I tugged the book from the envelope and read the cover …
One Woman’s Search for Simplicity, Faithfulness, and Hope
Now there was a soundbite that called my name, words that described my everyday feelings of changes in my life and where I hope they lead. But this book is written by a woman called Eileen Flanagan, who not only changed her life but used it to change the world. Instead of finding this daunting, I decided that I was going to read every word and see if I could find parallels to indicate that I could emulate her actions.
And so I began.
And then I took notes … and nodded my head, and sighed and cried and loved on this book. And the parallels, there were many the same, and many from a different perspective. Eileen is an American, who began her social good journey in the heart of Africa, the place where I grew up. Yet years later we both find ourselves as middle-class moms in suburbia concerned about excess and core values.
She joined the Peace Corp and traveled far from home just as I was graduating high school and heading to college with lofty ideas of my own. Her Irish mother, very anti-British, not liking her listening to The Beatles made me chuckle since I was born in Liverpool and raised on The Beatles. My father even went to school with Paul McCartney. It reminded me of an incident during my college years and a very brief engagement to a sweet German boy, when my own mother told me that her mother would not attend my wedding if she were alive since she lost a son in the war. Mothers …
Reading her words on African history, I felt the familiar names of great leaders roll across my tongue, and her experiences while in Botswana and her travels touched my heart as she became a part of the people with whom she shared her life. Her Africa was so different to much of mine growing up as a young white girl during the Apartheid regime yet in some ways the same with the love for the country and its people.
Fast forward to her life in America, where years later she found herself in much the same place as many of us do … shuffling chores, drowning in house payments, material needs taking over our lives and caught up in the need vs want of day to day American life.
Yet still within her was this absolute need to make a difference, to be heard and to raise awareness of a simpler life changing the fate of our planet. She searched for a way to take that idealistic young woman she had been and make those same ideals relevant to those around her. The Tswana proverb she quotes, “A person is a person because of other people” speaks volumes to me as my own village has wrapped their arms around me in trying times and my life is filled because of my children and my family. Much like when she talks of Nelson Mandela explaining ‘ubuntu’ in taking care of others while not neglecting oneself, which in turn is good for the community. I reflected more on what I hoped to accomplish with my writing, in sharing stories, in making a difference for others as I turned her pages.
The likelihood of handcuffing myself to the fence of The White House – even to raise awareness of the need for climate change remains slim, but being a part of organisations such as shot@life with The UN Foundation and ONE certainly helps to fuel my fire. Her story touches me in so many ways, her passion throughout her writing of the up and downs, the triumphs and even failures are a true testament to the raw honesty in which she shares her life.
During some years that have been hard, I often felt alone and adrift. While social good has been a journey that has served others, mostly – it has served me … having an awareness of the needs of others, of the voice that you can be for those that are unable to be heard is a gift that each of us have and I am thankful and filled with gratitude that I have been able to lend mine.
Thank you to Eileen Flanagan for sharing your heart.
Hugs and kisses always.