Serving Others

The summer I was 16 my friend Cathy and I were Red Cross volunteer’s at a VA hospital two mornings a week for about four weeks.  Our job was to mostly push patients here or there around in a wheel chair.  Occasionally we would deliver flowers, escort visitors to rooms, or offer to get cups of water or coffee for families waiting on a loved one having surgery.  At the end of our shift, we both felt appreciative for the chance to help and be of service to others.

As I approach retirement I have begun to research opportunities to volunteer. Living near a large city provides an abundance of choices such as assisting at a hospital (both regular and children’s), becoming a foster grandparent to a child, Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels (I love to cook and would really enjoy preparing these meals), helping out at an animal shelter and the list goes on. If I decide to get more adventurous there is Global Volunteers.

A young friend told me her parents volunteer at a nearby hospice.  It takes a very special person to volunteer in this environment. What an excellent opportunity to provide emotional and spiritual support to both patients and their loved ones during this truly precious and delicate time of life.

Our school system allows people to become mentors to our students. Filling all of the slots for this volunteer position can be challenging because a lot of people don’t know this particular opportunity is available. The men or women usually come once a week during lunch time. They will sit with the child outside at one of our picnic tables or inside at a reserved section of the lunchroom. Sometimes they come during the day and they will usually go to the library to talk, read a story, or play a game. These children may lack social skills, have private issues, or their home life may not be the most stable environment. Often all these students need is an adult (or anyone) to listen to them and let them know someone cares. Both the mentor and the student look forward to this special time together.

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Becoming a volunteer can be an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others and may also change someone’s life (maybe my own) in the process.

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”  1 Peter 4:10

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”  Isaiah 6:8 

Bucket List (a different perspective)

“Bucket lists are only for the young; once you get my age there is no need to seek such outlandish adventures,” said the older woman as she leaned toward the younger lady sitting across from her.

I had been out running errands and decided to stop for a quick-lunch and could not help but overhear the conversation next to me.  I have been thinking about bucket lists so this conversation naturally caught my attention. The older woman was probably close to 70 and the younger woman (possibly her daughter) looked to be in her 40’s.  The older woman argued that she had “no interest in swimming with dolphins or riding in a hot air balloon” at her age.  She would rather take the time to teach her (the daughter) how to make her “special coconut cake” or “teach her granddaughter how to knit”.

Making a bucket list doesn’t have to be all about adventures or fulfilling an overwhelming need to achieve.  The “must do’s” can be something as simple as making cookies for our first responders, teaching your daughter a beloved recipe, teaching your granddaughter how to knit, or watching your grandchild compete in an event.

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Maybe consider making someone else’s dream come true.

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Getting involved in things around your community, staying informed about the world around us, and enjoying the slower pace of life are all some folks need as they age.  This sounds inviting and very appealing to me!

Setting goals and satisfying desires are great motivators. The goals may have to become more focused.  For example, I have put on some weight.  Getting down to a desired size is overwhelming, but loosing three pounds a month is less daunting and more attainable.

Long terms goals can still be set.  I have a friend who would love to finish her college degree after an almost 40 year gap now that she is retired.  Guess what she is pursuing this fall?

I guess the purpose of a bucket list is multifaceted as you age.  While a bucket list can help you see that dreams are still attainable, challenges can still be met, and dreams can still come true there is something to be said for simplicity.  Approach each day as a new opportunity.  Teach your daughter how to make a special recipe, teach your granddaughter your special talent, or step outside and take a walk around your neighborhood. Composing a formal bucket list may not be necessary.  Just get out there and start doing the things that matter most to you!

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Bucket List Idea #2

Go tandem skydiving.

“Fun, Frightening, Beautiful” words I heard others exclaim as they each one arrived safely back to Earth.

My oldest son had been talking for months about wanting to go skydiving.  When he turned 22 I gave him the opportunity for his birthday present. He was super excited.

I began to question my sanity.  What was I thinking?

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He was my baby and I was the one sending him off on this adventure.

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I remember my daughter and I anxiously searching the sky for the tiny dot that soon landed safely on the ground.

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When I asked him about the experience he struggled for the words at first.  I imagine there are no completely satisfactory words to describe such a challenge. He then said, “It was so vast! I wish I could go right back up and really enjoy it this time, really look at things!”

Skydiving is definitely NOT going on my bucket list, but maybe it is just what YOU need!  If you have ever considered sky diving , don’t wait!

Bucket List

Stargaze:  In my opinion, there are few things in life that are more beautiful than a star filled night. The dark velvet sky sprinkled with sparkling diamonds and gems is a sight to behold. I remember travelling with my family one summer from Death Valley, California as we headed towards Las Vegas on US 95 for a visit with extended family.  The sun had set and as the moonless night grew darker the sky became brilliant. At one point we had to pull off to the side of the road in a very dark and remote area to give the brakes on our car a rest because they had begun to get hot and smelly. As we stood outside the car talking about our dilemma my eyes went immediately to the heavens. I had never seen such breath-taking beauty!  The Milky Way was literally sparkling and shimmering, twinkling and gleaming like tiny diamonds.  If you have never had this experience you are missing one of nature’s most magnificent and humbling experiences.

I have been lucky enough to have visited many places during the course of my life and have had opportunities to do many things.  There are still a few things out there that I would like to experience, amend, or accomplish.  In an effort to give myself some accountability and motivation, I have been thinking about making a bucket list.

Do you have a “Bucket List”? You know a list of things you want to experience or accomplish over your lifetime. I have never written a formal bucket list so I decided it might be fun to write one at this point in my life and ask my husband to write one too. It will be interesting to compare and maybe learn something else about each other.

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I found some advice and a list of questions to think about to help me get started.

  1. Don’t try to write it all at once.  It is not as easy as you think and it may actually take a long time to write a complete list.
  2. Target different areas of your life, not just the recreation aspect. Things like hobbies, finances, and relationships. (Any countries, places, or locations you want to visit; any skills or activities you want to try out; what would you like to say or do with family or friends; what have you always wanted to do but not yet done,  what would you do if you had unlimited time, money and resources?)
  3. Look at other people’s lists. You can get some really great ideas that way.
  4. Make some easier to achieve than others. You don’t want to get discouraged.
  5. Set a timeline to make your list more productive. What do you want to accomplish this year, in five years, in ten years, etc.?
  6. Post your list where you can see it often. I am going to place mine on my refrigerator. I open this every single day and it can serve as a constant reminder. Also, if anyone notices it and asks me about it, it will be a form of keeping me accountable.
  7. Cross out the things after you do them and keep adding new ideas. There are so many events, activities and experiences to go through that your list may never be complete.

                          ~ I have started mine, how about you?