You might say that’s a good description of who I am. It takes something extra to put yourself out there and to make bold statements, especially about what families need and what they often do not receive from the professional community. I wish I could do more, and do it faster, and that I could be perfect in breaking ground and putting teams together, but better to do now than to wait for perfect, I believe.
I’m often asked why I do what I do, or am reminded of the many hurdles, including the expense. Yes, life would be easier just focusing on my own family, on marketing and social media, on sports and charity, but then there’s this little conviction that something more is needed – – and needed yesterday. Besides, easy doesn’t make for happily ever after, does it?
Perspective is a wicked gift at times!
So being an advocate isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Every day. No matter the situation. Doing the right thing and doing it well also brings out the best in others, and that is a worthy goal…the best use of my time and energy. Of course this includes my children, as my most important task as a parent is protecting them and bringing out the best in them.
Another angle on perspective:
When visiting a friend in the hospital I heard a revealing and sentimental conversation between two successful men. It had to do with the fact that both men were in bad accidents. One man was able to walk away and recover, while the other man – his dear friend – was not so fortunate. He was permanently injured and life as he knew it is over. [Notice I did not say his LIFE is over; it’s just very different. They both acknowledge disappointment, gratitude for each other and for what they do have…which is a loving family and great friendship, and they can both laugh!]
Their friendship and the bond they share were strong before the accidents occurred but there is something more there now, something silent but profound. My sense is that neither of them will ever take life, health, or relationships for granted. They also each have unique opportunities in front of them because of what they’ve experienced, and it’s clear that regardless of physical ability or loss, they both care about seeing others remain out of harm’s way. It’s a conscious, deliberate and outspoken sort of caring.
They both still have a lot to give because they have their minds, their intellect, their heart, their families and friends. But they are different having experienced major and unexpected hits. What they are able to do in giving to and inspiring others is unique and valuable.
Why does this story and my vantage point move me?
I am the parent who was hit by the freight train without warning, but by the grace of God I am able to recover; I will recover because I was able to learn – the hard way – what it was that I needed to recover from.
…No, it’s not a pretty or inexpensive recovery! But at least I get to recover and do something with this experience.
Many others are not recovering, and most have a hard time speaking up or articulating what happened, if they even know what caused the collision.
Someone has to put up the warning signs, the flashing lights, revise the drivers manual and alert the train switching stations before more are disabled from the wrecks that are the many family conflict situations we hear about. And I can’t do it alone, so social media and news media are critical tools for reaching those who are capable of helping and motivated to follow through.
What I learned over several years of researching and reporting on the issues and from coaching anxious and uncertain parents is that much of what occurs is unnecessary. That realization is now being echoed across this state and across the country, and really around the globe. I’m in good company with advocates, business and policy leaders, healthcare providers, educators, law enforcement, parents and grandparents and more who are also committed to using their experience and perspectives to see improvements take hold. It is a good feeling to see more taking action to improve safety and to help those damaged find a way to recover.
Advocacy for adults, teens and children who need a leg up comes naturally for me; you can go back in time and credit my mother for the example she set as she was always finding a way to support someone else, to lift them up and make life easier. How she managed with four kids to still give so much to others is beyond me, but the desire to give and serve was absorbed from being around her. I came to find out later in life that you don’t have to be perfect to make a difference, and there’s no better place to start than here – with those who are right around you. I’m so grateful to those who have trusted me and believed in this mission!
Fast-forward…there is a drive in me now to succeed at something I could not have fathomed ten years ago. I’ve been blessed to see the difference in how parents and kids function, and also in how business leaders and employees alike perform when the clouds are cleared and their path is straight. We all respond in much the same way to uncertainty and to being under attack.
Successful advocacy programs, for me, mean increasing certainty, lowering the risk of attack and speeding recovery.
Seeing the light come on and peace set in for someone is incredibly rewarding, and when you help a parent achieve that peace and resolve, that translates to a better experience for their children. Watching this take effect on a family (or several) is a powerful motivator, but I also realized that this is possible, and that it’s also realistic to expect to be profitable while doing the right thing. This concept inspired a partnership where various forms of advocacy converge, and this concept will fuel funds guided toward affording more protections and faster recovery for families and children.
This achievement of peace and resolve for parents also translates to better health, better job performance, greater stability, and also to more charitable contributions in our community. The short version of what this means for children, in addition to experiencing the best of both parents (and grandparents), includes improved school performance and better decision-making as there is less stress causing poor reactions. Pretty simple, right?
What is not so simple is getting more of our leaders and professionals to focus on providing better support for families dealing with conflict and loss. But if you watch and listen carefully, you’ll get the sense that we’re about to see a shift in thinking, and more resolve toward making a difference. It makes perfect sense, from both an advocacy and economic development perspective.
When WE work together on these things, when we bring out the best in each other, we get to also celebrate seeing these changes take hold, and experience joy and gratitude for what is possible with the right perspective, tools, team and support.
Here’s to something better and brighter in 2015!