Volunteering: 2018 in Review

In the past, I have discussed my experiences with taking a Volunteer Day. I have been fortunate to work for a company that genuinely cares for the community and is best-in-class with their sustainability efforts! This is something that I am personally very passionate about, both inside and out of the office.

For about a year now, I have been volunteering on Saturday morning’s at my local library and I absolutely love it! I understand that volunteering outside of work time is isn’t feasible for many – I work and am in graduate school so I definitely feel the pressures of time management. However, if you are able to dedicate a few days a year, I highly recommend it. With more and more companies encouraging employees to take off time each quarter to volunteer, it makes it easy for any schedule.

Here are some of my achievements this year, with reflections on volunteerism:

  • I raised money for education. When volunteering at the library, I was able to sort books for their Annual Used Book sale in which all proceeds go to charities that promote education. Last week, our sale raised $4,200 (I also snagged a lot of great books in the process too!)
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  • I helped a local nonprofit using skills I already use on the job. I recently volunteered the Nordic Bites 2018 Food Festival to promote Scandinavian culture in the Boston area. My uncle is the Director of a nonprofit which promotes Scandinavian culture and he has always taught me the importance of learning about other cultures, because it promotes the acceptance of others. While at the festival, I captured content that the nonprofit can use throughout the year to promote their cultural center.

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    Classic Nordic tunes music were featured at the Nordic Food Festival.
  • I was the Team Leader for my company’s Walk for Alzheimer’s this past weekend, in honor of my grandmother. My grandmother (“Nona”) was truly special and to watch her lose her memory was heartbreaking. By having my company rally with me to raise money and to promote the cure for Alzheimer’s, it was personally touching. And think about how many lives the cure will save! My company has a general matching program which allowed me to raise close to $1,000!
  • I made connections with people who have similar interests. You truly never know who you will meet when you are volunteering but no matter what the person’s background, you are brought together for the same cause. That is so powerful!

Being able to collaborate and connect with others translates directly back into your work environments, since working together leads to success.

This year was filled with great volunteer opportunities, so my hope is that more people will feel empowered to create change in their communities.

That said, which social causes are you interested in?

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My Best Advice for Being Happy

Someone once told me, “let go of what does not serve you.” In other words, let go of negativity. If you’re like me, you will try to find the flaw in logic in just about anything (a year of law school did this to me). It’s true that we cannot drop everything (or people) from our lives because they do not agree with us. I think running from every negative situation that comes our way actually does the opposite of help us! However, we can choose to not be affected by negative situations or people, and that has been some of best advice I have received to date.

In order to stop negativity in its track, I had to self-correct my own thinking, in addition to “letting things go,” there were some changes I made to my everyday life that made big differences.

My largest moments of growth – and subsequent peace of mind- came when:

1) I learned to embrace criticism. Recently, I heard that a family member of mine did not like me – not for any real reason other than the fact that they don’t. Despite them not knowing that I know, I forgive them and still love them. In addition, I know that not everyone is going to like me or agree with me. Criticism can help us BE better. If it is truly unwarranted and people feel *gasp* jealous, I feel like I am doing something right.

2) I learned to say “no.” I would consider myself a do-er: I work full-time, get up early to exercise, study for class, go to salsa lessons, and the list goes on…However, there are times where I have reached my bandwidth. Knowing when to say no to drinks after work or an upcoming party is OK, but the key is to be upfront and honest. I personally like to keep my promises and dislike flakiness.

3) I helped others in negative situations. Look, I’m not here to tell you I am the next Dalai Lama or a therapist, but helping others when they are in need has always been an important part of my life. After training my own brain to be positive, looking out for the well-being of my friends and family has been paramount. Plus, I think we all know we need to practice what we preach. The next time you help a friend, let your own advice sink in.

I continue to learn ways to be happier, and to juggle work, school, and a million other things that come my way. Do you have a quote or saying that helps you?

Back to School and Life after (Leaving) Law School

I have not been as active on my blog lately in part because on top of a full-time work load, I have gone back to school part-time to receive my M.A. in English at Salem State University with a certificate in Digital Studies! Not only that, but my sister had a baby yesterday which means I am going to be an extra busy Auntie. 🙂

A few years ago, I left behind a job teaching ESL in Spain to come back and attend law school in Boston. I have never written about this on my blog before but it was a traumatic experience! However, I learned that sometimes our dreams change and that we sometimes make mistakes, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t turn the sails around and start anew. Also – it makes a big difference if you love what you do! I work all day and then come home to study but do you know who isn’t miserable? Me.

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Don’t we wish that sometimes the path through life could be this straight? In Salem, MA.

I had gone to law school with the idea that I would be a human rights lawyer, due to my past publishing experience writing about human trafficking and my unwavering desire to “get the bad guy.” About halfway through my 1L year though, I realized that I wasn’t happy and I felt trapped behind books. When I decided to leave, volunteering at women’s shelters felt more fulfilling to me – a reminder that you don’t need to have a degree to help others (even though it can help).

Despite law school being a bust, it was a learning experience. I think the most important thing is to follow your gut!

Think about all of the mistakes you may have made. What helped you learn the most?