Why did I do this and what am I getting from it?
1. I wanted to be useful after I left the workforce, but
- I found out I don't have the stamina to build all day for Habitat for Humanity.
- I found out I don't want to teach English as a second language.
- I already knew I don't want to be a volunteer who crochets baby blankets for the hospital or reads stories to kids at the elementary school - I'm not crafty and reading stories to my grandchildren is sufficient.
- Neither did I want to work with computers as a volunteer when I already did that for 20 years as a professional.
2. I am a good listener, and mediation requires it.
3. I've wanted to be less judgmental and critical and more open minded. In mediation I've learned that everyone has a valid perspective, and that understanding has carried over into my life. What a gift!
4. We travel and have other activities, and I need a volunteer interest that can accommodate that. I get an email a couple of times a week listing upcoming mediations, and I can choose which ones I want to volunteer for. I don't have to skip my morning exercise or meetings of my writers group or classes I sign up for, and I don't have to drive at night unless I feel like it.
5. I am greatly appreciated for the mediations I sign up for, and greatly valued for the outcomes achieved at those mediations.
6. When clients walk into the room they don't know what is going to happen, and neither do I. When they walk out, usually they've made agreements they can live with - whether it's for a marriage dissolution, a parenting plan, a workplace dispute, neighbor disagreement or something else. They almost always give credit to the mediators. But always, always, the accomplishments belong to the clients. All we've done is facilitate their work.
7. I am learning to be flexible. Most mediations at the Dispute Resolution Center are done by a team of two mediators. Sometimes when I walk in I have never met the person I'm going to be working with for the next few hours. It's a give-and-take process throughout the mediation. By the end, we mediators appreciate each other and have learned something new.
8. I use my mediation skills outside of the Dispute Resolution Center. I've been helpful to family members and friends - usually in unplanned situations that just come up in the course of a conversation. It amazes me how much can happen when a person is listened to.
9. I'm grateful for the aptitude for mediation, for the woman who first told me about this field five years ago when I was still working, for the excellent training provided to me. And, especially, for the continuing support of the mediation community - they are good people.
10. Someday, sometime, someone may pay me to do this work, but I would do it for free. And I do. I'm grateful that I can.