Friday, 2 August 2013

Volunteers needed

The best thing about being retired is the fact that you get to choose what to do with your time. Releasing yourself from the shackles of work is such a liberating experience for most people. I say most people because there are some who absolutely dread the thought of not going to work, for not having a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and having no structure to their lives. So embedded is the work ethic that they cannot see a life after retirement age.

I often thought I would never retire because I loved my work. I could see me going on forever, as long as I could physically climb into a lorry cab, then I would be happy. But towards the end I was becoming disenchanted with it, I no longer enjoyed it, my passion was diminishing at a rate of knots. The 4am starts were becoming a chore, the endless hours of mind numbing motorway miles were pickling my brain, and the petty rules and regulations which were flooding in from all directions were beginning to make me feel like a robot. I was losing my identity, I was no longer a person with a heartbeat and a mind of my own. Something had to give.  

And then I discovered retirement, hooray for getting to the magical age of 60. I will be eternally grateful to my mother and father for having nookies in 1949, well 1948 actually as I was born in the month of May.

I read on a forum about people who are wary about retirement, worried about what they will do with themselves all day when they no longer need to report in to work. There are those who have no idea how they are going to fill the long hours. I would say, best to start thinking about what you like to do before you retire, then you have a back up plan. Someone who does nothing else except go to work each day will find it quite a culture shock when they realise that there is no one to organise the rest of their life for them.

I have always had hobbies, even when working long hours, I always found a little time for myself. I used to take my hobbies with me, sitting in my cab miles from home, addressing all the envelopes to send out the Lady Truckers Club newsletters, all hand written before computers. I used to take some crochet or sewing. I used to write articles for magazines. Give me a pen and paper and I will find something to do with it. I took my bike with me so I could go off on a bike ride once I had parked up for the night. Or just walk around in a new area.

When I was at home I tried to do a bit of voluntary work, but found this hard to fit in with spending most of my time on the road. The Lady Truckers Club was my voluntary work, writing the newsletter, organising the parties and truck show meet ups, and getting the merchandise printed. I also did a stint for the Samaritans, when time allowed, although that was difficult to fit in due to their structured rota. I found it difficult to commit to certain days and times. I used to volunteer my help to my sister, looking after her children when she was juggling three jobs. I like to think my little bit made a difference.

Now That I am fully retired I am able to offer a bit more of my time to volunteering. Striking a balance between enjoying myself and being useful is important to me. Having no structure at all to my daily routine would be time wasted, I could easily become so laid back that I would be horizontal most of the time. This is not an option for me. But by volunteering I need to get organised, I need to manage my time efficiently. I loved my work for the Scrapstore, going around factories and warehouses to collect scrap materials. It's a shame they had to close it. Never mind, always something else to do.

Sometimes it's just a case of looking around and making your own volunteer work. I don't want to have to fit in with others on a rota, I would rather do my own thing. Some people might like to be part of a charity shop team, I have never been any good at teamwork. What I do now suits me fine. I can do the litter picking when I feel like it, usually once or twice a week. I can help with the cat rescue, my role is taking phone calls, fund raising, and help with transport when needed. I can check the local footpaths and tidy up by cutting back the brambles. I have friends in my village who know they can call on me for help with watering up when they go on holiday, or last minute help with dogs.

I am finding loads to do in retirement. Organising my time to include volunteering puts a bit of structure into my life, and the rest of the time I can enjoy myself.  I'm off to finish that fence painting  I started yesterday, then the weekend is mine. Is anyone else volunteering, and what do you do?
Toodle pip.    

23 comments:

  1. You sound as if you have the balance to your life just right. I volunteer by caring for grandchildren during term time, 2 days a week, help with fundraising for the village by growing plants for our plant sale every May and in charge of 3 gardens and 3 cats, all in different locations whilst their staff take hols, at the moment, having to remember which cat prefers what food! Good luck with the fence painting, hope it is not too hot for you.

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    1. Fence painting done, tidying the garden now. Shed door to paint next week.

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  2. I have always done voluntary work, from helping in my son's school, serving in the Scrapstore, fund raising (and many other roles) for a dog rescue and taking disabled people out.
    What I found interesting, was peoples reaction. They could not believe I was doing it for no pay.

