My Leap List

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Dream

     5o years ago a man had a dream.  On the surface, we are opposites.  Where his skin is dark, mine is pale.  I see the world through a woman's eyes.  His life as a Baptist minister is nothing like a Mormon girl growing up in Utah.  But surfaces are never our truths.
     I knew true greatness the moment I heard him speak.  Though too young to be aware of the race riots and wars being fought around me in the 1970's, I knew his fight for equality would be my own.
     Today numerous people of all races and religions can participate in a country where they could only dream before, including the White House.  His dream has led us so far, we now have the luxury of arguing if the majority of us are discriminated against.
     An optimist by choice, I know how easily we can change the world to suit our views.  We have come so far, it is easy to become complacent.  In his letter from the Birmingham jail, Martin Luther King, Jr. said complacency and hate are the enemies of progress.  If we are content to accept the world as it is today, we will never achieve greatness.  We give our children a world that is merely good enough.  I am not happy with just good enough.  Our children should not be allowed to inherit a world where life is good, if you are one of the chosen.  Half of my life has been spent working with kids who live on the fringes.  This world is not good enough for them.
     I have a dream that all the world's children will have a safe home.  Being homeless is not a seven- year-old's dream.  I won't argue whose fault it is.  I will only give them food and some semblance of safety while they are with me for eight hours we have together each day.
     I have a dream that we will celebrate love in all its glory.  I will not argue about the choice of homosexuality.  One of my most precious loves is willing to cut her body to shreds to change it.  It is not good enough to leave her a world that offers that kind of self-loathing, choice or not.
     I have a dream that we will accept people whether they are born here or not.  Immigration arguments are pointless when a twelve-year-old girl just left her father and sisters behind in Mexico after her grandmother's funeral.  She sobs as she begs me not to tell, for fear they will send the rest of her family away.  
     I have a dream that we communicate without the barriers of language.  I have seen a man reduced to tears because he couldn't speak English and no one would help him register his son.  The vulgarities people said after he left still haunt me.
     I dream that we stop killing people because we are afraid of differences that make us feel threatened.  Travon Martin's life speaks more loudly than my words ever could.
     The day my hero shared his dream, he was ten years younger than I am today, but I will not let the dream die.  We must turn our vision outward to others.  As so many great people have told us before, this is the way to peace.  We must stop keeping score of who has more.  This terrestrial world is finite; we will never have enough when we are focused on ourselves.  We are spirit.  We must recognize the humanness in all of us, not the surfaces that hide us from each other.  Love is the only thing that fills the void.
     I have a dream that my children and I will stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, 100 years from Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream and 200 years from Lincoln's dream, to gaze on a world that truly has liberty and justice for all of us.      

Friday, August 23, 2013

Prayers and Faith and Feathers are Funny Things Sometimes

     Prayers and faith and feathers are funny things sometimes.  Sometimes they are answered in mysterious ways.  Today one of the people I work with came to work in a panic because her husband had just gotten a full time job.  He has always been at home with the kids.  He won't make enough money for a while so she can stay home, but she has never had to worry about finding someone to take care of her kids before and now she needs someone before Monday.  She confided in her mentor at work who came downstairs to see if we knew of anyone who could help.  For some reason, I was standing in the office right then and had the feeling Mandy would want to help.  I told the woman I would call Mandy and see what she thought.      Before I could call, the teacher came down almost in tears to thank me.  She said, "When I found out he got the job last night, I fell to my knees and prayed.  I told God, 'If this is meant to happen, you have to help me find someone to take care of my babies, and I need it by Monday.'  Then the next thing I know there is someone who might be able to help me.  You are truly the answer to my prayers."
     I called Mandy and told her what the woman had said.  We made arrangements to have them meet later in the day.  A few minutes later I walked out of the office to help with lunch and in the middle of the hall was a feather.  It wasn't by the door or any windows and no one was around.  I knew it was meant to be.
     When Mandy got there, I showed her the feather and told her the story.  She smiled and said, "Remind me to tell you a funny story later."  We went upstairs to meet the teacher.  As soon as she saw Mandy, she offered her the job and without hesitation, Mandy said "Yes."
     Later as we were out on our walk, I reminded her to tell me her funny story.  She said, "After I heard that she thought I was the answer to her prayers and got off the phone with you, I got down on my knees and prayed. 'God, if I am the answer to her prayers, you are going to have to help me so I don't let her down.  Help me be able to take good care of the babies.'  I bet that was the same time you walked out of the office and saw the feather.  When you told me that and showed me the feather, I knew that my prayers were answered, too."
     Prayers and faith and feathers are funny things sometimes.  

