Time to get busy again? The value of volunteering…


They say if you want something done, ask the busiest person you know. I’m not sure if I’m the busiest person you know, but I seem to have reversed my decision of last year… the one where I decided to step BACK from taking on extra curricular challenges. Hmmm.

I am loving (seriously freaking holy awesome) LOVING my day job; it is different every day, challenges me on many levels and is near infinite in its possibilities. I have grown kids who need me very little these days, and my youngest is about to graduate. I am single again, so have time on my hands too. That all adds up to energy to spare and a willingness to bite off a bigger chunk of challenge. Either that or it adds up to a whole big pile of crazy… maybe they’re the same thing?

I have found myself on a board. Or two. Or three, now I think about it. I am really excited about this, despite the fact that I am somehow chair of one board and co-chair of another. The co-chair job is already a big bucket of work but I’m really excited and eager to start moving forward. The other boards are low output, but engaging in different ways.

So why do I do this? Why do I take on excess work? I am trying to figure this out; is it out of boredom? Maybe… to a minor degree. I know some people take on board roles to pad their resumes, gain experience and exposure, “network & leverage connections”. I think I do it because I have too much electricity running through my body and too much work gives me a productive place to put it. I’m also a creative person with more big ideas than I can find places for without the kind of forum that volunteer work provides.

The funny thing is that I somehow manage to keep board work and volunteerism separate in my head, how weird is that? I consider time spent helping out at the Food Bank or serving lunch at a soup kitchen as volunteer work, but board work is its own category in my mind. However I categorize it, I’m glad I have opportunities to stretch my mind and work with such diverse groups through this kind of activity. And how cool to be part of SOMETHING BIGGER (that deserves capitals, no?).

Crazy. I seem to step back from boards every few years; in hindsight perhaps I do that only so I can catch a second wind and hit the ground running again, with increased capacity.

Hey… join a board… it’s rewarding! You’ll meet new people, experience new challenges, have exciting adventures, learn Roberts Rules of Order… And if you want, you can even network and leverage new connections (wink). But mostly you’ll do good work for a cause you believe in. There are many not for profit groups and organizations seeking committed, talented people.

Learn who needs the skills you have to offer by contacting Volunteer Yukon or offer to serve on one of the boards highlighted on the Government of Yukon’s Boards & Committees page. And if you’re reading this and you’re not in the Yukon then find a group wherever you are that needs all the special you-ness you have to share. You’ll be glad you did. Seriously!

Fake it ’til ya Make it

ImageI swear to you I don’t know how to do at least half of what I do. No, I’m not kidding. Seriously I fake most everything (not THAT!!!) I am a tryer. I am a googler.   I, as a mother, am a mother of invention. That translates to all those awesome sayings like Fake it ’til ya make it, grind it ’til ya find it and so on.

I remember being a new Mom; it was my daughter’s 2nd birthday and my first ever cupcake effort. I had no IDEA how much batter to put in the cupcake tin… fill it up? Fill it halfway? I didn’t live anywhere near my family so I did what fakers everywhere do…I called in reinforcements. Actually, I called my friend; a much more experienced mother of 3 kids under 5. She set me straight.

That’s pretty much how I’ve rolled ever since.  Sew cloth diapers? Sure… I can do that. Shaped, formed, with snaps to adjust the sizes and velcro tabs and an absorbent liner? Sure… no problem.  Cater for my husband’s office party? No worries; I got this. Write a press release… BAM. They don’t call it ACTING like an adult for nothing you know!

Now you’ve gotta have balls to barrel through life like this and I guess I’ve grown a pair… yeah, I googled that for instructions.  I’m not saying I don’t do what I do WELL, ’cause I do. I’m good at a lot of things. I didn’t START good at them mind you, and nobody taught me how to do most of them. It turns out a little chutzpah, a bit of confidence and some kick-ass research skills are pretty good in a pinch.

My Gramma was a powerhouse; did it all. I’ve kind of channeled her as I’ve grown into myself. She, like me, had to find her own way, far from her own support network and family. And she was a tough cookie; not fearless, but brave. I am trying (success or lack of will be determined in a few decades) to impart that same adaptability to my kids. It’s what makes you bounce… makes you resilient. 

My favourite quote from Pablo Picasso is “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it”.  That’s a pretty empowering way of approaching life, I think. It’s been my mantra since my first move away from home. I think I’ll have it tattooed on something. As soon as I learn how to do that…