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    1. People ask if I am getting paid for litter picking, and are a little surprised when I say no. They can't understand why anyone would want to pick someone else's rubbish up.

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  3. Blinking transport - tell me about it. Your bimble around North Ferriby brought back memories of the nearby Melton chalk quarry i used to load from. 2 x 10 ton loads per day of bagged powdered chalk that we used to deliver to the councils to whiteline football pitches all unloaded by hand and living in the cab all week.
    The work i do now is easy, last night was a double deck trailer unloaded by the warehouse staff and tonight a load of cardboard which will be unloaded by forklift truck.
    Your right about the social life Ilona or lack of it. Its not a job with set hours and most people think we've nothing better to do.
    I envy you, my retirement date has been put back.
    I'd love to do something else but its not easy to get a change.
    Dave.

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    1. Yes, that's a big quarry, Dave. That job sounds horrible. I was always up for a bit of handballing, but it usually took me longer than the blokes.

      The way I coped with work towards the end was to detach my brain from my body. I went through the motions, check vehicle and load, get in cab, drive, stop, deliver, drive back, but my mind was elsewhere, planning what I was going to do when I went home. Little treats to look forward to. The company might have owned my body for the time I was at work, but they didn't own my mind. Hang on in there, Dave, your turn will come.

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    2. It was arranged to meet the council workers so i was passing the bags to them so it wasn't to bad and i was young.
      I like the sound of your friend Helens job, i'd love to do houses up but theres the small matter of the money to buy one. I can turn my hand and do a lot of stuff myself, and i sometimes get materials at trade price.
      I suppose i'll just have to keep on truckin' for now.
      Dave.

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  4. That's nice of you to help your friend by painting the fence for her. You certainly keep busy! I pick up my grandkids after school every day during the school year and stay with them until their dad gets home (he gets home first before my daughter does). I used to volunteer at a nearby school by helping out with first graders who need extra help with reading. The school closed last year so I now will see what else I can do in the Fall. I seem to keep busy without those things because I have a whole house to take care of, cleaning and cooking, shopping for food, gardening a little, etc., etc. I can always find something to do around here. Dust appears every day!

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    1. Ha ha, that made me laugh, 'dust appears every day'. It does around here as well, and it stays put until I have a minute to shift it.

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  5. I have done various bits of voluntary work too, especially when children were at home and I could not work full-time (I know that is such an old-fashioned idea!) To be honest some of my best experiences were to do with the voluntary things I have done. I loved the weekly lunch club for local elderly residents, and met some lovely people who really appreciated what you did for them - something I find is increasingly lacking these days. God I do sound old - and I am not yet (quite) 50!! You are right about there being so many volunteering opportunities - both formal and informal, and so many people who do not contribute to others. You can actually be quite selfish about what you do too, I really fancy learning to steer a canal boat on the Chichester Canal, or helping out at a steam railway.

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  6. I would imagine that you were fantastic for the Smaritians as you seem to have a lovely friendly nature about you. I like the way you talk sense and your blog makes me giggle.

    Although Im too young to retire, I have just taken a long break from my job and the days are gone in a flash! I hope that by the time I do want to start taking it easy I can do that! x

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  7. Since getting early retirement 10years ago I have moved house which was a major decision to move several hundred miles but has been the right one. I volunteered to puppy walk for Guide Dogs and have had four pups over the last six years, three of which are now qualified Guide Dogs and one is now our own beloved pet. I no longer puppy walk but board the pups when required for other puppy walkers in the area. I am also involved in local fund raising, also for Guide Dogs. This voluntary work has been so rewarding and I enjoy it very much.
    There is also more time for all the things I like to do such as gardening, and crafty stuff and I can visit my family who live quite a distance away whenever I want without having to fit it round work.

    Being retired is like getting my life back even although I did enjoy my job.

    I am grateful that I am able with care to get by financialy and I have good health and plenty of interests which enables me to enjoy being retired. A bit like yourself Ilona.

    Sue

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    1. Exactly like me, Sue. Ain't it grand being retired :o)

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  8. I have retired at the age of 56. Just could not hack employment anymore - but that is not saying that I did not reach my goal in work, I ended up as a Director's Personal Assistant, with occasional help to the CEO. From there it was a steady downhill descent to working as a receptionist.. not me at all. Anyway, now I volunteer with our local foodbank, do a lot of gardening, and look after some of the four grandchildren at least once a week.

