Am I Rambling? Perhaps.

Over the past few months, I keep having recurring blurbs pop into my mind – a sentence pattern of sorts that feels like it wants to become a blog post. I haven’t been able to put my finger on it or give voice to it just yet. But Leanne’s post over at Cresting the Hill tonight nudged me a little further. Leanne shared two poems titled “Where I Am From.” While I will save writing that poem post for another time, today I’ll share the thoughts that have been swirling.

I know that many among the blogging world I inhabit are retired or semi-retired. Me, not so much. While I’ll likely be working well into my 70s, I’m fortunate to work independently as a coach/consultant to nonprofits across the country. One of the things that I love about what I do is that I get to be passionate and enthusiastic about so many different causes through the course of the day.

This wide variety of passion projects is really important to my sense of wellbeing for two reasons, I think.

First, from the time I was a child, when I got into something, I went all in. I gave my all, 110% as they say. Or you might say – I have obsessive personality traits. When I became a tough girl at 12 – I went all in. Then, after my conversion at 16 – I became a church girl and entered the convent at 18. For almost 13 years, I was all in – until life fell apart. (For details, feel free to check out Surviving Sanctity, my memoir on Amazon).

For each assignment in the convent, and every job I took after I left – I went all in. I gave 110% and ended up disillusioned and disappointed. My Advent hope turned into Good Friday sorrow.

By 2015, I could not imagine putting myself through the excruciating pain and suffering ever again. So, I decided I had to be my own boss and do my own thing. And I’ve been loving the work I do!

Which leads me to the second reason –

Second, so many nonprofit organizations across this country (and the world) are doing so much good – and my life experiences have led me to have a passion for so many. Since I don’t have the financial resources to support them all – my work allows me to help each of them make a difference. And I truly do get passionate about each organization for the 30 minute or hour-long call – on average 10 a day.

Now, I’ve worked with over 300 organizations in these 5 plus years, and I can’t say I had a personal connection with each of them – but oh so many…

  • Raised by a single mom who had lived with domestic violence – Mom support, domestic violence
  • Grew up in a government housing project – affordable housing efforts
  • Attended Catholic school on financial aid – quality education for all children
  • Received food baskets from every canned goods food drive – food pantries
  • Attended Headstart and community center recreation programs – community service centers
  • Attended and worked through teen workforce development programs in high school – workforce development
  • I’ve had 3 family members die from, and one survive, cancer (not to mention the many sisters in the convent who I accompanied on their cancer journeys) – cancer support groups
  • Several siblings are in substance abuse recovery – recovery and support programs
  • A SIL, 3 good friends, a handful of acquaintances committed suicide – mental health & suicide prevention
  • Two brothers, a BIL and a nephew are veterans – veterans rights
  • Two family members experience homelessness – services for the homeless
  • At least two family members are gay or trans – LGBTQIA+ rights
  • Several extended family members have learning and developmental disabilities – disability services
  • My husband is African American, and my children are biracial – racial justice issues
  • The list likely could go on…

You Do You

And the ones I’ve never had a personal emotional connection with…animal rescue, environmental awareness, rare diseases, arts & theater groups… I can so totally understand WHY others are passionate about them. I want to help them all find their people – others who are passionate about the same cause. I want to connect them so they can all do MORE good in the world.

I even have a few causes that I personally don’t agree with – which I won’t share here – but even for those, I can honestly and wholeheartedly say, I want them to find their people too. [I’ve only ever fired one client because they wanted to communicate hate and derision. I wouldn’t support that.] But if you are standing firm in what you believe and you are looking for your people – without being hateful towards others – I will cheer you on!

The State of the World

After spending my day coaching wonderful people on how to further their mission through strategy, communications, and fundraising – I turn on the news or scroll through social media to find so much disregard for others, derision, and even hatred.

People refusing to wear a mask to protect the health and safety of others, I don’t get. Even if it doesn’t work, does it really hurt you that much to wear it? Teenagers forcing a school mate to drink someone’s urine and calling him racial slurs? Refusing to call a person by their chosen pronouns – why? Even if you “don’t understand it” – so what?

The people who are angry that someone may get a little “too much” in an hourly wage, unemployment check, student loan forgiveness…Really?

Racist, ableist, misogynist, selfish attitudes – too many to name.

Final thought

That blurb that keeps popping into my mind, that I can’t quite articulate – goes something like this:

Even if a problem doesn’t impact me personally, can I believe someone when they tell me it impacts them? Can I care about them enough to acknowledge their pain – and at the very least, move out of their way as they fight? Can I try to help? Even if it slightly inconveniences me?

Is my life experience so unique that only I have such a personal connection to – and passion for – so many causes? Is it really that impossible to see the impact of a problem in the world if it doesn’t impact us directly?

We’ve heard the Golden Rule – “Do unto others as you’d have done to yourself.” At the very least, let’s do that. Don’t do to anyone what you wouldn’t want done to you. But isn’t the Platinum Rule as incredibly important – “Treat others how THEY want to be treated.”

I just can’t help but wonder — how, when and where do we learn how to LIVE, LOVE, and LAUGH?

3 comments

  1. Hi, Janet – This is the first post of yours that I’ve read in a long while. I don’t know why WordPress kicked me out of your site (I’ve been good, honest) but I’m delighted to be back. This post reminded how much I have missed your writing. You raise very provocative questions, to which I don’t have articulate answers other than I wonder as well.
    BTW – I am also an ‘all in or all out’ personality.

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  2. Donna, I certainly don’t have articulate answers either! But a friend did a FB post today that said, “It shouldn’t have to have happened to you for it to matter to you.” So true, huh? Thanks for joining the conversation…

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  3. Hi Janet – firstly thanks so much for the shout out on my “Where I’m From” post – it was such a fun thing to do and it gave me some insight into what I treasure and what I don’t. I have “Live, Laugh, Love” on the back window of my car – it’s such a positive affirmation for life (and I loved your photo montage – wonderful!)

    I related to so much of what you said here in your post – about going at things to the point of burn out and disappointment/disillusionment, the early retirement because I can’t find something where it would pay to be my own boss (other than my blogging). Also about caring for others – and accepting them – regardless of whether they fit neatly into the boxes I’m comfortable with. I don’t have to agree with their choices, but they are still human beings and worthy of kindness. I remember a quote from somewhere in my church background that says “love the sinner but not the sin” and that helps me at times too. Or the good old WWJD (what would Jesus do?) slogan of days gone by – still a good prompt when in doubt.

    Keep mulling those thoughts and I’d love to see you do a post on Where I’m From somewhere down the track xx

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