Self-Reflection

A Letter to Me One Year After Starting This Blog

Dear DiaryOfSelf,

Exactly a year ago today, you started this blog. You started seriously wanting to figure out who you are. You’re still figuring it out and although you might never figure out who you are, you might be able to find your purpose in life. However, you have experienced personal growth.

You started trying new things even before the Try Something New in 2018 goal. You started taking some control of your anxiety, although you still have anxiety issues. You left a relationship that triggered some anxiety due to constantly being called sheltered, where the guy thought he was always right, and conformed to everything that was trendy. You met someone who is supportive. You got new diagnoses that surprisingly didn’t kill you. You sometimes struggle with your gender identity, but you’re becoming a little more okay with your biological sex and everything that comes with it. You are becoming a stronger, more vocal feminist. You recently started lifting real weights (not using the weight machines like you did in university) at your kickboxing gym after deciding to be silly and trying to use the ez-curl bar when it was just you and your boyfriend. It didn’t feel as silly or as heavy and now you have started lifting near the end of class almost every class. For the first time in your life, you feel empowered.

Here’s to another year of DiaryOfSelf, where within a year you will start grad school, lift weights to make yourself better in different aspects of life, get a blue belt in kickboxing, keep trying new things, and hopefully get engaged.

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Self-Reflection

One Month After Witnessing Death: How Am I Doing?

To anyone who wonders what the blog title is about: Read this blog post. If the blog post is too long for you to read (because it’s super long), just read the entry from Friday February 23rd. Basically what happened is that my boyfriend’s dad passed away on February 23rd and I was one of the people there who saw him take his last breath. Franklin’s family had been asking me if I was okay while I was in Florida, and since other people ask if I’ve been okay, I thought I’d answer that with this blog post.

I feel better now. I wanted to go to a couple of grief support meetings since the day of Franklin’s dad passing was harder on me than I expected, but the nearby support group is a 13-week group (thought: no problem, I could probably drop in and talk about the feelings I didn’t want to share with Franklin) and you have to pay for a workbook (thought: Nevermind…). I’m doing my best to support Franklin, but I feel like I haven’t been much help since we returned to Florida. With all that happened and all that I learned from Franklin’s uncle, I have decided if I quit the tech industry, I’m going to be a patient advocate. I’m still working towards letting things roll off my shoulder, but having an anxiety disorder and emotional regulation issues that are a part of ADHD makes things harder.

A couple of weeks ago, we got his dad’s jewelry cleaned and his dad’s ring fixed. We were lucky to get it done for free, but I think it was because of the circumstances. Typically, jewelry cleaning where we went to costs at least $20 and jewelry repair price varies. Thank goodness the ring mandrel made the ring round again. That was the easiest part of everything relating to his dad. The banks are still a problem.

Franklin’s doing the best he can with all the work he has to do as the executor of the will. He’s keeping himself busy with work, grad school, and executor duties. Right now, he’s back in his hometown for a celebration of his dad’s life (no, not a funeral. That happened last week) since Monday would have been his dad’s birthday. Save me a slice of that pizza, honey. This will probably be an emotional time for him since he’ll not be busy and his brain will once again process that his dad’s gone. I’ve been leaving my phone on and available so he can call since he told me that he’s scared that he’s going to have a breakdown at the celebration. I have never been in his shoes before, so all I can do is be there for him even if I’m not physically with him at this celebration.

Long story short, I’m learning from this experience and I hope Franklin doesn’t get overwhelmed with everything he has to do.

Self-Reflection

Recap and Reflection on a Sudden Trip to Florida

Warning: This blog post will be very long and there’s talk about death and dying. Please take care of yourself and don’t read this blog post if death and dying make you uncomfortable or trigger you.

First of all, read this blog post (and the update if you read the post before my update). It will give you a better background on the cause of my sudden trip.

Franklin got a call saying that his dad was about to go into hospice. Franklin decided he had to fly down to Florida to see his dad. He told me he had to fly down and there was discussion about me going as well. So he talked to my mom and when I come home from work, mom talked to me and I’m starting the packing process. That night, Franklin booked a flight. We flew to Florida Thursday morning and returned Monday afternoon.

