I started on an incredible personal journey in August; the only catch was that I wasn't aware I had started one. In late 2009, one of my colleagues suggested that I read "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn. I was going on a business trip and thought that it would be a good time to give the book a read, plus, I was beginning to feel guilty about having the book so long.
I was very confused as I read the book and in fact, went back and forth on my opinion of the book for the entire duration of the read. Part of the problem was that the book was forcing me to think critically of topics that I've basically taken for granted up to this point in my life. (You can find my book review here.) Topics that I haven't even given an ounce of thought about, or the impact that those topics had on my life. The book awakened a part of me that wanted to do more with the world - have more of an impact...but the question was 'how'? How could I effectively make an impact?
I put that book aside and through one of my favorite mom blogs, found out about another book that peaked my interest: 'Work Love Pray'. An online book club started in early November and I eagerly signed up to participate, but found that I had once again overextended myself and wasn't able to complete the assigned 3 chapters per week. The book peaked my interest for various reasons. In my particular career field, it is not uncommon for me to be one of the few females among a sea of men in meeting after meeting after meeting. Trying to find a mentor in an executive position who is a full-time working mother is hard to come by. The book, in a way, acted as a mentor for me. Diane Paddison talks about how she aligned her strengths, passions and relationship with God to navigate her career. At face value, it is an excellent career-oriented book for young Christian professional women; I wish I would have had 'Work Love Pray' when I was just starting my career. Once again, I found myself taking a deeper look into the book and found there was much more to be offered than career advice. On a personal level, the past year has prompted me to take a look at many different aspects in my life - my relationship with God, my career and if it is truly aligned with my passion, and the difficulties of trying to effectively manage it all. Diane cites Patricia Sprinkle, author of Women Who Do Too Much, "Our goal should not to become hyper-organized, highly efficient superwomen; our goal should be to spend most of our time on what we value most." Prior to reading this book, my goal for 2012 was to become a hyper-organized, highly efficient superwoman...this book brought that train to a screeching halt!
In the latter part of 2011, I found myself frustrated in that it seemed as though I had way to many "have to do's" which left little time for my "want to do's." This year, I want to start simple, not overcommit and stay focused on my priorities.
In early December, I had lunch with the colleague who suggested 'Ishmael' and through our conversation, he educated me on the marcellus shale drilling/fracking process and I was immediately overcome with frustration. He suggested I watch the documentary entitled 'Gasland' that details the impact of fracking on families in the area. Due to the drilling, water supplies/wells are now becoming contaminated with natural gas, so much that you can put a match to the water and it bursts into flames. This is the exact scenario Daniel Quinn was trying to enforce in 'Ishmael' - we are trying to exhaust the world of natural resources and in doing so, we are DESTROYing the world.
Visualizing where we are now and if nothing is done, where we might be in the future, I realized that there is a chance Roland will never get to experience the great outdoors that the hubby and I took for granted when we were growing up. Lazy days lounging by 'Yellow Creek State Park' in western PA, fishing for bass, hiking the numerous trails - it could all disappear with the severity of the environmental impacts from this newfound drilling. But again, what could I do about it? What are the families doing that are immediately impacted? Why isn't the government doing anything about it?
I watched the first half of the documentary with my father over the Christmas break. My dad is a coal miner (not an environmentally nurturing career either) and when I told him of the impacts from the drilling, he said, 'Oh no, they are drilling so far in to the earth, there's no impact.' And was quite adamant, citing conversations with others in his field of work. Imagine his surprise when we watched the video - it was priceless - look up 'surprised' in the dictionary and you would see his face.
Okay, so now you are probably thinking how in the world 'Ishmael', 'Work Love Pray' and marcellus shale drilling have impacted my journey...well, at dinner this evening, I was expressing my frustration with the world. There is so much that is going wrong in the world, between the financial crisis, mortgage crisis, marcellus shale drilling and the destruction of the world and I feel helpless in trying to make an impact. I want to, but I don't even know where to start. What can I do? I'm one little fish in a HUGE ocean. Based on conversations with friends and family, people notice what's going on in the world, but they don't think they can make an impact, so they turn their cheek. BUT THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND THAT BY TURNING THEIR CHEEK, THEY ARE EQUALLY AS GUILTY. The question is HOW. HOW can you get involved? HOW can you make an impact?
Well, this evening, as we were winding down from the long overdue Christmas vacation, we decided to watch 'I AM', a documentary by Tom Shadyac focusing on two important questions:
What is wrong with the world?
What can we do about it?
(I hope you're beginning to see how everything is related :) )
I had chills for most of the movie. In three hours, I went from feeling helpless, to feeling empowered. I was looking at the problem all wrong and Desmond Tutu (archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa) said it best, "How do you eat an elephant? One piece at a time" WE can all make an impact, and it can start now in our daily lives, the interactions we have with one another. The human race operates at its best through compassion and understanding, working together to find the optimal solution. Yes, there is survival of the fittest where competition reigns supreme, but that is not and should not be our prime focus in life. As I see it, the government and lack of cooperation between the parties is the exact enactment of competition; the world cannot continue to prosper with that type of behavior.
As I was reading 'Work Love Pray', I highlighted the following passage taken from Charles Swindoll, Great Attitudes! 10 Choices for Success in Life:
"Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company...a church...a home"
Attitude can make or break the world we live in. This is my step one - hopefully educating and creating an awareness and awakening to all of you. Together we can make a difference...a difference for our children!
Wishing you all the best as we embark on this wonderful new year together!