    It's not that I don't work for pay anymore, but I do work for enjoyment. And there is no greater enjoyment than doing something you enjoy.

    Note to self: remember to get up and feed the daughter's tortoise, we are currently 'Jed' sitting. He loves being with Grandma!

    The husband took redundancy from his job recently, he could not really work much longer as he is an electrician, and any electrician will tell you - they spend a lot of time on their knees. His are absolutely stuffed - arthritis has set in but he loves walking. So it was quite a relief for him to accept redundancy and get some more time in his life. Time for picnics and day trips with the little ones. And the odd walk or two!

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  9. Greetings! I volunteered at my son's school for several years. After that, i spent about 7 years volunteering for Meals on Wheels here in the States. I didn't have to work in those days,(I know how good i had it.), nowadays i do have to work. So, until i get to retirement age i have no time for volunteering. I do miss it, though. I truly believe that volunteering is the secret of a life well lived.
    Love this post!

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    1. Something to look forward to mom. Delivering food to people who can't get out is such a good thing to do.

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  10. I am in the US and I have always volunteered at one thing or another. I have a 37-year-old daughter in Special Olympics and, for about 15 years, I was heavily involved in that organization. I am retired, and my current gig is organizing an adult spelling bee once a year for a group that raises funds for college scholarships for women. We cleared $2,300 profit the first year and nearly $2,800 the second year.

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    1. That's a great result mm, and such a worthwhile cause.

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  11. I am about your age and I retired 7 years ago after a loved one died. I've been reading your blog for a while now and have found it very uplifting and inspiring. I love to hear about your walks and seeing your wonderful pictures. I do volunteer...I babysit three of my grandchildren four days a week. Martha from Kansas

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    1. My mum was called Martha, and she babysat her grand children. They loved their little fat nanny, as opposed to the other one who was tall and skinny, ha ha. Enjoy yours while they are young.

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  12. I `m like you. I`d never be bored once retired. There is household to run, frugal meals to prepare, the garden to manage, meet ups with friends, walking and cycling outings, and I`m sure I would also go and do some volunteering somehow. I`d easily keep busy and fill my days with things I love doing. You are right. Sitting back and doing nothing at all would kill me. People that have no hobbies or interests out of working hours are the ones I feel sorry for. They will find it truly hard to keep active and involved in community things. I know that I would love retirement. Let`s face it, I would love to retire now, if I could. I work part time now, so two working days out of five are mine. I enjoy those days already. I potter about and work in my garden, plant things, plan things, do some sewing, cook lovely meals, and just enjoy being myself. I`d love to do it fulltime, too.

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  13. Nancy from Northern California
    I really enjoyed this post because I retired 9 months ago from working 45 years full-time (plus an additional 2 years part-time during high school). I consider myself so lucky to be a retiree when many people I see may never experience the freedom I have to choose how to fill my days. I've always been a list maker so prior to leaving the working world, I made a huge one with both fun (and no so fun chores) to do during my first year. So far this is really working for me and I am checking things off plus adding more items as I go alone. I also made a decision not to commit to volunteer work until I had gone 12 months without working. Now that my first year as a retiree is coming to a close, I am ready to drop off a volunteer app at my local library with hopes of helping out 1/2 day a week. Thanks again, Ilona!

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  14. The thought hadn't really occurred to me of making my own voluntary work to do. I had always thought in terms of some sort of "organised" volunteering once I've settled into retirement, but I shall keep my eyes open to see what I might do "off my own bat". Litterpicking is obviously a useful thing to do and I certainly hate seeing litter scattered round everywhere (in "countryish" bits in particular). Hmm..Fortunately there is very little "littering" in the area I am moving to soon (big smile time!) ...only just the odd few bits (and I've "got my eye" on them as something I could do). I'm not interested in children and wouldn't want the responsibility of dogs (yuk! to clearing up after them)...but I shall have to put my thinking cap on seeing "what (voluntary) work I can create for myself". All thoughts welcome from other people who have made their own (voluntary) work as to what they do..

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