Volunteering

This was originally going to be part of my “Manic Monday” post, but as I started writing, I realized it was easily turning into it’s own post! Volunteering is something that helps me get involved in my new communities as I move, so I’m more than happy to write an entire post on it!

The first time I can remember volunteering was when I was maybe nine or ten. I was with my Girl Scout troop and we were helping to pack boxes at the local food bank. I knew the boxes were going to “poor people” but I didn’t think they were in my own town. One of the girls from the troop wound up sneaking a peak at the list of families getting these packages and all of the sudden she blurted out, “C—, why is your family on this list?!” We were all so stunned! I remember being appalled by the one girl’s behavior – she was going out of her way to look at a confidential list, which was bad enough, but then to call a “friend” out in front of everybody?? I couldn’t believe it. I was also shocked that a family from our town, let alone a family I knew, needed help. It made me realize that you can’t always “see” when somebody is in need of help.

Through Girl Scouts and various other programs, I frequently volunteered in my community until I graduated high school. My favorite opportunity from Connecticut was to help out at a summer school/day camp for students with special needs. These students ranged anywhere from having really hard to control ADHD all the way to having severe mental disabilities. Several students didn’t speak at all. When I went to college, it was harder to find ways to volunteer. I was living in a brand new community, so I didn’t know WHERE to look for these opportunities. My contributions at that time were limited to helping out with food drives.

My sorority highly values both service and philanthropy. By this point, service was an old hat, but philanthropy was something completely new to me. I was a broke college kid – I had never donated my (non-existent) money to any cause and I had never run any sort of fundraiser. My pledge class and I collected cans to raise money for a local animal shelter and my senior year, I was Mr. RIT chair! I was still able to help out my hometown as well – one of my pledge sisters was from my hometown and shortly before Christmas one year, we held an event at the house to make Christmas cards which we then distributed to nursing home residents at my grandma’s nursing home.

Mr. RIT 2009

When I started at the University of Delaware, I quickly found ways to volunteer. I hosted a “Day of Service” project my first year which gave me one of my favorite UD memories – we ran out of bread for the “PB&J Jam”, so I ran out to buy more. When I returned, it was POURING so I asked some RAs to meet me at the door. The RAs and residents participating in the program actually made a line stretching from my car into the building and passed everything down fireman brigade style. I WISH I had a picture of it. Back then, “Day of Service” was only complex-wide, but it soon became a campus event and now various alumni groups hold their own service events the same day that UD is hosting Day of Service. This year I met up with some alum from Reading to volunteer at an animal shelter.

My favorite organization that I got involved with at UD was the Andrew McDonough B+ (Be Positive) Foundation. I had heard Andrew’s story years and years prior when I was still going to RIT. My then-boyfriend was from Wilmington and had siblings that had attended school with Andrew. The B+ Foundation’s goal is to raise money for children’s cancer research and to assist families with expenses they are unable to cover. I got to personally meet Joe McDonough twice during my time at UD – the first time he came to speak to my staff as we were racing money for UDance and the second time I invited him to come to speak at Widener University during my internship. My favorite part about working with B+ is that they emphasize that every little bit helps. At Widener, Joe McDonough told the story of how just $400 was able to get a little girl a portable oxygen container so she could fly home and spend her final days at her own house with her family members and dog.  I really hope I get to work with B+ again.

Since moving to Reading, I’ve continued to volunteer in my community and in other parts of the country. I joined Junior League a few months after moving here and have been able to help with several organizations that serve the children of Reading. I’m planning on doing a separate post on Junior League later this week! I was also asked by my students to be a trip advisor for Alternative Spring Break. I said yes without even knowing where I was going to be going or what I was going to be doing. I wound up going to Joplin, Missouri to help with two organizations and in just a few days, I’ll be heading back!! I’m super excited and Joplin is DEFINITELY getting its own post! 

If you have any favorite volunteer stories, be sure to leave them in the comments!

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Ready? Okay!

(Truth – the only time those words have come out of my mouth, they have been completely sarcastic!)

