a peek inside the fishbowl

27 Jan, 2009

Bustin’ those January blues: Tuesday

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

I went to bed early last night and actually woke up without having to force myself out of bed. I was a little creaky and sore this morning (from the gym yesterday) but once I got moving I limbered up quickly enough.

I’ve been thinking about how easy it is to slip into a state of vegetativeness and how hard it can be to motivate yourself to get out of that slump. It’s hard. It takes effort. But time and time again I realize that the small bit of effort is worth it.

Would I rather (a) feel tired and crabby, or (b) spend some focused energy on feeling good?

I’m going with the latter.

One good breakfast (huge bowl of oatmeal), a mini-workout on the Wii Fit, and one latte later I’m sitting here in front of my LiteBook (yes, it works!) thinking about how the rest of my day is going to unfold.

I’m doubling today’s task. It’s a two-fer:

  • help someone out (i.e. volunteer, or do a good deed)
  • do something out of my comfort zone

As it happens I was asked to do participate in something today, something that embodies both points. I will describe it later today. There is a mightily shameful confession involved in this one too. Gah. But I will say this: volunteering does make me feel good. The kind of volunteering I’ve been doing lately is fairly low-key. I’m on the board of our community association and I maintain their website. I also volunteer at Sarah’s school from time to time. It’s about all the volunteering I can muster. (There is such a thing as volunteer burn out!)

I think the trick is to find a cause you connect with and find the right balance for you.

Volunteering makes me feel good in many ways. I’m getting out of the house, meeting people, helping people, and using my brain. All good things, right?

Do you volunteer? Do share! If not, what kind of volunteering would you consider doing?

(Will update this post later today with the results of my two tasks.)

Update: 9:15 p.m.

Well, this day sure did not turn out like I had expected.

A couple of weeks ago a friend asked me if I would come help out for one afternoon in a food kitchen for the homeless. Here’s where my unpleasant confession comes in. My first reaction: no thanks. I hate even admitting that. How awful. But then I gave myself as a swift kick in the pants. I was asked. I had nothing booked. I had to help, even if it was out of my comfort zone.

I was all set to go (and strangely nervous!) but then my friend called to tell me her kids (all three, I think!) were down with chicken pox. It was a no-go. I had no way to get there.  (Fortunately the kitchen had lots of people coming out to volunteer so we weren’t leaving anyone in the lurch. Phew.)

But this left me without a good deed to do. I thought about my friend at home with her children and the idea came to me. I got out my recipe book and made a couple loaves of oatmeal molasses bread. The girls brought thr prettiest one over, (the other was a bit of a dud), along with a get-well card Sarah made.

Not exactly what I had planned, but I think it worked out okay. Good deed done!

And now, I just want to lie on the couch and drink tea. I’m zonked.

14 Responses to "Bustin’ those January blues: Tuesday"

1 | Lynn

January 27th, 2009 at 9:49 am


Lately I’ve been all about the PTA — I’m doing way too much work over there. I’m kind of drunk on the power, though. Making things happen! Directing the course of young minds! Raking in the praise! Love it.

2 | andrea

January 27th, 2009 at 9:56 am


For sure, there is something to be said for the power and the glory! :)

3 | Soire

January 27th, 2009 at 9:59 am


I used to volunteer a lot more, but I constantly felt like my life was eating me.

Now, I do web-maintenance and car-seats for SEATS for Kids (www.seatsforkidscanada.com) and I coach Minor Rugby in the Summer. It’s fun to teach kids the basics of a sport I love!!

4 | Caroline

January 27th, 2009 at 11:08 am


I’ve been volunteering at Hospice at Maycourt for ten years. It has absolutely changed my life and every Monday night from 6 – 9 pm is my gift to myself – a chance to make a difference in people’s lives.

5 | Krista

January 27th, 2009 at 1:16 pm


I have volunteered on the executive board of my kids’ nursery school for 2 years and will do so again next year. It can be a lot of work, but it is rewarding and I enjoy being part of the decision-making that impacts the school and the children.

6 | Chantal

January 27th, 2009 at 1:17 pm


I also volunteer for my sons school council. I enjoy that. Occasionally I do stuff for our Community Association. But I usually do one off things cause I don’t have time for more than one long term commitment at a time.

7 | Lindsay

January 27th, 2009 at 1:55 pm


I`m a new mom, so `no`to the volunteering currently! But I work in community development and child & youth work and tend to work WAY more hours than I get paid for, so I think that counts as volunteering :)

8 | LO

January 27th, 2009 at 3:29 pm


I do volunteer. I used to volunteer too much. Now I pick something I like so it’s a win win for all. I am a yoga instructor and I often teach Karma (free) yoga for different groups:)

9 | Gwen

January 27th, 2009 at 3:35 pm


I volunteer in my daughter’s jk class once a month. I love it and would do it more often, but with another little one, it’s hard. As they get older though, I look forward to becoming more involved!

10 | Lindsay

January 27th, 2009 at 6:31 pm


I volunteer with an organization called Helping With Furniture. We pick up gently used furniture from donators and deliver it to refuge claimants who are moving from a shelter into their first apartment/home. Every Wednesday night I move furniture and I love it. I started volunteering there just after my divorce and it saved me in a lot of ways.

They actually just recently got Charitable status and they asked me to join their first Board of Directors. It’s very exciting to be part of the whole thing!

I could gush for pages about this organization!

11 | Kim

January 27th, 2009 at 7:58 pm


I volunteer for one morning a week at the library in my son’s school. Naturally, I picked the time slot when his class goes there so I could spy on him and have a little cuddle and kiss (he’s in kindergarten so he’s not embarrassed by me yet). I have to admit I did a little jig when I got a call yesterday to say that the library had an event going on this week so my services would not be needed. It means I get the morning to myself!

12 | Shirliana Glassberg

January 28th, 2009 at 2:23 am


Wow. I totally relate to the whole having expectations that inevitably fall through at times!

I’m a laid off webmaster with lots of time on my hands – I can only spend so much time looking for work. Anyway – you inspired me to find somewhere to volunteer on those off times.

Have a great week. I’m sure I’ll be back! Shirliana

13 | vanessa

January 28th, 2009 at 7:55 am


i volunteered with a community charity & helped to clear a natural spring/pond in trackside waste ground and plant meadow flowers in a community project . it was hard work but v satisfying on a hot day.not having a garden it made a nice change disovering & learning , finding hips and hawes & apple trees growing wild and discussing ideas with a bunch of people with unknown resources of knowledge .don’t muddle up the elderflower with cowslip parsley it tastes horrendous and the red rose hips make great tea but put them in a plastic bag as they are liable to squash if they are ripe and make a mess s of your pockets .

14 | Shan

January 28th, 2009 at 11:17 pm


My husband and I are both on the parent’s council at our daughter’s school. I as secretary. He as co-chair. We help out at events at the school when we are able. I knit scarves and hats for a local organization to hand out to people in need. My husband was just elected to the executive board for our local agricultural society. We’re also very much involved in our local fair. My husband sits on multiple committees and I will be taking over the job of tabulating and paying out the winnings for fair entries made by school children this year. And that’s about our limit. Maybe a little over our limit sometimes when you factor in home and work and kids.

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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