Extending a hand

A little over a year ago, we helped my daughter to purchase the camera that she desperately wanted. When we took her to the store we had no idea that within a short time her camera would become embedded in her hand and permanently attached to her arm. It is rare now that you see Jessica without a baby on one hip and a camera bag on the other. Her camera is an extension of her self and all of our lives have become more joyful because of it. Mark Twain said, “The secret of success is making your vocation your vacation.” What is your vocation?  Are the tools we hold in our hands each day an extension of the passions we hold in our heart? When Maria picked up her guitar and sang, Let’s start at the very beginning…. she was sharing the sound of music in her heart with those in her care

Each morning as I do my dishes, scrubber in hand, I watch and listen to Rachel Ray. I listen to her not for her quick and easy recipes and interesting guests, but because she keeps me “enthused” about being in the kitchen. With orange spatula in hand, she reminds me that cooking is not only a necessary part of life, but one that can be fun and joyful as well. When enthusiasm (god is in us) for our vocation is mixed with passion and love everyone benefits (and my dishes get done).

A few weeks ago, microphone in her hand, Oprah said good-bye. I was a young mother with several small children when the Oprah show came to Salt Lake City. Folding diapers, cooking dinner and washing dishes, seemed a little less lonely with another woman in the room. Oprah was part of raising my family, Oprah was part of the conversations I shared with my friends, Oprah was part of helping me to see the world outside of my own circle. So I was brought to tears with her final show and the “words of wisdom” she shared with the women that had welcomed her into their homes for twenty-five years. Oprah asked us to pick up where she was leaving off….and somehow I felt like she was talking to me personally. In part she said….

 “What I knew for sure from this experience with you is that we are all called. Everybody has a calling, and your real job in life is to figure out what that is and get about the business of doing it. Every time we have seen a person on this stage who is a success in their life, they spoke of the job, and they spoke of the juice that they receive from doing what they knew they were meant to be doing. We saw it in the volunteers who rocked abandoned babies in Atlanta. We saw it with those lovely pie ladies from Cape Cod making those delicious potpies. … We saw it every time Tina Turner, Celine, Bocelli or Lady Gaga lit up the stage with their passion. Because that is what a calling is. It lights you up and it lets you know that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be, doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. And that is what I want for all of you and hope that you will take from this show. To live from the heart of yourself. You have to make a living; I understand that. But you also have to know what sparks the light in you so that you, in your own way, can illuminate the world.”

“When I started, not even I imagined that this show would have the depth and the reach that you all have given it. It has been a privilege for me to speak to you here in this studio, in this country and in 150 countries around the world on this platform that is The Oprah Winfrey Show. You let me into your homes to talk to you every day. This is what you allowed me to do, and I thank you for that. But what I want you to know as this show ends: Each one of you has your own platform. Do not let the trappings here fool you. Mine is a stage in a studio, yours is wherever you are with your own reach, however small or however large that reach is. Maybe it’s 20 people, maybe it’s 30 people, 40 people, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your classmates, your classroom, your co-workers. Wherever you are, that is your platform, your stage, your circle of influence. That is your talk show, and that is where your power lies. In every way, in every day, you are showing people exactly who you are. You’re letting your life speak for you. And when you do that, you will receive in direct proportion to how you give in whatever platform you have.

 “My great wish for all of you who have allowed me to honor my calling through this show is that you carry whatever you’re supposed to be doing, carry that forward and don’t waste any more time. Start embracing the life that is calling you and use your life to serve the world.”


I think this blog is more for me than my readers, but I do want to ask you what tool you will pick up to extend your hand to the world around you? What tool are you now using, what tool would you like to learn to use, what tool can you only imagine picking up in your wildest dreams. Is it a spatula, a garden trowel, a microphone, a camera, a paintbrush, a jigsaw, a pen, a needle, or simply, like the little children who stood at church this morning and held up their fingers-singing ‘this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine,’ a light?  Please share–


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6 Responses to Extending a hand

  1. colleendown says:

    Thanks for the thoughts–sometimes I feel like you are speaking directly to me. I have been thinking a lot lately about what tools I would like to add to my own toolbox. I guess the number one tool at this point of my life is a pen…I would like to make my vacation (my hobby) more my vocation. Time is such a crazy thing though…I have learned in my pottery class, which is scheduled and paid for, that I am improving ever so slightly by the mere fact that I show up week after week–I need to have the same discipline with writing instead of only doing it when everything else in my life is finished-which up to this point has been never. In my wildest dreams (and while walking through art galleries in SF) I dream of picking up a paint brush and trying to capture in oil what I see in my garden. And with a little encouragement from RR I hope to add a few more recipes to my rather routine repertoire of meals! Anybody else want to take the risk and put yourself and your dreams out there for everyone to read 🙂

  2. Cathy says:

    I have a hard time commenting on your blog because I feel so moved by what you write and so inadequate to express myself! Writing would not be the best platform for me…I have been thinking lots about this subject lately and don’t yet have the whole answer for me but at least I am looking! I’ll let you know what I find…

  3. colleendown says:

    You were brave enough to post Cathy–plus maybe you aren’t comfortable writing a comment but I have read your poems–don’t say you can’t write. You are one of the most talented people I know with a total eye for beauty so whatever “rocks your boat” I know that it will make the world more beautiful–and taste good. Whatever, you are choosing to do at this time of your life, it will be exciting to share in the progress, keep us posted!

  4. Jessica Gregory says:

    Everyone must be like me, meditating on this post instead of commenting.
    I guess you’ve discovered mine for me. Taking pics. I love that I can capture the beauty that I see and share it with just a quick click of my camera. Especially since I am much better visually than verbally. I just need to be better at the tech stuff. As well as saving my money for more lenses.
    In my wildest dreams I want to be a writer like my mom. Can I do an intern via internet so you can teach me everything you know:)
    P.s, I love Oprah’s words as well as yours. I am inspired!

  5. colleendown says:

    I dropped my camera over the weekend and this wave of nausea swept over me–I almost called you because I knew you would understand my pain. (It is sort of working but I think I will need a new lens). Dad always says, “Jessica is a great writer!” every single time he reads your blog, he notices the writing before the pictures. We both need to write in the same way we take pictures-every single day. The lady in the book, which I am going to get you, “Writing the Down The Bones,” says, “I find it humorous when people ask me to teach them how to write, you write by doing, it is going to the well of your own experience that things will come, asking someone to teach them to write is like asking for a drink from someone instead of getting it yourself from the well.” Anyway, it was something like that-I don’t have my contacts in so I can’t go look it up. Just keep writing–and you will become a writer!

  6. Jessica Gregory says:

    I’ll keep at it. I am more mindful of great writers than I used to be. Thanks for the compliment and engorgement!

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