Hello, dear readers! Today we have something special. Ann Garvin, founder of the Tall Poppies, shares something that is near and dear to her heart.
Something happened that turned me from someone who cares about others to someone who cares for others; from someone who lent a hand when asked to seeking out situations to offer a hand. Something so common, something millions had done before me, something that I should not get any congratulations for.
I had a child (and then another).
In the moment it took for me to look into my daughter’s eyes, I realized something I hadn’t before. This child was the world, she was me, all children, everyone, all wrapped up in a seven-plus-change bundle–colicky, gassy, and beautiful. If I was going to devote my life to this child, I had to commit to the world too. What’s that saying I’m sure I heard on Downton Abby ‘In for a penny, in for a pound’? Well I was in and I wasn’t interested in getting out.
Side note, before you think this is a post about how wonderful I am let’s get something straight. I am not that nice of a person. I can be impatient, petty, bitchy and self-important. Some of my other not-so-nice traits are that I am a huge know-it-all and am certain that I should rule the world with my opinions (but if you gave me the chance I’d wander off and take a nap—yes I would, don’t kid yourself).
Here’s something else, not everyone has to procreate to get to a more excellent state of being, but I did. After Julie and Meg were born I knew it wasn’t going to be enough to be a nurse caring for one person at a time. Nor, was it going to be enough to teach health to a room full of college students. I wanted to mobilize an army of help. I wanted to lay siege. Then my daughter got thrush, gave me a yeast infection that killed every time she latched on to eat, I had to get tenure at my university, and then my parent’s got sick. Here’s another quote, ‘If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans.’
It was a lesson though, all this chaos, the lesson is Ann, you can’t do it alone. You have to get some help. You have to enlist others and by the way, there are no others.
There are no others.
Look, I know there are people out there that I shouldn’t be messing with. I know that you can’t help everyone and I’m not here to say that we all should become co-dependent and drop our boundaries and fly to Africa. I’m not actually advising anyone to do anything. But, I wanted to help some people and since I like people (mostly) I thought I’d pull a group of people together.
This video here cemented in my mind who I wanted to help.
This is when I started having bake sales with my legions of students to help pull girls out of poverty. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but we’ve been doing it for years now and have funded schools, gifted goats and contributed to the education of three sisters who are orphans from the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone.
Meet Fatmata, Florence & Hannah and see how easy it is to make a difference. One of the reasons I brought the Tall Poppy Writers together was to create a community of writers helping to amplify the voices of women. What could be better then pulling together and further our reach to help at-risk girls? The students in my classes at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and the Tall Poppy Writers actively fund raise for these girls to live and go to school.
On the days I feel powerless to impact the world, this is one of the ways I can feel powerful. If you’re interested in feeling this kind of power here are the details for donating. Simply add in the notes that it is for Fatmata, Florence & Hannah.
Or don’t and find your own way toward a more excellent state of being. Maybe it’s through your church, maybe it’s confined within your immediate family (until that yeast infection goes away) and maybe it’s just within yourself. I’m not going to judge the path to excellence, I just know I had to find a path for myself and this is one of them.
Dr. Ann Garvin, PhD is an award winning writer with three novels published in five different countries. Her novels have been said to provide clarity, humanity, humor and compassion during this time of turmoil and change. She is a sought after speaker, educator, and writer with thirty years of teaching in higher education under her belt. Her primary focus is in health psychology and humor. She lives in Stoughton, WI but teaches across the country.
She is the founder of www.tallpoppies.org and www.thefifthsemester.com and specializes in health education in all areas of life.
Dear Ann, I could have been swallowed up in your novel – I understand that it’s just not healthy to take care of others when I can barely take care of myself. I know that my Mom and Aunts were trained to never say no to a request for help. And they all ended up with severe bone, muscular, and hypertensive disorders – which my sisters and brother now “enjoy.”
I thought I had learned to say no. Several bouts of burnout – in healthcare, in teaching, in parenting, in marriage to an abusive, self-centered husband – indicated otherwise..
One day I realized very clearly that I had not learned anything.
I had filled in for a pastor one Sunday, then stopped to see my Aunt Rose, my nearest and dearest. I told her that these people wanted me to come twice a month to preach. I started thinking out loud (transparency they call it,) and my aunt, who had NEVER raised her voice to me said, “DON’T YOU DARE!” I asked why she was yelling – the answer – “I’ve needed to say yes all my life and now I’m in pain all the time.” We wept, hugged, chatted quietly – these are entities I cherish.
Then I told her, “I understand.” There is wisdom in making a space between myself and people who need, ask for, beg for help. I’ve slipped a few times, but thank goodness they still make band-aids for the knees. I am standing a little taller now. I do not walk into situations which history has told me are toxic. I say no … and amazingly, my circle of friends consider me to be kind.