GUIDANCE: Advice or information aimed at resolving a problem, especially as given by someone in authority

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At one point in my life I believed I knew it all. I could figure out my own answers and I didn’t need anyone to tell me what to do…what decisions to make or how to forge ahead in life. I needed me and only me. It took me about 10 years to realize that my life wasn’t full because I was taking advice from the worst person ever….ME. I’m not sure why I had thought that I was my best go-to. I suppose that evil word…Ego…is the answer to that. Maturity has finally settled in as I’ve become aged and wisened (which I’m sure isn’t a word). These days I seek GUIDANCE from a new place….but let’s define that word before I tell you who I’ve turned to.

GUIDANCE: Advice or info aimed at resolving a problem…especially given by someone in authority.

Turns out a book I had lugged around with me for years and years had the answers I needed to pursue life. The Bible!! Yea….shocking…I know. I mean…I grew up hearing about that dude who built a huge ship for animals to escape from the flood ( I hate rain!). I’ve known about Eve and her lack of will power around fruit. Revelations was to be feared and I Paul to be revered.  What more could be in that massive publication? I soon found out…EVERYTHING.

Direction has come back to into my life…peace…serenity (Like a Fergie song). I’m not judgmental as a result…I don’t hate anyone…I don’t tell people what they should and shouldn’t do…and I don’t go around quoting verses as conversation.  See…this guide has also preached the virtue of love and that was the biggest piece missing in my life. I’ll continue to open the Bible and seek answers…but I thought I’d share that today…in case you’re looking for any guidance.

INNOCENCE: Lack of guile or corruption; purity

I’m so excited…eager and nervous also…about today’s volunteer venture.  A while ago I was invited to help fundraise for a non profit called Jump Start Ministries and Love is in the Bag.  Jump Start is run by a husband and wife team who run a church for poverty level families and Joanne…the wife…dotes and loves on the children in that community. This is a woman who recognizes their INNOCENCE and the opportunity to invest in their lives…in order to prevent them from becoming statistics and to show them how to break out of the poverty cycle.

Love is in the Bag is run by a bad a** mom of two. Bags are placed in businesses and people can shop for items that are needed (lists are put inside the bags) and return these Love Bags to whichever business is helping out that month. Shoes..toiletries..shirts…toys…blankets and snacks are most commonly asked for by kids.  For this particular fundraiser the idea was to help raise money to purchase shoes for the kids that attend Joanne’s church. It’s a sad fact that a lot of these kids have one pair of shoes and they are used for school and church and then passed on to younger siblings. One youth was known to walk on the heel of the shoe because he had outgrown his sneakers and his toes were curling under. (I look at my multiple pairs of Vans and there’s a moment of shame…do I deserve to have 4 pairs of Vans…should I feel guilty?)

I didn’t give away my Vans…but I did decide to bust my butt to raise funds by selling Live a Great Story t-shirts. (HUGE thanks to Zach..the founder..for allowing me to do this). $400 + was raised for the kids and I was lucky enough to watch them receive their bundles and shirts. I admit…there were a few kids that I wanted to get plane tickets for and bring home…they were THAT cute.

Today I’m invited to follow up with these kids and see their homes and look at their faces as they tell us about their week. Today…I get to deliver Hot Cheetos and a prayer…if it’s requested.

I’m going to drag my jeans out of my suitcase and try and figure out which shirt will mask orange Cheetos dust. Maybe I should bring my big bag in case one of the kids is down to fly home with me and be my cute new friend.

(If you’d like to show love for Live A Great Story and purchase some gear…go here…https://liveagreatstory.com/ – you can use coupon code “Popandlock” for 10% off. )

CAFFEINE: Stimulant of the central nervous system

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Awwww….CAFFEINE..nectar of the gods and all that. Sunday looms ahead and…while it’s normally a rest day…today will be a volunteer and mentor day. The black liquid was brewing when I woke up and I’m on cup 2 of my precious oil.

