When I grow up, I want to be like M.


With my heroine, M. in South Dakota

I am fortunate to work with a lot of people who have put in a fair amount of time on this planet. They know way more than I do and they are willing to share their wisdom with me in words and actions.

M. (pictured above) is one of the reasons I want to go to work. We took this picture last night in South Dakota. M. is one of the most active, inspiring and smart volunteers I know. She’s a retired teacher. I have been working with her for over a decade. Here’s a just a glimpse (I’m sure there’s more) of what she does in a typical month:

  1. Plays saxophone in a band – I think two bands – one plays at inaugural and related fancy functions and the other plays at less intense functions.
  2. Organizes musicians to play weekly during a meal and bingo at the senior center.
  3. Volunteers weekly in a kindergarten classroom.
  4. Provides caregiving (with her husband) for two separate sets of family members each of whom live a ways away – she drives 3 ½ hours to get to one of the aging couples.
  5. Recruits volunteers and participates in a backpack-stuffing program for children who don’t have enough food on the weekends.
  6. Serves as a statewide leader in community service which means that she motivates volunteers around the state who give back to their communities. She also collects and tabulates the number of community service hours contributed by these inspiring folks.

She does all of this with a smile on her face. With a constant wonder at life and a sense of gratitude for all that she gets back from the smiles and hugs at the senior center, in the kindergarten classroom and beyond.

And I only learn about this work by asking her. It’s part of who she is and it is in her DNA. And for my part, I am helping her to meditate just ten minutes a day, to make sure that she recharges and gives something different back to herself.

M. is one of the reasons I go to work every day. We don’t talk a lot. It’s mostly by email. Yet knowing that she is literally changing the world for the better and that I have a chance to learn from her and perhaps give her something she could use out here in this gorgeous prairie…I say, thank you for this chance to show up. I say thank you for introducing me to this saxophone-playing, backpack-stuffing, lover of humanity. When I grow up, I want to be like M.

Do you have these role models in your life? They are everywhere. And you can be one too!