Helping Hands – Volunteering in Today’s World

Over the years I’ve been involved in a number of not-for-profit organizations.  Rotary, Lions Club, Job’s Daughters, Scouting, musical organizations, political organizations, and a rock club (I’m sure there are more but they don’t currently come to mind).  Over time, they all come down to some type of political/power struggle.  I volunteer to do something, and later on wonder what was I thinking?

I was thinking I want to help.  I want to assist their progress in some way.  I want to see them succeed. How can I help?  With my take-charge personality I end up the chairman, the president, the leader.  I find myself pulling away from those decisions more and more.  Would I be Secretary of the Rock Club. No thanks.  How about the Membership Coordinator? Grant Writer? Publicity Chairperson?  NO, NO and NO.   I’ll help where I can, but I don’t want the board meetings, the distraction to creating, the politics.

So how can I help?

I’ve been knitting for years.  As my little sign says, “knitting keeps me from unraveling”.  I can create something useful and keep hands busy.  I’m a much nicer passenger when I knit and don’t watch Tracy drive.  I’ve gifted hundreds of blankets over the years both knit and crochet.  I’ve taught both my youngest daughter and grand-daughter how to knit and they also have “busy hands”.  So what do we do with all that stuff?

When we had our art/gift gallery we sold well over 100 scarves to travelers looking for something useful to offer that would remind them of their trip.  Grandmothers love the scarves as gifts for grandkids.  And some locals bought them on a regular basis as gifts and for their own families. But now that the store is closed what happens to them?

One day on Facebook an ad showed up for an organization called “Operation Gratitude”. They provide “Care Boxes” for our active military, veterans, first responders, and wounded warriors.  They take only scarves made of acrylic fibers – check;  4-6” wide – check; in masculine colors – check.  If you go to their website you can download their donation form to see all the other ways you can help.  They recently had a “service day” at their base of operation in California and created 3,000 “care boxes” for the first responders in Dallas.  This is an organization I want to give to.

I’ve put together a box of scarves with the labels as requested and will send them off this next week.  They also ask for letters to the care box recipients.  It took me a couple of weeks to figure out what to say, and how I might help take their mind off where they are.  I wrote a letter using pictures from our previous time in the heart of the Grand Staircare Escalante National Monument.  I hope it will give them something else to think about.

It also reminded me to add their service as volunteers to my gratitude journal.  I’m grateful they believe our freedoms are worth fighting for. My grandmother, mother, father, and 1st husband all volunteered for the Marine Corps.  They each had their own reason for that service, and each contributed in a unique way.  They wanted to help in some way.  I guess it’s in my blood.

Until next time – – –

 

Rock Hunting Above Enoch, UT

rock huntingWe took the road to the left on this adventure to the BLM lands east of Enoch, Utah. Up about a quarter mile all you can hear is the freeway noise. Junipers blanket the hillside and provide what shade there’s going to be from the 100 degree+ heat.

Tracy is hunting for high contrast agate for cabs. I’m looking for small flats/chips to tumble for my baskets. There’s so much to choose from, it would be easy to fill a gallon bag in a short time. I’m looking for more subtle pieces that will blend and accent the basket, not be the focal point for it.

When we were rock hunting in the private land sections of Death Valley, CA it came home to me that it was possible many of those wind-polished rocks had not been moved in 100’s of years. And that they should be moved gently – you never knew what creature could be raising their own family underneath.

Most of what we chose today have been washed down from above, what the BLM calls “float”, and is legal to acquire without permit or fee. Another treasure trove considered float (because we aren’t going to mine for it) are the rocks road graders have “popped” up during road repair. This can be a little more difficult if it hasn’t rained since they graded.

Grandmother’s relatives left tobacco as a thank you for sharing when rock, weaving materials and food were taken from the land. As I chose to be a non-smoker 27 years ago, I don’t have tobacco around. I decided to purchase corn seeds from the local farm store in the spring. A good 1 lb of seed usually lasts me a full year of hunting. It’s my thank you and the squirrels, birds, and others benefit from them and sometimes I’ll spot a plant from the previous year’s offering.

The hillsides and meadows are still green. The Junipers show off their blue berries and many of the cactus have gone from flower to fruit. The Juniper/Cedar berries are used by many of the local tribal women for beads. Some of the tribes call them “ghost beads”. I use them on my baskets, but I don’t harvest and string them, I buy them from the ladies of the other tribes. They are not too expensive and about 6 ft’ of beads lasts a long time.

The morning air has a little bite and it feels like fall. Too early on a calendar, but Mother Earth will do what she wants. I’m ready for winter any time she is.

