Stumble out of bed, guzzle coffee, wake girl child, make school lunch, yell at girl child to hurry up in the shower, survive school drop-off, walk dogs, work out (somedays), clean kitchen/living room/bedroom/bathroom, start laundry, meal plan, buy groceries, check business emails, contact clients, vacuum HUGE piles of dog hair, try not to yell at anyone during school pick-up, rush to orthodontist appointment, fight over homework , cook dinner, clean up kitchen again, plan business social media posts, wrangle kid into bed, sit down to drink wine, finally remember laundry in washer… Typical day at my house. Notice it didn’t have a shower for me in there, because that’s not a given! If you’re a mom, you understand. I do usually eat at least once before dinner, because I am NEVER the person that forgets to eat. Sometimes it’s just more rushed that others.
Some days are better. Some days are more fun. Some days, I get to shower AND I actually find the time to volunteer. Do you? With the exception of our first duty station, I’ve always done things at the base, either with our squadron or with the Spouses’ Club. Think spouses supporting each other through all kinds of crises and successes and raising a TON of money for scholarships and charitable contributions, not women in pearls playing cards… Don’t get me wrong, I’ve GOT pearls, I just don’t ever feel the need to wear them to Club functions. We’re way more laid back than that.
Aside from serving as a mentor to new spouses coming through training with their airmen, in my current incarnation I am the Thrift Shop Liaison. Thrift Shops serve a great purpose on military bases. Military families move A LOT and our houses are ALWAYS different. So after 10 sets of curtains have been accumulated that don’t fit any of the current window configurations, they get taken to the Thrift Shop for someone else to discover. That table that looked fabulous 3 houses ago, but doesn’t fit ANYWHERE in the new house? Thrift Shop! Kids have outgrown the entire playroom? Toys are huge at the Thrift Shop! This is the duty station those 15 pounds FINALLY came off – WOOHOO – take the old clothes to the Thrift Shop!
There is always a group of volunteers ready to sort items and get them prepped to become new treasure. The volunteers are the BEST part of the Thrift Shop. Here, they are primarily retiree spouses and some retirees themselves that have been in the area and working the Shop for ages! They have amazing stories and they never fail to make me laugh when I get to go in for a couple of hours to help them out. Plus, they’re always trying to feed me – BONUS! They are there every day the Shop is open and they help the Club bring in thousands of dollars for military dependent scholarships. They rock and I’m thrilled to be considered one of them when I have the time to go every couple of weeks.
Then there are Tuesdays… Tuesday is most often my favorite day of the week. Tuesday is for horses and heroes and Hearts and Hooves. It’s a therapeutic riding program that works with disabled children and adults, including wounded warriors in my community. It’s an amazing place that I wish I had found when we first got here! I serve as a Lead Walker and I groom my horse (pictured below, but lately with a lot more mud on him!) and get him prepped for a lesson. Then I help the rider by providing minor control of the horse while he accomplishes the physical therapy tasks the instructor sets out for him. The best part is seeing him smile when he gets something right – which is pretty much all the time because he’s incredibly awesome and wicked smart with horse facts!
The instructors are AMAZING women who work with individuals of all skill levels and somehow manage to always know the exact right thing to do to motivate a rider that may just not be feeling it that day. They always, always make them smile and feel like the best rider in the world. I usually walk out with a smile on my face too, sometimes it’s because my horse, Captain Jackson, is a big old toddler that likes to be silly and is constantly trying to eat my clothes, but mostly it’s because I’ve witnessed someone growing in confidence and becoming stronger emotionally as well as physically. I’ve already talked to the staff about helping me find a location in South Florida that I can transition to when we move. Now that I’ve done this, I just can’t imagine not having it in my life.
A volunteer is someone doing something with no expectation of personal benefit, because they want to, because it serves someone else, and because it needs to be done. But I always find that I do get a benefit. I get to forget about the swirling chaos that is going on in my world for a bit and focus on someone else. You know what? I always feel fabulous after volunteering.
I think it’s especially important for the girl child to see it in action and learn that service to others is a big part of being a good human. She goes to the stables with me when she’s out of school, mainly to pet the horses and the barn cats, but she watches the lessons and too. The ladies at the Thrift Shop LOVE her and they can usually persuade her to help them put items out on the floor in exchange for donuts. Told ya, they’re brilliant!
Do you volunteer anywhere? Tell me about it! Think you don’t have the time? I bet you could find an hour on the weekend or at least one day a week where you could do something that you just might love!