Thursday, February 22nd

I wake up at 6:25 AM because Franklin is picking me up at 7 AM. I text my friend Marc to wish him a happy birthday and I get ready for getting picked up. After saying goodbye to my dad (my mom spent the night at my grandmother’s house so I said goodbye to her Tuesday night), I’m on the way to the airport. When we get to the long term parking area, I hand Franklin his birthday gift since he said he will open the gift the day we leave for Florida. I got him a sleeveless exercise shirt since he’s built muscle since we first started dating and I thought he’d like to show off his arms. We get our tickets and go through the TSA checkpoint. Uneventful. We check what gate we have to go to and our flight is delayed. At some point, my boyfriend checked something on Google and it said our flight status was unknown. Uh-oh, not good. I see some rocking chairs located by a window with a good view of planes taxiing to and from the gate. I go over to the chairs and focus on the rocking of the chair. It helped to calm my anxiety and I returned to the gate to once again sit with my boyfriend.

We fly to Orlando where Franklin’s uncle picked us up. I have a headache that doesn’t go away until later that night (later learned that you can get dehydrated on planes). The ride takes about an hour and a half from the airport to Franklin’s dad’s hospice house. We are warned that he looks rough, but the warning doesn’t prepare me from seeing how he looked. I have seen pictures of Franklin’s dad, but this man who looks to be asleep does not look like him. He seems to notice me in front of his bed and he “wakes up” and responds a little. He only responded to my presence and Franklin telling his dad that his birthday is the next day. We don’t stay at hospice long. We go to Franklin’s uncle’s house and since the only thing Franklin and I ate that day was our snack on the plane, Franklin’s aunt makes us a snack. We are given a glass of water, a container of yogurt and a plate filled with apple slices, a little bit of peanut butter, four crackers, and four pieces of cheese.

We are taken back to Franklin’s dad’s house, where we are staying during our trip. Franklin and I decide to unpack our things and rest before we go out to dinner since my headache is still there. I lie down on the couch while Franklin does something I don’t remember. We get into Franklin’s dad’s Subaru Outback and drive to Pasta Faire and have dinner with Franklin’s uncles and aunts. Near the end of dinner, I see our waiter gather the other waitstaff in a line. He walks into our section of the dining room and makes a birthday announcement. Turns out Franklin’s aunts and uncles surprised my boyfriend with a slice of birthday cake. The waitstaff sang “Happy Birthday” in Italian and they sang so loudly that my fading headache returned. The headache eventually went away.

Friday, February 23rd

It’s Franklin’s birthday. We celebrated the day before since we felt like we wouldn’t be able to celebrate today. We’re not here for a vacation. Today’s breakfast is the leftovers from last night’s dinner. After we eat our leftover and drink water to prevent me from getting dehydrated, Franklin goes to his dad’s room to start finding paperwork that he, his uncle, and aunt will go over just in case his dad passes. We set a time to go visit Franklin’s dad and we run late because Franklin is still finding all the papers. We are about to head to the hospice house when the hospice nurse calls. Franklin’s dad hasn’t been responsive today. When she said that, Franklin and I put our shoes on, grab our things, and drive to the hospice house.

We see Franklin’s dad look like he’s gasping for breath. The nurse meets with us and Franklin’s uncle and aunt join us at hospice. Franklin is hoping that his dad wasn’t expecting us to come back the prior evening and he told me to not blame myself (probably because of my headache that lasted a long time) I’m struggling to keep it together because I’m afraid that Franklin’s dad is going to die on Franklin’s birthday. I remind Franklin to tell his dad he loves him and I go outside to call my mom. I beg her to pray that Franklin’s dad doesn’t die today (and this is a big thing if you know my religion… none). I’m crying on the phone.

Many many years ago, my cousin’s favorite grandmother passed away on his birthday and I’ve seen the mental health effects from that happening to him. I was worried that Franklin would become self-destructive as well. People said that he won’t do that because he’s been deployed overseas before, but a death of a parent is going to affect you regardless of whether you were in the military or not.