There was a time that I appreciated the morning’s more…coffee in hand and caffeine coursing through veins. I’m back to that this morning. Eyes stare out ahead at some random show (starring Ryan Gosling….nice to zone out to) as my body wakes up from bottom to top. Good morning toes…the caffeine has hit you and now I can feel you’re readiness to walk to the closet and the sink and back to the coffee pot. There you are calves and thighs! I can actually feel a tingling as caffeine and blood mingle together and come to an agreement that we can begin our day. Belly’s awake! Might need to feed it. Fingers and shoulders are emerging from their nap and the one drawback is that old ache in the right shoulder is also awakening. Last but not least….here comes the brain. Goooooooood morning gray matter. You ready to rock and roll? You ready to mentor? You ready to work with your youth and hopefully say something that will impart wisdom and change her path this week? You ready to dance and sweat and recall choreography? You ready to study?

Oh dear…..I’ve lost the brain……….Cup 3 and another dose of caffeine on it’s way.

(For perkier mornings…I highly recommend the deliciousness of Cafe Bustelo. If the caffeine doesn’t wake you up…the brightly colored can will. )

TEEM: To be full of or swarming with TEAM: Come together to achieve a common goal

In my efforts to STREAMLINE I went completely nuts. I don’t mean straight jacket…lock me away…although..there have been times that sounded like an option. I mean that I paid the price for saying Yes to too many things and setting far too many goals. Goals are great but when you’re empty and agreeing to give of yourself every single day then goals become impossible to achieve. I am empty and I am tired and I am a fool. If you know me then you are nodding and saying…”Yes, Ang….you’re a fool,” and this is the one time I’ll allow it without giving you a wedgie…that atomic kind.

No words have come to mind to ponder lately and an inadequate amount of time has been given to “filling my cup” (and I hate that I just used that saying…but if the shoe fits) . I want to TEEM with energy so I can continue to say “Yesses” and “You betcha’s” to opportunities to help others. What I need to do is trust my TEAM. (See what I did there…lil’ fun with words.)

I was asking J last night what I should do to fill the emptiness I sometimes feel after volunteering so many consecutive days and it’s evident that I need at least one day a month that is allll mine. I need to lay around languidly and drink coffee and watch Real Housewives and let my brain become mash-potato-like gray mush. Phone down…eyes on crap tv and pj’s on…THAT kind of day. What I realized during my screechy…whiny vent session was that I need someone to ask me about how I’M doing and that it’s ok to want and need that. What I need is to let my TEAM of friends be there for me.

This week will be full of mentoring…tutoring…outreach and checking in on kids and women who are in low places. I’ll be busy with listening to stories about broken homes…wish lists…roadblocks in life and also successes.  Don’t let me feel sorry for myself too long…I love every minute of these opportunities and I’m grateful for the chance to be invited in to these people’s lives. What I need is to remember to recuperate and recover. The STREAMLINING has been done and I know what I’ll forge ahead with…the cup just needs to be TEEMED by my TEAM. Happy Weekend All!!!

(OH…if you’re looking for the perfect book to pair with a Real Housewives respite day… Marian Keyes is my favorite chick lit author and you can find her entertaining commentaries and books on https://www.mariankeyes.com/books/. Don’t forget your Willamette Valley Riesling which is amazing and affordable… https://www.wvv.com/.  If you’re going to veg out…do it right!)

STREAMLINING – Make more efficient and effective

I’m looking back at the previous words I’ve applied to my past days and my head is spinning. While I’ve so enjoyed these past few months to pursue this glamorous life of professional volunteering…I’ve also pursued EVERY. SINGLE.OPPORTUNITY. This is no bueno…that’s Spanish for nuh-uh…no way…stop doing this to yourself. Simplify and STREAMLINE. Instead of being all over…I really need to define my purpose and work on accomplishing my main goals. What ARE my main goals though?

A true passion of mine is working with our youth and attempting to stop this vicious cycle of creating broken and unloved humans. I’ve been guilty of complaining about the homeless population…disrespectful teens and adults…the de-evolution and stilted growth of our communities and the brokenness of our family homes. I was once guilty of complaining about these things and not proactively being a part of the solution. Now I’m guilty of trying to solve all of these and watching my head spin. STREAMLINING will most definitely help me figure out what my small role can be in helping with the degeneration I see around me.

Planting mentoring programs in much needed schools and communities is so needed…and I feel I can do it. Working with foster youth…in order to coach and guide them to a place where they are no longer at risk for repeating the cycle of creating broken homes…well…I place that high up on my list of priorities also. I love tutoring women in missions and passing out food to the worst and most desolate people on the streets. Where do I give 100% though? How on Earth does someone figure out what’s the most important? Can’t we just figure out this whole cloning thing so I can delegate to myself where to go and what organizations to work with? I’d listen to me….

