With spring in the air, I took to the backyard to oil some outside furniture. I wish I could explain it or capture it in a bottle but the calm that envelopes me when I’m working outside is a unique combination of joy, peace and productivity. I was part way through the big pieces when my son exclaimed,
“Mommy, come see this!”
Reluctantly, I went to see his find.
As we stepped carefully around the lemon tree we had to avoid two helpless baby rodents wiggling about and snorting into the long grass. It was weird, beautiful, sad, happy, unexpected and not how I wanted to spend my day. Research over several hours led us to syringe feed them an electrolyte solution, place them on a warming blanket and identity them as Opossums who were 7-8 weeks old.
As I was working to figure out how to keep the little ones alive, I was struck with the options available. It was highly inconvenient to rescue baby Opossums and yet, I felt obliged.
After years of personal reflection, I list my main core value as integrity with a healthy dose of fairness, a sprinkling of love and compassion and an underlying belief in the oneness of our Universe that expresses itself in a deep respect for nature and all living creatures. I have a deeply rooted desire to leave the world a better place than I found it, for all beings.
I’ve been so struck with the fairness and oneness of our world that we’ve stopped eating meat and cringe at the ways animals are treated when they are harvested as food. When I default to my core value of fairness, I’m struck by the environmental implications of my meat consumption over the years. It’s likely that my carbon footprint is as big as Saskwatch but my hope is that I can make up for it with more local salads.
Agree with me or not, that’s okay, there is room for all of us. In fact, being challenged by values outside your own may be the impetus to dig deeper and know yourself better. To go through life just doing things because it’s the way they’ve always been done or compelled by the masses is no longer an acceptable answer in a world that needs us to have greater self-awareness.
What makes me who I am and why am I driving these Opossums to a wildlife refuge on a day when I have so much to do?
Understanding our differences and respecting each other’s opinions are important but there is something even more important.
It’s taking a stand.
It’s believing in something, so deeply, that we are willing to say so. Out loud.
It’s realizing that change happens only when we step outside our comfort zone and brush up against people who don’t agree, thereby cementing our viewpoint.
All positive global change has involved a strong presence from those willing to push boundaries. Abolishing slavery. Women’s right to vote. Equal pay for equal work. Advocating change always starts with an opinion and a line in the sand. These trailblazers didn’t just respectfully say, “let’s agree to disagree.” They had vision, immense courage and took action, even when it wasn’t popular. Especially when it wasn’t popular.
To “BE the change” means caring for people but not caring about what people think. It means having deep conviction that no matter the outcome, doing nothing is not an option.
When we linger comfortably and quietly in a life that feels safe, we are saying that things are okay when, sometimes, they most certainly are NOT.
If we know something is right, we should defend it. If we know something is wrong, we must work to transform it.
Whether or not you would have nursed the Opossums and driven them to a refuge at the most inconvenient time is not the question you should be asking yourself – it’s what do you believe in SO deeply that it’s part of you?
Ask yourself, what is wrong with our world? What makes you cry? What is so unfair and unjust that you just can’t live knowing you didn’t do something about it?
And then do something about it.
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