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Archive for the tag “volunteering”

On Seeing Myself and Other Revelations

So many things are going on in my heart and mind right now, it’s kind of nuts.

I’m inspired by how kick-ass Lancelot is, and I’m inspired by the book I’ve been talking to you folks about, “Calling in the One.”

There is a section in the book that talks about being a better you and basically having things going for yourself so it’s a lot easier for someone who has their stuff together can enter your life and you can both go do great things together.

The book, and Lancelot’s passion and risk-taking abilities speak to something I’ve known about myself all along but have kind of suppressed the last couple of years, because I’ve been in survival mode.

I do enjoy doing things that I feel are meaningful and that will help others and will allow me to be creative.

Somewhere along the way, I got lost in the sauce. And even with a new management position now, for which I am grateful, I have gotten further and further away from my passion as a writer and a reporter. I no longer professionally identify as such.

I still consider myself a journalist and editor, but I work in the digital space, with online content, primarily. I enjoy supporting my team, teaching them things and watching them grow. But, I can only take them so far, because in this world, I’ve only gotten so far myself and have been struggling with what to do next with this company way long ago.

Something tugged on my heart to go to volunteermatch.com yesterday. And there are times I have these moments. I feel inspired, I want to give back, but I search the site and either the times are bad or locations for the things I’m interested in.

I did something different with my search and put in writer as the keyword. There were few choices that popped up, but one did and it was awesome. It was for a writing coach to help low income kids prepare their college applications and scholarship essays.

I was all over it. I applied yesterday, got correspondence from the organization right away, and as of this morning, I passed the background check. I will be participating in an intense four-day program at a local university, working with a group of 4 to 6 kids, getting them ready.

Then I realized the personal mission I wrote down like three weeks ago. Connecting people to opportunities!! Yes, I am already embarking on that journey! I felt and still feel so good.

Yes, I will be taking two vacation days to do this, but I really want to. It’s important to me.

“Calling in the One” made me think about the connection to feeling good about myself, working on my purpose outside of potential romantic relationships.

I want Lancelot to be proud of me. I want to be his equal. I’ll never know how to do the crazy information technology stuff he does, but I know how to write my ass off. I know how to sit down and talk to people, ask them questions and have them share with me and feel safe. I know how to encourage people and cheer them on and remind them of the greatness they have inside them.

I want to do more of those things.

I find so much joy in talking to my mentee. I decided today to not just talk to her about her goals, but talk about the process of creativity and inspiration. So I shared with her my favorite books that spoke to me and or changed my life forever. Then I asked her to tell me what her favorite books are music are. We could take a short break from prepping our proposal to the local newspaper for an internship for a moment.

I look forward to her response.

It’s becoming clearer to me that I want to transition into working with young people and helping them gain access to opportunities. I don’t think I want to be a teacher, but I want to help them discover their talents and build a plan to help them utilize it and find a way to make a living out of it.

Seems like a lofty goal and I guess it does sound like a teacher or a guidance counselor. But I don’t want to be bogged down in the administrative nightmare of working in public schools. And I don’t want suckie pay. But, if I end up happily, ever after with Lancelot, maybe I’d have a little breathing room to do something without thinking about my rent all of the time…Can’t bank on that, but I’m just saying…

So what’s out there for someone like me? How can I blend my talents as a professional communicator with helping young people and get paid and not starve?

What masters degree could I get? What organization could I build or start?

Even with the tee shirt business, where the grand vision also included a women’s lifestyle website with articles and eventually empowerment conferences… I’ve been more motivated.

Trying to build the website on my own, I’m realizing has been holding me back and making me nuts. Just to get going, I may just buckle down and pay money for a simple site and finally get started. Just because the website I was building was free, it’s costing me more time and frustration. Sometimes you just have to jump out there.

Lancelot has shown me that, and so has “Calling in the One.” The book is gangsta. So I’m working on me. The better version of me. The version that seems to be gravitating toward working with young people and helping them reach their dreams.

One of the organizers from the event I spoke at a few weeks ago sent me some photos. Most of them were taken unaware, and seriously aside from me being dissappointed with my weight, I looked really happy. I looked comfortable doing what I was doing.

