I read an article this weekend by Maria Shriver. I really like her thought provoking blog post each Sunday. This Sunday is was to remind us all, that this upcoming Saturday, is National Make A Difference Day...and then I thought of my Buddy Bench in honor of my Grandsons and all the other children that will pass through their school and play on that playground. I thought about a lot more to, since reading that article, so here I go.
I believe that each of us has a calling. We are born with it. The purpose of our life is to find that calling and live it. Many times over the years I've wondered what my purpose was. I'm just a regular person. No fame here or money to toss around for great organizations. I also couldn't find anything calling out to me that I could respond with "hey, that's my calling, that's what I need to do. Still, as I got older, I had a nagging feeling that I should be doing more. I remember one time, many years ago, when I was in therapy, at one of the sessions, I told my doctor that I had to live long enough to build my legacy. He looked at me and said, "stop worrying about that one thing, your legacy is already set." I wasn't crazy about his answer because I didn't feel like I had done anything great yet but I was going to keep on trying...
A few years after that I was in a book group with a lovely group of ladies. Truth be told, I think we might have read one book. We were much better wine drinkers and talkers than reader's back then. One of the girls, who was about 10 years older than me, stated that she wanted to be passionate about something. She listed all the things that each of us were passionate about but she didn't see passion in her own life. This woman, was the kindest, sweetest person that I knew. She could knit so gracefully that the yarn just slipped through her fingers and needles like spaghetti sliding out of a hot pan of water . She was the best baker in our church. She sang in the choir like a hummingbird and she was always, always ready to reach out her hand to help another. I didn't think to tell her that night but I did tell her later when I had had more time to think about her words. Her words, were my words in that doctor's office, her words could be your words as you read this. Why is it that some don't see their worth or reach their passion or find their legacy? Perhaps it's because we don't look in the obvious places.
What I found out and what I now believe is I was living my legacy right at home. It takes time to build a legacy and it takes passion. We all have it...for me it was always about taking care of someone or something. At first it was my kids for all their growing up years. For the most part I was a stay at home Mom back then. Then I took care of myself and lost over 100 pounds. For the next 35 years I counseled others who were on their journey to being healthy. Time moves on and illness and death hit my family. I was there for all their remaining years, comforting and caring for my loved ones. Thinking I was done with all that sadness, until my neighbor got to be 95 and she needed help staying in her own home...yes, Jim and I both went and we helped her for over 3 years...and she was able to leave this world in her own bed. Now, I have the gift of helping out with my Grandsons, which I do not count as work at all. Like all those I cared for before these boys, it was always a labor of love and passion for me to do for them. Sort of like a giving back for what each one gave to me as I was growing up. I was so grateful that they trusted me and Jim to be their care-givers. I don't tell you this to pat myself on the back. I tell you this because I was doing work that made a difference. I was doing what I was meant to do but because it was right under my nose, I didn't see it as my passion. My guess would also be that you to are doing the work that is your calling also. Your life's calling.
This calling that each of us has doesn't come riding into our lives on a white horse with a rider shouting out labels of what our calling is or should be. We each have to find our own calling. The way to do that, I have found out, is to look at your life, see what your doing. What brings you joy, what makes you smile. What is it that gets you up every morning and leads you where you need to be. Just look around at your life. It's all right there. We just don't stop and notice. We are expecting big things, when sometimes many small things are enough. That's how it was for my friend. She never could accept how great and passionate she was. How gifted and loved. My guess is the angels are singing her praises now and she is finally listening.
Do you know that every day you make a difference in someone life. Yes, you do and have been for many years. If you feel that isn't true than reach out to someone, see where that takes you. If it feels good, reach out again. That's how we start to make a difference. One step at a time. Before you know it, you will feel the difference, both in yourself and those you reach out to.
So getting back to the Buddy Bench...I did not dream this up but I did read about it in an article and thought, what a great idea...and the thought got stored. Enter my grandsons. I love them dearly. Now it is time for them to go to school and there is just so much talk about bullying. I started thinking about how I would feel if someone were to ever bully my sweet boys. It's a huge problem these days. Then I remembered the Buddy Bench and I looked it up. I knew, within moments, without a doubt, that those boys would have a Buddy Bench at their school. I called and talked to the superintendent at Liam's school. He had heard of them and liked the idea behind them and can you believe it, they were in the process of putting in a new playground. I asked if it would be o.k. if I donated a Buddy Bench to their playground. After he talked to the school board about it, it was decided that, yes indeed, they would love a Buddy Bench...and my hope going forward is that we can get Buddy Benches at all the schools in town. So here I go again...I don't go looking for these things, they find me. It kind of makes me laugh now...I went full circle here, from taking care of the elders to now taking on bullying in the entire school district for the kids. I hope it makes a difference in our little town.
So Liam and Jaxson offered to help me show you how the Buddy Bench works. If a child gets bullied or has no one to play with and feels left out, he goes and sits on the Buddy Bench. The children, as they are playing, will notice that someone is alone on the the Buddy Bench and they will go over and sit with them or ask them to join in.
Before long, the one sitting on the bench will be so happy to have a friend and the one who joined the little one on the bench will be learning and teaching that bullying is not a good thing to be doing. Its a visual reminder that buddies are so much better than bullies. I just love that and I hope that for my grandsons and all the other children that will come long after they are gone will learn to communicate so much better using hugs and benches instead of hurtful words and actions. Don't you just love the bright red and blue. The bench comes in lots of neat colors, but I think it's good to be a little flashy now and then.
So check in with yourself and see the good that your doing. Find a pattern in your life that seems to be a constant thread for you. I know lots of you make a difference in our lives by your art, your crafts, writing and book sharing. So many ways...and on Saturday, go out and make a difference in whatever way feels comfortable for you...and then give yourself a pat on the back...for helping to change our world into a beautiful place...and honestly, it doesn't have to be a big deal...maybe just a smile and a chat in a grocery line will do it. Maybe a house full of wonderful smells because you made a great apple pie for your family to enjoy. I know for sure, each time I visit your work, whether it's your quotes, blog writing or wonderful photo's, it always makes my day a bit brighter...thank you for making a difference in my life. I've learned so much from many of you lovely "teachers" here. Then stop in during the week and tell me how your Saturday was...I know it will be terrific.
"What is the gift that I should bring to the world? What is the life that I should live." Mary Oliver...from Long Life..
Serendipity...I knew I was going to write this post this week. My office is a complete mess. In order to work, I started cleaning it up and I went to put this book back on the shelf and just happened to flip through it and found this quote that I had underlined when I read the book. I just love when that happens...
All photo's of the boys were taken with Fuji X-E2 and Fuji 18-55 lens on a cloudy day...