On June 21st, 2012, I boarded a plane headed for Santa Barbara and started a new chapter in my life. For 6 months I worked, played, learned, explored and evolved. My time at Direct Relief International for my PULSE assignment gave me more than what I gave to them. I learned about myself, my values, and my passions. I challenged myself and stepped outside of my comfort zone.
From a personal perspective, I ditched my fabulous stilettos that I wore like protective armor and picked up cute ballet flats that allowed my playful side to come out and taught me not to worry about being the shortest person in the room. I also gave up some of my unhealthy eating habits and tried vegan and gluten free foods. I became interested in exercise leading me to fall in love with spin class and yoga. I even learned how to ride a bike, with the help of the Direct Relief CEO and IT Manager.
From a professional perspective, I learned from some incredibly smart individuals how to do more with less. They taught me so much about having passion for your work and how to get things done quickly because taking their time could be the difference between someone having their medicine or ending up in a hospital. I was blessed to meet Edythe, a volunteer who is soon to be 105 years old and she has been giving her time and talent to Direct Relief for almost 40 years. Hopefully, I shared with them communication skills that might help them in the future – they wrote an article about me that says I did so that’s a good sign. Together we developed a communication strategy, an editorial calendar, a framework for a way forward and we raised awareness of an awesome organization.
I left Direct Relief and the incredible staff on December 18th to come home to my old life and my fabulously supportive team at GSK. And while I’m glad to be home, I miss Direct Relief and I can truly say my life has been changed for the better. Life at GSK is up in the air for me and I don’t know what is next or what the future holds but I know this experience will help direct my steps.
If you haven’t already, please visit the Direct Relief website and learn more about the work they do and consider a gift.