What Can You Do?

Last week was National Volunteer Week. (They have a week for everything, don’t they?) To all the volunteers out there, doing whatever it is you do, I thank you. Whether you are building things, serving things, filing things, listening, speaking, teaching, writing, cooking, sewing, healing, coaching, calling… whatever you do, thank you.

I’m not really sure when I got started with volunteer work. Perhaps it was when I was a big kid volunteering in the Sunday school room with the little kids. Then in middle school, I spent my summers volunteering as a teacher’s assistant in the preschool class of the daycare center I had grown up attending.

As a kid, I’m pretty sure I was doing these things because my parents made me. I guess that was a good move on their part, because as an adult, I still seek ways to contribute.

When I first moved to New Jersey, I spent some time with Habitat for Humanity in Trenton, helping in their office and writing stories for their newsletter.

For the past few years, I helped create a community garden—watering, weeding, harvesting, preparing beds in Spring, and clearing beds in Fall.

At a spiritual center for sacred activism, I led free workshops about increasing personal happiness and using collage for self-discovery. I also provided Reiki treatments in exchange for donations to the center.

Currently, I am volunteering with my local Hospice. When I first reached out to them, I wasn’t sure what I’d be able to offer because I’m not a nurse. But I reached out anyway, and I’m glad I did. My role is called “Friendly Patient Visitor.” I love that.

Twice per month I visit a patient in her family’s home. We sit, we talk, we watch TV. No special skills required (aside from the free training provided by Hospice, to learn the rules and practices). I also spend a couple hours per month in the office assembling packets that the nurses take with them during patient visits.

My point in sharing all of this is that we all have something to offer. Don’t worry about whether or not you have the right skills. If there is something you are interested in or feel strongly about, make a call or send an email to an organization working in that area. If you can use a copier or a stapler, you can help. There are so many places that can use an extra set of hands (or eyes or ears).

If you’re looking for ways to do good, read How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist: 330 Ways to Make a Difference in Your Home, Community, and World – at No Cost! It’s full of ideas for all types of skills, and all types of commitment level. Some don’t even require leaving the house.

Go. Volunteer however you are able. Your time, your money, your skills, and your support are all valuable to someone.

Thank you!

Stripped

A new chapter of my life is unfolding. It has been for quite a while now. It began with an uncoupling and a new home in a new town. With that came the desire for new friendships, and the question of where a woman in her late 30s finds other women to befriend.

The all-consuming question has been this: Who am I now? Now that I have no one to worry about but myself and my son. How do I spend my time? How do I keep us physically, emotionally, and financially secure? What does this life look like?

As I peel back layers and pare down possessions, I consider carefully what is me? What is me in this moment? What is part of the enduring me?

This is a time of exploration, and I the reluctant explorer.

I have lost some things: a live-in partner, a former book club, security, and predictability.

Then there is the new. I have become a Hospice volunteer. I have become a Reiki Master/Teacher. I have joined a local book club. I have started a new full-time job—my first in 6 years. I have been embraced by a church with abundant energy, where I am a minority. So much love and goodness.

The changes are sweeping—broad strokes that clear and clear until I am bare. From this bareness, this stripped-down-ness, my life continues on its new path.

So, if you’ve wondered why my words have been few, it is because I am still clearing. Still stripping to find the core of me. The truth that is me and no one else.

With that, I am also stripping this website. I am taking it down to its most basic form: a simple blog. I am removing offerings and “fluff.” I make no promises for frequency of posts. I simply know that, right now, I need to continue peeling back the layers.

Sweep. Peel. Strip. Clear.

Breathe.

Give a Girl a Journal

JRS-Red-Heart-Star-300x300Journaling has been a part of my life since I was a child. It’s one of my happy places. So when Jamie from Jamie Ridler Studios asked me if I might make a video to talk about journaling for her new project, I agreed.

What is Jamie’s new project? Genius, if you ask me. She calls it Give a Girl a Journal and it does exactly what it sounds like. Knowing how transformative a journal practice is, she wants to make sure every girl has the opportunity to have one.

To get involved, go to www.giveagirlajournal.com. You can nominate a girl to receive a journal or you can donate $20 to have a journaling care package sent to the next girl on the list.

This is such a fun concept that is also so meaningful for the girls on the receiving end.

So, what does journaling mean to me? Find out in my video…

 

Not Bad Parents, 5 Years and Counting

Jonas's 5th birthday

When you have a baby, everyone tells you to enjoy every little moment because it goes by so fast. (EVERYONE. Strangers in the grocery store will tell you.) Glennon’s response is more realistic. But people mean well when they tell you this.

