Besides being a Resource Parent for the Family Care Network, I get to participate in some of the trainings the agency holds for newly hired staff members. The first big training that everyone goes through is on Trauma-Informed Care. Every new hire at Family Care participates in this training, whether you are in Facilities, IT, admin, or have been hired as a Rehabilitation Specialist or Social Worker—everyone starts their new job at FCNI learning how trauma affects the brain and how to support one another by staying calm and balanced. We teach what it means to respond to one another from a place of love versus reacting to them from a place of fear.
One of the first things we do in the class is to ask people to think about what they would like their legacy to be. What is it that they would like those who they interact with to receive from them?
Since the very first time I was asked this question, I knew that the legacy I want to leave is love. Love is a word that isn’t used very much in the area of social services, so I want to clarify what I mean by love. Most people would define love as “unconditional regard for another” or “an intense feeling of affection for another.” For me, love is oneness. It’s a feeling that you “see” the other person and identify with them and they, in turn, feel that way towards you--even if it’s just for a few minutes or seconds. By interpreting the word “love” in this way, I understand that I can leave a legacy of love with the clerk at the grocery store, or with the person I pass on a busy street and make quick eye contact and share a smile with, as well as with all of the people I share my life with. You don’t have to know someone or be in a relationship with someone to leave a legacy of love. When I open my heart and give my attention to another, I am communicating oneness. I identify with the other person as a fellow human, regardless of our differences.
The energy of love within me is felt by the other person- they may not identify it as love, but I do know that they feel something positive. I have proof of this. When I graduated from high school at the age of 16, I moved to San Francisco and settled into my first apartment in what was then a fairly crime riddled neighborhood. I didn’t have a car then, so every day I rode the bus and most days some guy would say, “Hey, little Mama, where you goin’?” And I would respond with an open heart, smile and say, “I’m going to work.” And then that guy would smile back at me and say, “Well, you have a good day okay?” Most people would have probably urged me to keep my head down, and avoid making eye contact or talking to anyone. But I never had a scary moment the entire time I lived there or rode that bus.
Another example happened years later, during a car ride with my husband. He was telling me all about what a bad day he had, how frustrated he was with a coworker and so on… I was about to ask him if anything good had happened during the day, but I stopped myself. I brought my attention to my heart and I opened it up. I thought about how much I loved him, and I decided to remain silent while I listened. I never said a word. Right in in the middle of his next sentence, he said, “Have I told you lately how much I love you?” The power of loving energy is mighty.
I have opened my heart and let the energy of love shine for every foster child who has ever lived in my home. Not every placement has ended well or happily, but time and time again, when I see one of the kids who’ve left our home under difficult circumstances, they greet me with a huge smile and they ask me how Larry and I are doing. We usually spend a few moments catching up and then, more times than not, they’ll say, “I’m sorry for all that I put you through”, or “I can’t believe how wild I was when I lived with you…”, or “I’ll never forget how good it was in your home.” And from this moments, I know that the energy of love I shared created a bit of healing for each and every wounded soul who spent time with us.
Lately, it seems like every morning when we wake up, we are met with another story of death, violence, and human beings hurting and hating one another. It can make the most positive person really wonder what is happening. We all get to choose whether we respond or react. Do we react from a place of fear, picking a side and demonizing the other guy? Or do we respond from a place of love, and open our hearts sending the energy of love to all people? I believe that it is human nature to feel oneness with one another. We see it all time when great tragedies occur. Strangers helping strangers, people lining up to donate blood or rescuing someone from a flood or fire. When the times demand goodness, human beings respond with courage and love. This knowledge is what sustains me when I wonder what is happening in this world; it is what moves me to open my heart to every child who comes through my door, no matter what. And more of this love is what is needed right now. So my commitment remains to leave my legacy of love with every person, whether I agree with them or not, because I know that love dissolves fear.
So, what is your legacy? What wonderful quality within you wants to be revealed and shared with others? What would our world be like if everyone thought about leaving a positive legacy with the people they interact with? Maybe that seems like a “pie in the sky” desire, but I can tell you for sure that one person sending loving energy from her heart out has touched hundreds, maybe even thousands of people. It starts with claiming your legacy and then committing to one thing that you can do today to assure your legacy for tomorrow. This world has never needed you more!