Archives For Service

I had a chance to do something today that I’d never previously done in my 36 years on this earth. I visited inner-city poor people in a major U.S. city.

inner city housing

Me. A tall, doughy-skinned, somewhat naive woman who lives in a city where the vast majority of her neighbors look the same.

Me. A person who’s lived in five different places, all located within 15 miles of the other over three decades.

Me. A former spinner on the mouse wheel of corporate America turned advocate for change.

I don’t talk much on this blog about what I do for a profession. And that’s intentional. I learned long ago that it was best for me to separate my work life from my social life.

When my children were babies, I second-guessed my decision to work at all. On those dreadful mornings when one of them would cry out for me as I returned to my car to leave them at daycare, trying not to let them see me cry myself, I hated the idea that I abandoned them. I never wanted them to think their mom valued the almighty dollar over their happiness.

I saw those kinds of parents at the office. They clocked in early, left late, traveled often, and I wondered if they took pride in how many meetings and high-profile events they attended. Were they more concerned about being known by others than being known by their children? Did they justify their actions based on the size of their massive homes and the vastness of their personal toy collection? Did they need to be reminded that none of the credentials trailing behind their names was as important as the letters “M.O.M.” or “D.A.D.” in the eyes of their offspring?

It was during those years when I learned this about myself: No profession, no matter how fulfilling, will ever be more important to me than family.

So you can imagine my relief when, just over a year ago,  I found a company that allowed me to put my family first as well as gave me the opportunity to positively impact other families.

I now work with the poorer population, specifically on trying to improve access to health care and outcomes. What I do is not always considered useful or socially acceptable.

I’ve learned that as a people in general, we like to preach. We like to judge. It’s easier to criticize what’s going wrong (and, believe me, I know a LOT is going wrong in health care) versus build up the right.

I had the chance to shadow a young woman today who is building up the right. Her job is to visit with people who haven’t been to their doctors and ask them why. She goes to their homes, answers questions, schedules appointments, and shows genuine concern.

She’s also completing her last year of studies to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology. A mom of three just like me.

It costs money to send people like her out into communities. Some may wonder why on earth money is spent on reminding people to do something that comes so naturally to so many of us. I mean, come on, visiting a doctor isn’t that hard.

That is, if you have a car like I do. If you have a job that gives you PTO like I do. If you have someone to watch your kids like i do. If you had a mom or dad who introduced you to a pediatrician like mine did. If you speak the same language as the office staff who schedule the appointments. If….if…if…

I learned the power of not making assumptions today. Every person is an individual with individual needs.

helping hand

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” 
― Leo Buscaglia

Created by Heidi Woodard

Boy, it’s been way too long since we last connected.

Not only have I not written here as much as I would have liked, I am behind on following favorite bloggers like One Thousand Single Days, 365til30, Contemplative Fitness, and others. Sorry, random strangers that I now consider lifelong friends, I will try to catch up soon.

I recently stumbled upon something interesting about forcing yourself to suffer for 15 minutes each day on a process that feels seemingly insurmountable. The point of this advice was that people will inevitably procrastinate on doing things that they dislike or that consider impossible to achieve.

But if you manage to devote a minimal amount of uninterrupted time each day to the activity you want to conquer, you will amaze yourself with positive results.

Here’s my dilemma: I am currently overwhelmed with a boatload of activities that I thoroughly enjoy. (Don’t you feel so sorry for me?)

I’ve got the full-time job where I’m getting paid to live a more mission-driven life. I’ve got my weekly blogging for momaha.com and radio appearances on the Pat&JT Show, which both allow me to capture memories of my kids growing up.

Speaking of those kids, I have these three amazing people looking up to me for love and support.

my proudest accomplishments

my proudest accomplishments

I’m training for my third half marathon, partially for the physical benefits I’ll reap, but more so for the chance to beat my equally competitive cousin.

And, GET THIS, I started freelance writing for a new client and recently got contacted by another interested party. If I’m not genetically wired or young enough to be a collegiate sand volleyball player, at least I get to spend my free time doing what I really enjoy: expressing myself through words.

So I guess my biggest hurdle is that my free time is slowing slipping away.

It’s a pretty spectacular dilemma to have. Facebook can wait.

Created by Heidi Woodard

“When we are fearlessly who we are, we don’t need external validation, just an opportunity to express ourselves, live fully, and serve the world.” – Arianna Huffington, Founder of the Huffington Post.

I read this quote, re-read it, paused to ponder, then compared it to another quote I stumbled upon from Aaron Levie, CEO at Box, Inc.:

“A great (company) mission will attract like-minded individuals that want to go on the same journey…Be on a mission that doesn’t suck.”

The combined essence of those two statements basically sum up how revitalized I felt following a trip I recently took for work.

I documented my leap of faith earlier this summer when I decided to finally leave my old job. I’m happy to say I’ve gone through the awkward and exciting acclimation period with a new company, new coworkers, and new mission.

I’m not sure if what I’m doing today will be the same job I’m doing 10 years down the road, but today, well today it simply feels right.

One week ago, I was sitting in a room full of marketing professionals and realized it was the first time in my professional career that I was surrounded by people who didn’t generally look or think like me. Even better…despite our variances…the notion of serving others over ourselves was a unifying belief we all held close to our hearts.

Near the end of a jam-packed multi-day session of strategy development and information sharing on how to help each other move our company forward, our group leader asked us to pause.

To close our eyes and place our hands at our sides.

To breathe deeply and imagine being in a room with family and friends.

To come to a startling realization that everyone around us in grieving deeply.

To imagine that our life has ended and we are watching our own funeral unfold before our very eyes.

To see the person we love most dearly attempt to collect themselves as they pull out a piece of paper to address the crowd.

To imagine the words we would want them to say to describe how we lived our lives.

Were we there for them? Or did we shove them behind other priorities like work, drugs, possessions, power, etc.? Did we use our life to build more than our bank account? Did we falsely assume there would always be time to not only achieve our own dreams, but also help others fulfill theirs?

This simple exercise forced me to think about my own mortality. I share it with you so that you may do the same.

Created by Heidi Woodard