A few months ago, Joe and I decided to redo our bucket list. We had lost a few friends due to 9/11 related illnesses and reality was hitting us hard. Years before we had said we wanted to go on a cruise, either to Alaska or the Caribbean. Then our daughter came along and those dreams were put on hold.
We made another bucket list and those two places were still on it. But things have changed since the first time we made the list plus we were much younger back then and could do all the things we had written down. Then life has a way of throwing you curve balls and we had too many we could not catch, so the list was now a far away dream.
We knew, without saying the words, that life was becoming increasingly short, and we should revisit that list. I kept the Caribbean cruise on the top of the list and moved Alaska to the bottom because I just didn’t think we’d get there and to be honest, the Caribbean cruise was something we wanted to experience with our daughter, so that remained on the top of the list with Alaska earning an asterisk. (Just in case the stars were aligned just right for us.)
Our daughter added to that list and off we went to la la land to dream of these not so far away places.
Then about two weeks later, I’d get an email.
Congratulations! You’ve won a cruise!
(It said more than that but…
I thought…”Ha ha.. whose the joker who did this?”
I didn’t say anything that first day. But in cleaning out my mail box, there it was, the email I had ignored. This time I read it all the way to the end.
“Carissa? Can you read this for me? I think I won a cruise.”
Carissa ran to the computer.
“Mom, you did. But it doesn’t say where.”
Well we are believers that if you put it out there, it will come to you. Of course we also believe you’ve got to work for it as well.
I searched and searched and I saw on the site that there were cruises from the past but it wasn’t clear where this cruise was going.
A while after that, another email.
“Hi Sonia, my name is Cheryl. I’m from Cabot Creamery.”
I knew without reading any further that this was not a joke. This was real. Cabot Creamery is very real. It’s an amazing organization/co-operative family. It does some astounding things for people all over the world. And farmers, (yes, you read that right,) Farmers, the folks that work hard so we can have the best tasting food in life, are behind it all. (More on that later.)
We were going to Alaska.
We held our breaths. Do we choose the date? Or is it a set date?
We didn’t dare think about it again.
Carissa would say, “As much as I’d love to go with you and dad, if I can’t, this is a sign that you were meant to go. Remember that first list you made? I wasn’t born yet. It’s a sign mom. Don’t say no because of me. I get to have the place to myself for an entire week!” she smiled but I’ve never been that far away without my baby girl. (Well on vacation that is. I’ve been to Japan.;o)
The dates were set. She couldn’t go.
But she was okay with it.
“Mom, the same way you do things to help others, I do that as well. I can’t leave my students for one week. Not this close to the end of school. Please don’t say no. Go!”
And before I knew it, phone calls were made, arrangements were made, I was packing up suitcases and then unpacking them because the clothes didn’t work for me.
And then I’d “Meet” online a few of the other winners.
This was really happening. Soon we began asking questions, sharing tips and before I knew it, I was walking into a hotel in Seattle.
Roberta would greet me first.
“I knew it was you Sonia. Just like your picture.”
I thought, “Ugh. That fishbowl picture that Nate asked me to resend. Now everyone would see it. Ugh ugh ugh.”
Roberta had cow pants on. Yes she did and I believe she might be the only person on earth who could wear them and look good. And don’t get me started on the red plaid shirts of which I have a few and the black T-shirts the staff wore. Cool comfort. Stylish and not in my suitcase!
Right behind her was Cheryl. Ready with a newsletter, two name tags and the biggest smile.
This was for real.
When I woke up from this dream, I was on a bus, getting sashed. I saw the ship I would spend 6 nights with my husband – suddenly get bigger and bigger as we got closer and closer.
Then something splendiferous began to happen.
“Hi where are you from?”
“You must be Ramona! I recognize you from your pictures.”
“I saw your post on Facebook while you were waiting for the plane.”
It didn’t matter if we all had just met. Cabot worked their magic, again, and we were friends that just hadn’t met in person yet. The excitement on everyone’s faces were contagious. The stories behind each smile was inspiring.
At one point, I turned to my husband and said,”We are among the best of the best. What are WE doing here? Have you read what they have all done?”
My husband said, “You think they made a mistake? Cause I’m not getting off this ship.”
They did not make a mistake. And we were among the best of the best. And there are so many more like us out there and Cabot Creamery Co-operative puts us all together.
There was one thing that bothered my husband and I. How could we accept such a gift for our volunteer work? We don’t volunteer for attention, we don’t volunteer for gifts, we just volunteer. It’s what we need to do to give back to a community that has lost so much.
Our first workshop… the third item on the list for all of us to do/remember was to be proud. Be proud of your work. Be proud of what you do. When you are proud you honor your community. And it’s okay to be proud.
I let go of that uneasy feeling.I had an entire day to make up.
There are no words for the magnificent folks from Cabot Creamery. The entire staff does phenomenal work and not just putting the cruise together but what they do each and every day. And they do it for us, for you, for me, for all of us that give back to our communities. Many of you who have read my posts daily have seen me post my volunteer time on Facebook. Did you know that you could do the same thing as well. Again, not just for you. It’s not really about you, it’s about the work you do. (But Cabot does make it about you. They spoil you. And it feels oh so very good.) But in posting my volunteer hours, I am actually highlighting the organizations I volunteer for. I’m bringing awareness to the cause I believe in. And that in and of itself is what brings others to volunteer, not just for my organization but for others that post their hours as well. It’s a win win situation and I can’t see how this can’t work. It has and it does and it continues to do so.
So here’s how it works.
Go to RewardsVolunteer.
Sign up, enter the name of your organization(s).
Every time you volunteer, go to the site, clock in your hours, report and share and VOILA! You are done!
It’s that easy. If I can do it, so can you. And most of you know I am computer challenged. Every time you report and share, others get to see it. You are bringing awareness to your organization and that inspires others to do the same. And isn’t it what volunteering is all about? Giving back!
I have to admit though, I do get a lot out of volunteering.
I meet great people. I educate. I honor and remember and at the end of my day, I know I’ve made a difference.
Thank you to all the wonderful people who have given so much time of themselves, their hearts, their souls, and their passions have helped make a difference in the lives of so many. If you ever doubt that you have not done enough, just look at all the pictures posted on Facebook. Look into your camera’s and remember how great you felt because of all that you do.
I’d like to thank the farmers who made all of this possible. Your work is hard enough on a daily basis and yet you remember us. You appreciate us. We value you as well.
And last not least, to the Cabot Creamery Staff/Rewards Volunteer Staff. All the work you did to make this trip an amazing one was spectacular, superb, and amazing, We know you have families of your own. We know you do so much more than what we saw but what I’d like you to know is that you made so many people feel the love of the farmers, your love and you gave us all the experience of a lifetime, including a couple who 35 years ago gave up on a dream and got to live it 2 weeks ago.
Thank you! Merci. Prego, Arregat0, Gracias from our hearts to yours.
If you’ve read this far, check out RewardsVolunteer… you are making a difference now for your organization, now show the world who they are and what you do.
If I can do it….So can you!
#CabotCreameryCo-operative @CabotCreameryCo-operative #rewardsvolunteer
Hashtag DO IT! You will not regret it.
What you do today will make a difference tomorrow.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
And eat CHEESE! CABOT CHEESE…
Tell them Sonia sent ya!
(More pics to follow. Can’t post them all now. I have some volunteering to do.)