I was never a girl-y girl. I swear, if I went back in time and told my 12 year old self that my twenty-something self became a cheerleader, joined a sorority, and was obsessed with Lilly Pulitzer, my 12 year old self’s head would explode. I’m starting at my closet right now. My eye is twitching a bit from the amount of pink.

So getting back on track. I became a cheerleader. I’m not sure exactly how it started, but I think it started with my friends renting the movie “Bring it On” when I was in eighth grade. Most of my friends at that point were cheerleaders, so we spent this gathering learning the dances and cheers from the movie. I think I still have the opening cheer memorized. Within weeks, the high school that we were all planning on attending announced that they were holding cheerleading tryouts AND that it was open to incoming students. I had absolutely no intentions of playing any sports in high school, unless you count “competitive saxophone-ing” as a sport but somehow I got suckered into it. I might have spouted off that “cheerleaders are dancers gone retarded” line in front of my friends one too many times. Now if I hadn’t made the team, this post would not exist. I won’t bore you by telling you about tryouts. I can’t really remember the nitty gritty details anymore. I just know that it was winter and I was dancing in the cafeteria to Britney Spears and then next thing I knew, it was summer and I was going to the high school for cheerleading camp. ME. CHEERLEADING CAMP.

Somehow, I made it through that year with only minor humiliation one truly embarrassing story. There was all sorts of drama, including a last minute coaching change. The following year, I didn’t return. Don’t get me wrong – I have some wonderful memories from that year. I really enjoyed it. But at the end of the day, I had to choose between cheerleading and everything else I loved. And I chose everything else. And I enjoyed that too.

Unfortunately, I had been bitten by the cheerleading bug. It came in handy sometimes. When my friends needed to reach something high, they’d quickly throw me in the air to get it. When CMT announced that it was doing a show about the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, I was GLUED to the TV. I was regularly doing parts of the DCC’s routines in my parents’ living room. I thought it was all I was going to get until I had a little girl of my own and could coach a pop warner team.

Fast forward a few years to my first second week of college. I started seeing posters advertising – GUESS WHAT – tryouts! I hadn’t cheered in AGES but I still decided to give it a go. For being such a large college, there was a surprisingly small number of girls trying out. Similar to my high school days, tryouts were a week long – the first part was spent learning different routines and the second part was the actual audition. I didn’t tell anybody what I was doing. I wanted to surprise my friends and family. Some people were planning on visiting in October, so I had to keep it a secret until then, but I wound up quitting the team before any of my friends could arrive on campus. I couldn’t afford the uniforms and the shoes and everything else.

Fast forward a few more years. While watching “Making the Team” one night, I suddenly had the craziest idea. I live near a major city with an NFL team. What if I tried out just one more time? I went through with this insane idea. I drove to Philly for different workshops and got to meet the coach and the returning cheerleaders – it was a pretty awesome experience! Very early on I realized that I had a very, very minuscule chance of making the team. I was competing with girls that were DANCE MAJORS. But I stuck it out just to say that I did it. Surprisingly, they waited until the second round to cut me. A benefit of going through the process – I was in the best shape of my life at the end of it and I wound up with an impressive collection of make up.

I chatted with the one in the front!

 

Now, at the ripe old age of 26, I have officially retired from cheerleading. Yes, I still watch “Making the Team” and occasionally I break out one of my old workout videos, but I will not be hauling my butt to Philly (or any other city) for auditions any time soon.

Looking at the List #9

110. Watch every single Daria episode AND made-for-TV movie.

Daria finished its original run while I was just starting high school. How depressing. LUCKILY the N (home to some of my favorite high school shows, like Degrassi) showed reruns on a fairly regular basis. I spent many a track bus ride imitating many of the shows’ characters. Last time I checked, the show wasn’t on Netflix, so I eagerly await the day that someone gifts me a box set of the DVDs.

