“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”Mahatma Gandhi
I’ve always wanted to make a difference in the world.
I’ve done my fair share of volunteering and loved every minute of it. I’ve helped build hygiene kits for vulnerable people and shelters. I’ve raised funds by running in charity races and riding in The Cure to Conquer Cancer. I spent a year face painting for kids at the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, my way of giving back after having spent time in a shelter with the Bear.
When I was younger and more energetic, I was constantly looking for ways to help. I was in a better head space so it was easy to commit to projects and opportunities. I would scour the Volunteer Centre of Calgary’s website for events to help with.
In recent years it’s been harder to volunteer, due in part to the pandemic and due to my depressive cycles ramping up. When I’m depressed, I withdraw from commitments and turn into a hermit.
Now that I’m feeling more stable thanks to my medication cocktail, I’m more open to getting back into the arena. I’ve always tried to involve the Bear where I could, cultivating a sense of empathy and compassion for others. It’s important to me that she understands how important it is to be a helper.
The Bear has also expressed interest in volunteering again so that has been the impetus to connecting with a couple of organizations.
The Thumbs Up Foundation in Airdrie advocates for positive mental health change which speaks to my heart. Their goal is to improve access to mental health care and establish and connect resources for patients dealing with mental health conditions and illnesses. Having connected with them, I look forward to helping out in any capacity we can.
We’ve also met with the volunteer coordinator for Bethany Care in Airdrie, a senior citizens facility, to apply to be quality of life ambassadors. Prior to her passing, my grandmother lived in a senior long term care facility so this is close to my heart as well.
I’m hopeful that these small steps forward will fill my bucket and the Bear’s as well as those we’re able to help. Service to others is one of my love languages and I really think that moving back in this direction will have a tremendously positive effect on my mental health. The key thing is not to overcommit to where I get overwhelmed. A few hours every weekend is manageable. Maybe in an effort to really kick into exercising, we register for a charity run this summer. Airdrie has a the Legacy Run to End Domestic Violence in May which speaks to me.
Over and above the great feels that come from volunteering, I’m going to get to spend quality one on one time with the Bear, something that has really been lacking since she turned 11 years old and went full teenager on me. Spending time with mom isn’t cool unless I’m ubering her to friend’s houses or taking her to the mall. I’m hoping this time to connect and do good things will bring us closer together again. I miss the little girl that was so quick to help out, who was moved by the struggles of others. I know she’s in there, she just needs some prodding to come back out.
These are tough times, people are divided over everything it seems. It’s easy to become despondent and despair. The conflict in the Ukraine is heartbreaking. We always have to look for the helpers, or better yet, be the helpers where we can.