Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Volunteering Made Simple

I suppose I am being called to action. My body is getting stronger, and my ability to leave home for longer periods has increased! Before I left my home in May to have my spinal decompression, I was living on my own, and once in a while I would go down to Sacred Heart Community Service to chat with my friends down there. Every time I went there I asked silly questions like "do you need any help?"

They always say yes. By attending their volunteer orientation, they got this idea that me asking for something to do suggested that I wanted/needed something to do, to help them. They never even felt concerned about taking my time. Never once did they stop to think maybe I should be busy somewhere else.

I was sometimes even uncomfortable stopping to help out. This is not a joke. Whern I am feeling most selfish, the only cure is to become involved in helping others. I get good at disappearing into my own little world, a special place where everyone knows me. So, I walk to the back, and they alwauys have clothing to fold, food to pack. I even get restless helping, have to fight my own desire to break away.

One thing that makes it possible to stay, though, is the realization that someone to help is always missing. Clients keep coming regardless. Amazing how inspirational it is to keep working when the clothing racks keep emptying. So many people love helping, and yet the work never stops coming. They always have work to do.

Still, my hand are challenged, and stocking clothing racks can be difficult for me. One day, while enjoying a coffee and pastry in the break room when I met another worker. This is teacher Kathy who invited me to help her ESL class instead. My fingers were begging for mercy, and I knew this was a line of service I could do without hurting myself. Those little clip pants hangers were more than I could handle.

It has been eight months since I helped there. The supervisor for Metro-Ed said I was in violation! I did not quit because of my surgery. I quit, because they made this process more complicated. To volunteer they want me to apply. They also wanted my fingerprints to make sure I am not a felon!

I decided I need to go back. I called them, and no one called back. Then, in one day, the office of Metro-Ed called me. I had been calling during Christmas break. They enthusiastically told me they want me to come back. The teacher called my home to invite me back, and today, while at Wal-Mart, a young lady approached me and asked me in English if I know her parents. The couple with her were from the class, and were excited to tell me they are still learning English...

Most assuredly I am being called to go back. Hard to stay away knowing I am actually wanted back, by the students as well, as the teacher. The time is right. I just have to get this paperwork started, so I can return to work.

Thank you for reading.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Opinions Page

Over the past three years of blogging, I found that when I was free with my opinions, I actually found more readership, and more sharing online. Strangely, the more I shared my opinions, the more I wondered how I truly felt about certain things. It seems to be a way to secure my place, for good or ill, in the hearts of others, if I state my feelings with conviction. I even wonder how many times I have looked at a past posting to as myself, why did I write that.

Even today, I have strong feelings about many things, and now I am finding that absent education, many of my feelings are unfounded. With new knowledge, sometimes my opinions change. My concern today remains with the journey. I no longer have to ally myself with different camps to make a conversation.

I once called myself a passionate fence-sitter, and when my aunt pressured me, I knew in my heart really did pick sides on many things from politics to religion, and global warming to personal responsibility. Relatively uneducated on many social issues, I wonder if I dare have opinions, much less share on them. It frightens me that I should join the many in the world who could become articulate enough to persuade you with my words before I take the time to research what I am discussing.

Having listened to plenty of good thinkers talk about critical thinking, and logic, I feel this is one place I may be qualified to share. The thinkers to whom I have listened, seem to support a baseline integrity, that when having a platform upon which to share, would opt to back up their opinions with facts, before bloating their discussions with passion.
In a day where any hothead with an Internet connection can have his or her feelings shared emailed to Fox News seconds after a topic is introduced, I should feel blessed to have the time it takes to collect myself. I wonder if having computers has cheapened the quality or value of written word. It is possible I reflect on my own laziness, of course.

When I was a child, people owned these bizarre devices called typewriters. When someone felt compelled to share something with the media, he or she had to put paper in a typewriter, remember one of several letter formats, address the letter properly, and type it with limited mistakes to be corrected immediately before continuing, fold it, and place it neatly in an envelope addressed to the newspaper to be considered for publication.

Does it follow to some degree, that with that effort, maybe someone would put more care into the presentation of their opinion, maybe even giving their words some more thought?

Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Ring of Fire. (Gunung Merapi gone quiet)

Note: aside from the title, Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire is hardly relevant to this post, but it is a great song!

I am from California, born and raised. It is funny to me when people talk about their obsession, their concerns, about earthquakes. I was here in 1989 when the Loma Prieta Quake hit, and was not emotionally affected. Still, upon arriving home, I saw a book case overturned, and other extreme damage in my parents' home. I remember bits of that day with clarity, and remember vividly the crowded streets, the parking lots filled with employees evacuated from their buildings at 5:07 in the afternoon.

I know it was not until I turned on th television that I began to realize what a horrible tragedy this quake was. Still, like me, many people remained unscarred by the event, despite my relative proximity to it. It is easy when no one close was hurt. Even in something as great as that quake, it is easy to create distance when most of the pain is on a television screen. As humans, we adapt quickly, and work hard to get everything operating as smoothly as possible.

These are the things which make many people say they would never live in California. Then, I see volcano eruptions across the world, and wonder why anyone would live close to a volcano. Even in the worst of natural disasters, there are many who sustain no damage to their property, to their families, to their health.

Already, two months after the initial explosions of Gunung Merapi, Yogyakarta is looking clean again, and I hear very beautiful. Still, I have read an estimate that as many as 325, 000 people have been displaced as a result of Merapi's month of activity. That is the population of a large city, forced to find new shelter.

So, this past week, a friend told me she would attend a wedding in Yogyakarta.. This was all fine for me, until she told me she was invited to hike Merapi! My jealousy surged. I still have not hiked a volcano, and this gets thrown in my face. It is okay. My day will come.

I am getting sidetracked here. I have heard that the government already has a "Lava Tour", and is charging money to explore areas that were free before.

Also, at the same site were people collecting money to help the people made homeless by the volcano.

I have heard of the resilience of the people that live in this "Ring of Fire", and I am certain that resilience actually is a credit to our whole species. Still, I hope that whatever losses have been suffered, that the people continue to find help, peace, and recovery.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

MMXI: Selamat Tahun Baru

"We close our eyes and the world has turned around again
We close our eyes and dream and another year has come and gone"--Oingo Boingo

I love the Internet, and I love the blogosphere, because I get to share with people all over the world. I rarely get excited about holidays, so I enjoy hearing from friends across the International Date Line. That also means I celebrated a good fifteen hours before the rest of America. But, I do also celebrate here...

Today, I awoke after four hours sleep. I still drifted in and out before someone arrived to help me from bed at seven. Despite my desire to not participate in nightime party activities, I decided to show up in the main room, watch Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve.

Still, waking up today, overtired and uninspired, I saw my general feelings about holidays hold true. Everyone loves parties, and celebration. We love excuses to gather, enjoy companionship and good food.

Outside partiers ate jello shots, drank tequila, and shot pool. I left my room to eat a couple tortilla chips, while watching Jenny McCarthy bent crooked from too much hairspray, and eighty-one year old Dick Clark, no longer hanging out on the street with his trench coat and ear muffs.

I am on of two people I know did not drink alcohol last night, and I felt exhausted, and toasted by night end. Still, I did not hide in my room, and despite all said, I had a good time!

Happy New Year!

I will include this vuideo, because I think accordion playing clowns are a great way to ring in the New Year!