113. Visit Ground Zero.

I grew up outside New York City. I did all the “tourist” things as a kid. I avoided them more and more as I got older. As a result, I don’t remember the last time I saw the Twin Towers. They were just always in the background and then one day they weren’t. I haven’t been to Ground Zero yet and not because it’s a “tourist” thing. I view it as the opposite. It’s a New York thing. It’s a home thing. It’s a thing for all the people that lost their people that day. I was on a bus that rolled by once six years ago, but that’s the closest I’ve gotten. Now that I live farther from Manhattan, I don’t visit as often. I have a few New-York related items on my list, so hopefully I can find time to visit and knock all those items off my list!

122. Learn to pack like a pro.

I have two ways of packing. I either overpack or underpack. If I overpack, I wind up bringing tons of stuff that I won’t wear or use with me on my trip. If I underpack, I bring the same two sweaters with me and don’t have enough to put together a full outfit. I tend to pack more if I’m going somewhere farther away or plan on being gone for a long time. I’m incredibly jealous of the people walking through the airport with only a small tote. My next big trip is in two months and I’ve already started looking up packing tutorials so it doesn’t feel like I’m a pack mule in the airport. Let me know if you have any tips or tricks!!

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation

This time last month, I was eagerly counting down the days until I had a whole, glorious, twelve days off from work. I decided that I was going to take an ACTUAL break during the holidays…but didn’t tell anybody. Oops. Sorry for going off the radar! To be fair, I was supposed to be back “on” the radar three days ago, but as of typing this post, I have not had a healthy day in 2014 (more on that later). I was hoping that MAYBE I’d be able to accomplish #15 (go a day without internet), but the closest I got to that was that I brought my laptop to Connecticut but didn’t once turn it on. Baby steps.

The Good

You may have noticed that #54 on my list was to get my parents a big Christmas gift and that for the longest time it’s had (December 2013) next to it. Well, I actually bought the gift months ago, but obviously couldn’t write about until after Christmas. So what was their big gift? A new TV!! The last time my parents bought a TV, I don’t think flat screens even existed. They had been mentioning getting a new TV for quite some time, but something else always seemed to come up. Unfortunately there was no easy way to smuggle the giant box into the house, so my parents received their present two days early.

My parents BIG Christmas present!

My parents BIG Christmas present!

I got to hang out with my older cousins for a bit on Christmas Eve. I’m smack dab in the middle of my family – there are thirteen years between me and my next oldest cousin and thirteen years between me and the cousin younger than me. Clearly there’s not much in common when we’ve got this thirteen year spread, but now that we’re getting older, it’s easier to bridge that gap.

Anytime I go back to Connecticut, I try to see all of my home friends. I did a decent job – one night at Biscotti’s, one night out to dinner with Lexie (great food, crappy service), and WHERE THE HELL WAS RENO?! Earlier in the holiday season, I texted my usual group of girls and suggested something new – doing a group gift exchange instead of individual gifts. We wound up doing a bottle exchange – one bottle of wine, one bottle of nail polish. We were talking about other types of gift exchanges and I think next year we are going to do a “My Favorite Things” exchange!

Gift Exchange 2013

Gift Exchange 2013

The one home friend that I got to see more than anyone else was Elissa. I was glad to have time to catch up with her and we celebrated another New Year’s Eve with one another. It was tame by twenty-something standards, but it reminded us of our “glory days” of middle school…including the winter break that Elissa slept over my house for four or five nights in a row!

We let Lilly hang out with us too.

We let Lilly hang out with us too.

The Better

On Christmas Eve, I went to take the dog out only to find out that it was snowing! That’s two years in a row with a nice Christmas dusting!

The view from the top of my driveway.

The view from the top of my driveway.

Since I was all too eager to go off the radar this break, I spent a good portion of it curled up on the couch in front of my parents’ new TV streaming Netflix from my Wii. I think my mom was pretty bummed when I took the Wii back to Reading with me, but my dad is looking into getting a Roku or some other sort of streaming device so my mom can watch Netflix on the TV.

The Bad

Unfortunately break wasn’t all sunshine and roses. It started on a pretty sour note – my car failed its inspection (and the inspection itself took nearly two hours longer than it was supposed to). Now I get to research tires and brakes and all those other fun things.

Spending time with my older cousins came with a price – a MAJOR hangover. It’s true what they say – you really can’t keep track of how much you drink when your drink keeps getting topped off.