Franklin comes outside to check on me while I’m still on the phone. Mom talks to him on my phone and we stay outside for awhile. We eventually go back in and Franklin makes his brother call him so their dad can hear his younger son’s voice. I meet Franklin’s dad’s ex-girlfriend and she tells Franklin’s dad everyone who is here. She called me Miranda, but Franklin corrected her. I found out Franklin’s dad was so excited about wanting to meet me. A few minutes after Franklin’s brother tells his dad that he loves him, the time between each breath gets longer and the nurse comes in wanting to give him more pain medication. We have her wait some more time. Then a few minutes after she leaves, Franklin’s father took his last breath. A couple of people can still feel a pulse, though. The nurse comes back and turns off the oxygen (I think Franklin’s uncle told the nurse that he stopped breathing). She feels his pulse. She listens to his heartbeat. She puts her finger under his nose to feel if he’s breathing.

“He passed.” She says. (Or she said “He’s gone.” I don’t remember what she said)

We all start crying. I cling to Franklin and say that it wasn’t supposed to happen on his birthday. Franklin’s crying and he said this will make us (our relationship) stronger.  I’m worried about Franklin. People start going outside to make phone calls. I give Franklin a few minutes alone with his dad while I attempt to call my mom again. The family once again makes sure I’m okay. We all leave the hospice house an hour after his dad’s passing and I ask Franklin if he wants to find a hotel for the rest of the time we’re in Florida. He said he should be fine, but we can if I don’t feel comfortable there. We go back to Franklin’s dad’s house and it felt creepy to pull into the driveway of someone who will no longer live there.

We took some time to rest and per the urging of Franklin’s uncle for Franklin to take me out somewhere to get our minds off of what happened, Franklin figured out what to have for our late lunch. We used up the rest of my Panera Bread gift card and went to a beautiful outdoor shopping area called Spanish Springs. We saw a golf cart being pulled over, which was kind of funny. When the sun set, we went home and I called my mom asking for advice on how to be a good emotional support person. I never had to fill that role until this Florida trip.

Saturday, February 24th

We go to McDonald’s for breakfast because whenever I had to go to North Carolina for a funeral when I was little, my family would always get McDonald’s for breakfast. I order a sausage biscuit and two hash browns while Franklin orders a sausage burrito and a steak, egg, and cheese biscuit. His uncle meets us at McDonald’s and gives Franklin a folder containing the will and a few other papers. We went back home for a little bit before Franklin’s cousin came to visit with his wife, two sons, and fluffy white dog. We all went out to lunch together and then Franklin needed to sign some papers at the retirement community where his dad lived. The three of us then went to the funeral home.

After picking out an urn, we went back to Franklin’s uncle’s house. The uncle, the aunt, the cousin, his wife, and the cousin’s kids went with me and Franklin to Franklin’s dad’s house since Franklin’s cousin hasn’t seen the house yet. The boys kept wanting to touch things and the youngest son kept picking up the three-pound weight on the dresser (it must have been for physical therapy. My dad has three-pound weights from when he did physical therapy after shoulder surgery). Because the boy kept calling the weight “the six-pack thing”, I would never think of the word “weight” whenever I saw the green weight. When we visited the community center, I became sad because the next night would be my last night in Florida and the town is so beautiful.

When everyone left, I gave Franklin a chance to let his feelings out. He shed a couple of tears and said there was a lot of love in the room when his dad passed. I hug him and remind him that I’m here for him, which is what mom suggested I remind him. I let him have some time to himself so he can do homework while I watch the sunset on the screen-covered porch. I take my iPod with me so I can watch a couple of episodes of Daria that are on my iPod to keep myself occupied. I read some fan fiction and enjoy the nice weather outside at night. Franklin makes some pasta salad from a box his dad has in the house and brings it out on the porch so we can eat dinner together. After dinner, Franklin gathers all the paperwork his dad had and organizes them so he and his uncle can finally go over the paperwork. There were also pictures that needed to be organized. Some pictures will be used in the mass in Florida, some pictures will be returned to family members, and Franklin will keep a few pictures for himself. As much as I want to help, I let Franklin touch all of his dad’s belongings. From an outsider’s perspective, I am a stranger in his dad’s home and some people don’t like it when other people touch a family member’s belongings. Franklin forewarns me that I will be ignored for a bit the next day since he will be busy. Franklin and I stay awake for two additional hours just talking.

