Saturday, May 19, 2012

Visible Living

I aim to live with strong purpose and to live that purpose out loud. 

Growing up I had the opportunity to learn first hand what it feels like to live in poverty.  I had the privilege of receiving government commodities such as cheese and peanut butter.  I learned what it means for a mother to focus all of her energies on the very basics of life.  I learned that food stamps are very important to society.  I learned that a family working together matters and that yields progress.  Most importantly I learned that people genuinely care and that community is very important.

Always the curious one, I was an avid people watcher.  Some of my observations included the remarks, made by others in poverty, about the business owners and others in the community whose names were known around town.  I also observed some of the very positive actions of those in the community whose names were known.  These people were always a mystery to me.  I wondered why they help others.  I wondered how they lived their lives.  I wondered if there must be more to their stories.  Today, I mostly still do not know.  And that makes me sad because many of these amazing and caring individuals made such a difference in my life.  I still want to know the whole story.

While I continue uncovering the why of others, I have made significant strides in defining the why for myself.  It is a why that I am inclined to hold privately yet, at the same time, long to shout it from the rooftops.  Holding my why privately enables me to avoid crass comments targeted towards me.  At the same time I long to set an example for others.  The later of the two is winning out.  And the sting of the crass comments becomes almost a moot point shadowed by the sweet fruit of giving.

My why is that people matter.  Everybody matters regardless of circumstance, economic status, or even physical and emotional attributes.  The bottom line is that we are all trying to get through life.  Let's do it together.

Today my family's circumstance is much different.  Tremendous good has come from our past experiences.  My entire extended family is better because of this journey.  I suspect the momentum we gained by paddling through those circumstances continues on today.  My entire family gives back.  We pay it forward through giving, volunteerism, mentoring, and participating in community.  We intentionally grow the next generation.  At the same time, we are just like any other famly.

Community is very important.  As a member of community, I recognize that it is my responsibility to participate.  I do.  By sharing my experiences I hope others will be encouraged to participate; to share their stories; to be encouraged their most basic needs are seen.

Know that my giving is a mere fractional sampling of what is done in the community as a whole.  As I strive to live visibly, I need grace.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Moment of Pause

As I help my friends and family celebrate yet another Mother's Day, I take my usual moment of pause.  During this brief moment, I journey through my past, present, and future.  I ask myself important questions that I have asked so many times before. 

Who am I?  What am I doing?  Does what I am doing matter?  Is it the right thing for me?  Better yet, is it the right thing for others?  Am I fulfilling my purpose in life?

As a single woman who has no children, I wholeheartly support the institutions of family and marriage.  For many years I longed to have a family of my own.  While my desire to have my own children dissipates with age, for practical reasons, I have a burning ambition within to make an important difference in the lives of others.  I long to make my life count in the best possible way it was meant to be.  I never want to be accused of being an underachiever when it comes to using my life to make a difference in the lives of others.

For the past 11 years, I have been on a mission to not waste my life.  The road along this mission has been a winding pathway sometimes strewn with debris that entangles me.  Escaping this entanglement builds necessary strength and character.  I despise the entanglement yet marvel at the precious results that are visible sometimes only long after the escape.

I like my jouney.  I like that I have developed a passion for giving back even more than what has been handed to me.  I like that I have grown to have a fondness for the political process, that I have gained a vision for how I can impact health and poverty on a national and perhaps international level.

Yes, life is valuable.  Where I have been makes me who I am today.  And I am using the vision I have for my future to fuel the action plan that I execute today.  All of my resources are extended toward this process.  I have full confidence in a great return on investment.  There is no other option.

Everything counts. Every moment. Every throught. Every action. Every dollar.

The question then becomes not "Can I do more?" but rather "What more can I be doing?".