My student loan payments were due at the end of my little vacation. That was expected, but the change in my minimum payment was not!! It was my hope to fully pay off one of my student loans in the near future, but with the minimum payment change, it’s not possible. This just solidifies that I need to find a financial advisor (#118!).

The BLECHHH

I mentioned earlier that I haven’t had a healthy day since we switched calendars. 2014 started fine. Since Elissa and I had the tamest NYE celebration this side of high school, there was no pesky hangover to worry about. One per vacation is enough, thank you. But by that afternoon, I wasn’t feeling so hot…I was at a party with TONS of food and I wanted NONE of it. Anybody that knows me can confirm that’s not normal. I shrugged it off and went to sleep early, only to wake up at 11:30 feeling incredibly sick. I’ll spare the nasty details, but let’s just say I did not leave the bathroom until 7:30 the next morning. The next (same?) day, I couldn’t get off the couch for anything. All I wanted to do was sleep, but all I could do was lightly doze. Luckily, the day after that was MUCH better. I could get up and move around, but it left me exhausted, so after I drove back to Reading, I crashed HARD. I woke up at 9:30 to find my apartment freezing. Broken heater. Great. I woke up at 12:15 to let the facilities worker in that graciously brought me a space heater. Woke up later in the night because my neck was itchy. Removed a necklace and went back to sleep. Woke up at 7:30 itchy all over and discovered I had some terrible rash. Benadryl is taking care of that, but I still have no energy. I’ve been trying to unpack, but I keep having to sit down and rest. I cannot wait to get better!!

Oh and BLECH that it’s 2014…I was just writing something down and wrote 2012. I’m not one year behind like a normal person…I’m TWO years behind. To quote Blink 182 – “Well I guess this is growing up.”

I hope you all had a wonderful 2013!! I'm looking ahead to a fantastic 2014 - once this plague is behind me!

I hope you all had a wonderful 2013!! I’m looking ahead to a fantastic 2014 – once this plague is behind me!

115. Throw away thirty things.

Earlier this month, I wrote about the cleaning spree that I went on during Thanksgiving Break. I had BAGS AND BAGS of clothes to donate but it was NOTHING compared to how much stuff I threw out.

Some stuff on its way out of my room.

Some stuff on its way out of my room.

While I was visiting my parents, I decided to tackle the closet in my room. Even though I don’t live there anymore, my closet and dresser are completely full with clothes (and other crap) from when I was in high school and college. Somewhere in the back of my head, I thought it was nice because if I forgot to pack something to wear, I had clothes to wear at home. Except. I didn’t. Most of the stuff in there was free t-shirts and pajama pants – I couldn’t make an outfit out of that! I realized that it was useless to keep all that stuff around…all it was doing was making my room look messy. I couldn’t put things away on longer trips home because there was nowhere to put them.

I didn’t throw out EVERYTHING that was in my room. I had to spend some time organizing the stuff that I was keeping – mostly craft supplies and some special shirts (including four RIT Springfest shirts). Some of the stuff that did go? Old electronics, a broken (fake) Coach purse, and a bunch of empty alcohol bottles that were hidden away in the closet. Classy.

I’ve been pretty determined to clean since Thanksgiving, but my apartment is much more overwhelming than my old room and my parents’ house. I know that I haven’t used the stuff in that closet for ages and ages. It was much easier to throw those things out. I also don’t have as much time (or energy) in my own apartment. After a long day at work, I just want to watch 50 episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress) do nothing. I did manage to make some progress in my craft corner – I cleared off the desktop and the middle drawer! It doesn’t sound like much, but it already looks a ton better.

Some helpful/inspirational sites during this cleaning spree? I Heart Organizing – this blog makes me want to go raid an Ikea. SO MUCH INSPIRATION!! Unf*** Your Habitat – while the other blog was inspiration, this blog was motivation. There are lots of little reminders and “Weekend Challenges”. They also have an app which I haven’t bought yet, but maybe it will be a post-Christmas present to myself. Oh, and last but not least – Netflix for marathons of hoarding shows.