Sunday, February 25th

We go to Franklin’s uncle and aunt’s house for breakfast. We eat a Belgian waffle with a choice of strawberry slices, blueberries, banana slices, syrup, and whipped cream for the toppings and sausage and/or bacon. After eating breakfast, we watch some home movies that were filmed before I was born. When Franklin’s dad appears on screen, everyone was talking loudly so I can’t hear his dad’s voice. It bothers me because I have never heard Franklin’s dad’s voice before and this was my only time. It is now time for Franklin and his uncle to get to work. Some family members go to this one market, but I decline going because I promised myself I’d stay with Franklin when he would do anything related to things that needed to be done after his dad’s death. Franklin’s aunt shows me a couple of books that her daughter wrote, so I decide to read “The Golem Factory” (side note: I highly recommend the book “The Golem Factory”. I read the whole thing and it was really good).

Franklin and his uncle eat lunch, but I don’t feel very hungry. Later, when the family members who went to the market return, all us women play mahjong. It is completely different than the version that is played online. It is difficult to understand at first, but I am able to get the hang of it. When Franklin and his uncle finish organizing the paperwork and figuring out which companies need to be notified of the passing, Franklin and I get into his uncle’s golf cart and Franklin drives me around part of the retirement community. I feel like we’re an old married couple and I hope we become an old married couple.

We return with the golf cart to Franklin’s uncle’s house and I finish the final pages of “The Golem Factory” while we figure out whether we want to join his family for dinner or go out to dinner on our own. I want to go to Red Robin so Franklin can redeem his free birthday meal, but I tell Franklin that it’s up to him (throughout our time in Florida, he had to be the one to make decisions regarding his dad and his dad’s things, but I wasn’t sure if I should dictate the choice between our last meal with his family). His uncle suggests that we go out on our own. I think his uncle wants me to do something that isn’t related to family matters. We say goodbye to his aunt’s husband since he’s flying back home the next morning and we drive nearly half an hour to Red Robin.

We get to Red Robin and because of where we’re seated, someone has to get napkins from underneath the booth seats. We are given a voucher for a free appetizer from the $5 appetizers category, a free dessert, or a free Monster Milkshake. After dinner, we to Family Dollar to pick up sympathy cards so Franklin can deliver pictures. We drive back home in order to do a little packing and Franklin called his dad’s phone so I could hear his dad’s voice when the voicemail came on. I call my mom to see which of the toiletries I bought for the trip can be thrown away.

Monday, February 26th

We are flying home today and Franklin’s uncle is picking us up at 9 AM to take us back to the airport. Franklin wakes me up at 5 AM and despite my best efforts, I give up on going back to sleep. Turns out to be a good thing I couldn’t go back to sleep, because Franklin’s mind started processing that his dad is gone. I roll onto my back and hold him while he wonders if this is really goodbye (I don’t know if he means goodbye to Florida or goodbye to his dad) and he tells me that he feels like he cleaned his dad’s car too quickly and that the Green Bay Packers items gave the house personality.

After letting out emotions, Franklin gets post-it notes to leave instructions for what to do with the items being left behind while I prepare to take my shower. Once I’m clean and dressed, I pack up the rest of my things for my flight home. I remind Franklin to take his shower since his uncle was picking us up in an hour. Fast forward to when his uncle gets here and the women I played mahjong with (Franklin’s aunts and one woman I don’t know how she’s related) came into the house to clean up the house. I hug everyone goodbye and we set off to Orlando for our flight back home. Franklin reveals for the second time that day that writing on the post-it notes to delegate where his dad’s things will go was harder for him than the duties he does as an officer in the National Guard. Once again, my thumb takes the role of designate tear wiper.

Franklin has to check a suitcase with some of his dad’s clothes in it. Some clothes fit Franklin so he’s keeping those. Other clothes are being donated, so they stayed behind in a neatly-folded pile at his dad’s house. We grab something to eat and water to drink. I don’t want to get another headache, especially since I planned to go to kickboxing that evening. Our flight is on time and despite some turbulence on the flight, we make it back to Maryland safely. Oh, and I see a guy at the airport in Orlando who looked exactly like Franklin’s dad.

