Saturday, December 22, 2012

A life of significance

Last Friday night, I was planning to write impassioned weekly blog posts on how we - you and me, reader - can change the world by writing our legislators, teaching our kids tolerance and love, and working with our school's administrators to make our schools safer.

A week of reflection has led me in a different direction. I'm forming the idea that we - each and every one of us - can make change. We can honor those teachers and young students whose lives were lost last Friday. And we can each do it in our own way.

I am guided by two major events this week. One - something that happens weekly. I, like many others, sought solace in my church this past Sunday. The associate pastor's sermon was based on a life of generous living, citing Luke 3:7-18. It's a life of being attentive to other's needs and to give back, and that's a life I'd like to lead.

We can't make change happen overnight. But incremental change happens daily. We can positively affect our children, our friends, our colleagues. And a moment will come when we can stand back - and maybe the end of 2012 is a good time to do this for you personally - and think about the collective positive change that has happened. Because you cared. Because you helped. Because you spoke your mind. Every little step adds up to something big.

The second major event this week brought me great sorrow. I am one of thousands of people who benefited from the leadership, guidance and teachings of Jimmie Alford, who passed away suddenly from a heart attack at the age of 69 this Tuesday. He is a leader in the non-profit movement, and I benefited from Openlands being one of his clients and I was one of his students of a graduate class at North Park University.  He lived his life true. He wasn't ashamed to tell you of his humble beginnings and of the company he built. His love for his beautiful wife and partner, Maree, his family and society was worn on his sleeve. He believed that we as part of the non-profit world could make great societal change and everything he did, he did humbly. He had vision, leadership and compassion.

Jeremy and I attended his memorial service today. An incredible man and an incredible life of significance. He touched many and now it's our job to carry on his good service. As one friend remembered him, Jimmie never had work-life balance. He just had life balance - everything he did - in both career and family - served a higher meaning, and that's a life I'd like to lead.

So this is my simple call to action: Do not be afraid to share your gifts with the world. Positive change will come of it, I'm sure. Good night, my friends.

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