New Life & Renewal of Purpose

I have spent the last 16 months stumbling around, trying to find what my life is supposed to be now that my husband is gone.  I was downsized about 6 months before he died, and then struggled through a very long stretch of unemployment, one year and 8 months, to be exact.  During that time I went from wanting to find another full time job, to feeling like part-time work would be  ok, to finally realizing  that I really did not want to return to work at all.  Besides, I had totally run out of places to apply to anymore.  I decided to tell the unemployment people that and to just try and stick it out financially for another 8 months until I turn 62 and can officially "retire".  I have decided to call my current status "pre-retirement". 
Now of course, I am faced with the question of how to fill my time.  While I have many hobbies like reading, knitting, etc. I wanted to find something that would get me out among people a little bit more.  I looked at some volunteer work opportunites online, but decided that they all sounded too mich like real work - having to make a minimum commitment of  x amount of months, being there in all kinds of weather, etc.  Being unable to drive, I am always very concerned about weather conditions and  how  bad weather affects my ability to get out and about. Then it occurred to me that maybe individual  volunteer projects would be the answer - something that would be a one-time deal, without all the on-going commitment.  Then my church came up with a "change the world" service day last Saturday and that sounded just like what I was looking for.  The commitment was from 9:00 AM till 2:00 PM for one day, with a variety of different projects to do which were intended to help the community and remind us that we can change the world one small action at a time. 
That day the sun was shining, so I had no  problems with bus transportation.  The project I had volunteered for was making fleece blankets for the local family shelter.  I found it was fun, and we saw results fast; our group was able to make 4 blankets in just a couple of hours.  Then the cookie baking group needed our help, so we switched activities.  They were baking 400 cookies which they needed bagged by groups of 4, labled, and packed for delivery to a nearby low income apartment complex.  There were other activities going on as well, like a neighborhood clean up of trash, etc. so there was something for all of us to do, no matter what age or physical ability.  After the work we all had a light lunch together and talked about our projects and how it felt to be making a difference in the community.  I realize that for some people this is what they always do,  but for me this was new and tremendously rewarding.  Over the years Stan had participated in a lot of activities through his church and political party, and I kept envisioning him smiling at me and cheering me on throughout the day. 
At church yesterday the pastors talked about how change doesn't necessarily happen through laws passed and new programs put into place; it also happens one small step at a time through activities like we did the day before.  It made me feel really good to realize that there are things I can do in spite of not having a car or much money - gave me a sense of new purpose and optimism as I realized that I still have the rest of my life to try new things and to "make a difference".   it was  that assurance that I have needed in recent months, that God still needs me to do some things in this world, besides feel sad and miss Stan.   It felt like a giant step forward for me.



I applaud you!!! Thanks for sharing this with us! I am sure you will never know just how many people were touched by your activities that day. And you are so right - God does still need you to do some things! We all have a purpose, even when we can\'t see what it is. The person who gets that blanket or those cookies may never see your face or know your name, but he or she will be touched....
Community Leadercliffskat

That\'s fantastic!!! I\'m so glad you were able to do that and felt good about it!! Really and truly, it does make a difference. I\'m so proud of you! We forget sometimes that just lending a hand or doing something we don\'t think much about can help someone and at the same time it helps us, too. I\'ve done a lot of hands-on volunteer work because we never had a lot of cash to donate, so I\'ve done sewing, cooking, sorting and packing, artwork, etc.

This was a treat to read, Laura, thanks for sharing it!!!

Love and Hugs, Martha

I am impressed with your commitment to volunteering and your search for something that you can keep up with without having to show up at a set time forever and ever no matter what the weather is like.

I\'m feeling the same impulse - the same desire to give back and help others. Hospice came this afternoon after I got home from work and picked up the birdhouses & chemo caps that we were donating. I also volunteered at that point to help with a memory bear project if they\'re interested in putting one in place, but I can probably not promise more than 9 bears per year (one each month except during tax season). So I\'m feeling the same urge to help others that you\'re feeling and think that you are a real inspiration to me!