I saw myself.

I really saw the heart of who I am, in a photograph of me holding a microphone, sitting in a circle of young women, sharing with them.

It moved me.

One of my close friends saw it and said, “Just look at how those girls are looking at you.”

That was cool, if it was a look of interest and admiration, but I was more interested and fixated on what was radiating out of me. It was natural and it was the best of myself.

I had the same feeling looking at that picture, as I did in a photo of me from years ago, when I stood outside of the White House, arms folded, rocking a fabulous suit, with press credentials around my neck.

I feel my life shifting into something I’ve never expected and I embrace that. I’m happy to find myself being filled with purpose again.

Me:6.0

So, around these parts, I’m always talking about my goal to empower women.

I got to walk the walk and talk the talk this weekend, by going back to my hood and speaking to some young ladies at the new, spectacular, ballerific Boys and Girls club facility. This place is beautiful and breeds creativity.

This place is gorge.

There were about just over a dozen girls there ranging in ages from 10-20 and we talked to them about going to college, career opportunities, trying new things, bullying, popularity, etc.

I was over the moon.

I was in my element. I really enjoyed sharing my experiences and giving advice.

But there was one girl. Who stood out.

She wasn’t afraid to ask questions, and she was the first to shoot up her hand.

And what did she want to be when she grew up?

An investigative journalist! Ding, ding, ding.

It was like Jesus himself shone a light on this girl and said, “My child. Mentor this child.”

My best friend was in attendance to support me and she kept saying over and over, “Oh my God. This is scary. I thought the Universe was supposed to implode if you ever met a younger version of yourself. Like, you just aren’t supposed to.”

I played it off, but I knew she was right.

This little girl talked about loving to be in the poetry club, and how her friends think sometimes she’s too intense and too deep. She was encouraging to the other girls in the group and talked about even if you aren’t popular you should join different kinds of clubs to meet other people who like the things you like and make more friends that way.

I pulled the old mentor trick to see how for real she was…

Here’s my email. Please contact me if you are really interested in getting more information or you need help with your goals to become a journalist.

Little me had the nerve to hit me with an email first thing the following day. Then she said, she was sorry she didn’t email me the same day we met. Oh, I laughed a good laugh. This little girl is for real.

I see a young hustler beast in the making. She started asking me questions about summer internships and how she can get started. She asked about what major and minor should she look into.

Was she a high school senior, prepping for college?

Hell naw. She’s 14. This is why I call her Me:6.0. I knew I wanted to be a journalist when I was that young, but I wasn’t thinking about majors and minors at that time. Her reason for interest in investigative reporting? She wants to write stories about the government and expose evils and such. Oh, God bless her little heart.

She really doesn’t know what large media companies have been reduced to and that she needs to investigate and expose them too!

But we’ll get to that later. I wouldn’t dare squash her dream. She can write in-depth, investigative stories, but she will have to find other mediums and they are out there.

I give her props, because at her age, I would have been too nervous to contact a speaker from a program, even if that person did seem really interesting.

I told her she was already a natural and I’d be delighted to help.

I have already started to devise a plan to see if we can get her a little job at our tiny, super-local community paper. I feel like they are so small, they’d be nuts to turn down any kind of help. I’ve offered to write a recommendation letter and talk to their editor to see what we can do. I told her I can’t promise anything, but we are going to try.

I also told her to make sure she tells her mother we are speaking by email, to discuss our emails and call my cell phone to talk to me personally, to learn more about me and decide if she feels comfortable with me mentoring her daughter.

The funny thing is, as cliché as it is, going to talk to these girls did more for me and my esteem and helped pump me up probably more than me helping them.

I’m beyond thrilled I met a young lady interested in my field and maybe just maybe, I can help her achieve her goals.

I’m floating on air! Can’t wait to really help this girl. I’m going to go nuts if we can land her a little job at the newspaper.

