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Mary Ann
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INTENTIONAL VOLUNTEERING

Volunteering is a wonderful thing.

I can’t imagine where this country would be without all the folks who give so generously of their time each and every day.

Today, I want to share a few thoughts about volunteering in your retirement years.  It can be unintentional, without forethought, or an intentional choice made with discernment. Time is a treasure, especially as we age.  Once you retire, give yourself time to adjust to your new lifestyle, maybe 3-6 months, before you take on commitments that will consume that precious commodity.

My Mom, Aggie, was an RN.

She retired in her early 60’s and hit the ground running. If anyone asked, she had time to help.  Quickly, her pastimes became her focus.  A monthly calendar was always displayed on her kitchen bulletin board with a minimum of three entries most days.  She called these her “Activities”, and she loved her Activities.  Most were volunteer commitments for everything from the Food Pantry to the V.A. Hospital.  All were so worthwhile and easily warranted.

My Mom saved my first grade art project and I saved a page from her calendar; August 1999.  She was 81 years old at that time and still living in her own home; “aging in place” as we say today.   Mom’s calendar page sits on my desk before me.  Her handwriting crowds numerous volunteer activities into the small squares designated for each day.  She included other amusements like her Putt-Putt Golf and Bowling Leagues. However, there’s absolutely no room for quiet time or space to place a spontaneous entry.  She embraced her volunteer commitments early in her retirement and they framed her life from that time forward.   Her life was focused on, what she was doing next, not the present moment.  She seemed content as long as she was on the go.

She was a beacon of inspiration and always encouraged others to stay active as you age.  She was respected in her Senior community.  She was my beloved Mom and I’m trying to find balance in my retirement and still live up to her example.

Carefully evaluate every aspect of each Volunteer opportunity you consider.

Does this activity have deep significance for you?

Are you able to give enough time to make it work?

Are they being completely honest with you about the time commitment?

Will it take time away from the retirement activities you’ve longed for?

Time, time, time……..that’s what it’s all about.

As someone once said, “If life is a journey, you might as well enjoy the trip”.   Transitioning from a career that left little time to savor life’s precious moments to a blank calendar accusing you of idleness presents a challenge.  You automatically want to fill that calendar with commitments prior to assessing your new identity.  Slow down, breathe, allow yourself time to put down the stress and recover those long neglected dreams.

Attending a Franklin-Covey training seminar over 20 years ago, they required us to write a mission statement for our lives.  Mine was simple and included, “……I want to impact others in a positive way and continue to grow and learn every day of my life”.  Since that time, I’ve used this mission statement as my foundation for decisions.  If you haven’t had time to identify your core beliefs, do it now and find your way to Intentional Volunteering.  The commitments on your calendar will enrich your life and the lives of others.

Stop by Next Friday for thoughts on Adjusting to the “Senior” Identity……….………Mary Ann