Volunteering Beats The Holiday Blues

Help Yourself by Helping Others - Words Pinned on Board

Volunteering Beats the Holiday Blues

During the holiday season so many people experience depression and isolation. I remember when I got divorced and the first time I did not have my kids for Thanksgiving, it was devastating. I cried and cried. I went to the movies and sat through a double feature. After 4 hours I could not tell you one thing about the movies.  I was just in this horrible dark place and nothing could get through. I went to a twelve step meeting and they talked about service. When you are depressed do something for someone else. So I took their advice and I went to Michaels and got some art supplies and I took them over to the local hospital.  I did feel better. I talked to some of the nurses at their station and they were so excited to have them. Since then I try and do it every holiday…now I bring cookies to the emergency room.

Over the past two decades there is a growing body of research that indicates volunteering provides individual health benefits in addition to social ones. This research,  “The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research,”  established a strong relationship between volunteering and health: those who volunteer had lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer.

            The Benefits of Volunteering:

  1. Model  civic responsibility for your children
  2. You get to give back to your community
  3. Learn to solve real problems
  4. Connect to others in meaningful ways
  5. Save valuable resources
  6. Build self-esteem and confidence
  7. Reduces stress and make yourself healthier and happier
  8. Get to learn something new
  9. Improve your leadership skills

Finally, you get to transform your own life and make a difference in the world.

volunteering

There is still time to find ways and opportunities to serve over the next month. Look into your heart and see where it will lead. Just ask how may I serve? When you help someone else you help yourself.

Here are a few suggestions to get started.

  1. Call the VA hospital in your area and see what they need or if there any activities you could help with.
  2. Call a homeless shelter and ask what they need.
  3. Bring your dog to a senior center.
  4. Call the Salvation Army to see if they will be delivering meals or serving meals during the holidays and if you could volunteer to help with either activity.
  5. Collect hats, gloves and blankets to distribute to the homeless
  6. Send letters and cards to the armed forces.
  7. Speak with the volunteering coordinator at your local hospital. Ask her if it would be okay for you to make get well cards for all the children in the pediatric unit that will be there during the holiday.
  8. Mentor a child
  9. Make baked goods and, on the holiday, drop by places that might have someone working — animal shelter staff, police, firefighters — and distribute them with your best wishes

 

Take action: Volunteer today. Please share how volunteering made a difference in your life.

 

 

 

 

Creative Activists Change The Future

be the inspiration

Creative Activists Change The Future

We need leaders who can change the future. In these tumultuous times we need new  conversations that shift paradigms. We need new strategies and original ideas that  create  awareness and education about the need for social change and social justice.We are stepping into a new age of creative activism where we lead from a deep well of shared feelings, values and a global perspective. We are all connected.  It is no longer ok to ignore poverty, homelessness,mental illness, domestic violence or child sexual abuse and say it is  their problem. It is our problem. There is a cause and effect for everyone of these issues.

Imagine the cashier at the grocery store is scared her partner is going to kill her. Her mind is not on her work and she takes twice as long to do her job which affects your ability to get to work on time. Now your stressed. Her kids who have witnessed the abuse are in school and interacting with your kids. They may be biting or aggressive. They need counseling which they can’t afford so it costs you the tax payer more money to meet their needs. It is OUR problem.

What does the creative  activist look like?

  1. Center their lives around their passion and purpose
  2. They turn their challenges into opportunities
  3. They are committed to something beyond themselves
  4. They are courageous. They feel the fear and do it anyway.
  5. They are a role model, a mentor and a volunteer
  6. They practice compassionate listening
  7. Resilient and tenacious
  8. Live in integrity where their thoughts and actions are in alignment with their values
  9. They help, motivate and inspire others to reach their dreams
  10. Use their gifts and talents to make a difference, pay it forward, be of service
  11. They tap into their intuition
  12. They are appreciative and grateful
  13. Recognize the need for diversity
  14. They are authentic and honest
  15. They encourage originality, inventiveness and out of the box thinking to nurture self esteem and social change
  16. They build capacity and skills in other people
  17. They ask for help
  18. They clearly articulate their heartfelt vision
  19. They are curious, lifelong learners and ask what if questions                                                       earth-hug
  20.  See failure as a  teachable moment, just feedback
  21. They nurture their body, mind and spirit ( renewal and restoration)
  22. They are compassionate and empathetic
  23. They are optimistic: see things in color, variations and possibilities
  24. They encourage collaborations
  25. They live their legacy now

This is a call to action. Creative activists change the future. What is your big bold dream for change? Mine is to see football players wearing blue and purple for child abuse and domestic violence awareness. Twenty years ago who would have believed they would be sporting pink for breast cancer?  I would love to hear from you.

What is the Creative Activist?

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What is the creative activist?

The creative activist opens doors, raises public awareness as  a call to action for social change. They use creativity as a tool to teach, bridge gaps, to foster understanding and social justice.They think like a global citizen. They appreciate different cultures and stories.They are curious and delight in  being a life long learner. They believe it is our problem not your problem.They look for the common humanity rather than what separates us.   They support the development of capacities, skills and talents  that activate both individuals and groups. They encourage inventiveness, originality and creativity to raise self esteem and solve community problems.

Lisa Albrecht, an activist educator and writer, is Associate Professor in the School of Social Work of the University of Minnesota, where she founded an undergraduate program in Social Justice. Previously, she taught writing in the General College of the University of Minnesota for 19 years. She is the recipient of the University of Minnesota’s Outstanding Community Service Award and Josie Johnson Human Rights and Social Justice Award.  Lisa sees the need to pursue peace and justice with “beloved community,” a term used by Martin Luther King, Jr. that encompasses not only one’s blood family, but also a circle of loved ones who care for one another and hold one another accountable. She believes that change builds from the bottom up, and she is encouraged by the way today’s social activists are engaging the community through social media and other tools that were not available to us a generation ago.

When we talked she told me about creative activist, John Noltner, a freelance photographer based in Minnesota who uses his art to explore the basic goodness that reside in each of us. He helps communities understand the ways we judge, categorize and separate through religion, political differences and cultures.Founded in 2009, A Peace of Mind, a multi- media project includes 50 compelling stories of what peace means, how  people work toward it in their lives, and some of the obstacles they have encountered along the way. We have an opportunity to share our common humanity through these engaging stories from  the homeless man, the holocaust survivor, the Somalia refugee, artists, volunteers , business leaders and Lisa herself.http://vimeo.com/66858595 . AlbrechtL-2010

A Peace of My Mind expanded into the public forum with the production of a traveling exhibit,.peace of mind exhibit Since its 2010 premier, more than 80,000 people have viewed the exhibit at private galleries, community centers, places of worship, libraries, and universities. In 2011, A Peace of My Mind won support from 92 backers to produce a book from the series with a foreword written by Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter, Ela Gandhi. The book, now in its second printing, earned first place in the Midwest Independent Publishers Association Book Awards and a silver IPPY from the Independent Publishers Association  A Peace of My Mind was presented at the 2011 Peace and Justice Studies Association National Conference and the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize Forum. www.noltner.com

I would love for you to share creative activists you  think we should know about.