A Quick Thanksgiving Update!

  • Prior to Thanksgiving, I took a quick trip to the Farmer’s Market AND donated a bunch of clothes! I hope to have the donation post up soon. The Farmer’s Market post is going to have to wait until I can go back and take more pictures than just one of me drooling over my first bubble tea since leaving Delaware.
  • While I was home, I cleaned out both my closet and dresser from my “In Between” bedroom. Trust me, this is a major accomplishment and I can definitely cross #115 off the list.
  • …I also watched every episode of Hoarders on Netflix which probably explains the first two items.
  • I decorated my Christmas tree the other day! I’m not going to count that as decorating for Christmas because I only have a tree and stockings up and in my mind, decorating for a holiday means going all out.
  • I missed Thanksgiving Eve due to some icy road conditions. I was upset at first but then I remembered how AWKWARD it is to see everybody that I used to not talk to in high school.
  • My mom, Lilly, and I set out with the intention of taking some Christmas card photos (#79!) but I’m almost 99% sure we’re going with a picture from last Christmas. Oops.
  • This month marks the first time that EVERY SINGLE ONE of my student loans is under it’s original balance (#31) so that’s another post!!
  • I successfully avoided Black Friday shopping and instead went to Stew Leonard’s which was delightfully NOT CROWDED. New tradition? I think so!

 

And now for some pictures from break!

Lilly and Jakey waiting for the turkey to drop!

Lilly and Jakey waiting for the turkey to drop!

One of Lilly's potential Christmas card pictures. Yes, we went to the beach on Black Friday as well.

One of Lilly’s potential Christmas card pictures. Yes, we went to the beach on Black Friday as well.

Mommy, Lilly, and me after our beach adventure.

Mommy, Lilly, and me after our beach adventure.

Posed Lilly in front of the Christmas tree like the proud mommy I am!

Posed Lilly in front of the Christmas tree like the proud mommy I am!

 

 

 

 

Looking at the List #6

59. Plant something and have it grow.

I have a distinct memory from when I was about seven years old. My dad wanted to plant flowers in our yard and he let me pick them out. I was really excited to do this. I chose all purple flowers (future Deepher problems). I even got to help my dad plant them. One day, we finally saw one shooting up. Unfortunately, so did my dog, Harry, and he proceeded to dig our “garden” up. And that was the end of that. I’ve lived in apartments since I was eighteen and those don’t make the best growing environments for plants. I currently have a basil plant in my kitchen, but his days look numbered. I would love to be able to grow my own vegetables.  Over the summer I was able to “borrow” some garden space, but since I wasn’t out there all the time, I didn’t really feel like I grew them.

Spaghetti squash I planted this year.

Spaghetti squash I planted this year.

60. Read 100 books. (10 down, 90 to go!)

I actually like to read. I can completely lose myself in a book. One night in college, I started reading some Jodi Picoult novel around 6 pm and the next thing I knew, my roommate Pam was in our room in her pajamas. I hadn’t realized she had come in or that it was past 10 pm! In October I read 10 books, but the past few weeks my reading has been limited to BuzzFeed articles.

68. Eat duck.

We used to go to this restaurant in Connecticut called Cobb’s Mill Inn for every family event. It was definitely a fancy place and I remembered that a lot of my uncles would order duck off the menu (meanwhile I was trying to find the closest thing to mac and cheese on the menu). I feel like duck shouldn’t taste too different from chicken or turkey. This is me being adventurous with my food…trying duck.

When I’d get sick of hanging with the adults, I’d go outside and play by the waterfall.

75. Make a vegan meal.

On the opposite end of the spectrum…my former boss and current friend Becca was the first vegan I ever met. I had plenty of vegetarian friends, but the no dairy thing completely through me for a loop. I learned a lot that first year – did you know that Oreos are vegan? That fact frightened me a little. We had a Christmas dinner at my apartment that first year and I volunteered to make vegan mac and cheese and it was a major fail. It just doesn’t translate well. BUT there are plenty of other tasty-sounding dishes out there and I’d love to try and make a few of them. If you have any recommendations, send them my way!