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More Than: Kelly of Pugtails

March 13, 2010

Hello lovely THS readers! My name is Kelly and I am new to this whole blogging thing, but I was excited when Heather invited even non-bloggers like myself to participate in her More Than series. (and what a great series it has been so far!)

For me, healthy living is much more than eating right and working out.  One aspect that is important to me is volunteering.  I believe that giving your time and talents to those who need them most is a part of keeping a healthy body and mind. Volunteering has been something that has been a part of my life since high school. In high school, I was a part of a honors club and part of the purpose of the club was to volunteer in the community.  Each week we were given opportunities to do many different volunteer activities.  I did a variety of things including making Pies for underprivileged families for Thanksgiving, ringing bells for the Salvation Army during the holiday season, and collecting donations at the local holiday lights display.  Since then, I am always on the lookout for volunteer opportunities that fit my interests.

I started seriously volunteering about 4 years ago.  I was about to graduate from college, had a nice off campus apartment with my then boyfriend (now husband) and all I wanted was to have a dog.  I had wanted a dog for as long as I could remember and I thought now would be the perfect time.  (A dog was on my Christmas list every year since I was in fourth grade!) After much discussion, we decided we had neither the time or money to commit to a dothen, it made me think about how I could satisfy my dog craving without actually owning g.  At first, of course, I was disappointed. But a dog. 

I started volunteering at the local Humane Society.  It was at least a month between the time that I applied to volunteer and actually started volunteering.  One thing that I have learned over the years about most volunteer organizations is that several of them seem to be disorganized.  Some also tend to have specific needs and policies on who can volunteer because of the nature of the position. You have to be persistent if you are really interested.  I started out walking dogs at the main shelter.  It did satisfy my dog craving and I learned a bunch about dog training in the process. I loved hanging out with the dogs, walking around the fields near the shelter, feeling good about myself because I was making the dogs feel good.  And I was having fun.  This experience made me realize I really enjoy dog training, which made the volunteer position even more rewarding and fun.

Soon after, I also began volunteering with cats at one of their satellite shelters.  The satellite shelter was more convenient for me and more relaxing. I enjoyed walking the dogs, but walking outside in wintery conditions and driving a half hour to get to the shelter added stress and was making the experience less enjoyable. Two hours every other week hanging out with a room full of cats and kittens was the perfect balance between my love of animals and wanting to help the animals find their forever home without making it see like a job.

Fast forward two years.  My then boyfriend – now husband – got me a dog for Christmas! The first year that I DIDN’T have a dog on my Christmas list, I got a dog.  

So, what does this all have to do with healthy living? 
I truly believe that healthy means as much mentally as it does physically.  If I am angry, sad, or stressed, I tend to eat more, be lazier and not care as much about myself and my health. Mental health and physical health go hand in hand.

But even more than volunteering just to volunteer, I believe it has to be a part of something you enjoy doing.  Everything is more enjoyable if you love doing it – even (and especially!) if you are not getting paid to do it. 

Not everyone can find their dream job on the first try, but there are tons of volunteer organizations out there in every field that are looking for people to help their cause.  Spending a couple hours a week doing something you love will make a difference in your life, and the lives of others.  Giving your time and talents is not only a healthy choice to make for your mind, but it can also give you great networking opportunities, develop skills, and may ultimately lead you to that perfect job that you are searching for.

Doing something you love helps to clear you mind and ease your tensions.  This may even be as little as donating items to a charity that is important to you,  giving money to someone you know who is running a race to benefit a charity, or reading books with children at your local Elementary school. 

I still volunteer with the cats for two hours every other week. I recently found a website called Craft Hope which I was very excited about.  It is dedicated to bringing crafters together to donate hand made items to those in need.  Every few months they have a different opportunity.  The last one I did was for the Red Scarf project.  They rallied people together to donate handmade scarves to children who were orphaned who were about to go to college. Arts and crafts is what I love to do (my degree is in Art Education) so I was excited to donate some scarves. (I knit so much that I basically already had the scarves made when I found out about the project!)

My latest volunteer endeavor is with a local farmers market.  I am helping out with their website design, advertising, newsletter, and everything else in that realm.  This has been the most “real” volunteering job that I have had, which is exciting and scary.  It is always hard to balance a paying job and an unpaid job. That is one of my biggest struggles with volunteering.  I’m not looking to replace my paid job with volunteering, but I feel like I am lucky to have a flexible job and a wonderful husband with a well paying job so that I can volunteer for a few of the hours a week that I might otherwise be getting paid to work. 

So spread a little love doing what you love to do.  Do something that will make you happy, and help others.  Your heart and mind will thank you!

To learn more about Kelly, check out her tumblr and twitter feed.

You can find all sort of inspiration scattered throughout Kelly’s postings!  Heather has quite a few recent favorites of Kelly’s motivational glimpses – a few of them  can be found here, here, here, here, or here.

Make sure to also check out a few ways to help Kelly make a difference: bowling for colons and relay for life.

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