The best way to find yourself?
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
So many images were conjured up for me this week I saw another piece of research about the benefits of volunteering and it made me reflect on my own experience of volunteering at different stages in my life. I have volunteered as a carer in hospital before I started my training, I have fundraised, I have volunteered as a safe-guarder for my church at that time, I have chaired playgroups and taken my turn at looking after the kids, I have been on school boards, I have supported family weekends for people with diabetes, I have given talks about health related things mainly and so on. But mostly now I’m asked to be a trustee for charities.
I suspect it’s a reflection of my cake making abilities. I will never be a food blogger. Now I’m sure it wasn’t my particular amateurish chocolate crispy cakes that were banned from the local fundraising group for Childline coffee mornings but I have long harboured suspicions it might have been. There was also the issue that as a local diabetes nurse in the practice at one stage, I was not good for profits when I was put in charge of selling the cakes at the coffee mornings. Move me to the books I cried, prospective buyers who know me ,see me there and put down the cakes with an apologetic smile. In spite of all of that I loved those days when I felt part of the community, focused on helping others in however small away and however tired we were by the end of the day we left with a smile and friendships deepened.
It was also a bit of a family joke that if I went along to an AGM of whatever group I was part of there was a risk I would end up as Chair. I can’t ever remember thinking this was my goal, mostly what I knew was I wouldn’t want to be treasurer! I don’t doubt that those days of chairing playgroups etc helped me deal with any challenging situations as a leader. Fairness, clarity, focus on your mission and what’s important, listen and respond to all viewpoints and don’t take it personally (still hard I confess) were some of the things I learned. And seeing the outcome of your volunteering is so satisfying: the kids playing in the playgroup, secured for another year through your work; the families at the end of a weekend confidence boosted and friendships made to make life with diabetes a little easier in the future; a charity secure and meeting the people whose lives it has changed.
Yes volunteering has given me some of the greatest satisfaction over the years-and OK maybe the odd headache too but if you want to change your life and others too…go on give it a go. Think about what your good at and what makes your heart sing and find out what is needed and match the two. You won’t regret it I suspect and you will change someone’s life for the better too.
Reasons to be grateful:
I had a lovely lovely time with my daughter, the spa day was wonderful . She is home now with her family (see photo)to welcome her back. Today I’m off to the Festival of Politics at the Scottish Parliament. I guess it’s not everyone’s idea of fun but saddo that I am it is mine…honest! The Fringe finishes soon which perhaps is just as well my stamina and wallet are stretched by now. But we have seen some great things, including a young comedian from New York called Michael Che-one to watch I think. Brilliant!