Do you sometimes go through a day wondering if you make a difference? Does anyone see you? Does what you say really matter?
I'm having one of those days that popped out of the blue. Nothing significant has happened except now there is this self inquiry going on. Demanding an answer.
To make a difference
In someone's world,
you don't have to be amazing,
rich, talented, beautiful or perfect.
You just have to be you and
Self Reflection - Do I make a Difference
Well, lets see...
I am a Black Caribbean born American influenced woman. A mom of an amazing daughter, a mom who lost her young son to cancer, an Auntie, an adoptive mother of many, a grandmother of 2 delightful young-ins, a nurse educator and clinician. I am also a neo traditional thinking person, a leader, teacher, head of my family, head of my generation (baby boomers). I struggle emotionally and physically like others at times, someone defined me as an "unknown people person" defined as I don't like dealing with people but I am very good at it. I become passionate for the underdog, seeing their strength and creating plans and providing resources to empower them. I am wise, but still learning. I am an artist and gardener - both are stabilizing forces balancing my well-being. Oh, did I mention I'm in my 60,s? and still growing.
Being honest with myself this is the REAL me. I do not take a bow this is just me.
I must state that there are more times than not, that I do not see all these qualities reflected back at me in the mirror. That is when I have to take a mental break. Are these qualities enough to influence others, uplift or inspire change in others?
Recalibration - facing reality
So having been in this funk for a bit, I took a few weeks off from work to "refresh, recalibrate" myself. Granted I have not been off from work for a "vacation" in quite some time.
I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish during this period.
Update irrigation in garden
Complete organization of basement
Sort and box clothes for Goodwill
Take family to beach
Start art series/ at least work on topic
What I DID NOT have on my to do list
1b. HVAC breakdown, workmen,
2b. Basement ceiling redo, and more workmen,
3b. Only one car available,
4b. Clean up EVERYTHING after workmen,
5b. The overwhelming pandemic clutter of a multi generation home, and
6b. REVELATION... I'M definitely out of shape.
It was ALL frustrating and exhausting. Not quite a toes in the sand, little umbrella drink vacation.
Light bulb moment
A boss friend of mine once said..."in life you would never achieve an empty plate. That's a fallacy! You prioritize and do your best. Then drop it".
She was right...life always has its own agenda, sometimes leaving us feeling unaccomplished, disorganized, darn frustrated and exhausted, to the point that none of our beautiful strong qualities billow loudly in our psyche.
Life Happens even when uninvited
LIFE HAPPENS! It's like the sweet grandma who feels you need another helping and plops the extra spoonful of rice on your plate just when you were being polite when you stuffed that last spoonful down. Wow... now what?
As I'm writing THIS paragraph I'm smiling...
Love visualizations. That image of everything as food on my plate....realizing that I can only take one bite at a time...even when grandma adds more. Or, I can save it for another day. My choice.
So back to the question "Am I making a Difference"?
to answer I had to reflect on the actual "vacation" days and what filled them:
I made strawberry "shortcake" with my 7 year old granddaughter using the strawberries picked in MY garden, she learned that hard work and care can produce sweet treats.
The grands, my daughter and I sang, recorded Happy Birthday for my brothers (with me playing the ukulele, a first for me).
The little ones had fun singing "Daniel Tiger's Goodnight Sun song and I promised to teach them how to play it on the ukulele, their smiles were priceless.
We had an importuned visit to the Children's Museum and took several kids with us, another first
Every night my daughter and I shared a hot cup of chocolate in the quietness of the kitchen, as we closed the chapter on the day, before we said goodbye nite.
There were so much more little hidden moments entwined in the days.
What made the difference, the common thread ME,I was part of the moments. I did not stick to my original list, or cry over the Life inflicted events despite my disappointment of no sand between the toes. Each day I woke up and showed up for the people around me. A sentiment reflected in this poem by Edwin Osgood Grover:
“I am only one
But I still am one
I cannot do everything
But still I can do something
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do".
Did I make a difference...heck yes....and you can too.
I woke up every morning. Thank you Tiny Buddha for pointing that out.
I shared what I know. I can strum a few tunes on the ukulele, I can hold a child's hand, Most of all I can see the people around me and prioritize them first.
I cannot do everything every time, just one bite at a time. Leaving the rest for later. My choice. Realize life may step in and change those plans
I did something. During a day you are surrounded with multiple opportunities to serve others, your uniqueness (carpentry, story telling, sewing, offering a meal to someone in need) opens a world of options for you to create value in someone, leaving a long lasting legacy.
And finally, I took a break. I took time for me. You cannot make a difference or add value to another if you are tired, and irritable. A planned alone time to self reflect, engage someone you trust, and who truly knows you, someone who is not afraid to call you out in the me-party. Spend time with those you love, and feed off of their energy and love for you. This can put you back on track.
Take care of your mental health and do not be afraid to pat yourself on the back for being an Awesome person, be your own cheerleader and don't forget to Have a cup of hot chocolate (or other soothing beverage of choice) before you say good nite.
Now, it's your turn to share the unplanned ways you surprisingly made a difference. You "ner to know" who you might influence to take time to stop the madness and prioritize what matters.