Stay Home. Save Lives. Keep Volunteering
During a global pandemic like Covid-19, we are told to 'Stay Home and Save Lives,' but no one said we should stop serving our communities! In fact, this is the time we need to DO MORE! So, if you are a first responder, healthcare worker, grocery store clerk, mail carrier, or other essential worker, THANK YOU for putting community first. If you aren't on the front lines and at home social distancing, you might be wondering how you can serve others. Well, here's a list of some virtual volunteering opportunities that will keep you active and productive WHILE you stay home and save lives.
These service activities can also be done in the best of times, so keep this list handy, it will be updated regularly!
EDUCATE YOURSELF AND OTHERS:
Grandma taught me, "this too shall pass," and it will, but service to others should be on-going. Get comfy on your couch and GET STARTED!
Improving Your Vision for the New Year!
Having 20/20 vision doesn't mean that you see things perfectly, but rather, that your vision at a distance has sharpness and clarity. How sharp and clear do you see yourself at a distance? Can your vision be improved? Mine has and just in time for 2020!
A few years ago, my vision was terribly myopic - I couldn't see myself in the distance at all. I didn't know who I was apart from being a lapsed lawyer, wife, and stay-at-home mom. Worse, I didn't know who I wanted to be. Follow Me To 50 changed all of that and now, with 20/20 vision, I can see myself clearly at any distance: I am a dedicated friend and family member, a shameless service addict, a committed activist and volunteer, a community educator, speaker, and writer. I am happy, full of new passion, and living with purpose!
Do you see yourself clearly? Need a bit of a correction? Give your life a little 'shake up' and try some of these ideas to improve your vision in the new year:
1. Say YES to as much as possible: No, I'm not suggesting that you take on more responsibility or carry more weight - I'm saying embrace MORE opportunities! When you get in the habit of saying 'yes' to invitations, opportunities, and experiences, you never know who you will meet or what you will learn. I started saying 'yes' to so many new things, even things that scared me, and grew so much! Saying 'yes' opens doors!
2. Try something new: Attempt a new exercise or adventure; take a class or explore a new hobby; join an association or social group; make a meal specific to another culture, learn a new language... I tried using a power tool for the first time on a Habitat for Humanity work site and learned I wasn't very good at it! I learned how to collect stream samples with the Izaak Walton League, took a writing class, cooked Afghani food, and more. As I cross-trained my mind and spirit, I got stronger, more confident, and developed heaps of new passion and purpose! What might you discover if you were to try something new?
3. Interact with a person or a group that you think is different than you: Attend a service in a different house of worship; Go to a community event in a far off zip code; Volunteer with new people - veterans, seniors, people with special needs, etc; Talk to strangers you meet at the grocery store, in the elevator, and passersby ... I had the opportunity to learn from an Imam at a neighbor's mosque, attend a variety of church services, worked alongside veterans, people of all colors and creeds, and ventured far beyond my regular stomping grounds into areas far from home. Each time I went somewhere different, I recognized something similar that remind me that we all have far more in common than we think. Furthermore, our differences are often beautiful!
4. See a movie, read a book, or attend a cultural event that you think you won't like: Didn't like opera when you were in your 20's? Try it again in your 40's or 50's. Always read fiction? Try non-fiction; Attend a lecture on a new subject at your local library, ... Once I shook up my life and started to crave new input, I started to like things I didn't like before or things that didn't appeal to me earlier. Tastes change over time and your new-favorite-thing may be right around the corner!
5. Invest in needs outside of your own family, work, hobby, or faith community: We often give all of our time and resources to our own family, causes, and interests - step outside your nest when possible and invest some time in something new, unrelated to you or those you love. By expanding my notion of community, I felt more invested, connected, and compelled to help. First, communities don't exist in a vacuum and what affects one community often effects another. Second, the more you see, the more you know and the more you'll want to do!
6. Be present and engaged in what you are doing and who you are with: Opportunity often surrounds us and we're either too busy or not present to notice or take advantage! When you are somewhere new, trying something different, or interacting in unique ways, open all of your senses and take it all in! When possible, leave your own 'stuff' at home and BE where you are! I typically volunteer by myself so I'm not compelled to play 'catch up' with the people I'm serving with - How are the kids? What are you making for dinner? Instead, I'm emotionally present and engaged to ask questions, learn interesting things, and forge new friendships. I've truly met some great new friends this way!
