From my newsletter this week:
I've learned a lot from watching my mom.
My mom has never shied away from doing the hard work, even when it ended up being very, very hard work. I have admired her for my whole life, as she went from getting her Master's Degree to teaching classes to developing an entire Human Services Department at the local community college to serving dinner to 500 people for Christmas Dinner each year (including providing deliveries and friendly visits to the homebound) to developing programs for everyone from early childhood educators to Alzheimer's caregivers in our town.
My mom is a helper spirit. My dad is, too (he will have his whole own post soon). Both of them have given their lives to service, in public and private ways. In 2013, they were honored by the Local YMCA for their lives of service through the church. In addition to all of the work they have done through their spiritual activities, they have also adopted two children, helped my sister raise her daughter, and supported their friends as they made their way through life's mazes, including really being there for many people who were going through major health challenges.
Nowhere was my mom ever promised an easy ride. In fact when faced with a choice between the comparably easy ride of marrying a soon-to-be doctor or my Dad, a recent priesthood drop-out who suddenly was way overqualified to teach Latin but had not made other career aspirations, she chose my father and his love over the promise of convenience that so many women her age were choosing at the time. Being the daughter of a woman who never made it past 8th grade, who exhorted my mom to marry wealthy but to be prepared with a good education just in case, might have influenced my mom's decisions. All I know is this: she never promised me an easy life, either, but she prepared me for a life rich in service, and taught me to be grateful for being able to help when I could.
Today, I tend to "lean in" when called to serve way more often than I "lean in" to money situations. I have learned the money has its own energy, that it comes and goes regardless of our best-laid plans, that nothing about money is stable or guaranteed. But the warmth and love of community, true friends, people who are willing to lend a hand even in their own times of struggle, and the nature of service as its own reward are very stable if one cultivates them well. And cultivation takes effort.
What could you do today that might require effort, but would help someone out whom you love? What could you do today that helps someone you don't even know? What could you do today that says, "Hey, I know none of us was ever promised it would be easy, but I am here to help as much as I can?"
DO THE THING!