Want to Feel Vital? Stay Involved!

My husband and I just returned from a once in a lifetime trip to New Zealand we had dreamed of for years. We made arrangements through The Splendid Traveler where Alicia Saba specializes in customized travel in New Zealand and Australia and she took our preferences and produced an ideal itinerary! We had a fabulous time and walked an average of 5-7 miles a day and we were thankful to be in shape to do it. We had agreed that now was the time to take advantage of the investment we have made in our health and fitness and fulfill some of those dreams before age slows us down.

In our travels, we were blessed with expert guides, some young, some older, but they all had one thing in common. They were excited and enthused to do what they were doing. The young people because the job kept them outdoors and doing what they loved in a way that financed their travels and adventures, and the older people (often retired) because they enjoyed how it kept them engaged with other people and added to their incomes. We were inspired by the backgrounds (Retired University Professor, Retired Business Owner, Renaissance Woman with Masters Degrees in Multiple Disciplines) of these folks who gave us up to a day of their time!

Our guide in Christchurch (Fiona Newsome of Canterbury Guiding Co.) was an outstanding example. She was a little younger than us and spent two days making our excursions in that area outstanding. Her energy, intellect, creativity, and ability to think on her feet was inspiring to us. She planned ahead and told us all about what we were seeing in a way that was entertaining and knowledgeable. She thought about parking logistics, the next place to have a restroom stop, and where the best possible place to grab lunch was while seeming to enjoy things as much as we did.

As we climbed the steep drive to the Giant’s House in Akaroa (after a fabulous boat tour around the harbor that featured dolphins, seals, and even a fast little penguin), she shared her individual story of meeting and forming a friendship with the very talented but also incredibly reclusive artist (Josie Martin) who created all of the art we got to wander through. It was a fantastic experience, filled with color, unexpected delights, and surrounded by the fragrance of the artist’s gardens that were everywhere. It was unforgettable but could have been perfunctory without Fiona’s perspective and stories.

My point is that Fiona in Christchurch, Katie at the Zealandia Preserve, our Te Papa Museum guide Rangmoana (I will not guarantee that spelling!), our lovely guide Ann, from Zest food tours (all in Wellington), and countless other people who made our trip special could have decided to retire and keep their gifts to themselves. Instead, they put them to work in a way that keeps them involved and excited and makes them a treat to those of us who get to meet them.

What did we learn? 

When you have a purpose and stay connected with other people, it makes your daily life more exciting and even if you may not live longer…there will be more life in your days!

New Way to Find Your Philanthropic Passion

I have written about “finding your passion” in philanthropy over the years and thought it was an effective way to help people identify the cause that resonated with them. “Begin With the End in Mind,” Dr. Stephen Covey said and he was right. But there is more than one way to approach that question of passion for change and this week I learned a new one that I will share with you!

I was at a YWA Connect Kickoff event for the Young Women’s Alliance this week and my friend and fellow YWA Connect Mentor Gayle Reaume was the keynote speaker. Gayle is the founder of Moolah U and her passion is sharing financial information with young people. She has been very successful in her business and always hands credit back to her personal mentors as she brings that success forward into the lives of the people she mentors.

She said, “I don’t ask people what their passion or interest in community service is…I ask them what situation or condition they can’t bear to live with in the world.”

Paradigm shift.

I thought that was a great way to get people thinking about more than what they love. It makes them think about what they dislike and want to change. It was a call to action that I will be incorporating into the way I talk with potential volunteers, donors, and mentors.

What can’t I bear to live with in the world?

Ignorance and inequality were what came to mind first and young people are the most obvious target to me. Education, Diversity, Inclusion…all those words are just words until someone undertakes actions to make them a reality for the generations who are coming up fast.

What’s yours?

I can’t wait to hear about it.

 

_______________________

Drama and Your Marriage

©CanStock Photo / AndreyPopov

I watched a popular series the other night, streaming it as we do these days when I was stunned by a particular episode. To be fair, we watch these things for the drama, the ups and downs, last-minute saves and resolutions, and pretty people in awkward, funny or even painful situations. It is their stock in trade and is utterly predictable at times.

However, the drama is the smallest thing you want in your relationship or marriage. It can break apart the strongest love, ruin lives, finances, and futures and most of it is avoidable. You don’t have to have drama in your relationship to have romance. They should be two very different things.

In this episode, a couple has dated and known each other for years. They decide to have a child together, go through fertility counseling and make this huge commitment of bringing another human being into the world. Then, he discovers that she is not planning to raise the child in his faith, she discovers that her career is much more important to her than she expected, and the inevitable pendulum swings between these two who ultimately decide to marry and proceed, trusting that their love will see them through.

Yeah, let’s unpack that a bit, shall we? There is so much wrong with that picture. Continue reading

Outrage Exhaustion

Are you feeling a bit powerless right now?

I am.

Every day I read and see things that make me angry, afraid, and anxious and it seems like there are no calm voices of reason speaking in the cacophony that has become our public discourse.

I am not a person who enjoys conflict and arguing for argument’s sake. I am usually extroverted, but when faced with issues that have more than one perspective (Know of any that don’t?), I have taught myself to think and research about it before making my views known. I can often see both sides of disagreements and want desperately for people to think before they speak, react, and worst of all, attack.

I feel weary of the posturing and uncivil behavior and language we are subjected to on a daily basis.

Are you feeling the same?

What do you do when your adrenaline has faded away and there are just too many outrageous things happening at once to react to all of them? Really, I want to know.

The only strategy I can think of right now is to focus in on a limited number of things that I can actually affect. Here are a few that have come to mind.

  • Support people running for office that you think will do a good job and who are able to have a reasonable conversation. I am not here to tell you who to support, of course, but they all need donors, volunteers, and assorted other services – check their websites and see if there are needs that interest you!
  • Inform yourself from sources besides social media. ProPublica, Politifact, NPR, and other investigative news outlets are good places to start, but be alert to bias wherever you go.
  • Consider volunteering with a cause you support and believe in. You will feel better and so will the people you are helping.
  • Try to move out of your comfort zone and have a conversation with someone who may see things quite differently than you do. Listen more than you talk and your eyes may be opened to perspectives you have not considered because they aren’t part of your life.
  • Educate yourself about the issues in your area at least and most importantly…

VOTE.

See you at the polls.

____________________________

When Storytelling Fails

I am a storyteller and bear all of the hallmarks of that ancient profession.

I have a good speaking voice with emotive ability, an animated face and manner, and high energy, I am an avid reader with a huge vocabulary, and most importantly, I think chronologically.

I was born like this and it never occurred to me that other people thought differently until my husband and I started comparing our childhoods and he admitted he didn’t really have any memories that were structured that way. If he saw a picture or heard someone else tell a mutual childhood story, it sparked his memory but it was more like opening the drawer of a file cabinet and accessing the exact thing you wanted. The advantage for him in this memory system was that his mind is never cluttered. He has razor sharp focus on any topic or task and is never distracted down a rabbit hole of memory. The disadvantage is that when you ask him things about his past, sometimes he just doesn’t remember.

Life itself is a story in my mind. It is linear, chronological, in color, and most of the time it is in great detail. I have learned to use this to my advantage and often become an institutional memory resource for organizations I have worked with for a long time.

But for all its advantages, my storytelling nature can have its dark side. Continue reading