The Financial Value of Volunteers

25% of Americans Volunteer – How to increase?

Last night I was sitting in a PTA meeting with at least 25 other adults. We all gave 90 minutes of our life to sit in a meeting to talk about and think about how to improve the school. Even at just $15/hour (and I am sure several of the adults were worth more than that), $562.50 of people time was spent on that meeting.

I have been described as a serial volunteer. My mom worked closely with our school and church so I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t part of volunteer projects. I can remember being 6 and sorting food at Christmas time for food baskets. I remember organizing, painting and doing all kinds of odd jobs as a kid.

My first self-chosen volunteer job was to work at the LandTrust. I have also always been an introvert so I spent many hours walking the local trails so it made sense to volunteer to help clean them up. Which I did, but I spent more time helping in the office with fundraising mailers and calls.

So thinking about last night and then thinking about my experience, I wondered how many people volunteer. I found this article Stats reveal how many Americans volunteer @CNN. Bonus! 25% of survey respondents volunteer which correlates to some serious volunteer hours. Another 2016 article from Huffpost America Does Not Have Enough Volunteers, gives some great statistics on just what this means: 62 million volunteers and $184 billion in service hours.

Sadly, 75% choose not to volunteer. I get it. I have had periods where I volunteered to my heart’s content and others where I could barely give an hour a week. Life happens.

So what do we need to do to attract more volunteers? I believe a key for young professionals is making the tasks relevant to their career path. A key for mid-career is providing opportunities that let them use experience and providing it in bite size portions that can fit into a busy schedule.

Pokémon Go: A Skill?

Yesterday, an interviewer asked me “Can you give examples of dedication and follow through?”  My first, very quick, fleeting idea was to talk about my Pokémon Go hobby.  I immediately switched to another idea and instead talked about a work project.

Later in the evening, I wondered if there was a way to take my hobby and turn it into a positive during an interview.  I have other hobbies (i.e writing, reading, coaching) that are easy to spin towards the positive. How could I spin a mobile game where I catch little electronic monsters and spar my monsters against other little monsters?

For those that are not familiar with the game: Pokémon Go as defined by Wikipedia gives a great overview.  Yes, the game is still very much alive. The community is active on all social media platforms. We are very active in the physical world (IRL) and have very little problem finding each other when it is time to take a gym from a raid boss.

Case in point: when I was finishing my degree in Madrid, I did not have any friends in the area that play Pokémon Go but I was able to find people on the streets gathered for raids.  I spent an entire afternoon with one group walking around the city. Pokéstops are often popular tourist attractions, so as we caught Pokémon, they also gave me historical information about the city.

Back to the spin… there are different ways to play and I am not the most hardcore. So, based on my playing style, I can think of the following skills:

  • Dedication – I find a spin and a catch practically every day. It does not take me long, only 20 minutes a day but I am dedicated to making it happen.
  • Research – I was not a Pokémon expert before I started to play. Now, I subscribe to weekly summaries on Reddit, Google News and BlogLovin’. I regularly research the newest release news.
  • Strategy – I use all of my research to determine the strategy that works for me. My goal is to cultivate a strong Pokédex with IVs over 90% in just 20 minutes as a day because I have lots of other stuff to do.
  • Collaboration – I like going after the larger Pokémon that can only be gained with a group of people working together. I have a Discord account just for Pokémon Go.

I need to consider this some more but I think there are ways to spin this. Of course, there is also the issue of the audience perception: another post for deeper thoughts.

I would love to hear your comments!  How would you sell your hobbies?

Old School: 7 Habits

Over the years, many friends have mentioned that the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey literally “Changed their life!” It has even become a popular culture reference with people referencing what it takes to be a Highly Effective Person. (And if you click the link above it is quite the marketing machine as well.)

I consider myself to be driven and effective at getting things done but right now I am uncertain of my direction.  I do not know what I really want to do career wise.  I had made many plans but they aren’t really working right now and my momentum is decreasing.  So, what better time to read a book?

In the first pages, the author talks about how his relationships with his children have given him insight into his own immaturity and foibles. I can definitely corroborate that finding. Every day when I talk to my kids, I am humbled by how great they are and how easy it is to make mistakes as a parent.  They are also so accepting of me and worry when I worry. The other day my oldest told me “You don’t need a job. Being a mom is a job.”

