicians.

Since I've been somewhat under the weather these days, I don't feel like talking on the telephone, and that's one of the reasons I'm volunteering at the rescue organization.

In the days when I was truly depressed, I learned that being with children and animals was the best place for me. I could play without talking so much.

Susan
P.S. Yes, your state is very important in the upcoming election. Last night, I met a couple from Los Angeles who's flying to North Carolina to work on election day!

susan said...

Hi Susan!

I don't think I could volunteer with animals, I would want to take them all home with me.


I do some strange volunteering, I volunteer for a national suicide hotline, and I handle one for the state I live in.....

I use to be a literacy volunteer- helping inner city kids read and teach them the love for books. I hope to do that again.
(the other Susan).

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Susan,
Well, we'll see about whether I can volunteer at a rescue organization and not adopt a dog.

But the place I'm planning on helping is where we got our dog Spike. And they keep all their animals until they're adopted, so I won't be concerned that something bad will happen to them.

Good for you--regarding the suicide hotline (and the literacy program).

Susan

ccRyderzz on the move. ghost said...

I am new to this blog, it looks very interesting. I am in Oregon.
and I agree working helps. when I was a teenager at 14. I through a fund raiser for Looking Glass teenage run aways shelter from the storm program. That was 35 years ago.I knew all the local Jazz/Blues artists and gathered them to a party and a big jam session at the Woodmens of the World (THE W.O.W. hall) I also worked the suicide hotline at 13 years old. I have been a shadow politician for ever it seems. That keeps my energy focused on a positive note. the County commissioners. appointed me as a At large person advocate for low income and I did 9 years with them to make Eugene Oregon a better place to live and to save our children when the families are in pain and are broken. Seems like many people are the compassionate
and have that God Genome in their DNA? Sounds like a good thing.
Keep up the good work and barack
will win this.. Time for the winds of the Earth to change.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Ccryderzz,
It sounds like you've been involved in a lot of activities from a very early age. Congrats on all the good work you've done!

Susan