A message has been repeating itself this past week. I am listening.
I heard it first last weekend during an amazing workshop presented by Cosmic Cowgirls that featured Lyz Anzia, human rights journalist and found of Women News Network. The Women News Network has dedicated itself to bringing global attention to the needs and empowerment of women through online news journalism.
During the workshop one participant asked how do the journalists covering difficult subjects about such human rights issues which include stories about sex trafficking, rape, abuse and more, keep from falling in to despair about the many problems around the world. Lyz responded very clearly that journalists are able to do the work because they know that the work they are doing can help to change such things. In addition Lys shared that the stories they are writing
Just this last Friday night I had dinner with two dear friends who work on the front lines with people in crisis. One works for a women's refuge shelter. The other has served as a therapist for those with mental health and drug and alcohol related issues. It is common that the shelter is short on staff and yet the clients continue to stream through their doors. My friend's healthy realization is that she is only one person, and she can only do what she can do during her eight hours at work. My other friend spoke of the high number of 51/50 clients that had been brought into their center recently and then shared about talking to a peer who handles all the cases in a region for veterans who are suicidal. Again the message was we are each one person and we can only do what we can do.
In January of this year I wrote a Mojo Monday post called Change and Empowerment. That post was about how we can be aware of what is going on in the world and being sensitive, thoughtful and caring people, not manage to lose ourselves in all the swirling problems and tragedies in the world. There are always so many issues from the bees disappearing, to animal cruelty, to thousands dying because of chemical warfare, to people starving or not having enough clean water, to girls being sold for sex, and the list can go on and on and on. While I don't believe that burying our heads in the sand is the answer, it also isn't helpful to the world or to our own well being if we begin to drown in a sea of depression.
When I see someone I know posting on Facebook one tragedy story after another I want to give them a hug in person and gently suggest "Pace yourself my friend." Personally I want to be informed of what is happening in this big wide world. I do care deeply about our planet and all the people living on it. My heart wants so much for every person to experience a loving and happy life. I sadly know that this is not the reality for too many living among us. I know that I have to balance out the harsher realities with uplifting and positive stories so that I am reminded of all the beauty and joy that also exists in our world. I also think as Lys Anzia so clearly stated in her workshop, that knowing we are doing something to effect change and make a difference in a positive way can also keep us uplifted in the midst of stories and events that are hard to bear.
The way we make a difference will vary and look different from person to person. I know that my husbands day job as a middle school science and mathematics teacher impacts the lives of his students significantly. He even has students who he taught about 20 years ago who have remained in contact with him all these years. I have worked for a non-profit foster adoption agency for over nine years and working shoulder to shoulder with social workers and therapists to serve the foster and adoptive children and adoptive families has been very gratifying. I also infuse the writing I do for Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine, this blog and the book I am writing with inspiring messages about healing, grace, love and forgiveness. Other ways I try to make a difference is by eating a vegan diet, signing petitions, making my voice heard about political issues by writing my representatives and so on. Even though we may earn modest teacher and non-profit salaries we also still choose to donate to causes each year that speak to our hearts. It may be the local food shelter, a center to help those in need, a family that is struggling, or an animal shelter like The Farm Sanctuary.
|Photo by Michelle Fairchild|
I realize that not all the day jobs out there will feel as if they are designed to serve a greater humanitarian purpose, but that doesn't stop one from having a positive impact on one's fellow workers or from volunteering or offering one's services in other ways. While it may not be the easiest thing to do all the time it is in some ways the simplest, and that is to extend love and kindness to others on a regular basis.
|Photo by Michelle Fairchild|
One of the things that is always sure to make me smile are sunflowers. Sunflowers remind me to breathe. They remind me of the wonders of nature and our planet. They remind me that nothing is permanent and that this is a good thing for life is dynamic. The praying mantis friend on the one sunflower reminds me that my positive thoughts create my world and that beauty comes in all forms.
There are also sources out there that offer up positive stories. One such site is called Daily Good: News That Inspires. Just today a friend shared a an article to warm the heart called The Business 9 Women Kept A Secret for Three Decades. Here is a story about a small group of women who anonymously for many years have done things like paid someones utility bill, bought new clothes for children, donated pillows and linens and personal care products to a shelter for survivors of domestic violence and so much more. They raised the money by selling pound cakes. You can read more about these inspiring women by clicking the linked article title.
Other stories of goodness and kindness abound if we look for them or take notice. There is a beautiful story told in this video about a love letter a man name Fred wrote for his wife who had recently died. You might want to have a box of tissues nearby as you watch how through the kindness of others his letter is transformed into a song.