We go back to my house where I get changed into exercise clothes and pack my gym bag. The day before, my mom and niece baked Franklin a cake. Since Franklin’s birthday was three days prior and his dad passed on his birthday, we couldn’t sing “Happy Birthday”. Mom started singing “Franklin, you are amazing!” over an over again while dad and I just looked at each other. Franklin tells me that he hopes what I went through with him doesn’t cause me to need therapy, and I told him I might go to a couple of meetings for a grief support group depending on how I feel. After making sure he’d be okay with me going to kickboxing (since I wasn’t sure if Franklin being alone would make him really think about his dad’s passing), we leave my house. I go to kickboxing and Franklin goes back home to finish up his homework. This is now the first time we’ve been away from each other since Thursday morning before he took me to the airport.

What did I learn?

So what did I learn from this farewell trip? I learned how to be someone’s source of emotional support, I learned to set boundaries for myself (the boundary I set for myself was to not touch Franklin’s dad’s belongings when organizing things unless I’m told it’s okay), and I learned that I want to check baggage next time since it felt like such a struggle to put everything in a carry-on bag when I typically check luggage. I am hoping that watching Franklin’s father passing will help me learn to let things roll off my shoulder. I hope to learn how this experience is going to make Franklin and I stronger as a couple.

Awareness · Self-Reflection

A Reflection on a Martin Luther King Event

So I was originally going to do a blog ranting about how many people at my job want to work on Martin Luther King Day, but I decided to do a blog post on yesterday’s outing instead.

My co-workers put me in a bad mood on Thursday and Friday because I felt like they didn’t care about the significance of today. Yes, they’re white so they were never affected by racism, but they could at least not want to work that day. On Friday, I was looking at upcoming events in my boyfriend’s town. I found the perfect one to make me feel better. So I decided to channel my anger into an educational opportunity for my boyfriend. He likes history and there was going to be a light lunch. Franklin loves food, especially if it’s free.

The event was a four-part event gathering people of the Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) in a “Journey to Peace”. This multi-faith event was created as a way to unite for peace when the 2017 inauguration was about to happen. The first event was the blood drive for people who are interested. 24 people signed up, and 16 whole units of blood were able to be used to donate. 1 unit of blood can save up to 3 lives, so up to 48 lives will be saved by the donations. The second part of the event was a light lunch. Bread, lentil soup, butternut squash soup, salad, and desserts were offered. I tried a new food, which I will talk about at the end of the month. The third event was us watching clips from movies and having a facilitated discussion afterwards. The final event was a 30-minute church service with scriptures from the Bible, Torah, and Quran; songs; and a ritual where we put tea light candles in a vase to promise that we will fight for peace and equality. As we said during the event, “Salam, Shalom, and Peace.”

We watched clips of the following movies:

  • Accidental Courtesy. In this documentary, we hear about musician Daryl Davis who meets with various members of the Ku Klux Klan to befriend them and try to learn why there are some people who hate African Americans. A few people he befriended quit the Klan
  • Malcolm X. This movie is about the life and activism of Malcolm X. He preached about a separation from white society, but his pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj, a mandatory religious duty for Muslims) made him learn that there are Muslims of all races.
  • Marshall. This movie is about Thurgood Marshall when he was a lawyer for the NAACP. He was assigned to defend a black man in Connecticut, but was not allowed to defend a fellow black man. Sam Friedman, a Jewish insurance lawyer, is assigned to defend Joseph Spell instead. Friedman is resentful at first. Trigger warning for the movie: mentions of sexual assault.

When I first stepped into the social hall where lunch and video viewing was located, I was surprised, but deeply disturbed at the lack of black people. This event is to honor someone that helped us. Why aren’t there more of us? More black people showed up when the lunch was ending, but I expected it to be a mostly black event. I decided to change that way of thinking and thought it was good that white people are here to be educated about the struggles we went through and still go through. Education is key to changing the perceptions people have about minorities. The food was vegetarian-friendly (and vegan-friendly if vegans avoid the desserts). It was a light lunch, but the soup helped to satisfy me and I didn’t feel hungry until later than usual. Drinks included sweetened ice tea, water, and lemonade. I usually don’t drink anything when I eat.

One key takeaway from this event was that change must first come from within. I first learned this in my Peacemaking class during my final semester of university. If you want to change others, you must look within yourself to see what self-improvements need to be made first. Kind of like “Love yourself before you can love others”. Another key takeaway is the message of how we need to unite with people like us instead of fighting with each other. Franklin liked the event overall, which is good. This boyfriend seems to get it, while the previous guy refused to acknowledge his privilege. I think we all felt renewed by going to this event. Go to your town’s (or nearest town’s) Patch for local events.

