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Are You Doing What Needs to be Done? Are You Using Your Power?

April 4, 2012

“If you don’t use your power, it will leave you for someone who will.”

This is an old Irish proverb that my Grandmother Annie O’Donnell used to tell us when we were children.  She’d say it in her Irish brogue when we felt like skipping swim team practice in the wee hours of the morning, or when we’d do poorly on a quiz in school.  It was an adage that could cover all the bases: physical, intellectual – even moral.  Moral you ask? Well, yes, that’s exactly what popped into my mind recently: that Irish proverb in the context of MY moral being.

Let me explain.  Who’s had a bad day!?  A Bad week? come on, I know we all have them! My Board commitment at a non-profit requiring a 15 hours commitment one week, my volunteer project at GirlScouts looming closely around the corner, a promise to a local business-man friend to help with marketing his company,  the half-marathon a few days later and then, what’s left? what’s left? oh yes – WORK!  Hello! I do work for a living !  and it seems that some weeks my work that pays my bills is the low man on the totem pole, the last thing on the To Do list, to do today.  I’m self employed for goodness sake!  What I slack off, I suffer!

That’s it!! I said to myself after a particularly stress-filled day!  Stick a fork in me, I am DONE! I’ll just Say no! No more helping GirlScouts no more free speeches 40 miles away at a rotary club, no more commitment to the photo club, or to the running club or to the book club…I mean really: I hadn’t even gotten my mail in weeks!

So, decision made to cut back, I drove to the Post Office, emptied my overflowing PO Box, and sat in the car going through the pile of mail…and found a Christmas Card for heaven’s sake!  and it was  almost the end of January!!

Look at this there are loads of cards! Lots of Cards! Lot and lots and LOTS of cards! So I tore into them to see “who should I have sent a  card to that left off my Christmas list in ‘05″ and suddenly

I was jolted back into reality.  These other cards weren’t Christmas cards at all.  These were….[quietly] well..[slowly]…they were thank you cards!.  Thank you cards, for me.

Here I am complaining to myself about the cards I should have sent and they are thank you’s to me.

One from a woman at SafePlace who said “your story about what you’ve accomplished since your battering husband is an inspiration to me! I can’t wait to see what wonderful things are out there waiting in my future! thank you for sharing your story”

This one from a young high school student who said “thank for speaking our group about appropriated business attire and how to act on an interview: your stories were so fun”!

here’s one from an old lady at a nursing home: “your storytelling as our entertainment last week brought back so many great memories of my girlhood in Ireland – thank you for helping me to remember so many happy times!”

a college student in Florida who said “thanks for finally letting me grasp the concept of compound interest and saving for my future – you made us all laugh a lot AND learn something too – that rarely happens.”

~then finally, just a blank white business envelope – not a card. I tore into it and it almost appeared empty.  barely taking up room in the paper was a small photograph cut out from the Austin Business Journal: A photo of me, with red face, sweat dripping down my nose, baseball cap – the only way to recognize me truly is because my name is in the caption! – loading 25 lb water cases for Katrina evacuees – the post-it note attached stated: “you are an inspiration to girls everywhere”.  no signature. no return address.

If you don’t use your power, it will leave you for someone who will…  That’s when it hit me – this is my power.  that I can do this type of thing – that I can have this sort of impact on another person – THIS is my power!

If you don’t use your power, it will leave you for someone who will – that is quite the thought.  What would I d o if I couldn’t speak to these kids? these young people, these battered wives? this is ultimately who I am, this is the power I have.

What do you do?   What is YOUR power? is it baking goodies for the office that makes everyone’s day?  it is visiting with an elderly neighbor on your street to see how her day is going? is it tutoring young students to helm them get  a leg up in school? is it creating the best garden in the neighborhood that dog walkers and exercisers and admire while out walking? it is reading a story to your child, or grandchild before bed??

Your power.  YOUR …. POWER… you might fear (suspect) you don’t have power – when like me, you may not realize every thing you do is representative of your power!

Discover your power.  Cultivate your power.  But whatever you do, USE your power.  Remember:

If you don’t use your power, it will leave you for someone who will.

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