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Thursday, May 28, 2009

you know

I can think of a million ways this day could've been more productive...

Last night I ate half a pint of cinnabun icecream and couldn't fall asleep until around 4:00am. Now I have that weird tired feeling that you can get when you don't sleep and such. I came into work into a web of craziness and phone calls and people wanting to reschedule thier appointments and blah..and then I just settled into this simple unassuming stance of "I don't think I'm going to get anything done today."

However I did cross three things off my to-do list. Finally scheduled a doctors appointment and finally got my lease signed. And there I have suceeded....

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

and here we are again

I can't believe its almost been a year since I moved to Philadelphia. About this time last year I was packing up the last of my stuff, leaving Gainesville and heading back to Ft.Lauderdale. I seem to be in the same cycle. I'm moving to a new apartment and so this week has consisted of packing boxes and preparing for another transition. But it still doesn't feel like a year.

The past few weeks at work have been unusually busy. In fact, right now, I have a whole to-do list staring back at me. But I've lost most of my energy and enthusiasm and I only seem to glimpse it in spurts and sputters. I got most of it back today though. I was sitting in on a client meeting that one of our interns was leading and just speaking to this young girl I feel that rush of something. It was a flood of caring and I really wanted to stop everything and just sit with this girl and try to find the resources that could help her retain some stability in her life. She just found out she is pregnant and is in need of housing and a job. One of the shelters we were able to find for her is the same place that she lived in with her mother when she was young. It hit me that this could be another cycle. It could be different for her child, but it could be the same. I fight for the resources that won't make it the same.

But then I'm back to my e-mail and hiring/training interns, meetings and designing trainings and reports and thinking about large ambiguous goals. I feel incredibly disconnected from the things enjoy about my job and drained by the things I do most often. I had that manager feeling today. That manager feeling that makes you feel at once removed from the work you try to influence.I feel so removed and I realize I don't like this feeling at all. And so what do I do to retain the feeling of being present and here and with the work that is going on in our office.

I hope that this blog has and will continue to provide in an depth look into the work that I'm doing. And at the very least introduce you to my many adventures. I came into this with very little knowledge and know I feel I have more than I could ever want. More questions than answers more ideas than solutions.

If anything, I wonder, who are people meant to be. What is our role in getting people there? What obstacles have we as a society and we as individuals put in their way? What are we doing right and what are we doing wrong? Where are we going and who are we leaving behind?

One thing I do believe and value, everyone should have an opportunity to reach their full potential, to enjoy their life in their own way and on their own terms. We should respect that and nurture it. I have reading up on programs that have successfully preppared young students from poverty for educational opportunities that can 'break the cycle.' We talk about this gap that is erased and how students are trained in 'middle class' values http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/08/opinion/08brooks.html?_r=2. And its all good and well that we have given people a leg up in society, but what does that mean. What do people really want for their lives...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Galileo come back

It is very hard to get back into work mood when you take some time off. Even though yesterday I practically had to induce shock therapy just to stop thinking about work!

I had a really liberating weekend. I had to time to think and reflect and see Night at the museum in IMaX!! I also needed to pack and start cleaning my apartment cause I'm moving this weekend. I don't like packing or cleaning so blah to that.

I'm tiring of this adult 9 to 5, cooking my own dinners and washing my own clothes thing. I feel like I could only be heading to progressively more adult things.

I have become a vegeterian! I am very excited about this decision and step in my life. I am trying to move towards a more sustainable mode of living and align my values in life in all the things I do. Its a complicated decision as I think all attempts at moral living are. I mean I can say that I don't want to support the meat industry but this is a way of life for people a job. So many issues at play but I know that for me it just feels like the right move and that is all of the conviction that I need. The more you think you know, the less you really do.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Never give up on you...

I had a truly inspiring morning.
I may have noted this before but I am on the Philadelphia AmeriCorps week planning committee. Today we had an AmeriCorps rally for members in the city which was followed by several service projects.

AmeriCorps slogan is 'getting things done' and we kept repeating that through the rally. It was ironically inspiring to hear others testimonials and to see so many other AmeriCorps members out there.

I had a great, no awesome, team and we cleaned up a lot in the North Philadelphia area. I think lot clean ups get a lot of slack because they're not necessarily sustainable service projects and they are pretty labor intensive. But I believe that lot clean ups make a significance difference to the community. It shows that someone cares and increases the worth of the community. So three hours of this and joking and laughing and bugs and posion ivy and we were done.

As I was walking back to our office I stopped to reflect (a carry over from our after service reflection) where I thought about how much more connected I felt to the North Philadephia community. In fact at that moment I loved it and felt indebted to it. I saw a lot of hope there and that small act with so many other committed and engaged citizens renewed my faith in the change that is possible.

As I kept moving towards the office I passed through Temple where several large commencement ceremonies were either happening, starting or ending. It was a special moment seeing all of those families and graduates embracing this moment. It reminded me of my own graduation a year ago. I was then flooded with a mix of emotions. One a great joy at seeing so many dreams accomplished, so much joy and pride, and then this other wave which I can't quite accurately described. But it was like frustration and maybe a clear momemt where I was able to touch the feelings that have been surging through me this past month and a half.

