Today, I volunteered with my mom and dad at a habitat restoration project on the Mississippi River at Pig’s Eye. This River Action Volunteer Event was put on by the Mississippi River Fund and the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (i.e. my dad’s park… he’s the Superintendent).

We planted some seeds that naturally occur in this habitat, as well as picked up trash and recyclables, and cleared away invasive plants. It was super hot outside, but the work wasn’t horrible and we were doing a good thing for a great park. A lot of people in the Twin Cities area are probably not aware that the 72-mile stretch of the Mississippi River surrounding the Metro Area is a National Park (one of 392 Park Units in our country!).

Sure, part of the reason I agreed to volunteer today was to physically remove me from my thesis proposal stuff (can’t type anything if you’re elbows deep in invasive plants…). But another part of the reason why I agreed to volunteer is because volunteering is always a good thing. It’s a way for one to help give back, and it also makes one feel pretty darn good about him/herself.

Volunteering has been an important part of my life since I was younger… in Girl Scouts, we used to volunteer at a soup kitchen around the holidays. When I was an RA, we volunteered at Rural Action and Last Chance Corral. When I lived in Indiana, I spent a summer volunteering once a week at PALS – a place that gave therapeutic horseback riding lessons to children and adults with learning and/or physical disabilities. Not only did I get to assist in the lessons, but I got to groom horses and muck out their stalls… which was therapeutic for me πŸ™‚ PALS was amazing… I would love to volunteer at a place like that again.

If I was financially well off, I would not work and just volunteer. Volunteering is great because it helps others and (as an added bonus) is often waaaaaay more enjoyable and fulfilling than an actual job. Volunteering is super fun. None of the jobs I’ve ever had have been super fun. Almost all of them have been tolerable, and even at times enjoyable. But I’ve never had a job where I went home thinking “Man, I could do this every day for the rest of my life and be happy,” Maybe one day I will have a job that is super fun (and pays well) and I’ll be like, “Oooooooooooooh, I get it. Work doesn’t have to suck all of the life out of you.”

Besides the volunteering, I played a couple rounds of Yahtzee w/my mom and had a super great chat with Robin (who did well presenting at the conference she just got back from – yay Robin!).

And when I hung up from our super great chat, I kinda laughed to myself because I was thinking about what I was going to write on my blog tonight. And I laughed because the title of this blog is “Two Degrees and Separation.” And when I first started this blog, the “Separation” had to do with me being hundreds and hundreds of miles away from all of my grad school friends. But you know what, right now, I’m actually super thankful that I am hundreds and hundreds of miles away.

The visit back to Ohio in July was a real eye-opener. I might not have realized it then, but all the crap that went down then and since then has lead me to understand that I should be grateful for this epic distance. I am hundreds and hundreds of miles away from high schoolesque drama, people who keep ridiculous secrets, and people who have yet to grasp what being someone’s friend actually entails. Being separated from people who I just spent almost an entire year with is a good thing – like I get a fresh start.

I’m not saying that I am glad to be done with everything about Ohio. I made some great friends this past year. And though some of those friendships have drastically changed (some for better, some for worse), I’ve grown from all of them. I have a couple more notches on my life experience belt and I am more ready to face the world. My mom used to give the “everything happens for a reason” speech every now and again. So, even though at times I thought things were super unfair or extra crappy for some reason or another, I’m still here to tell the tale, and even laugh about most of it. I know who my real friends are πŸ™‚ And to the others who have gone by the wayside, I hope you have a nice life. Honest! Have a good one.

So, as I am slowly becoming at peace with myself (not including the whole thesis proposal stuff… I am definitely not at peace with that yet!), I will leave you with a “Have a swell week!”

I have a great week ahead of me – my brother will be in town and my family (minus my sister who is in Kansas – boo!) is going to have an awesome time!!!

Have a great day πŸ™‚