Making a Difference

Two Sundays ago was our local Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk.  I have participated in this annual American Cancer Society event for the past 12 years with only two exceptions (once right after my youngest was born and last year when I had just had the double mastectomy).  So this year, the first since I found out that I am BRCA1+, was even more meaningful.  I loathe asking people for money, but I do for this.  I know, each year, I can count on a select number of family and friends who will support me (physically and financially).  Not only do they make a difference to the people who will benefit from the ACS’ research and care efforts, but they make a huge difference to me.

I told the girls we were going to vote as we walked to the polls on Election Day this week (twice, because I forgot my wallet and had to go back home for my license, arg!).  My four year old asked me if there would be a steering wheel there for when we “boat”.  I decided I needed to elaborate… and enunciate.  It was an odd exercise in self-education, reminding myself why I was voting as I tried to come up with the most rudimentary understanding of the American political process.  I told her, “We vote for the people we think will make the best changes, the ones we think are important. The people who will make a difference.”  There was so much more I wanted to tell her, but my answer actually stopped the endless barrage of “Why’s” so we left it at that.

The reason I wanted my girls to attend the breast cancer walk and to feel the energy of all of those people who care about fighting breast cancer is the same reason I like to take them with me to vote.  Everywhere they looked, there were people trying to make a difference.  At the walk, they showed their support of loved ones battling disease.  They donated their time and money in an effort to further research and contribute to programs that will help breast cancer patients.  They were united for a cause.  At the polls, especially since it was a local election this year, they saw individuals who were excited about doing something for their town and their neighbors.  Those who were campaigning had the drive to stand outside and ask to represent us.  Although, I have never been very political, it struck me this year how selfless that can be.  

My cousin ran for Representative Town Meeting this year.  I was so proud to see his name on signs, knowing that he is willing to give up his personal time in order to make his town better and to represent the best interests of its residents.  I’ll be sure that my girls (and his boys, for that matter) know how awesome that is.  He’s not just going to stand around and say he wants change, like so many others who have a soapbox for no reason, he’s actually going to make the change. Even if theirs is small, I hope my girls know how important it is to make a difference.  As Gandhi said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”

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