I know that my kids are the reason that I am in my current indecisive crisis. In the last two years, I have become accustomed to being there when they have something at school.  When I worked in an office, I needed to be there for my coworkers and was always torn between the two obligations.  Also, it could take hours after the work day to let the happenings at the office go so I could enjoy being with my kids.  Sometimes, it didn’t happen until they were already asleep and then I would log back in to work to make sure everything was still okay.

My brain resonates with the words as Mr. Covey describes the difference between the Personality Ethic and the Character Ethic.  I feel that the world is very focused on Personality. I hope and think that people still respond to Character.

It is definitely not fashionable to be reading this right now but it is the right time for me. This is going to be a good mental journey and I am glad that I started this little detour.

Gratitude for a Pinch of Hunger

my life is great, waking up hungry in my world is a privilege

I am so lucky because a pinch of hunger is all I feel and it is self induced hunger.

A few weeks ago, I started the practice of not eating after 6 PM.  This is not because I believe that 6 PM is some magic number that will help me lose weight.  I stop at 6 PM because on most days I consume 1,400 calories by this time of the day.  Based on my lifestyle, 1,400 calories is what I should eat each day in order to lose a pound a week.  Since stopping at 1,400 has not worked for me; I have set a schedule and stick to it.  In the past few weeks, I can stick to the plan 5 out of 7 days which does reduce my consumption.

My body seems to be good with the plan.  I do not go to bed feeling hungry.  If I do feel like I need a little something, a glass of water or a teaspoon of honey into a cup of tea is satisfying. I wake up in the morning ready to eat but not uncomfortably hungry, my body just lets me know it is time to eat.

Through it all, I cannot help but have gratitude. I need to lose weight because there is so much food around me. I need to eat less and exercise more because I am privileged to work inside sitting at a desk with air conditioning instead of wearing out my muscles in physical labor.  I am privileged to only feel a small pinch of hunger that is easily remedied.

I continue on my health journey but am grateful for the life I lead.



Dry January = Over

November and December are crazy months of eating and drinking.  When I was in Spain I learned about a thing from the UK: Dry January.  On the day I read about it, I was recovering from too much wine after the completion of our last graded class, so it was particularly apt.

person pouring wine into wine glass
Photo by on

Starting on January 1, I stopped drinking alcohol for the month.  Health wise, it was very easy.  My body easily fell into the groove.  Sleeping improved – my watch tells me I went from an average of 6 hours of sleep to 8-8.5 hours a night.  Although, that might have happened because my MBA was over and I wasn’t staying up late posting and writing.

I did not lose any weight but I heard that is a side benefit for many.  At 3600 calories a pound that is around 30 drinks so I can see how that would not be a weight loss differentiator for most.

For me the hardest part was social. Alcohol helps my extroverted talkative side come out. However, it was easy enough to fall into listening instead of talking. It was good to listen to people and hear their stories. So, bonus points for learning that my introverted self can survive parties just as well.

I do not plan to continue with the absolutely no alcohol rule. Reduction is good though, and I intend to maintain a new lower limit.  I learned from a friend that she only drinks once a week and special occasions. That sounds doable and healthy.



“To Blog” is Technically Interesting

First thing of the day:  Experimenting in the Kitchen!  First vegetable pickling attempt!

The world of blogging is an interesting place. This afternoon, I am trying to add a post from my Hootsuite login. Theoretically, this allows me to also post this to other social media as I so desire.

Since I was last here, it was very interesting to find out that the rules have changed on posting to Facebook. A few years ago, I used Hootsuite to schedule and post updates to all of my personal social media accounts to save time. It let me work ahead without overflowing my social network with a ton of information just because I happened to have time to post photos and share stories.

Fun stuff working through all of the tools.

Visualize Weight Loss Goals

Real Appeal Question:  What are the goals you would like to reach with the Real Appeal program?


  • It is November 2018.  By my anniversary in February 2019, I want to have lost 10 lbs and be solidly at or below 175.  This is 2 lbs/month, doable even during the holiday season.
  • Starting now, I will increase my exercise level so that I am working out at least 5 times a week with a mix of strength and cardio.


  • My goal weight is at or below 150.  I know this will be a struggle as it has taken me 10 years to get to the point I am now and I need to go back and change lots of habits.
  • I want to complete another marathon.  I want to train correctly and I want to finish strong.  The first one I did was good but I fell apart in the last two miles.  I can do better.
  • I will be an example of a healthy, athletic, strong adult for my children and I will support my husband in everything he needs to be healthy and meet his goals.130434-751-016f