Archive | April, 2014

Picture Yourself as a Purposeful Volunteer: Citizen Science

16 Apr

My husband and I, still buzzing from our recent experience with Citizen Science in Belize, are looking for our next meaningful adventure and a way to challenge ourselves to learn and serve our purpose as part of our leisure time. That means a volunteer vacation where we can contribute to the world in general, and scientific understanding of the planet in particular.

As I started looking, I discovered that there are many Citizen Science Projects out there and some are part of volunteer vacations. Unlike many people our age however, we have not accumulated tons of vacation time — we are both serial entrepreneurs and have been working for companies we owned and operated since the late 1980’s and that means no paid vacations – nor are we in even semi-retirement so we need to find a trip that fits in our lives. With that in mind, we decided to go back to what we knew worked for us before see what else PoD Volunteer – the company that coordinated our trip to the Reef Preservation Project in Belize with ReefCI – had to offer.

Libby's crew

New friends from so many places. Yeah, we did lots of laughing :)!

On PoD’s site I found the section that described the type of volunteering we could do. Within that drop-down, I found a selection called Short Projects (1 to 3 weeks). No sense falling in love with a project that requires more than a 2 week commitment…. I found 21 projects, all over the world, that were 1 to 3 weeks stay…. Pretty cool.

PoD Volunteering

Now to choose the type of volunteering: Animals, Conservation, Child Care, Teaching, or Community. As I dug in more I found a wide variety of tasks and purposes for each of the trips ranging from sports coaching to habitat restoration to construction to teaching to animal reintroduction!

Next choice is location. What an amazing variety of locations. After much consideration and a conversation on Twitter with Gemma from PoD (follow them on Twitter @PoDVolunteer) we are looking seriously at a conservation project in Peru. This is a 2 to 4 week project that involves learning about and collecting data in the Amazon rain forest and includes so many cool activities – all based out of an award winning eco-lodge….

Screenshot (1)

Time to do a little more exploring and a bit of comparing! More to come!

Weekly Brain Challenge and The Stories of Our Lives

16 Apr

This week’s brain challenge rolls in our Be’s of Brain Health:  Be Active, Be Social, Be Engaged, and Be Purposeful.    That  means, on top of the mental gymnastics involved in the game One of These Things is Not Like the Others and the brain stimulation of reading the stories that go along with each of the photo puzzles, you will learn how easy it is to roll the Be’s into your everyday life!

Which photos is not exactly like the other?

bubs beach staticOcean Beach is a funky little neighborhood in San Diego.   Past the famous pier and almost to the end of the neighborhood’s limits is Dog Beach — a stretch of beach packed with people and their dogs.   What a great place to get out, walk, talk, and meet new people — all with a common love of dogs!  Take in the sound of the waves rushing up on the shore, people talk and laughing, and dogs barking and playing.  Feel the moist salt air as you breathe in and take it all in.   This activity just covers so many of the Be’s.  Be Active – go for a walk.  Be Social – hang out with people you like and meet people who share an interest.  Be Engaged – take in the sensory experience of the beach.   Add in a volunteer project like beach clean up and you hit them all!

Which one of these photos is not exactly like the others?

shoes sign static

Traveling is such a great brain health promoting activity and, just by paying attention to what is going on around you, you can learn so much.  This photo was taken in an old mining town off the beaten track in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.   Simple things are different and are there, waiting for you to notice.  The air is much thinner and the temperature is cooler in this mountain town than on the beach in San Diego so even the experience of breathing is a bit different and for some, a bit more difficult.  The old brick buildings were built to handle a different climate so structures are a bit different.   Even the types of stores vary from place to place.  In the window of the shoe store in this photo there were snow boots, hiking shoes, and work boots along with some dress shoes but not a flip-flop or sandal!   A clue to not only temperature but culture.   Learning something new while you travel, just by observing, let’s you Be Engaged.   Be Active by taking a walking tour.

Weekly Brain Challenge With a Twist

10 Apr

It is time to mix things up a bit.  New game to play on Monday — MicroMonday – and that means a new day for the Weekly Brain Challenge.   As long as we are changing the day, why not change the focus a bit too?

One of the  most rewarding ways to keep your brain active and engaged is through play.    That is what Cranium Crunches is all about — playing puzzles that use photographs of everyday life.   Add stories to the mix and you turn this approach into an even more powerful brain enhancing weapon.   Fire up your imagination as you read the stories behind the photos in each of the puzzles  below — as you solve them!   Now that is maximizing a brain exercise!

