Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Messages.

I went to bed last night and woke up this morning with thoughts all over the place in my mind. It reminded me of times when I've been asked to 'brainstorm'. Have you ever done a short brainstorm exercise where you are given a word or idea, and then you start jotting down all the other thoughts or ideas that comes to your mind in relation to the given word?
That's where I'm at today with my thoughts. I could go in any number of directions here in and write all sorts of good stuff. Or just stuff that's making me stop and think. So, bear with me as they end up in blogspace today.
I stayed away from blogging about politics in my post yesterday, but that didn't mean that I stayed out of politics yesterday. In fact, as I went to vote at my local highschool last night, I was deep in thought. Those thoughts are the driving force behind my words today. I was thinking of all the things I could be doing instead of taking the time to go and vote. I had almost talked myself 'out' of voting for a few minutes when some of the thoughts I share with you now started to overwhelm me. I started thinking of all the people who would love to have the physical strength to get out of their home or hospital room or prison cell or wherever, and have the chance to vote. I got a knot in my throat as I thought of the mothers and fathers, the sons and daughters, sisters and brothers of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice over the years and even recent days in order for the rest of to have this freedom to vote. I thought of all the men and women who are away from their family and friends, at this very moment, who feel such duty and responsibilty and are willing to sacrifice the comforts of their home and jobs in order to protect and promote freedom and democracy.
I was thinking about how little, if any, that I have actually had to 'sacrifice' for my country. A little bit of my time, some of my money...but in the scheme of things it really adds up to nothing in contrast to those who have given so much.
It was with that spirit and humility, that I stepped into my polling booth and filled out my ballot last night. My heart was full of pride and gratefulness for the ability and the opportunity to exercise my right to vote. I realized it was a small 'sacrifice' on my part, and although I have strong opinions on certain issues, those mattered less to me than the actual act of me (and others) voting.
I turned in my ballot and stuck an "I voted" sticker on my shirt as I walked out of the school. It felt good. It felt right. I imagined how I would have felt if I could have embraced a row of people- patriots and family members- all who truly have sacrificed something in order that I have opportunities and freedoms in my life. It made me realize how much I take for granted every single day. I have come to 'expect' freedoms and rights, rather than appreciate them in my life. Today I am thankful more than I was less than 24 hours ago, for the freedom I have, and for the people who have allowed me those freedoms.

When I got home, Bella asked me what my sticker was for. I told her that I had voted in the elections. She smiled and said she liked my flag, and that was it. However, that short interaction with her made me realize something more. Something that has come up in conversation with others I was with on Sunday. It's the fact that others are always watching us. I'm not talking about spys or government 'bugs'; I'm talking about the people we interact with every single day. For many of us, that means our families first...our spouses and/or our kids. It made me stop and think about the 'message' we send to those around us. The "I voted" sticker on my shirt said more than just those two words. It said that I felt a responsibilty as an American, as one who lives in and appreciates the democracy we have. It said that I was willing to "do" something, and not just sit back and let others determine my rights.
I realized that my kids especially, are watching and learning from me the values and truths that I embrace in my life. They may not appreciate why or how much something has demanded of me or has driven my actions, but I hope that they will continue to grow and seek the truth and values in their lives.
I am learning that the purpose behind the things I do, is often more important the the actual 'doing'. Does that make sense? For example, right now I have some sweet potatoes roasting in my oven. It was 8:00 am when I popped them in my oven. It's not that I plan on having sweet potato casserole for breakfast, but the fact that I want a nutritious dinner for my kids later on tonight. It would be easier to grab some fast food, or to whip up some EasyMac...and believe me, there are days that I do that. I am not judging the meals you eat. I'm just making a point, that things that are important to us, things that we care about sometimes demand our effort. The fact that I care about my kids' health and nutrition, demands some of my time and energy in life. I think this has been something in my mind and 'at work' in me for awhile now. It goes back to when I blogged about taking up bike riding- remember? I wrote (I think it's in the August archives) about sacrifices and rewards. The idea that we get out what we put in to certain things- whether it's people, work, ourselves, our dreams...anything. I'm starting to see that it's so true- in every aspect of life. I hope that everyday this truth will play itself out in ways that my kids, my husband, anyone whose life I touch...that they will be able to "read my messages" loud and clear. It's a huge responsibilty. It should make me stop and think (or stop and PRAY) before I act. I am grateful today for the examples I have had in my own life- through the people around me, the stories of others- especially those who have had courage and faith, that have shaped who I am and who I am becoming, day after day.
On that note, I'll stop my thoughts and ideas and hope that I've triggered some in your own life. What do your actions or the way you spend your time, your money, your energy...what do those things say about you? For me it is humbling first, and I am doing a sort of personal inventory. But on the other hand, it can be inspiring. We can choose how and where to invest "ourselves" and send messages to others just by doing or acting a certain way. I know I have a long way to go...but I am on the road to becoming the best person I can possibly be. And when I fall short, or make mistakes? Well, then I know there is more I need to do. More I need to learn. There is always something to reach for in life. That's an important message I never want to forget.

6 comments:

Christal said...

Every word you said "Hit EVERY SINGLE nail on the head! Awesome post!

groovy said...

wow, girl, when you think...you think hard! that's a good thing... my brain almost hurts reading all that but yet i found myself slowing down enough to take it all in because i knew you were writing that from the heart...thanks for sharing--

i took my one and two year old to the polls and even though she had no idea what was going on, my two year old still wore my "I Voted" sticker proudly. on the way out she kept yelling across the room, in the parking lot and all the way home, "We did it Mommy. We did it. We voted...yeah!!" Such excitement from someone so young who has yet to understand the process but it helped me too as I thought about how thankful I was to have the opportunity to let my voice be heard as well...and for those who have made it possible.

(eliza)beth

(eliza)beth

Nancy said...

I especially appreciated your thoughts today that your children are paying attention to your actions... what great words of wisdom for every parent,teacher, or adult. These are impressions made day by day that will last a lifetime. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Wow! What an amazing blog! I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you so much for sharing. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you wraps it up for me.

mary h.

Jenny said...

Awesome post Jody!!!

When I got done voting, I asked for 2 stickers, so I could wear one and scrapbook one.

I ran into my 81 year old friend Carmella, who is blind, when I left. She said she wasn't going to vote, because she can't see the ballot, but Barbara Bush called her and asked Carmella to go vote. We talked to the poll workers, who said we could go into an office there, so I could read Carmella the ballot.

She was so happy when she was done. She said she felt bad for not taking advantage of her right as a U.S. Citizen for the last election.

Now I want to take a picture of Carmella and me to scrap, with our stickers :)