Catherine Roberts served as a Loretto Volunteer at Interfaith Voices in Washington, D.C. during the 2013-2014 program year. She now lives in New York City where she is getting her Master's degree at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
It would be hard to imagine a more different environment from my volunteer year than my current life.
Journalism graduate school is non-stop. It’s 12 hours of work at a time; it’s watching and reading news on multiple screens; it’s always having my phone with me in case a classmate or a source rings.
Now, I love what I do. I love the work of reporting. I thrive on being a little too busy and having a few too many tasks on my plate.
Recently, I hit the point in the semester when the deadlines were building up, and the intensity was at an all-time high. I was at school when it opened each morning, and late into each night. I hadn’t shopped for groceries in more than a week – my diet consisted of eggs and whatever free food the school provided at special events. Then I ran out of eggs.
I don’t remember at exactly what moment it occurred to me to find a way to make room for the classic Loretto idea of simple living. But I realized I needed to take a moment for self-care, in some way other than meeting my next deadline. So I forced myself to go to not-my-normal grocery store, the one open late, after my night class. I bought fresh cauliflower to roast and onions and peppers for spaghetti sauce. Instead of coming home to order sushi and writing more emails, I cooked a meal from scratch. I looked up a free Pilates video on YouTube and worked out for the first time in months.
As a Loretto volunteer, along with my housemates I spent time in community, in silence and in self-care. These were routine practices, and I grew to take them for granted. Now, those moments are rare. But without my time with Loretto, I may never have recognized the beauty of the 20-minutes of teatime with my roommates, or the quiet moment before the sun rises and a fresh breeze blows through my window. As I continue my work – as the intensity inevitably increases for my last semester and a half – I am continually grateful for the lessons I’ve learned from Loretto, and what it’s helped me understand about intentional living.