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“What you’re doing is life changing…”

Last night was rough. Not because anything new happened. The past few months have been one stressful thing after another and then I had a Meniere’s attack on Tuesday that wiped out my reserve energy, as little of that as there is. I have an amazing group of people with whom I spend time virtually. One of these people has the ability to read me when I text back ‘hi’. It’s… kind of amazing. Anyway. She organized the rest of the group to tell me just what I mean to them. And I wound up ugly crying reading through what they had to say. I had no idea I was making an impact, much less the kind of impact they were describing.

So that brings me to my ruminations of the morning. We ALL make an impact, whether we feel like we are making one or not. And I think it’s vitally important, in every interaction we have, to remember that we are making that impact. Why? Because we get to decide the impact we want to make.

When I decided to take the course I’m taking a year ago (almost a year… the anniversary of this group is in May), I did it because of lockdown. It was something for all of us to do during the course of the pandemic. None of us knew that the pandemic would last more than a year. None of us knew that the group would become this tightly knit family. None of us could imagine, that first day, what this would become. But that’s exactly what it’s become: family. These people love each other. They support each other. As much as they say I’ve given to them, they have given to me as well.

We’re all at different parts of our journey. We all have different life choices to make. But the impact that our words and actions have on the people around us is astounding. When I got involved in this group, I figured I’d be on the outside. There is an age difference and I’m the ‘adult’ of the group. (For the record, I refuse to grow all the way up. I’m fine meeting my responsibilities, but there is a magic to the fantasies of youth that I don’t want to ever lose.) But the rest of the members wouldn’t let that happen. We’re family after all. No one is left out.

There have been several tricky topics that have come up over the past year. Controversial ideas and multiple opportunities for offense or the unraveling of what we’d built. But neither of those things happened. I watched this little group pull together around differing philosophical positions. I watched them learn from each other and have more mature and inclusive conversations surrounding tough topics than I have EVER seen. My anxiety spiked the moment one of those topics came up, wondering if it was the end of what I’d tried to build. They showed me that this family is stronger than differing opinions. They impacted me that way… by showing me that not everything unravels. We’re in such a divisive time and watching this group refuse to give up on each other has made my heart happy.

We all get to make the choice. Every time we open our mouths, or take an action, or write something on social media. Every single time we make a decision about how our actions will impact the people around us, though it’s rarely stated that way anymore. Changing the tone of a sentence can change everything about how the person reading/hearing it interprets it and change the course of the entire conversation. I stand up for what I believe in and that, in and of itself, has impacted this group. Some members have chosen to fall away over time, and I suspect that’s a direct result of my standing up for what I believe in, but others have drawn closer. It was eye opening to hear what an impact that had last night.

I guess my point this morning is that you matter. What you’re doing is life changing, whether you realize it right now or not. Being told that I’d changed lives, that I’d impacted the course some of these people are on in any way, was eye opening for me. I was walking through life feeling a bit grim about my path. I’m not a best seller, though I do love to write and I have fans, and that makes it feel less impactful. I’m teaching, but I don’t feel like I’m teaching the things they need to know to be successful adults (I was told last night that this is not the case lol). But this morning that feels vastly different. What I do matters. What I do impacts lives. I may not be the cop I thought I’d be, rushing into dangerous situations and saving lives in the immediate, but I have impacted the long term lives of people. As each and every one of us does on a daily basis.

And in the here and now? With the world in chaos and the last year still hanging over our heads? It’s such a beautiful thing to know that we matter that much.