Go out and do something

By Carol / April 27, 2022 /

“Go out and do something, even if it’s wrong!” That was the advice my husband’s mother gave to her eleven children. 

While the ‘even if it’s wrong’ part leads me to imagine all sorts of disastrous outcomes in the hands and minds of children, she wasn’t wrong. We all sometimes get it wrong, which doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

When world or national problems appear overwhelming – as they did for me last week – I have to remind myself that I do often get out and do something. And perhaps I can do more. 

Since last week, I’ve been reviewing the things that bring me joy and cause me to be hopeful. Topping the list is anything related to children. Many readers who shared my anxiety also found hope in their children and grandchildren. In addition, engaging directly with people, is most rewarding for me. A couple of examples:

Reading to little children

I read each week with children at Oak Academy. 

Twice each week during the school year I am a Book Buddy, reading to 4 and 5-year-olds. A United Way program, Book Buddies is structured to help children from low-income families become school-ready for kindergarten, learning on a par with their peers.

I read at Oak Academy, the pre-school run by Oakridge Neighborhood where I also serve on the Board. Oakridge provides affordable housing and services to low-income individuals and families. More than half the 1,000+ residents at Oakridge are immigrants or refugees.

Some of my little buddies recognize just the letters of their names. Others blow me away as they read the entire book to me. All the children develop and strengthen their reading skills in the course of the year. Perhaps unconsciously, they also know that another adult cares about them and their future.

Loving grandchildren

Eliza still chooses strawberries instead of cake for her b-day.

Without question, my two granddaughters (now 11 & 13) are a highlight of my life. I count myself blessed that they live only 20 minutes from us and we see them frequently.

Baking cookies, treasure hunts, hide and seek, a prairie walk, art projects, driving lawn tractors, riding in the back of the truck, card games, going fishing. Whatever we dream up. 

From the time they were born, my goals have been to let them know that I love them without bounds and to ensure they have fun every time we see each other. I trust the memories we create and the love we share will help sustain them in a future that will have bumps in the road, just as it does for all of us.

Helping the world

Like everyone else, I am concerned about Ukraine. Here, too, I’m looking for a way to engage with children locally. Our local paper, has highlighted the challenges of refugee resettlement, efforts that have been hampered by budget cuts and the pandemic, both of which limited services and reduced staff. Afghani refugees already here still need a lot of help, and Ukrainian refugees are on the way.

When I read that local resettlement agencies need volunteers as much as money, food, and clothing, I knew they were talking to me. I’m exploring opportunities.

Action Binds Anxiety

My mother-in-law’s advice to get out and do something is solid. In fancier terms, an expert in crisis management told me, “Action binds anxiety.” When things are falling down all around us, doing something gives us a sense of purpose, of control. When I tear my mind off what’s going on in the world or in Washington, and look closer to home, I realize that I am doing something much of the time and finding ways to engage that fit my personality.

One person at a time taking one action at a time. We can each do something. If we do, we have to hope and trust that the cumulative effect moves us all to a better future.

That’s the way I’m dealing with the anxiety I feel these days. By doing something. How are you doing?

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  1. Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder on April 27, 2022 at 1:00 pm

    Thanks for a good reminder to “go out and do something!” You’re modelling that mantra, Carol! Thanks for sharing!

    • Carol on April 27, 2022 at 1:19 pm

      Thanks, Elfrieda. I think the pandemic isolation gave many (myself included) too much navel-gazing time. Adding to that the events of the last couple of years and 24/7 news, it is no wonder anxiety runs so high. Doing something for someone else forces us out of our own selves. A better place to be.

  2. Karen Peaslee on September 2, 2022 at 2:21 pm

    Just read Go Away Home and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it. It was definitely one of those that I did not want to end. Maybe because I am what I consider a mid-westerner, from Wisconsin, I found it fascinating and so relatable. Both of my parents grew up in farm families from Nebraska.
    Thank you for writing such a wonderful book!

    • Carol on September 6, 2022 at 2:57 pm

      Thank you, Karen, for reading Go Away Home and taking the time to let me know you enjoyed the story. I appreciate hearing from readers!

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