Reading and studying has helped me to begin to figure out what I feel my gifts are and where I can be used according to those. I stumbled upon this link https://markmanson.net/life-purpose and it was a great read for me as I began my journey. I’ve also been pretty devoted to Francis Chan sermons (found here http://crazylove.org/sermons). Both have fed my Christian beliefs and need to continue to learn and figure out what my life’s purpose is. (I know…I know…who ISN’T pursuing this?)

Well…here’s to STREAMLINING and figuring out purpose. In the meantime…should anyone figure out my life’s purpose…shoot me a message so I can get on with life and stop mulling and wasting precious time on thinking and thoughts and all that. It’s really such a waste of time. (she said with sarcasm).

VOLUNTEER – freely offer to do something

Often I get asked…”So what DO you do?” I hem and I haw and I blankly stare. Since leaving a job I love at Courthouse Fitness I’ve been pursuing my health full time. Technically I’m still employed by the company as a fitness instructor and that has helped to have an answer in the holster for inquiring minds. But what DO I do?

I’ve taken to filling my time with helping people and I’ve become obsessed with plugging people into volunteer opportunities. There is such a beauty in seeing a person light up when they find their place alongside a fellow human. During my time off from “work” I’ve become obsessed with volunteer work and connecting people to volunteer work. (Specifically with rescue mission work…foster youth transition and helping homeless youth and adults transition back into general population.)The thought of saying I’m a professional volunteer has crossed my mind. Is that a thing?

Looking up VOLUNTEER…with good old Siri YET AGAIN….shows me that the definition is to freely offer to do something. No compensation.  Not a lot of glory. Free of accolades. The reward you get is knowing you gave of yourself and hopefully you changed the pattern or journey in someone’s world. Come to think of it….that’s a pretty great payment…at least…I think so. I could get behind a full time…non paid…no benefits job like that.

So let’s practice this…”Hey Ang…what DO you do?” My response…”I’m a professional VOLUNTEER!…(oh and I work part time for https://courthousefit.com/)’

Side note: I currently volunteer with a women’s mission in Salem, Oregon and one in Las Vegas. Both are in huge need for help. Here are the links if you are in either area and have an hour or two to spare. https://ugmsalem.org/  https://vegasrescue.org/

ROLE MODEL – A person looked to by others as an example to be imitated

Wow…that is heavy stuff…those two words together….

Here I am…trying to figure my own self out and looking for my own mentor and I’ve been entrusted to train and recruit people to be examples to our future generations.  How do I select wisely and what do I tell them? I’m my own mix of hot mess and evolution right now…but I can’t tell a hurting 8 year old to hold tight with his grief and anger while I figure out how to live my own life.

I looked up the definition of ROLE MODEL before I began to type up the training I’ll administer to new volunteers and I thought about people who I would want as my own ROLE MODEL. Two wonderful people came to mind and I was fortunate enough that they agreed to join this program.

Cassie is an exuberant 20-something. She is mature and wise beyond her years and a co-worker I used to sit and talk through my own thoughts and life struggles with. I often find myself wishing I had the knowledge about life and her self-awareness when I was a young 20-something. I’d be so far ahead of the game by now. She will be such a gift to the two girls she works with and they will have a great mentor to guide them through some rough spots and elementary school. If I were one of her little ones, I’d be enamored by her perfect smile and her presence. She is so beautiful…I don’t mean that just superficially…her genuine compassion and kindness truly radiates and leaves you in awe of her as she enters a room.

Alex is the definition of spunky. Spunky isn’t even a long enough word to really harness the energy Alex will bring to his kids. He jokes about winning “favorite mentor” but he’s probably right. I don’t doubt that they will want to model his laughter and joy about life that he brings. My hope is that we can give them that true joy and light in their dark homes. If anyone can ignite that flame and light…it’ll be this guy.  (I will have to get the link to his dance moves and post that some day).

We’ll have more ROLE MODEL’s joining and I can’t wait to learn from them and tell YOU about them.

(QUICK NOTE: For my training and guidelines, I used https://www.wikihow.com/Mentor-a-Troubled-Child, to supplement my training presentation for the new volunteers and mentors coming on board. )

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