Since my retirement five years ago I have made a promise to myself to do two things every single day: 1) Learn something new and 2) Do some good for someone. That is what I have to do to keep that promise to myself and enjoy my retirement.
Guess what one of those two things is that I do… yep, its writing a blog about Pitt Football (and obviously other issues) for my fellow Pitt fans to enjoy. That is the really fun thing in my life.
But I also push myself to get ‘out of myself ‘because, lets face it – the Pitt POV is pretty self-serving for me. So I volunteer for a lot of different things and boy do I love that – even the crappy parts which sometimes happen.
I work at a Homeless Day Resource Center where I break up fights sometimes (helps to be 6’6″ and 255). I work with Wounded Warriors, I volunteer to read/perform short stories to audiences at the local library, I judge high school STEM competitions, etc… Some are on a continuing basis and some are a one-off gig.
What I’m getting to here is that I’ve been asked to, and agreed to, do something new and be a “Human Book” in my County Library’s system’s Human Library Project. It is basically a project where somebody with something unique about their lives volunteers to share that with others who may have never met anyone like that before.
What that entails is described well in this piece:
Howard County Library System will become the first public library system in Maryland to add a new genre to its catalog next year that gives customers an opportunity to learn about a different culture or community by borrowing a Living Book from The Human Library™. The new initiative embraces the adage “Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover,” and works to build a positive framework for open and honest conversations that lead to greater acceptance, tolerance and social cohesion in the community.
Sounds pretty weird doesn’t it? But weird is what I find myself doing these days. What do I have to offer this project?
Well, I haven’t really ever talked about this on here but I’m a 100% VA Disabled Veteran and a large part of that is because upon leaving the military I was diagnosed as having a “severe” case of PTSD. That was based on my experiences as a Search and Rescue Planner and as a First Responder on other rescue cases. I did over eight years of that. Funny thing – you tend to forget the ones you saved but you never forget the one you didn’t.
The people I have shared that info with are always shocked to hear it. They all say you would never know it by looking at me or even knowing me rather well. Because I do not fit the stereotype of a military vet with that illness.
So I share my own story and bust those stereotypes and myths surrounding PTSD. This illness comes in all shapes and sizes and affects everyone with it in different ways.
Why am I sharing this with you all? Well, first to let you know there is indeed a fulfilling and rewarding life after retirement, so many of friends my age think life just gets boring and that isn’t true if you don’t let it, and secondly… well, to advise you not to judge a book by its cover.
I’ll be doing this event on March 11th at the Miller library in Howard County, MD. from 1:00 – 5:00 pm. There will be other Human Books there to talk with also. Hope to see some of you there.