Until next time – – – – –

Grandmother

In my Rose Garden of memories
I see you standing there,
An angel in disguise
Who taught me how to care.

I long to hear your voice
for real, not in my dreams;
I am missing you so much these days
how empty my world seems.

People say time heals all wounds
that someday the pain will subside,
But Grandma I can tell you
I think they must have lied.

The emptiness I am feeling now
is strong and I am weak,
These days go by without you
so dreary and so bleak.

In my Rose Garden of memories
I know you’ll always be,
for though you’re gone from this mortal world
In my heart you’ll always be.

© Victoria L. Payne

Wishing You “Enough”

Family Circle Magazine of November 2013 published an article entitled “Attitudes of Gratitude” by Janet Taylor, MD. It was short, sweet and to the point – “the simplest way to experience more happiness in your life is by deciding you can have it.” She suggested creating a “bliss list” and checking off the good times one by one ( a much better bucket list).

So what’s on your “bliss list”? Mine is centered around my gratitude for “enough”. I have enough yarn that I can knit hats, scarves and baby sweaters and give them away. I’m blessed with wonderful children and the best spouse and business partner I could ever have imagined. And I’m grateful for a loving relationship with my mother after many years of discord. I’m blessed that my best friend from High School is back in my life. And I’m grateful for my health being adequate to see me through the end of my journey.

I didn’t come upon all these blessings by chance. I sat down and decided what was enough. Enough money, enough time, enough yarn, enough travel, enough love. I listed what was enough for me, not my neighbors, my peers, or my friends – just me. Otherwise life becomes about guilt and envy. Every ad on television, radio, or in print seeks an emotional response to motivate you to buy something based on envy or guilt. One of Mo’s columns dealt with this subject and I am sharing his list of countdown to Christmas words (written in this order):

“Guilt; gift-giving; gift receiving; re-gifting; more guilt; stuff; more stuff; a little more stuff; guilt about having stuff; drinking; guilt about drinking; eating; guilt about eating; envy; jealousy; insecurity; overcompensation; guilt; additional guilt; and fear that the neighbors/relatives/friends will have a better Christmas.”
Yes, we pile on emotional calories as well as literal ones. Do you stop eating when you’re full? Do you overcome the emotional/impulsive response by knowing how much is “enough”. Do you need more? Do you want more? Now is the time to decide. Decide what is enough and take the extra and give someone something they need who doesn’t have enough. Make it about being turely grateful for the blessings you have in your life and the people you love and who love you back, not because it’s expected.

We don’t “do Christmas” anymore. We tell our friends and family how much we love them at Thanksgiving. We count our blessings and share what we have over the “enough” level. And we leave the guilt and gift-giving routine to others because the meaning of the season is deep and abiding love for each other.

I urge you to determine your level of “enough”. The freedom from guilt and envy and the joy of sharing the extras are blessings beyond any reward of tangible receipts.

When was the last time you told everyone in your life how blessed you are to have them? Never? Maybe this is the time! If not now – when? Is it time for you to help them determine what is “enough” in their lives?

From our house to yours – We wish you enough!

Mothers of Missouri – take back your sons.

Missouri Riots –

As I watch the news of events in Missouri, I can’t help but associate with the business owners that have been negatively impacted by the mob mentality of the black community.  What have they done to them that they deserve loosing their livelihood?  What have they done to the black community to deserve the damage to their property?  And what right do the blacks have to take their anger and frustration out on the innocent business owners?

None!

I’m ashamed for them and I’m ashamed that “their” president hasn’t stepped in and asked them to calm down – that violence is not the answer.  That education, improving their lot and encouraging the increase in black police officers is the way to answer the problem, not more violence.  And, of course, here comes Jessie Jackson.

My question to the black community is – do you really want to live like Syria?  Do you really want your mothers to live like those in Iran, Iraq and the Gaza Strip? Do you really want another race war with all the hate and death?  If you don’t have any respect for “whitey” can’t you respect they too are people with families, and their businesses are their livelihood?  They didn’t shoot your son, taking it out on them is not okay.

How does this stop?  Mothers!  Mothers of those rioting, call in your sons.  Call down your husbands, re-establish yourself as the moral compass for your family and do not allow these men to take more of your children into cemeteries.  Call them down and out of jails and into the workforce.  Call them down and out of drugs and back into families.  Women are the key to world peace.  They are the key to orderliness and they need to take back their role as the matriarch of the family.

We cannot abdicate our responsibility for having brought them into this world.  We bore them and we are responsible for them until our deaths.  Call them home!