Keep Calm and Stay Busy

A humorous take on the popular “Keep Calm and Carry On” slogan. Photo courtesy of youwerespring.tumblr.com

I see all sorts of signs and shirts and bookmarks that have a variation of that slogan, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

Interestingly enough, it’s a British slogan from propaganda posters during the beginning of World War II. According to Wikipedia (I cringe at using them as a source, being a journalist, it’s a no-no) the phrase was thrust back into the lexicon and suddenly made a resurgence into popular culture after some woman unearthed some of the old posters from her father’s belongings and was featured on Antique Roadshow.

History lesson aside, it’s been everywhere and people have even made up their own funny versions too (there’s a tumblr page devoted to this).  It seems like this slogan is the recycled, classier version from our British cousins of “Keep on Truckin” a popular U. S. phrase from the 70s.

I’d like to add one to the list. Someone else probably already thought of it, because, it’s really simple.

“Keep Calm and Stay Busy.”

I have a friend who is a master at this. She volunteers, she likes to travel and visit her family and friends. The girl hardly sits still. She’s active in civic organizations; she’s just a busy little bee. She finds things to do, she finds me things to do and she lives hundreds of miles away!

I have noticed, that even when I pack my schedule, or I have a specific place to be at a specific time, I’m happier.

I’m happier because I feel like I’ve done something, that I didn’t waste time or brain cells.

I move more quickly and with purpose, I don’t hit the snooze button (as much). I’ve already thought of what I’m going to wear, and I’ll have it ready.

I’m more organized. Because, if you have a lot to do and places to be, you have to be more organized in order to do it all.

It’s perfectly fine to have lazy days to decompress from all the action. But it’s more fulfilling to fill your time with things that are important to you, your health, your spirit and your fun. By the time you take care of all of these areas, you will have a full schedule and a happier heart, indeed.

Your health: Having a scheduled workout at the same time, even twice a week makes a difference. I know people who schedule their daily workouts and they say they are at the point they feel like crap when they don’t work out. Their body notices it. I think I’m on week seven now of zumba twice a week for one hour. I may even start going to three classes, because I really like how I feel and today, I’m wearing a pair of pants that used to cut off my circulation. Those pants may still leave an indentation around my waist, but I can breathe, thank you.

Your spirit: If you are religious, having that set time you go to church to practice your faith can contribute to keeping your spirit busy.  Outside of worshiping with others, it’s good to sit down alone and meditate or pray privately. In addition to that, doing community work, or helping others also feeds your spirit if religion is not your thing. As I’ve found and my super active friend often tells me, once you volunteer to do things and you organize and do it well, somehow more people find you and ask you to help them too.

I’ve decided that I’m going to join the National Alliance on Mental Illness, volunteer from time to time and be an advocate for my mom and families who want to support the people they love. The outpouring of support from yesterday’s blog post, especially from fellow blogger, suestopford of The Happily Single Chick, really gave me the push I needed to do make this decision.

Also aiding in the efforts to stay busy for my spirit is the tee-shirt line I plan to launch at the end of this year or early next year. I’m planning an amazing photo shoot and I can’t wait to start working on content for the website. The whole vision is extremely exciting and I think it will really empower women, which really sends my spirit into a happy frenzy.

I’m going to an all day conference on leadership Saturday at Columbia University. It wasn’t so much about my job or my business, but it was about me getting more tools, and meeting new people even if that means getting on a bus early in the morning to go to NY from the DC area. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and go the extra mile to do things you know are good for you and will help you grow. I could possibly meet an investor or a potential client who can take me to the next level or even just make a new friend at this event. I can’t take that for granted.

Your fun: All three of these things are crucial and I think all three can overlap, honestly when you come from a place of sincerity in all that you are doing. You gotta have fun. You gotta do things that you enjoy. Thanks to living social, goldstar, and meetup, I’m just trying things. I’m going to new restaurants and seeing shows and checking out concerts. Taking a class, whatever, opportunities are all over the place. I’ve even convinced my friends to go to a fancy high tea one day soon (never done it and there’s a historical mansion literally down the street from me that does one monthly!).

These things make me really happy and you have to make time and the investment to do them. I love spending time with my family and friends and it just makes me feel really good.

With that, despite my challenges and emotional things I deal with from time to time, I’ve got to take a page from my uber busy friend’s book and “Keep Calm and Stay Busy.”

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