My natural instincts are to stay at home and enjoy the quiet. I could easily be a hermit!! But I don’t think it’s all that great for my emotional health. Sure, an occasional “mental health day” where you don’t do much of anything can be a good thing. But a steady diet of such definitely contributes to the blues. So, in an effort to get myself out of the house more (since my job is a 2-3 day a week deal) I decided I should volunteer a little more.
I’m in that lucky stage of life where I have a good seven hours of free time every day while my kids are at school. So I thought I’d help out with the volunteer nursery for the weekly scripture study group that my church holds. Many of the attendees are young moms with little kids and I figured it would be a good way to “pay it forward” for all the times that people stepped in and helped me out when my kids were little. It’s been fun, although a little embarrassing, truth be told. I haven’t attended the scripture study group for about ten years and the moms who bring their kiddos think it is a little weird that I’m volunteering without actually enjoying the benefits of the group. They may be right! This is a week-by-week thing – I’ve just signed up when I have had a free Tuesday morning.
Then, I got an email from one of the leaders in our church congregation looking for someone to help in our local Family History Center (this is where people who are interested in researching their family history can come for help to locate records and get help with their search). I don’t know much about this, but I can run a computer and I have used the website that our church maintains (www.familysearch.org). I figure I can learn from all those experts, right?? I start next week. The training was a little overwhelming, to be honest. I was reminded of just how little I know. But I’ll be working with lots of people, having adult conversations, and now have another reason to leave my quiet house once a week.
This has actually been really hard for me. I don’t want to be busy. I lived through a number of years when my life was so stressful and there was no opportunity to get a break. Now that I have time every day where no one is demanding anything of me it makes me feel anxious to think about filling that time up with something where I have to be there. But that is just irrational emotion, since it is pretty obvious that my life is less stressful now and there are plenty of times in my week when I can get a break if needed. And also, to be truthful, it is easier to stay at home. Socializing takes effort and the older I get the more tired it makes me.
Here’s the interesting thing, though. When I make the effort to spend time with friends, I’m always glad. I belong to a bookclub and there are many months when I think I really don’t want to go, I’m the oldest one there, no one is in my stage of life, blah, blah, blah. But then I show up and start visiting with friends and before I know it I’m feeling happy and I’m glad that even though I had to give up a Friday night with my husband I went anyway. I’m trying harder to say yes to invitations to socialize. It’s kind of weird to have to recapture this part of who I used to be but it’s been good too.