First, some housekeeping. As you may or may not notice – the blog is sporting a new look. It’s been like this for a while now; I just haven’t blogged since the makeover. And it slipped my mind to mention it earlier this week when I wrote about my new obsession with Ellie Goulding until Sherrie mentioned it in her comment. So, thanks Sherrie, for reminding me that Schönes Leben is looking a little different these days.

Also, I’m feeling pressure to keep the blogging going after receiving comments from what I estimate to be around 99% of my blog readers about the new post. Shocker, eh?  But I guess I sort of put myself in the predicament after mentioning I wasn’t able to stop my sleepless brain from thinking of future blog topics the other night.

And this topic was one of them.

There are two things the Academy of Holy Angels (where I went to high school) taught me well. The first is the 5 paragraph essay.

Seriously, thank you Academy and English teachers for being Nazis about our introductions, three paragraphs and the conclusion. And thank you for forcing me to write an outline for every paper. Although I may not have appreciated it at the time, I can 100% tell you that I sure did appreciate it in college and still appreciate it to this day. Despite the fact that I’m no longer writing 5 paragraph essays on the books I’m reading, I still do occasionally work on outlines when I have a large writing project at work.

And, secondly, the idea of service. Specifically, volunteering. This is one of the things I believe the Academy does right – instilling the importance of giving back to your community by volunteering.  For four years I was taught the importance of taking care of others around us. To me that meant it didn’t matter what color their skin was, what religion they practiced (if any at all) or what their sexual orientation was. (Although, I’m not sure all Catholics would take the same stance.) If someone was in need and you had a hand to lend… why wouldn’t you? Even though I despised waking up at 7 am on a Saturday morning to make it downtown in time to serve breakfast to the homeless, as soon as I got there I knew that the sleep I was giving up was well worth serving those in need.

In college I tried to continue to share my time with others in need. It was a little more difficult but I was able to get involved with the YWCA on campus. I may not have been serving breakfast to the homeless of Ames but I was still volunteering as a mentor to young girls who needed someone in their life they could look up to. I was fortunate enough to spend a few years with the YWCA; to watch the mentoring program and the organization go through changes and grow. It’s nice to see your work and dedication pay off. And I truly believe that to this day the girls I mentored loved the program and the time we spent together. And that touches my heart.

To me, that’s what volunteering is all about. I love knowing that the simple act of giving up a few hours of my week can make such an impact on someone else.

I was reflecting on where I am with my life and sort of taking “inventory” of what I felt was missing. One of them was volunteering. Since I’ve moved to Dallas I have not been volunteering as much as I would like. I haven’t found an organization to donate my time to. That’s laziness on my part because I know they’re out there – I just need to start looking.

Having the volunteer void feels really weird for me after spending the past 8 years of my life committed to an organization. You really cannot replace the happiness you feel from knowing you’ve made a difference. It’s a fulfilling and gratifying experience that cannot be replaced by material things. As I reflect on this and tell myself to kick my butt in gear and find an organization in the community I believe in – I have to credit this passion to the Academy and the religion classes that taught me that it’s about more than just me.