I’m usually pretty happy with how I’ve planned trips for the family over the years, but this year when I was planning our trip to Halifax for the holiday, I really regretted something. Something that I think could really add meaning to the time spent together.
All these years of tripping with the kids in many kinds of places, I should have built in a volunteer experience, or even planned a volunteer trip. It’s not too late to still do this, of course, but I really should have thought the purpose behind some of the things we were doing when away. I fully support vacationing to unwind, be somewhere else and just enjoy the new location. However, I’m also not one to pack too much into the trip for fear that everyone will be disgruntled by a timetable (myself included). We will tend to experience the highlights of a place, but we also like to venture into the local scene. To me, part of being a local is understanding the community you are visiting – and sometimes it isn’t pretty. Every community has it’s woes and challenges and if we are going to spend time there, shouldn’t we do something helpful because spend money in the local coffee shop (which is one of our favorite things to do).
I think it just really came to mind this year because we were planning a trip in our home country over the holidays and holiday time is often when volunteers are needed to help at dinners or pack toys and such. I’ll keep this in mind for the next trip.
Let me tell you something.
I know some amazing people. All kinds of amazingly intelligent, kind-hearted, there-for-you kind of people.
It’s noticeable to me that I gravitate to a certain type – we all do. But it’s really interesting when I think about the range of people that have come into my life. Having met so many people from different countries, cultures, and life experiences, you’d think it might be hard to adjust to ways of thinking or understand someone else’s background. But in the end, what really matters to me is what kind of person you are. And those people are thoughtful, reliable, and probably best of all – they challenge my thinking. Those are the kind of people we all need in our lives.
I’ve got my friends from long ago that have taken different paths from my own, but it doesn’t change the respect we have for each other or the way in which we value each other. I’ve got sets of friends from more recent years, having changed work and living environments that I also just can’t imagine my life without.
Perhaps the turning of a new year has got me thinking. It’s a hard time of year for many people for a few reasons and so I wanted to just throw my teeny bit of gratitude out into the atmosphere. I value the updates and conversations, the sharing of thoughts, the venting, and celebrations we have with and for each other. I think of you often and you know who you are. I just wanted you to know.
On a recent trip to Nashville for a conference, I ventured out for an evening of country music and dancing with some friends.
Obviously a trip to the bathroom was inevitable. Having gotten used to the luxury of clean, pleasant smelling bathrooms in Singapore, I was unsure how this bathroom event might be. What I got was something I definitely wasn’t expecting.
When I entered the doorway to the bathroom, the bathroom attendant was standing at the door with her legs crossed chatting with a patron who was washing her hands. The attendant lady was telling the hand-washer how she had to go to the bathroom so badly that she was afraid to walk to the toilet stall to go for fear of going on herself. She explained that she waited a long time to go because she was afraid to leave her tip jar. By this point, there was now another lady in the bathroom. We told the lady we would hold down the fort, urging her to go use the toilet, which was literally just a few steps away from where she stood with her legs crossed.
Attendant lady agrees and basically jumps into the stall. As she is trying to pipi machen in the toilet, she is giving us commentary of her situation in the stall. She alerted us that she didn’t make it to the toilet in time and had wet herself. She told us about her incontinence problem so she wears an adult diaper, and that she doesn’t want to risk her job for having to use the toilet too often. Because this was something that happens frequently, the lady had a bag of extra clothes in case of accidents.
This broke my heart. This lady was so worried about the few dollars in the tip jar that she was willing to pee herself.
I stayed in the bathroom for a few extra minutes so she could get her wits about her. After she was cleaned up as much as she could, I went back to my friends at the dance floor. After a few minutes I had to go back to her and see that she was ok. And I took the only cash I had and gave it to her – a lone $20 that my friend had given me from dinner. That lady needed it way more than I did.
That one bathroom incident has left an imprint on my mind. And I just thought I was going to walk into a typical sticky-floored country bar bathroom.
I’m in a bit of a mood this morning for a few reasons – mostly because of some job-related disappointment, but whatever. That’s the first eye roll.
I’ve found myself doing a lot of eye-rolling at things lately that really shouldn’t matter, and don’t matter in the grand scheme of life…. but when you keep hearing and seeing some of the same duh-ness, you HAVE TO ROLL YOUR EYES! You can’t not.
So the Eye-Roll Award this morning goes to the server I had at one of my usual coffee shops. I come here often with my laptop, order some cold coffee and toast or something, and work for a few hours.
Like most days, today I do the same. I sit at the window, look at the menu and decide on food. She comes back and takes my order.
Me: “I’ll have the french toast and an iced coffee please.”
Server: (Furrowed brow) “Iced coffee?”
Me: “Oh I’m sorry. I meant cold brew.”
OH. MY. GAUD.
Not just once has this happened, but several times here and at different coffee spots. Is there really such a huge difference between iced coffee and cold brew?? Am I too 2010 with asking for an iced coffee? It’s not like I’m talking about a beta video machine to a Gen Z person. Come on now…
Our family trip this summer was to Waikiki. I hadn’t been since 1997, and the rest of the fam had never been, so why not head into the islands of the Pacific?
I prepped a little by watching a few episode of the new Hawaii Five-0, so I was ready for some ‘O ka’oihana Hawai’i.
One of the things we kept bringing up in conversation throughout the week was whether we should go surfing or not. Despite it being the end of August and fairly “quiet” in the water, there were still a lot of people out riding those waves. After many conversations of deliberation, we finally decided we would check out the surf lesson stations and just do it. We were in Hawaii, after all!