Service is great and I feel almost selfish admitting to this. But I felt a great wave of...I don 't know but it was like...I wanted that carefree feeling back. I wanted to feel the ability to move forward with ease without being so concerned with all of the things I find myself concerned with. Service is great but it can feel so heavy when you realize how deep issues are and how complicated this world is. And then I think well maybe I shouldn't think of that, maybe I should just do what I can and not think about it tooo much. And that's ok. A better way to phrase it is to cahnge the things I can and the serenity to know the difference and wisdom to discern the difference.

We are all these wanderig souls, searching for a way to our dreams. May we all find our way and contribute to others as they search.

And do all that I can and never give up...

Ron Sexsmith: Never give up on you http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vZaZNs0mhw

I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve. Albert Schweitzer.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sunday Morning


Step 1: Read article above
Step 2: Pause for deep reflection
Step 3: Speak out, in some way, for those who can't speak for themselves.

I can't figure out if the world is complex with simple answers or simple with complex answers. Either way, there are many people falling through the cracks.

In other, more lighthearted news, I think it is in everyone's best interest to dance at random times. To sing out of tune. To twirl when they are inspired. To laugh long and hard. To breathe.

I have been in a web of emotions lately. That happens sometimes I guess. But it is much more important to maintain a postive outlook and perspective. To remember the beauty and the possibilities and to remain focused on hope, especially against the odds.

And also to eat chocoloate and call your friends!

I keep thinking that I can swallow all of the worlds problems and produce some magical beautiful result. Giving up that hope seems like a surrender in some way. But I cannot absorb that role. There is a way and I can find that way and my place and give where I am. And maybe that is enough.

"There's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self." -Aldous Huxley

Monday, May 11, 2009

is this my story...

I'm tired.
One of those tireds that require you to burst into tears at incredibly random and inconvenient moments.
Exciting things have happened.
Hired summer staff. (now trainings uurrgghh)
Found a new apartment. (hello to being broke for the next couple of months)
Great weekend, very social, free food!
Leadership team apprectiaion dinner tonight. (more free food, but also saying goodbye to our beloved leaders)

I feel like exploding.

Where are my great insights on poverty? My deep prose on the wonders of life? My detailed accounts of the many awkward moments that befall me on a daily basis? I'm not sure...

But today has been one of those days where people try to sit down and have conversations with me but I have so much going on. And then I feel horrible because, you know, aren't people more important then the things you need to do. But then it doesn't really stop the feeling. I struggle with being present and what that means. But I started this new meditation that is really helpful. I slowly repeat Psalm 46:10 like this:

Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know
Be still

I know the heart of life is good....

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Back attack!!

So I have had an incredibly refreshing past few days with a few bumps on the road. I've learned some lessons and cried some tears and all that jazz.

I have learned that I am human. I make mistakes but my past does not dictate my future...unless I let it.

I am in control of my choices and my future and the decisions I make have real tangible consequences.

I am a stewart of many resources. One of those is the people in my life. I have a duty to God and the community of all of us to treat each person with respect and love.

I forgive myself.

I forgive others.

One of the most profound lessons I have gleaned from the events in the past few weeks is what style of leadership I would like to model as I grow.

(okay break, their is a tour of library graduate students behind me. They are interested in academic librarianship.Note to self. Sign?)

Servant leadership is the idea that leaders serve first, lead second. A model for this can be found in the Bible when Jesus spoke to the disciples and said:

The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

As I think about my second term and the influence I will have in the office, I have to consider what will my leadership style resemble. I hope that I can set a vision for our volunteers that will inspire them and bring our office to new heights. But ultimately I hope my role is one of service to our volunteers. I trully believe that if I empower them, guide them, train them and lead them then our client servive will be exceptional. If they feel comfortable and secure, than that translates into client successes. But its going to take a lot of work. Probably more work than I've ever committed to anything in my life.

But opportunities aren't just waiting for you. I have to take intiative. Make things happen.

In other news, I have no idea what to do with my life. I thought I was so unsure and maybe I am. Honestly I can't decide if the things I am being introduced to are shapping my future plans and that's why Im confused or I just want to do everything and that's why I'm confused. While I still believe that you spend your whole life figuring out, I just want to prepare for the next step. I just want to know where I'm going even if its a false idea. I don't like this wandering feeling.

I came into NSP pretty confident that my next step would be pursuing my Masters in Library and Information science and going on to a career in academic librarianship. Now I am not so sure.

I do know that I want to do something that is directly connected to service. I want to be involved with connecting those who have resources with those who need them. More concretly I would be interested in connecting large organizations with resources to nonprofits and to communities. I'd also be interested in ensuring that organizations maintain social responsibility. Example: So I went to this corporate leadership breakfast hosted by this volunteer organization. And they were giving out awards yadda yadda yadda. And this one organization got an award for the amount of community service they did as well as how many volunteers they bring to events. Well this particular organization also pays horrible wages to their employees. Just not wages anyone can live off of. And I have to make this point (even though robert egger already made it in 'begging for change.') What if an organization sends an employee out to volunteer with a little kid from a poorer community teaching them to read. But the reason that kids parents can't be there teaching them to read is because they work for that same organization and they make so little in wages that they have to work multiple jobs. Or their stressed. Or whatever. Volunteering isn't always enough. We can be more responsilble stewards of each other and the resources we have. Start where you are and watch the change ripple...

So yeah I don't know where my strenghts are best suited. Oh and another thing. I want to be involved in developing and empowering leaderswho choose to commit to these values. Time will tell and hopefully season because the time of year to apply for grad schools is fast approaching.