Self-Reflection

A Look Back at My 2017 Accomplishments

So it’s time to say goodbye to 2017 and say hello to 2018. The first half of 2017 was very rough for me. It was a continuation of increasing anxiety issues that almost required me to be on medication. I also got diagnosed with ADHD, and from stuff I read, medications for anxiety won’t work if it’s a comorbid condition with ADHD. However, the second half became better and I’ve been able to accomplish things. So here’s a list of things I accomplished in 2017.

January – June

  • Joined kickboxing, after first wanting to do it at 14 years of age
  • Conquered my fear of driving in the dark
  • Started paying some bills on my own
  • Cut my hair short
  • Started a personal journey to improve and figure out myself (still in progress)
  • Solidified my decision to apply to grad school (will apply in January 2018)
  • Got my dad to finally accept my anxiety disorder
  • Started calling people out on things they say (Never goes too well since people hate having their beliefs challenged, but it’s time for progress in this world)
  • Tried some new foods (discovered I don’t like raw nigiri sushi since it’s unexpectedly cold and crunchy)

July – December

  • Gained some independence in regards to driving
  • Continued to try some new foods
  • Learned how to write PowerShell scripts
  • Went out to do new activities with people
  • Started a web development project at work (web development is what I want to do. I flourish doing front end, but am still shit at backend. I’ll likely never grasp Java or other programming languages)
  • Did an activity on my own

Wow, it seems like I accomplished a lot this year. I hope to accomplish more as I try to be bound less and less by my parents. 2017 was the year of “Do what you want and not what others want you to do”. With inspiration from Erynne Hundley’s blog post, 2018 will be the year of “try something new”. I want all my followers and readers to help keep me accountable with trying something new.

Self-Reflection

Reinventing Me: How is That Going?

Earlier this year, I ended a relationship. I vowed to reinvent myself by doing three things that would help out. Let’s see how I’m doing!

I will start working on figuring out who I am and to follow my passion for advocacy volunteering. Right now, I want to focus on speaking at events that promotes organ donation. I feel like that will be the safest advocacy work for me right now since the nearest major city where black rights activist events are held at has had more homicides this year than I ever remembered.

I still don’t know how I can figure out who I am, and at this point, I don’t want to accept that I don’t know who I am. I don’t want to accept that I may have no purpose in life. However, I no longer feel like knowing who I am is what needs to keep me alive. I’m 25. People a lot younger than I am know who they are.

Months later, I never heard back from the subgroup of Living Legacy Foundation that focuses on minorities becoming organ donors. Guess that’s not happening unless I talk to Living Legacy Foundation. However, I did a volunteering activity.

I’m going to try to go out and do more things on my own. I found a NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) meeting that will be happening not far from my house next month (can’t make this month’s meeting because of kickboxing) and going to a meeting will make me feel not alone with being mentally ill.

I’m not really doing more things on my own. There’s nothing to do around here. I started driving to my boyfriend’s house again after finding out that my new medicated eye drops to prevent glaucoma is working. I did some volunteer work by myself on Thanksgiving morning. Read more about that here. Long story short, I had a great experience, was able to reflect on the things I do have, and befriended a university student who will be studying abroad in Korea in a couple of months. Good luck, Angela!

So I went to a NAMI meeting on a Tuesday. Apparently the newspaper put the wrong date because it happens one Wednesday each month. I was very angry about that and I don’t want to seek support for my mental health issues. No, I don’t want to miss one kickboxing day each month. I just learned the jumping spinning roundhouse kick and I’m working on having less fear when sparring.

I will take a look at Zen Buddhism, in order to see if there are teachings that can help with my healing and for other reasons. If you’re reading this post and you practice Zen Buddhism, please direct me to some recommended books or websites.

I looked through some websites and liked that Zen Buddhism isn’t a religious practice. I have personal issues with religions. However, what turned me off of Zen Buddhism is that they claim to have a “right” way of thinking. I have no idea what the “right” way of thinking is, but I have an anxiety disorder and ADHD. I can’t think right no matter what. Plus, there is more than one way to think about things. I don’t like people who think they are always right. It’s one reason why I left my ex. I can’t work on healing myself if I have to conform to a path of life.

