Time keeps on slipping into the future. Welcome to Fall! At the risk of sounding completely Pollyanna, I’ve been reaching for the brighter side a lot lately. I am determined to be kind, and to find kindness in this world. I can’t understand the behaviors of many, but I also can’t focus on them. I will BE kind. I will FIND kind. You, our supporters and volunteers, you are my kind. I will focus on YOU.
“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.” Mister Rogers
Welcome to Fall! How’d we get here already? We hope everyone is recovering from Hurricane Irma, and that lasting impacts will only be in your memories. Your steadfast and resolute determination to advocate for our children even throughout your own personal storm fills me with gratitude. As Abraham Lincoln said, “To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own”. While you focus on the children you speak for, let me reiterate our desire to support you. As staff we feel honored each and every day to work with such dedicated, kind, and compassionate volunteers.
Often times the hardest things we do are watching those we love flail about during life’s big moments, wanting to save them, but also knowing that they must experience things on their own for growth. I found myself sitting in an auditorium at Florida State University this past weekend with my 13 year old son waiting to audition for placement in music camp. This was his first big “test” in front of a serious crowd. I watched as his face turned the brightest shade of red, his eyes wide and watery, and his hands shaking. I wanted to save him, take him away from such pressure, but I knew that this was a growing moment for him and was important. He did well, but more importantly he was proud of himself for doing something that seemed incredibly overwhelming for an introverted teenager. Somehow that whole experience reminded me of a bumblebee. According to scientists, the bumblebee’s body is too heavy and its wing span too small. Aerodynamically, the bumblebee cannot fly. But the bumblebee doesn’t know that and it keeps flying. When you don’t know your limitations, you go out and surprise yourself.
Spring has knocked on the door yet again. The gardens are blooming and beautiful. That amazing sunshine fills us with promise and vitamin D. In the same way, you continue to fill the children you advocate for with the seeds to grow their own beautiful garden in life. You may not see it now. It may be an elusive dream lost in the complicated stories and experiences that our children struggle with in their search for healing, hope, and love. A garden doesn’t grow with dirt alone. The dirt must be tended lovingly and filled with the nutrients needed for the flowers to grow and bloom. To our volunteers, CASA’s very own advocate gardeners, we say thank you. Our commitment, support, and appreciation for you is unwavering.
What do you see in a sunset? Things have been so busy lately, more on that in a bit, that when my son brought this drawing to me it made me pause. It was a wonderful reminder that no matter what happens in a day, it can end beautifully. What a gorgeous way to reset.
Better late than never! Somehow, yet again, I find the summer getting away from me. Each day that goes by is one day closer to the start of a new school year. For me that brings conflicting feelings. I both crave the school schedule, and love the extra mommy time summer brings. In whatever the summer means to you, be deliberate, and shine like you stole the sun. It is always our hope, as your biggest supporters and fans, that we can always brighten your day, even if turmoil exists.
I read once that you let go of fear by focusing on love. Love is the answer to fear. Wouldn’t that be amazing if it were 100% true? I have some great love in my life, and I still feel the sting of fear. Fear typically comes from thinking about the future or thinking about the past. In the present moment, all is well. I would challenge each of you (myself included) to consider the present while advocating for your CASA child(ren). While the goal is a safe and thriving future, the right now helps us to get there. Try to put all fear aside, because there will always be something to be fearful about, and ask yourself what can I do right now.
Recently while sitting in a training conference someone asked, “Are you doing the best that you can?” Of course, I thought, and looked around the room. It hit me! Others may not think I am. So what if I asked you, do you think I am doing the best that I can? I’m not looking for answers, and this isn’t even about me. Ideas of what I could do better may come to mind for some. Your version of the best that you can do might be completely different than the best that I can do. But what if I told you that I was truly doing the best that I could? Would that change the level of frustration, judgement, or disappointment? I have found that thinking about this simple question helps me when working with others, both inside and out of CASA. It reminds me to be mindful that we are each very different and have different levels of best. Your very best might not be my very best, and the truth is, it can still be our very best even when on different levels.
David, a second grader, was bumped while getting on the school bus and suffered a two inch cut on his cheek. At recess he collided with another boy and lost two teeth. At noon, while sliding on ice, he fell and broke his wrist. Later at the hospital, his father noticed David was clutching a quarter in his good hand. David said, “I found it on the ground when I fell. This is the first quarter I ever found. This sure is my lucky day.” Nothing seemed to go well for David that day. In the totality of what we see, it was an awful day. But, not to David. In his eyes, this was the best day. When we look at so many of the children we serve, broken in ways that are hard to see, do you think there is a possibility that they too are looking for the good? I sure wish that kind of innocent joy on each of you, that you will be able to find the lucky in each of your days.
What can I say? How can I express it? There are never enough words to express the gratitude, the significance, or the level of admiration and respect we have for you, our amazingly selfless volunteers. Please know that we think about you often, admire you endlessly, and are here to support you always. THANK YOU! If you haven’t had a chance to swing by the office for a little treat, please do. It’s only a small token to show how much we appreciate you, but it carries with it an enormous amount of gratitude.
And they all lived happily ever after! Isn’t this what fairy tales are made of? Most of us have heard the story of Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. The evil Queen Maleficent casts a spell on her and only true love could save her. At least that was the way I knew the story. There were the good guys. There were the bad guys. No, this isn’t a shameless plug for Disney, though many of you know I do love Disney. This is about how all of that changed for me one night in a desperate plea to keep my youngest happy during family movie night.
Honest Moment: If someone had told me yesterday that this newsletter needed to be written, I would’ve had the desire to throw myself on the floor and tantrum like a two year old. Sometimes I envision that this is a lot like the inner desire of some of you each time we call and ask for yet another monthly report, or court report, or panel report. We know it’s a lot, and I want nothing more than for you to know that as much as we value you as our Advocates, we value you as human beings more.
“You must not abandon the ship in the storm because you cannot control the winds. What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can.” This quote from Sir Thomas More is absolutely true in this time. It has been a summer full of “storms” that have been beyond what any of us could control, no matter how much we have wanted too. And, I know how much you (and I) have wanted to.
Spring is a time of new beginnings, and allergies, but mostly new beginnings. Just looking outside you will find flowers blooming and the green grass returning, truly a renewal of life. What a great time to re-group, re-prioritize, and even re-invent ourselves. Just like you and I, abused and neglected children need a new beginning in life so they can thrive.
2014! Quite literally, I just learned to sign 2013. Time is a funny thing, it refuses to slow down. We certainly wish each and every one of you a Happy New Year. When we look back on 2013, we will always fondly remember all of the work that you have done. Without you, in what was an incredibly busy and challenging year, I am certain that our fabric would have been unraveled. The children whom you have so passionately fought for would have certainly had no voice, and fearfully been lost for all those many months. You have each earned forever gems in your badges, this I know.