Sometimes it does go by fast, and sometimes it passes more slowly, for better or worse. Gretchen also has it right when she says, “The days are long, but the years are short.”

And it’s true. Today my boy turns 5. That’s huge. (Anybody remember when Rudy turned 5? “Yay, five!”)

He’s big enough now to have opinions, so a few weeks ago his dad and I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday. Every year we have kept it simple with a meal of his favorite foods, shared with family. When we asked the question last year, he said he wanted spaghetti at home. When pressed with, “What else?” he replied “Watermelon. And cucumbers.” Easy.

This year when we asked, he spoke happily about his Paw Patrol cake from last year and said that he would like a Spiderman cake this year. Followed by “The Flash next birthday and Batman the one after that.” He’s a planner.

So we arranged a brunch at a diner with family and planned on a Spiderman cake. All was well and good until Friday (as in three days ago) when he went to the dentist.

Bear with me. It comes back around. It always comes back around.

The dentist let him pick a prize at the end of his visit and he chose a pencil. When we got home, he asked if I would sharpen his pencil, so I did. Then he said he wanted to write a note, so I gave him paper.

“I’m going to write my best friend Cole to invite him to my Spiderman party.”

I panicked while he etched:

S P I D E R

C O L E M A

N P A R T Y

Because, you know, he wrote Cole’s name first then had to fit the rest around it.

Then he asked for an envelope.

Then a stamp.

So I addressed the envelope, because what else was I going to do?

And dang if he didn’t run right out to the mailbox, slide his letter in, and put the flag up.

He’s too smart, that one.

I immediately called Cole’s mom (who we now live more than an hour away from) and explained that she would be receiving mail for Cole from Jonas that said something about a party but didn’t give any details because there are no details because there is no party. Then I said I’d call her back.

I called Jonas’s dad and said, “We have a situation!” I filled him in and he agreed it was important we remedy our lack of party.

I got online with Chuck E Cheese and made arrangements for less than 48 hours later, then called Cole’s mom back to say there now was a party and could she pretty please drive 40 minutes to meet us in the middle. She happily did even though they had already given Jonas a birthday present the previous week–because she’s a really good friend.

Jeff ordered a cake and picked up party favors, a balloon, and Spiderman plates.

All the while we kept anxiously reassuring each other, “See? We’re not bad parents!”

That’s pretty much par in our parenting course. For 5 years now, we have done our best to not be bad parents. To raise this playful, curious, gentle, and wickedly smart soul.

The days are long, but the years are short, and 5 are gone already.

Happy birthday, little one. We’ll get started now on next year’s The Flash party.

About that Card Reading Stuff

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Last week my dad asked me a question that I’ve been dreading: “What’s all this card reading stuff you talk about?”

To which I replied, “Oh! You’ve been on my website. Thank you!” Of course, that wasn’t really an answer. The answer turned into a 2-hour phone conversation–probably the longest we’ve ever had. And it was great!

You see my dad is an engineer. He is one of the most logical people I know. He likes things to be concrete with solid scientific data. Cards don’t really fall into that realm.

When I decided to speak up more about my card readings and add them to my website last year, I knew he would see it eventually and I knew it would require explanation. I had that “wait ’til Dad finds out…” dread. Because apparently I’m still 10.

What I told him is that cards to me are a wonderful conversation starter. Not in the “hey, Dad, let’s talk cards” kind of way. Rather in the conversation with your inner self kind of way.

When I pull cards, I’m not looking for answers to what car I should buy or where to invest my money. (Which I’m pretty sure was his main concern.) I think most card readers would agree that it’s not about that. When I pull cards I’m looking to find out more about myself, what I think about a situation I’m in.

How do I do that? I look at the words and the images that come up. What do I notice there? What do the words mean? What do they make me think of? Does it spur any ideas for things I could do or how I could behave better?

Often I’ll journal about the cards and see what unfolds. The cards are great at pulling me out of my own head. They offer the “huh, I didn’t think about it that way” factor. It’s a great way to break through blocks and dodge self-imposed limits on my thought process.

That’s why I love cards and why I’ve collected them for almost two decades. And it’s why I love pulling them for other people–to give them their own conversation starter, a way to break through their own blocks, and get better acquainted with themselves.

In the end my dad said he didn’t think it would work for him because he’s too skeptical. I lovingly agree. But hey, if I can explain it to him, I can explain to anyone. Except maybe my grandparents.

If you’re curious about cards, I’d be happy to do a reading for you. Hop on over here. They also make great gifts. I’ve just opened up 2016 Year Ahead readings, so you can enter each new month with a fresh card to consider. You know, in case you have a particular person to shop for who already has everything.