One of those things that I've realized, as an introvert, is that I still need community. No matter how tired or frustrated people sometimes make me, I still need the contact, still need to toss ideas around with people, and still delight in meeting new people and getting to know them.
So I'm back in a position with our church, and it's as the head of the Pastoral Relations Committee, the people of the congregation who are supposed to help tend to the covenantal relationship between the pastors and the congregation. It's an interesting job, and I held it for a while when I was moderator-elect, before I became moderator. I'm oddly comfortable with it, too, as my main function really is to listen. Listen to the pastors, listen to members of the congregation, and listen to how things are going between them.
I've also been joining a few of the small groups, people that are gathering together for various reasons, but the One Anothering group's only goal was to get to know each other better. Sometimes they do it through books, sometimes through other things, and it's been really good to get to know these people and to be known. It's something that probably wouldn't happen in any other organization, without the trappings of some other pursuit, so I'm glad that I'm a part of a church for that.
Just after my trip to Oakland, John and I suddenly thought about what we were going to do with ourselves for Thanksgiving. We knew that the local place that feeds the local homeless was doing something with our local Old Chicago, and when we looked online, there were exactly two spots left as wait/server staff. So, without even really knowing what work we'd have to do, we both signed up for it. The website said to show up at 9 am and that it would be a shift all the way to 3:30, but it turned out that 9 am was just when all the volunteers came in, signed up, and got their t-shirts.
We started serving around 10:30, after we got a quick tour of everything, got assigned out tables, and were told that we had to basically 1) get drinks, 2) figure out how many adults and children there were, 3) get the food for them, and then 4) get dessert for them. There was a bussing crew that was supposed to clear everything that wasn't being used anymore, and there were crews prepping and plating the food and desserts as well as pouring the drinks, so we were supposed to be able to just grab things and serve them.
It wasn't quite that simple, especially in that the initial rush of everyone coming in at the same time meant that there was a huge backup for food at the beginning; but with a staggering of people leaving, it got smoother with time.
I was kind of afraid of not being able to lift with my neck and arm problem, but the one time I ended up with eight people at a table meant for four, another server helped me carry all the dinners out. I also helped out other servers with their tables whenever they were busy with something else, and that felt good, too. I had absolutely no problem with any of the lifting requirements and that felt really good, kind of like regaining an ability I thought I'd lost.
There was one family where the father in charge said that he'd come in for the regular Old Chicago food, and was surprised by the "you get a turkey meal whether you ordered it or not" and was even more surprised by the "you don't have to pay anything" aspect. So he asked if he could donate, and I told him that he could up front. He was there with an OUR Center (our local resource center that was created by a bunch of churches who decided it would be more useful to support a central food bank rather than each of them trying to create one and compete with each other) regular, who quietly grumbled, "I told you so..." when I told them he didn't have to pay. *laughs*
Nearly all the families were grateful for the hot food and the plentitude of it all. I am now far more grateful for waitresses who remember all the drink orders without writing them down, and all the ways serving can go sideways. It was worth doing the hard work, though, seeing so many who were so happy with their food. One man in a wheelchair asked if his friend could have a meal, and when I flew through the line to get a hot plate, both men thanked me profusely when I got it to them.
It was even fun just putting mounds of whipped cream on the pies for everyone. *laughs* I really enjoyed that from when I used serve soft-serve ice cream, and getting it to pile up prettily was really fun when I could see the kids' eyes light up at that much whipped cream. That was really fun.
By the time we were done, though, we were both pretty exhausted, and I didn't really have any appetite for turkey, even though all the volunteers could eat a meal themselves after it was all done. John had posted a picture of our adventure on Facebook while we were doing it, and one of our friends asked if we wanted to have dinner with them that night, and that they were having salmon stuffed with crab instead of turkey.
We had just enough time to shower and change, and then we went to their house for Thanksgiving, and I didn't miss Jet much at all. They included us into their family celebration with all good cheer, and it was amazing to be able to accept the hospitality and the comforting company.
I was very grateful. Which, I guess, is what Thanksgiving should be about.
One of the things I've also picked up in the last couple of months was going back to the Longmont Recreation Center to just work out, mostly two and sometimes three times a week. I started by trying to get into the lap lanes at the pool, but it was so crowded, I gave up and went to the elliptical machines, and that's been working out to a certain extent. I went for a week by myself, and then John started joining me, and after his 55th birthday (which, as usual, was after mine), we both qualified for the senior prices. So we both decided to buy an annual pass, which was just a bit less than the price of going once a week for the whole year. So going two or three times a week would be a deal.
They also have all the equipment I need for my Physical Therapy exercises and stretches so that's been really good, including a foam roller that is long enough for me to fit all of my back and neck and head on so I can do my passive stretches without another head support. It helps a lot.
One of the things that I picked up from Oakland that wasn't so good for me was Pokemon Go. I am really enjoying the game aspects of it, and having it get me out of the house, but the need to look at my phone means that my neck issues aren't going away as quickly anymore. I'm not healing much past a certain point. Though, looking back at it, I may well have been in this kind of shape before the time when my left arm went on fire. So I may have gotten back to where I was before the really bad stuff happened, but there's enough every day issues with the shape I'm in that those aren't going away, even with the exercise.
We'll see. I'll keep stretching and lifting and working at it, but there's only so much I can do against age and gravity. *laughs quietly*