Tag

joy

Browsing

Volunteering on vacation in St Maarten

I love volunteering. It is a simple and amazing way to give back to your community and to help others, especially those in need.

Volunteering is giving your time and effort towards good causes. It doesn’t have to take all of your day, it could be a few hours in the weekend, and that goes such a long way.

My favourite events that I volunteer to help with, are those held for children. I have always enjoyed working with children and this even led me to become a teacher. I especially love working with children with special needs.  While you’re helping others, you’re also learning something new,  utilizing your skill-set, talking to people and working as part of a team towards a common goal.

While vacationing in St. Maarten, in March this year, I noticed an organization called SXM DOET advertising a weekend of island wide events to give back to the community and a call for volunteers. Naturally I contacted them and just like that- I had an opportunity to volunteer with senior citizens. The weekend event was packed with fun activities.

On the first day, I accompanied the seniors on an island tour, which allowed me to also learn and experience the island in a way I hadn’t before!

I had a great time in wonderful company, as I listened to their stories about how the island was in their youthful days.

The next day, there was a Fun Day Barbecue at a local picnic spot. I brought my teenage sister with me to help and it was her first time volunteering. My volunteer team set up seating and food service areas, decorated, served food and started games for the seniors and their families to play. It was an amazing day!

After all the dancing and games, I somehow ended up giving foot massages to two of the old ladies and we relaxed together and chatted. I met some amazing people that weekend, and I will make sure to look them up the next time I am on the island.

They really do appreciate this because as people age, their joints can become more stiff and painful, and a simple massage would help ease that discomfort. The simple truth is that many older folks are really in need of some good company and the visits give them something to look forward to.

Volunteering can be great quality time away from work and a busy life, because the focus shifts from you and onto making someone’s life better and more fulfilling, which is even more necessary if they are less fortunate.

It has been my experience that volunteer work also allows you to enhance your own self-development in ways you may never have thought of.  You can gain confidence and self esteem by working with your team of volunteers to help others. It gives you a chance to meet new friends, be more outspoken and learn more about your community

Helping others always feels good. You don’t have to give money. Giving your time and energy is usually even more appreciated!

 

What’s the appeal of minimalism?

Minimalism — to live with fewer possessions, free from ties and free from consumer culture.

The concept of minimalism appears to be a trend for 2016-2017, especially for millennials who can’t afford to tie themselves down to a set lifestyle. But, while that definition may give off the impression that it’s part of hippie-culture, it’s actually a philosophy more people should be adopting.

As a human being, I generate a lot of crap. I keep movie stubs and theatre tickets, I have drawers overflowing with 10-years worth of birthday cards books and notebooks, and my closet is bursting with sweaters I hope to fit back into some day. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

I wouldn’t label myself (or anyone who falls under that description) as a hoarder, but I think it’s fair to say that I tend to get overly attached to inanimate objects. That is, until now.

One random day in December, it all started to bother me. The fact that I couldn’t sit down at my desk and use the entire space.  I felt closed in and cramped in my own room. Of course, the feeling could be associated with some serious PMS or life-changing obstacles I was facing throughout the terrible year of 2016, but either way I resolved to do something — to de-clutter my life and keep only what I use.

As Kelly Bishop’s Gilmore Girl character, Emily Gilmore, said in the revival: “If it brings you joy, you keep it. And if it doesn’t out it goes.”

The last year has been an emotional roller-coaster, and adopting certain minimalistic principles is a refreshing way to rid your space of negative elements. You’ll find that once you get yourself organized, you’ll feel a lot better. Your mind will be clearer, you’ll be less stressed and experience less anxiety. There is something incredibly satisfactory about knowing what is in every drawer, and being able to open it and see the contents clearly. You’ll also find you have more space in your home than you realized.

I’ve already gone through a number of my possessions and divided them into three — a garbage pile, a donation pile, and a re-sell pile. Anything that I haven’t used over/worn over the past year I’m getting rid of. If something has a strong memory, I may keep it, but I have to ask: “will this bring me joy”. Will I even acknowledge it’s existence, other than when I clean my house and suddenly find it again. Usually, the answer is no — however, if you are overly concerned with the loss of memories, keep a memory box in your closet. When the box gets full, it’s time to re-evaluate those keepsakes.

At the end of this process, you should be left with the essentials. Everything should be in its proper place and your home will look more like a real home as opposed to a place you go to sleep at night. From the money you make at garage sales or by selling larger items online, maybe you can do some travelling? That is the very essence of minimalism — being able to do what you want, when you want to, because you don’t have many unnecessary expenses. And of course, there is nothing like the feeling of dropping off bags of  clothing to good will!

This year, make 2017 about re-adjusting your lifestyle. Go through all your things and decide whether or not they bring you joy. Do you NEED all those shoes? What about that dress you wore once and never had occasion to again?

The answer is no. Get rid of it and make room for new experiences in your life! We can all use a bit more joy in our lives, don’t you think?