Why I volunteer for the YW

It all started 5 years ago with a sequence of events that avalanched into a domino effect of darkness, depression, and anxiety.

I was still reeling from the aftermath of my daughter’s near-death experience after the birth of her second child; a beautiful baby boy with big blue eyes and a huge grin.  I was
still dealing with the sudden, tragic death of my father 8 years earlier. I had reconnected with my paternal uncle now that he was living in Ontario again. He has a lot of health problems so I cook meals  for him and check on him everyday. To top everything off, I was living with “empty nest syndrome” because my son (the baby) moved to Alberta 2 years ago.  For the first time ever my world came to a screeching halt. It felt like I’d just been unexpectedly spun off the  musical carousel that had been my life for so many years. I found myself unemployed, in a terrible economy with bleak prospects. I wasn’t getting any younger and I couldn’t ignore my health issues any longer. I had to admit that I wasn’t invincible. I had to learn new ways of doing things instead of the habitual method I had utilized all my life to reach my goals and be successful. I could no longer just plow ahead and push harder. I had to learn how to stop putting myself at the bottom of the list everyday. I had to learn how to stop beating myself up for not being perfect every minute, everyday.  I had to learn new habits and find new methods to achieve my goals. I had to stop comparing myself to the younger, healthier me. I had to learn who I was as a person now that my whole world was completely different. I had to figure out how to maneuver through this new landscape while I felt so raw and fragile. I had to deal with myself without all of the distractions that life as a working wife and mother brings. To say I was stressed out would be an understatement!

That’s where the YWCA Niagara Region comes in! After many sleepless nights flip-flopping in bed I went downstairs to use my laptop in the dining room. I didn’t even know what I was looking for. I just knew that something had to give and I refused to be a slave to my insomnia. I needed to invest time into myself to find out where this new chapter of my life was taking me. I needed to learn how to live my life now that I was starting to get some of my life back. I had to believe that things were only going to get better. I needed to believe that things were going to get better.  I needed to confront and destroy my anxiety demons. I was faced with a fresh clean slate and no idea what to do click on volunteeringwith it. I had been in crisis mode for so long that even my breathing had changed. I found myself paralyzed with fear of the next  disaster certain to be around every corner.  I was wound up tighter than the proverbial top. My shoulders were always tensed up around my ears.  I had to learn to accept that I had some chronic health problems and physical limitations that couldn’t be ignored. I had to learn how to pace myself  after many years of working and raising a family. I had to stop beating myself up and/or living in denial. I had to accept the fact that it had been a wild bumpy ride filled with incredible highs and devastating lows. It had felt like a magical dance party with many people dancing in a frenzied motion with the music getting faster and louder. Spinning faster and faster and faster until I was dizzy and couldn’t catch my breath. Without warning, my life as I’d known it came to a crashing halt and stopped abruptly. The ringing in my ears was deafening. The music stopped and I was out of breath and sweating profusely. I was dazed and confused. I’d spent the last few years assaulted by one tragedy after another; with no time to time to recover before the next  disaster hit.  I was trying to figure out what to with myself now that everything I had ever known was completely different. So, I sent a message to the YWCA via the link provided on the Information Niagara page.

I met with Carli a few days later at the YWCA  location in Niagara Falls. I was extremely nervous and my self-confidence had long ago disappeared. I had lived with extreme anxiety the last few years and it had clouded my view of the future. I was no longer sure of myself. But, from the moment I sat down with Carli and she started to speak in a calm, encouraging manner I started to  feel that I had made the right choice.  We talked about the positive impact that the YWCA has on people from all walks of life and the community in general. I expressed my desire to help others because I know all too well how important it is to have a safety net when you fall.    Finally, after years of chaos and heartbreak I could see light at the end of the tunnel. I had found a place that would help me gain a sense of perspective while I gave back to the community at the same time. I would be able to slowly regain structure and motivation. In exchange for my time and skills I was given the chance to pick myself up again and find my way on the next part of my life journey.
I was surrounded by such supportive and encouraging woman. I felt like I was in a safe place where I could learn new things and acclimate myself to the work world again. I felt empowered by the encouragement of everyone I met at the YWCA and appreciated for my time.  Slowly I learned to trust my instincts again and allowed myself to get excited about this new journey I was on. I’ve learned so much more about myself and our community because of my involvement with the YWCA. I’m proud to help with such a worthy cause. I’m eternally grateful for the opportunities  and knowledge I’ve gained. I’m honoured to learn new things from such a diverse, open-minded group of intelligent human beings. I honestly feel like I’ve gotten so much more out of my involvement with the YWCA than I ever expected. By reaching out to help others; I inadvertently ended up helping myself as well. It’s a win-win situation! Oh, and I sleep much better at night.

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