Monday, August 5, 2013

Guiding Words

     I am humbled to be a part of this world.  The last few days have reminded me of the impact each of us has on everyone around us.  I have always been honest in my own truth, so I guess I forgot that there are people new to my journey.  I am humbled to hear that my story has inspired other people and made a difference in their lives.
      I believe everything happens for a reason.  All of those dark times made me a better person.  I truly believe that God and the angels saved me that day and I dedicate my life to making a difference for others.
     Sometimes it is hard to be honest with our imperfections and tragedies and commonness.  But as I look to my heroes for inspiration and guidance, Mother Theresa's words guide me.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  
Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  
It was never between you and them anyway.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Becoming

     I am a coward at heart.  I am only brave when I have to be and that is usually just a facade.  I like the foods I always eat and even those must be eaten one at a time without mixing.  I hate feeling out of control so I don't like driving because there are so many things out of my hands.  I have a quiet life with little adventure.
     Today I did something totally out of my ordinary.  I got a tattoo.  I was scared, but I walked in and trusted that everything would be okay.
      I am different.  Empowered.  Strong.  Capable of doing anything.  Fearless.  Independent.  Brave.     I am becoming the me I was meant to be.

Feather Tattoos

     When I was a teenager I went through a hard time when suicide seemed like the best answer to everything.  When it came to the final moment, I heard a voice ask me what it would feel like to kill myself and then realize there were people here that needed me.  I turned around and no one was behind me, but I'd heard the voice as loudly as if someone was standing next to me.  I turned and started walking down the pier and a white feather fell in front of me.  There wasn't a bird in the sky.  An angel saved me.
     That day I promised God that I would spend the rest of my life serving others in return for being saved.  I still had dark days and sometimes it was so easy to fall into the abyss.  I started noticing random feathers appear where they hadn't been moments before, even in closed buildings.  A message of comfort from my angels.
     When Mandy got older, I told her my story.  She began to collect the feathers she found in her day to bring home to me.  I have quite a collection now.  When she had her own struggles, we would stay connected by walking.  On difficult days we would talk and walk and feathers would appear from nowhere.  I knew we would both be okay because angels were looking over us.
     At 16, Mandy announced she wanted a tattoo.  I was against the idea, but knew if I told her she couldn't do it, she absolutely would.  To buy time, I told her that was a great idea, but legally we had to wait until she was 18.  I even told her that I would get a tattoo with her on her 18th birthday, thinking she would change her mind.
     The funny thing was as time went by, I began to think it was a good idea.  We continued talking about it and imagining all the great tattoos we would get.  During one of our walks I told her, "I have the perfect idea for our tattoo."  Before I could tell her my idea, she said, "A feather."  We both had the same vision of an angel feather.
      As the day got closer, we began to worry about all the what-ifs.  What if it hurts?  What if we hate it when it's done?  What if it hurts?  What if we don't want it on forever?  What if it hurts?  What if people think less of us?  What if it hurts?
     Today we faced all those fears.  We each got an angel feather on opposite shoulders, so together we have angel wings.  No matter where life takes us or how far apart we are, we are connected in another way.  When we feel alone, we only have to glance over our shoulders and see the protection and love of our angels and each other.
     Mandy told Nick he could get a tattoo when he turns 18 so he can be connected to her, too.  He looked at her and said, "But, Mandy, you're my sister.  You're tattooed on my heart."  Angels all though my life.  

Snap Judgements

     My teacher accused me of cheating this week.  I didn't.  He didn't ask me about it.  He just gave me a zero.  The worst part was when he wrote he expected better from me.  I haven't cheated since 6th grade and felt so guilty I swore I would never do it again.  I have been judged and labeled.  I know I am innocent, but the judgement and label still hurt.
     As an administrator it is easy to make snap judgements and assume I know who is at fault.  It's easy to believe that I know the whole story without asking questions and truly wanting to know the answers.   It's easy to hand out a punishment or consequence and move on to the next situation.  Situations come up so fast some days, snap decisions feel necessary.  This situation reminds me how hard it is for all of us to be judged, labeled, and punished without having a voice to tell our story.  We deserve better than that, especially from the adults in our lives.