I love going for walks with people who make me think, laugh, and wonder.   This photograph was taken on a walk with a blogger friend, Patricia Patton.  She watched with great interest as I snapped photos along the way.  I don’t stop very often to get the perfect photo — I think that the photos in our games should remind us of our lives so, much of the time, what you see in our puzzles is what I see as I walk down the street.    We came to this corner, the one in the photo below and I said, “OK Patricia, this is going to be a puzzle.”   She studied the scene and when she nodded, letting me know that she was ready, I took this photo.   Which one of these photos is not quite like the rest?

1 Patricia static

I am lucky enough to live in place that has wonderful parks with incredible opportunities for people watching.  The photo in the following puzzle was taken during Winter Break and Balboa Park was packed with families pouring in and out of the museums or just hanging out enjoying the sunshine.   A young friend of mine and I were walking out of the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center after checking out the human body exhibit when I snapped this photo.   How quickly can you find the one photo that is not exactly like the others?


Bpark fountain static

I have always loved the beach but a trip to the beach takes on a new dimension when shared with a child.   The textures, sounds, smells, and impressions of  everything going on all change just a bit.   I envied this dad with his kids as I snapped this photo — he has so much to learn from them about a place that he seemed to love as well.     Got me thinking about how life changes, at warp speed, every time I blink my eyes.   How is one of these photos just a bit different than the rest?

beach family static

Being social is one of the cornerstones of good brain health.  When you make those social interactions intellectually stimulating and filled with laughter your body will reward you with a nourishing bath of feel good chemicals.   What better place to be social than a coffee shop?  I took this photo in the middle of a laugh session with 2 friends, Lois and Sheryl.  For some really strange reason, I did not have my camera with me so this one was taken with my phone.    I guess this proves that just about anything can be a cool puzzle — even a photo of the wall separating the Men’s and Women’s bathrooms at Starbucks.   What subtle changes do you see in one of these photos?

starbucks static

Do you have a photograph, that comes with a good story, that you would like me to turn into a puzzle?   Leave a comment and we will talk!

Thanks for playing!

Finding the Perfect Purposeful Project Fit: Global Volunteers

5 Apr

On my quest to find meaningful and purposeful ways for Baby Boomers to spend time, I stumbled on something and someone “truly amazing”: Global Volunteers and its co-founder Michele Gran.

global volunteers logo

As I dug through the organizational literature, I found that this nonprofit runs volunteer projects around the world – each one making a significant difference in the health and well-being of the community it serves, and each one providing needed and valuable services.

And, it gets better. This global organization is delivering all of this the exact, right way. All projects are done in conjunction with local organizations so that each project is built to best support the real needs of the community as seen from the inside. That hits us, the Baby Boomer generation at our core values, and hits me, on every single responsible, brain healthy activity level – we can Be Active, Be Social, Be Engaged, and Be Purposeful while being responsible and respectful of community and cultural values.

As I dug deeper, I found that about 30% of Global Volunteers’ current participants are Baby Boomers. I was so encouraged and intrigued by this focus that I reached out to Michele Gran, Trustee and Co-Founder, and she graciously agreed to speak with me.

When I asked Michele how she saw the value of Baby Boomers serving as volunteers, she explained that this 30 year old organization “grew up with the Baby Boom generation and to date Boomers have been the backbone of the Global Volunteers.”

Michele believes that we are the generation of change makers and that perspective makes us the perfect match for volunteer work. Service projects are the perfect vehicle for this huge group of ready willing and able-bodied people with a passion for fairness and social justice. Michele believes that we were raised on these values and, as we age, our generation will find service and service projects as a way to fulfill that need to find a deeper purpose.

And then the conversation turned to brain health and the St. Lucia project…. We talked about how brains need the proper environmental support to grow, develop, and thrive. With that basic premise in mind, Michele and her team built a demonstration project on St. Lucia as a perfect way to build the case for promoting healthy brain development – change the basic conditions, one community at a time, and change the world.

This video (only a 1:22 long and is worth every second) set the bait, got me to bite, and reeled me in – hook, line, and sinkers.

Talk about the most perfect fit…. More on Global Volunteers projects later but for now, it is so reassuring to know that I am not screaming into a vacuum. There are organizations out there, directed by people who “get it” – we just need to find what matches best for each of us.

What kind of service projects help you serve your purpose?

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