I was unsure until the last moment if I was going to boogie board with Bray or get on a big ole board…
Well, had I not gone surfing, I wouldn’t have said hello to Scott Caan as he swam by on his own board. So I made a good decision. 😉
Obviously I didn’t take this photo. I was busy surfing and saying hello to Scott. 04-08-11 Oahu, HI Exclusive: Actor Scott Caan out surfing with some buddies in Oahu, HI. Scott is in Hawaii shooting the hit TV show ‘Hawaii Five-O’… Exclusive Pix by Flynet ¬©2011 818-307-4813 Nicolas 310-869-0177 Scott
Perhaps you read about the live-in gecko we have. If not, you might want to go back and read those posts. No pressure.
So when we thought that life would be back normal with our little friend, as he nonchalantly goes running across the wall from the air conditioner over to the plants, something else happened.
I was cleaning one day, between the coffee table and the TV table. Just picking up little threads and tiny leaves that track in front outside from the rug before vacuuming, because that makes sense, of course. So I picked this little, maybe centimeter long piece of something up to investigate it. And when I felt the texture of this thing, which was, in fact, a little squishy but still firm, I dropped it immediately. Our live-in guest left us another little appendage, for a reason we do not know. That was so nice of him.
So I left the little, discarded tail on the coffee table where I dropped it so Brett could see it when he got home. That went over well, hahahaha!
I wonder what will happen next in the tail-dropping sage!
You may have read the tale (tail – hahaha) of the little guest we had who lost his tail.
Well, wouldn’t you know that the little dude has returned? With a new tail. But this time, he’s not hanging out in the kitchen to bathroom corridor – perhaps that was a bit of PTSD situation for him. Dude now scoots his way out of the air con unit in the living room! The unit is high up on the wall and is sometimes on during the day so I’m not sure how he hides out in there when it’s on! Very strategically I suppose!
The scooting strategy is to come out in the late evenings now – every evening! When we have lights on and are watching Netflix or CBS or something, and there is talking and noise. Brave little soul considering what happened to him! He makes his air con exit quickly and pauses on the wall, perhaps adjusting to the light and heads over to the plants. This is fine. Eat up those ants, buddy.
Having an unexpected guest in your house can perk your nerves. Even if the guest is a harmless little gecko.
Living in a tropical climate, you are going to have these guests. Ones like geckos or ants, or roaches, or something. If I had to choose – I choose gecko.
We had seen a few little guys here and there in this apartment, usually by the door or in the kitchen. No big deal. But one evening when we got back from boot camp, little dude was on the breakfast bar wall heading to the bathroom – perhaps? We figured he didn’t really need to be in there so we grabbed the kitchen bin – a small white plastic bin – covered him up and scooted him towards the front door. A couple of times in the scooting process, we got a glimpse of his little tail and we were afraid he might actually get it cut off in this life-saving event.
So we get him to the door and shoo him out. We felt pretty good about ourselves until we saw that, in fact, little dude has a hard time running away AND his tail is gone! We both got a bit grossed out and felt a bit bad, but at least dude was where he belonged and got away even though his tail was sitting on our welcome mat… (I’ll leave that mental image there)..
Being the people we are, googling gecko tails the next day was helpful because we learned that geckos will drop their tails in threatening situations. So then, we didn’t feel so bad! Dude would regrow a new one. Great adaptation.
Now that I’m back full force Jibbery Jabbering, I’ve been reading through the draft post titles from as far back as 2015. Some make complete sense to me, like: “Close to Home” or “A Trip to North America”. But for some, when I click on the link and there is no text, only a somewhat obscure title, I’m forced to ask myself:
“What I was thinking when I wrote this title?”
For example, while I think the title “I Wish There Were Blogs in the Late ’90’s”, I wonder what it is that sparked that thought. I can think of a few ideas, but not really sure what I was thinking with that! I found a note in my phone from January about my Uber smelling like lemons. And that seems to really inspire some thinking! I have to see if I can piece that together, or maybe I’ll just post the notes and we can all have a giggle.
I’ve been doing a lot of volunteer time with the folks at the Food Bank Singapore for the last couple of years. When I lived in New York, our school would often have food drives for the NYC Food Bank and so when I moved to Singapore and found that my school had the start of a relationship with the fairly new Food Bank Singapore, I thought that this some work I could carry through from my last experience.
In my roles at the International School, I supported the development of the relationship of the school and the Food Bank by inviting representatives to give information sessions to students, enabling students to hold events to support the Food Bank, and organizing volunteer Saturdays for staff and families.
Although I have left that school community, I didn’t want my relationship with the folks at the Food Bank to cease because this is eradicating hunger is a cause I strongly believe in. The system isn’t ideal here in Singapore, but they are doing fairly well securing donations from large companies, hotels and the general public for beneficiaries. This community support clearly benefits the 10% of Singaporeans that are food insecure, but of course, the hope is that over time these beneficiaries will be able to become food secure on their own (as with any public service to the community).
If you are looking for a place to volunteer, Food Banks offer a number of different opportunties. Here are some of the things I’ve helped out with:
- Inventorying food at the warehouse
- Packing food bundles for beneficiaries
- Help littlies pack bags for delivery in the community
- Canvassing at the Food Expo & other large events
- Raising awareness of local food waste problems
- Assist at the Grab & Go (free food pick-ups to beneficiaries)
- Leading students in sorting food
- Chatting with many volunteers
- Data entry of requests and food distribution
- Researching worldwide food waste issues, etc.
Likely there is something that you may be interested in helping with, so get out there and do it!