I love my friends.
I used to live in the apartment above Lisa's mom, Flo. Flo pretty much raised Lisa's three kids while Lisa was in prison for 7 years. Her kids ,to this day, still call her, "Lisa."
Flo never seemed to like me and I was never quite sure why. Despite that, when Lisa came home from prison and moved in with her mom, she always said hi to me and spoke when I would come in from work each day. Lisa and I became friends. I am convinced Lisa's friendliness toward me eventually won Flo over to be my friend as well.
Eventually, we needed a cook for our summer program. Lisa had cooked for large numbers in prison so we hired her as our cook. (aside note: as I write this now, I think about all of the background checks and such we do before we hire anyone nowadays. I wonder if Lisa would've made the cut. I kind of doubt it. That makes me sad. Despite her past record, she was/is a great person. Though she joked about the kids being "little monsters," I knew she really enjoyed being around them.). After working at our summer program, she started working in fast food (which she was very happy with simply because it's so difficult to get a job coming out of prison).
After several years, Lisa, Flo, and the kids moved. We didn't stay in touch very well, but every once in a while I would see Flo or Lisa would call. About a year ago Lisa's middle daughter decided to enroll in college. As we've all worked together on that process, I've been in a little more contact with them, but mostly with Ashley.
Tonight Lisa called. I hadn't talked to her in several months. She was calling because she was down and her year was already starting off wrong. Evidently she was irritated at a guy at work who was giving her problems. She explained to me that she had just gotten "off papers" December 7 and had no intention of doing anything to jeopardize that. Though I wanted to be sypathetic, I couldn't help but change the focus...I had no idea she had gotten "off papers!" I wanted to celebrate that with her!
I know the last 10 years haven't all been easy for her. I asked about her motivation and wondered if it started the day she was released. Her response? Her motivation started with her concern about her mother's health and knowing that if she went back to prison she wouldn't get to spend time with her. Her motivation increased when her grandkids came along.
I think that's interesting...and so true for all of us. When our life is meaningful we want to stick around. When we mean something to someone else and they mean something to us, we have purpose and we have a reason to move forward.
I've decided I have wishes instead of resolutions for '08:
One of my wishes is that more of the kids and adults I know find meaning in their life and know that they are meaningful...and I hope that, if needed, we (our After-School Academies, our Educational Outreach Center, our efforts with college students, etc.) can help people discover that meaning.