There is a lady closing out her professional career this year. A lady who has work tirelessly to impact the lives of many, many people. A lady who can walk away from her office knowing that she made a real change, a real difference in the world that she lives in.
This lady is my mom. I was inspired to right this post after catching a few moments of Oprah's show last Friday. Her celebrity friends tearfully expressing how much Oprah has done for the world and I in turn had the world's biggest eye roll. Is Oprah successful and a smart business woman? YES. Has her show given her a platform to raise awareness and earn money to fund charities? YES. Has she done anything for YOU? No, probably not. Even with decades on the air, the amount of real life stories she has had on the air doesn't even come close to physically touching or improving the lives of regular Americans. And Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz have, in my opinion, sent America backwards.
My mom has the honor of changing real lives. My mom started at her place of employment, a local Adult School, when I was 4. She shipped me off to pre-school and took a job helping other people get work. I loved going to her office on weekends when she had to go in to "finish a few things" and I was always in awe of the paper closet. All that paper! Different colors! How fun! This is what work is like?? WORK IS AWESOME. Don't get me started on the copy machine. Sometimes, she would let us make a copy of our hands and we would think it was the coolest thing ever.
When I was in college, my mom went back to school to earn her Adminstrative Credential. Soon she was Vice Principal and before we knew it, she was Principal (President, as my sister calls it). My mom put blood, sweat and tears into that school. It was her pride and joy. She worked hard not only to make sure that day to day operations ran smoothly but that each student and each teacher was happy and reaching their goals. She met life long friends, some that have since passed away but that have made a huge impact on the woman she is today. Her work hours were never really 9-5. When I lived with her after college, I often had to call her and tell her that I was making dinner and she needed to be home before 6. It isn't uncommon for her to work 7 days a week in order to get things done. She lives up to the phrase "Always Stand Up To Be Counted" that her mother preached and she puts her school on the high pedestal it deserves.
Some adults have been attending classes at her school for years. The connections she has made in the community are strong. Often, she will run into a former student while she is out and about and they know her, her school and her teachers. They sing praises about what the Adult School has meant to them.
My mom may not be retiring to her multi cajillion dollar house in Montecito. She doesn't call John Travolta or Julia Roberts her best friends. She isn't on tv everyday featuring "the little people" and their stories and then sending them back to their lives with just a memory of their fame. She certaintly isn't worth 1 billion dollars cash.
But if you were to ask her teachers, her collegues, her supervisors and her students what she has done for them, it would be worth all the money in the world. Oprah is just a stranger on a tv screen. My mom is a hero in real life. Let me remind you to hold up the real heroes. The real people that make a difference in your life every single day and take celebrities and talking heads off of your list of people you look up to.