So pretty much my reinvention isn’t going too well. I feel like I need to gain some life skills to become independent first before I do anything else. How I’m going to do that, I don’t know. First, I have to convince my parents that my disabilities should not prevent them from teaching me life skills.

Self-Reflection

Self-Reflection: My Thoughts from Volunteering on Thanksgiving Morning

This blog post is a follow-up to my post Oooh, A Thanksgiving Volunteer Opportunity. Thought anyone who read that post would want to know how things went.

It’s Thanksgiving. A time to gather with family and friends to eat food and hopefully not have to work. I got to spend Thanksgiving with my parents, boyfriend, brother, sister-in-law, and niece. My grandparents are having car trouble so they weren’t able to make it :(. Franklin was looking forward to seeing my grandmother again. Double sad face. But before I got to eat food and play pirates with my niece and boyfriend, I did some volunteer work.

Let me talk about some things that were mentioned in the above linked blog post first.

I saw that volunteers were needed to help with a community Thanksgiving for people who cannot celebrate the holiday with family and friends. People can volunteer to help set up for the meal, transport people to and from the community center where the meal will be held, deliver meals to people who are unable to get to the community center, or serve meals. Personally, I’d just want to serve meals, but I can help with setting up as well.

When I got to the community center at 10 AM, I had to park in the grass since there were many more volunteers than parking spaces. Many of us had to park on the grass. I walked into the community center and signed in. I was asked what I wanted to do and I told the person at the sign-in desk that I wanted to serve meals. She told me where I needed to go and I walked into another part of the community center. In that section were the people behind the tables who were handling the food, people who were lined up holding the Styrofoam containers that the food will go into (these people were called “runners”), and the people who were in charge of packing up the meals for people who were delivering. I was one of the runners, and it involved 2.5 hours of walking in an oval-shaped. Got lots of walking done.

You can either sign up ahead of time or show up that day. By the time I got home from work, the Eventbrite sign up was sold out. I’m still going to show up that day, and if they don’t need me there since every thing is covered, I can just go home.

I did not have to worry about being turned away due to too many volunteers. I think if I showed up any later, then there would not have been enough servers, runners, or meal packer positions for me to do anything. Though I had my GPS with me to drive to the community center, I don’t feel comfortable driving to unfamiliar places unless I do a test run and don’t need to go on an interstate highway. I took a route that was 10 minutes longer just to avoid driving on the interstate to get to and from the community center.

So let me go into detail on my runner role for today’s volunteer opportunity. When I got assigned to the runner role, I got in line with another group of volunteers. Gloves were passed around since we’re going to be around food. We were told what we needed to do and were shown where the Styrofoam containers were located. There were two lines since we had 1,000 planned meals that were going to be delivered. I think the meals for people eating at the community center were served in another room. Those two lines had the same foods. Once I grabbed a container, I went through the line to get the following food items placed in the containers in order: stuffing, mashed potatoes (later changed to macaroni and cheese), turkey, corn, green beans, sweet potatoes, and gravy to go over the stuffing, mashed potatoes, and turkey. We would then go to a table to close the containers and leave the containers at the table before going around to repeat the process of grabbing a Styrofoam container and having the meals placed in the container. I did this until a little after 12:30 PM.

During that time walking around in circles, I befriended a younger person studying graphic design. She will be studying abroad at a university in Seoul, Korea next semester. Best of luck to her. Like me, it was her first time volunteering for this specific event. She found out about the volunteer opportunity through someone at her church while I learned about the event from an online news site called “The Patch”. The Patch has local news, but it has a Patch for many cities around the United States. She said she’ll definitely be back next year and I thought it was a good way to do something other than sitting around waiting for family. We exchanged phone numbers at the end.

So what are my thoughts about the volunteer activity? Even though I did not see the dining room or the line of people waiting to be served meals, I still feel like I made a difference. Some people don’t want to donate money due to many charities using a majority of the donated money to pay their workers instead of using a majority of the money for their cause. Here, we’re donating our time and have something tangible to give to those in need. Also, during one of the first few times I was having food placed in a container I was holding, I had the thought of “What if I was in line to get food so I wouldn’t have to worry about getting a meal?” A few people I talked to wanted to do this too, but I didn’t see them. I probably missed them since they showed up earlier.

Maybe a few people can join me next year.