Thursday, February 22, 2018

One hour and fifteen minutes

I gave my lecture today. It was called "Refugees and Me: A Voyager in Greece." I called it that because we live at the Voyager RV Resort in the winter, and everyone who came to the lecture lives here as well." The talk lasted one hour and fifteen minutes.

I worked on this talk for about 40 hours in the last two weeks. The presentation had 36 PowerPoint slides which included about 50 photos. And a script, to keep me from talking too much or getting off the topic.

I have given other talks about my experiences in Greece:
  • Four and a half minutes last summer, for my church, to explain what Do Your Part does. DYP was the charity for the congregation for July and August 2016. They raised $4,000.
  • Fifteen minutes last fall for a luncheon celebrating the Year of the Girl.
  • Conversations at informal gatherings with friends.
Today was still not all I had to say, but it was the most I'd ever said.

About 60 people attended the lecture. No one left before the end. And there were questions. I couldn't have expected anything better.

This talk I will keep, to give again if asked. As I told several people today, "I will talk to you about my experience at the Greek refugee camp any time, anywhere."

This project felt like a term paper. Maybe a master's thesis!

Worth it, though.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The question I ask myself

"How did I ever have time to go to work?"

I quit my last full-time paid job in June of 2010. Nearly eight years ago. I envisioned quiet days, long walks, lots of reading.

I should have known better. That happened for about four months. Then I got busy.

We could have just traveled. As it is, I've taken 63 trips of three days or longer in the last eight years. But on one of them, I came across a couple hundred refugees in the Saltzburg train station, and within a year I became a volunteer at a refugee camp in Greece. After my first time there, I went back three more times. I joined the board of Do Your Part, the disaster recovery nonprofit I worked for at the camp.

I could have spent time on just one hobby. I love genealogy and have been working on my family history for nearly 20 years.  Hours can go by while I explore online.  But instead of focusing on genealogy, I took 140 hours of mediation training and got certified. As a volunteer, I've done about 80 mediations in the last four years - some at the dispute resolution center in my county, some at small claims court, some out in the world. I've gotten better at it, and I still love it.

We spend winters in Tucson. For the first four years mostly I played: swimming, discussion groups, line dancing, handbells. And then the Voyager Theatre Company came along. The first year I did ticket sales; the second, assistant to the producer; this year, I'm part of the cast for a one-act play. Just for this year, though. Next year I want to have a quieter winter. I think.

In the meantime, I've started volunteering with Keep Tucson Together, doing work similar to what I did at the refugee camp. Talking to people now in the US who fear for their lives should they be forced to relocate to Mexico or Central America. Helping as I can. For KTT, I took on a new project this week. It's only three hours a week - at my request - but still, it's three hours.

And two weeks from tomorrow I'm giving a lecture on my experience at the refugee camp. I really need to get started on preparing for that. Most of it is in my head, but it needs to get transferred to a script and a PowerPoint presentation.

Almost everything I'm doing is important to me. I'm not sure what I will give up. I know for sure that I want to keep the friendships I've made in all of these endeavors.

But about having a quieter time. My sister reminds me every now and then that when I'm quiet, I think too much. She and I both say "our minds are a dangerous neighborhood. We should never go in there alone." When I'm busy and engaged, my mind is useful, and that's a good thing.

I had time to go to work because I volunteered very little. I traveled only a couple of times a year. I raised two kids and established bonds with six stepkids. It was a full life, and mostly satisfying.

I can say the same thing now. I have a full life and it is almost always satisfying.

Still. Every now and then I'd like to spend an afternoon lying on the couch, reading a book. Maybe I'll do that.