To see yourself clearly requires on-going work and you might not always like what you see! The best part, however, is that your vision can improve at any time! Maybe striving for 20/20 should be what 2020 is all about! How clearly do you see yourself and who do you see?
Happy New Year!
A Reminder to Take My Vitamins
My 51st birthday is just around the corner and it signifies a meaningful passage of time - not chronologically, but metamorphically! It's been almost 2 years since I launched Follow Me To 50 and 1 year since I completed it. On the one hand, it seems like yesterday that I figured out how to 'shake up' my life and find greater purpose through community service. On the other hand, my community and this improved lifestyle feels like a family I've known forever. Time is truly relative, even to ourselves.
Today, I returned to the Ballpark Boathouse where Follow Me To 50 first began (https://www.followmetofifty.com/first-50/follow-me-to-the-river-1). Though I went to appreciate a quiet morning and to clean the river, I really went to feel that original spark again - or to make sure it was still there. You see, despite how far I've advanced on my spectrum of self-growth, I've come to recognize that the benefits of a transformation are not infinite and require maintenance like all worthy things do. 'Shaking up' my life and coming out of my comfort zone wasn't a one time exercise; instead, it will need to be an on-going process if the benefits are to remain as sweet and rewarding.
Since finishing Follow Me To 50, Keep Following has been about sharing what I've learned, inspiring others, and diving in deeper into my work with select organizations such as Gaithersburg HELP and Moms Demand Action. Now, my weekly routines and my activities are more varied and irregular. This has it's advantages but some drawbacks as well. I think I benefited greatly last year from maintaining a tight schedule for my service work and blogging regularly for accountability. This summer, I fell into a looser and more forgiving schedule and can see a shift in my mood. Whether it was a simple summertime lull or more, I instinctively knew that I needed to a vitamin to return to or maintain my transformed joyful and awakened state. My vitamin, or spark, was in that kayak today. Out on the river alone, navigating my own course, and performing a public service, this vitamin felt as potent as my original dose 2 years ago. Returning to the beginning reminded me that how I spend my time, and who with, directly impacts how I feel. Now, I just need to remember to take my vitamins!
Did I mention I don't take vitamins? Maybe I should start!
What once brought you joy that you haven't done lately? I want to remind YOU to take your vitamins!
History of FMTF and Lessons Learned
Follow Me To 50 (FMTF) was truly transformational! I stepped out of my comfort zone, shook things up, got deeply invested in my community and am forever changed. Recently, I've had the privilege of sharing my story in several new mediums, including at an awards ceremony, on a podcast, FB Live session, and in online publications. Wanting to find purpose and passion at every age is very common need and I have learned that doing so through good deeds is a bit of its own niche market. Who'd of known?
To READ a humorous twist on the story, check out my recent blog posted on Medium.com and kindly "clap" if you enjoy! (thank you)
To HEAR how and why Follow Me To 50 came about and what I've learned about myself, please check out these great out these great resources:
Second Act Stories - a podcast by Andy Levine that shares stories of people who have made major career changes to pursue more rewarding careers in a 'second act':
Encore.org - an innovation hub tapping the talent of people 50+ as a force for good:
Next Avenue - a national journalism service for America's booming older population produced by PBS:
Love What's Next with Nicole Cavey www.lovewhatsnext.com/
HAPPY READING & LISTENING. Keep Following ... I'm a service junkie!
A Look Back:
50 Projects for 40 Organizations
335 Hours of Service
51 Blog Posts
50 Miles Walked in 3 Days for 6 Charities
1,300 Meals Arranged
25 Pounds of Trash Collected
6 Political Engagements
4 Environmental Causes
4 Health -Related Assistance
6 Humanitarian Efforts in 3 Countries
3 Veteran Activities or Commemorations
5 Groups Advocating for Youth and Adults in Care or with Disabilities
23 Needs of the Underserved - Food, Housing, & Recreation
25+ New Mentors, Friends & Sources of Inspiration
Follow Me To 50 = 1 Incredible Year
A Look Ahead (already in action):
Continued Service with FMTF Organizations + New Organizations
Increased Activism and Community Engagement
New Website Format
New Blogging Style
Classes, Educational and Networking Opportunities
Writing and Speaking Engagements
Countless New Friendships and Partnerships
Unlimited Personal Growth and Happiness Quotient
So Much More to Come = Keep Following
Come With Me!