I remember the first time I saw my mom cry. I’ve talked with a lot of friends as we all have begun to realize the fact that our parents are, in fact, human–and all of us can remember the first time we saw (read: made) our mothers cry. For me, I was in the backseat of the van and we were headed to school, driving up the big curvy hill past the donut shop and pizza parlor we frequented. She was clearly unhappy that morning and when I asked why, she told me that it would be nice to be thanked once in a while–and teared up. I said, “Mom, are you crying?” She said that she was; that she felt sometimes she was taken for granted.
I don’t know if my mom remembers that moment, but it formed a part of my heart. This was the first time I think I understood that my actions actually do affect the people around me. And a choice that I had made had made my mom–the most important person in my world and woman I loved more than anything–sad. I realized that the choices I make every single day have an impact on the world I’m a part of. Since then, I’ve made a sincere effort in my life to make sure family, friends, and coworkers know how valued and appreciated they are.
Choice is a powerful thing.
We choose material things, like our clothes and cars and homes. We choose the people we associate with, like our friends and even our coworkers. We choose the person we want to be, how we want to be perceived, and what we want to share with the world. One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite books says this:
I don’t think it should be socially acceptable for people to say they are “bad with names.” No one is bad with names. That is not a real thing. Not knowing people’s names isn’t a neurological condition; it’s a choice. You choose not to make learning people’s names a priority. It’s like saying, “Hey, a disclaimer about me: I’m rude.”
Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
The first time I read this, I laughed out loud. I have always prided myself on being great with names. I choose to be. I choose to remember names, important dates, and important information that people tell me. I have used the argument many times that if people wanted to be better friends, better colleagues, better networkers, better anything–all they have to do is choose to be.
Rest assured: by now, I’ve been taken down a peg or two. Because sometimes, as a single woman, it can be all too easy for me to slip into a selfish place with my decisions. I get drunk on power. It’s up to me what I want to eat and when; what to spend my money on; how I want to spend my time–there are very few choices I make that affect anyone directly. And many times, that’s how I end up living each day.
I have gotten to a point where I feel like I am a good person simply because I don’t choose to be mean. But I’ve also lost the part of me that chooses to go out of my way to be kind. At the Global Leadership Summit this year, once of the speakers said:
The opposite of bad isn’t good. It’s just . . . not bad.
I was seriously impacted by that. It’s been swirling around in my mind since I heard it. I see it in action everywhere. And I’ve realized lately that I’m falling victim to it. But I’m choosing to make a fresh start.
A friend of work has inspired me to pay more attention to my choices and the decisions I make. Toni is, in a word, thoughtful. She’s incredibly conscientious, and I’m in awe of how she integrates empathy into her everyday decisions. She buys her clothes and jewelry and everything else she can through fair trade organizations. She is always sharing opportunities to get involved, to learn more, to find your own unique way to generate change.
Recently I was asking her about how she found so many ways to give back–both to our local community and to the global one. She said, “I look for opportunities to change the way I do everyday things.” She said she has to eat; she has to wear clothing; she has to live and work and shop in the world–so she actively seeks out places and vendors that will take her business and turn it around for good.
I look for opportunities to change the way I do everyday things.
When I was in college, I was involved and active and was constantly berating my Facebook friends with my take on the world. As an adult, activism in my world is going to look different. Thanks to Toni, I have found two ways to start small.
One of the choices I make every day is what to wear. As someone who rocked a uniform for 13 years, this decision is not one I take lightly. I’m very careful to choose every piece of my look each morning. You can bet your sweet bippy that even on the days I am in a t-shirt, jeans, and a messy bun that this particular bun was “messed” to perfection and that t-shirt was just the right amount of casual.
However, for the month of December, I am donating my choice and offering it up for women and children living in slavery. Of all the things I take for granted every day, freedom is one of the most grave. I’m living here, using my power of choice to opt for one shirt over another because it’s slightly closer to the casual look I’m going for, and some women in the world have lost all choice in regard to their own bodies–not just what’s put on it, but what happens to it. For those women, I’m participating in Dressember, a way to raise awareness and money to aid people in enslaved populations gain true autonomy in their lives.
- Learn more about Dressember here.
- See my profile or donate to my Dressember page here.
- Or, if you’d just like to lend me a dress (because I do not have 31) just let me know.
Follow me on instagram this December to see all the dresses I sport (and their cardigans. Because it will be winter in Missouri.)
As long as we’re talking fashion, I’m also going to give a shoutout to Noonday. Check them out here. This past week, I hosted a little party. The proceeds raised go back to the women crafting the jewelry, all over the world and in different countries, to make sure they earn a fair and living wage. The pieces are gorgeous (plus you can see what country you’re buying from!). And Toni generously donated her commission to the charity of my choice, which was Wyandotte Pregnancy Clinic in KCK.
Toni’s decision to sell, then to donate her commission inspired my decision to host a party and participate in the purchasing (not just because of the pretty necklaces). Our choices not only affect just the community at large, but they also impact the way that other people make choices. We’re in an endless loop of decisions that form the world we’re a part of. We have way more influence that we realize. This is just the beginning. And with that in mind, I’m posing this question to you this week, reader: how will you make one decision differently this week that in turn will impact our world?