To be of use

When I think of ‘island time’, I usually think of slowing down.  That doesn’t seem to be the case for our family.

 We’ve been back on the island for just over a month and have had lots of action.  There were things we expected – Greg resumed his ferry commuting and life crossing the sound; Wes began first grade at Wilkes Elementary and has started piano lessons and  swimming lessons; we celebrated my birthday and the 6 month mark of Hannah’s passing.  But life has also brought us a few unexpected twists that are really exciting.

 On Tuesday, we will bring home Rooney – our darling 8-week-old Wheaten Terrier.  Rooney is named after one of Greg’s favorite soccer players, Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney.  She is a local island dog, found through our moms yahoo group on the island and living just a few minutes up the road from us.  Wes and I went to meet the puppies on my birthday, and Wes knew which one was for us.  He kept saying, “mom, that’s her.  I just KNOW that’s her!”  As we’ve been getting to know her on our frequent visits, we are learning that she is a little dog with a BIG personality.  Yikes!  We are preparing for some exciting days ahead.  We can’t wait for her silly energy, her playfulness and her love.  She is a welcome addition to our family.

 But for me, the warp speed is wrapped around my work.  If I could have sat down to write the perfect job for myself, I would have included a role focused on the community, where my skills in marketing, non-profit leadership and strategy could be of use.  I also would have included the fact that while I want work that is fullfilling, I also want to be able to devote time to our family, writing, and taking care of myself.  I would want a role that is part time, but where I could fully show up when I was working, where I knew that the work was making a difference in people’s lives.

 What I didn’t expect was that the role would present itself to me the first weekend we were home on the island.

 While reading the local newspaper that first Sunday morning, I saw an ad for the Executive Director at One Call for All.  I was immediately drawn to the ad, as I have been a long admirer of the organization and its work (see here for details).  Moreover, the role was 50%, allowing for the balance I was seeking in a future role.

 Long story short, after a few interviews and lots of discussions, I’m in!  I began jumping in feet first last week, as our annual “Red Envelope” campaign to every household on Bainbridge Island will go out with the help of more than 100 volunteers stuffing envelopes together last Friday…a great time to start. 

This extraordinary organization has a unique mission, through an appeal to all homes on the island, we raise money that is distributed to more than 85 local non-profits that are designated by the donor.  And the awesome thing is that 100% of the designated funds go directly to the organizations chosen by the donor!  Last year, the community gave over $1 million back to our local non-profits through this effort – a huge sum of money that goes a long way in making all of our lives better.

 As I was preparing for my first interview, I was looking through some boxes of things from my past work.  In the first box, I found a bunch of things I had hung up on a bulletin board above my desk.  I found a poem by Marge Piercy that perfectly fit my hope for work, and what work means to me.  I think I found my place at One Call for All, and can’t wait to dive in.

 I’ve learned over the past few years that sometimes things are just meant to be, and the less you have to work for it, the more right it is.  I felt this time after time with Hannah – from the doctors that entered our lives, to the homes and transitions for all of us.  While each move was challenging in its own way, they all happened in our lives without the pushing and shoving that I’ve felt in the past.  We’ve been vulnerable – open to what may come, and listened to ourselves as we stepped into these new adventures.

 I’ll continue to write, posting on the blog when it feels right.  I plan to keep the big picture of my writing going, telling Hannah’s story and helping her continue her role as teacher.  But now I have this new work…this place to be of use.

 Poem: “To be of use” by Marge Piercy from Circles on the Water. © Alfred A. Knopf.

 To be of use
 The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
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One Response to To be of use

  1. Loren McEwan says:

    Thanks Allyson…so thrilled to hear your update, to know you have found your place, contributing as only you can. I will welcome our Red Envelope with even more open arms knowing it has your blessings and stamp of approval…all the best!
    I hope to visit with you one of these days before too long, but know your lives are busy and filled with new puppies, new schools, new work and the everyday life!
    I wish you well and I think of you all often.
    Welcome back!
    Loren McEwan

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