(Our host for this week's Fun Monday, Southern Doll ,invites us to share a few of our most meaningful life accomplishments. What have we done that was worth doing? What did we learn? Who did we influence? What was the impact?)
Here's the list of five accomplishments that I always think of when I'm in a reflective navel gazing mood. These experiences have helped me understand both myself and others a lot better, in addition to bringing me great happiness and satisfaction.
From 1971-74 I was a Peace Corps Volunteer on St. Kitts, a small island in the West Indies. I was a classroom teacher at St. Joseph Infant School teaching 7-9 year olds in the capital city of Basseterre. My dog Virgil and I lived in a little grey cinder block house on the outskirts of Basseterre by the Caribbean Sea. In the mornings I walked down to the sea to buy fish for us from the fishermen when they brought in their catch at dawn. My teacher colleagues and the women of the neighborhood befriended me, teaching me to shop the open air markets and cook the local foods, and deal with tradesmen. On the week-end I joined other Peace Corps Volunteers and the locals at dances in the country where we danced all night to the insistent reggae rhythms of the steel drums. I learned what it was like to live in a totally different culture and, in that instance, be the minority for a change.
Dog Rescue--for a Fun Monday earlier this year Tiggerlane asked about our Bucket List. I went back and looked at that post to see what I'd said about getting involved with dog rescue. Well, I'm happy to report that since then I've built up a bit of good dog karma by working with several different rescue organizations to transport dogs from area shelters to rescue groups so they can be re-homed. My Toyota Scion xB, aka "bread truck", holds two large crates and a co-pilot if necessary. Since the beginning of '08 I've helped rescue three almost wild Great Pyrenees pups; two border collies; a red heeler; and a geriatric, starving, diabetic toy poodle. Since most of you Fun Monday people are either dog or cat lovers I don't even need to go into how much satisfaction--and peace of mind--I get from this work.
Hospice--two years ago when I first retired after over 35 years in the workforce I was rather numb, just wanting to retreat and get away from all demands on my time and being. That was fine for about a year, and then I decided that I could do a bit better--so I trained to be a hospice family support volunteer. I chose hospice because I knew the service that this organization performs for families as they struggle with end of life issues. I know that I too may need their help in the future with my own family. So, I'm always on call to sit with a patient while the care giver gets out of the house to do some needed errands, take a break, or do something as simple as go to church. Mostly I listen--to the patient and the caregiver and answer sometimes hard questions about the implications of being in hospice care. I have witnessed small acts of love and grace among family members such as with my current family. The elderly husband is caring for his 85 lb. wife who is listed as "failing to thrive." He never fails to kiss her tenderly when he leaves the house and returns. We should all be that lucky to have such devotion.
Back to Basics Fitness Boot Camp--after a lifetime of avoiding all forms of physical exercise, my dear friend Sally and I signed up for a physical fitness program that--no overstatement for me--was life changing. I was in my mid-50s at the time. This class was taught by young woman who was a drill sergeant in the US Army. Sergeant Rouse had seen action in Kosovo and Saudi Arabia and was currently serving in the Army Reserves while working full time and rearing two small daughters.
We met Sergeant Rouse five days a week, rain or shine, from 6-7:00 a.m. at a local park. We came dressed in the regulation uniform. At 6 a.m. sharp she gave the "fall-in" command. We got ourselves in the extended rectangular formation for 30 minutes of hard exercise--push-ups, sit-ups, side straddle hops, mountain climbers, T-bones, squats, lunges to name a few. After about 30 minutes of physical training we ran--speed, cadence, sprint drills, or intervals. Oh yes, if anyone showed up late for class, we all did extra push-ups or running. I have never been healthier, stronger or more in control of all parts of my life than during the three years in Sergeant Rouse's class. In fact, Sally and I were in such good condition that we completed an 85 mile walk across England. Not bad for us, right?
Summit Musings Blog--in May I'll have my first year blog anniversary. Although it's very much a work in progress, I'm very proud of how far it's come, with the excellent tech support of my personal Geek Squad. I love the creative writing process, but have a long running aversion to technology--last hold out at work to get a Blackberry or cell phone for example--but the Geek Squad has helped with all that. Now I'm so interested in the virtual friendships I've made with people all over the U.S. and beyond--like all you Fun Monday participants and others. What a great challenge and diversion to keep building this blog.
Now head on over to Southern Doll and give other Fun Monday participants a "pat on the back" comment for a job well done. I'm headed there now.
- Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.