Growing up, my dad would collect his change and encourage my sister and me to do the same. Every six months or so, we would all sit down in the kitchen and pour our collections on to the center of the table. We would then each go about sorting the change into piles- pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. Once we completed the sorting, we began creating piles of ten around the table with each type of coin- 10 pennies, 10 nickels, 10 dimes, and 10 quarters. Eventually, the kitchen table would be lined with delicate towers of coins, and we were ready for the next challenging step of sliding the piles into the small six-inch paper sleeves from the bank. Once a sleeve was filled with the correct amount, we would pinch the ends and fold them down to make a solid heavy tube of money. Finally, the most exciting step was counting up the tubes to find out the total amount of money we had collected. I was always amazed at how much money we had in the end. Of course, there was usually some loose change left over that my dad would have us go back and put back into our piggy banks reassuring us that we could look forward to the process occurring again.
When I decided to make a career shift and focus on writing in an attempt to create change with my words, I had no idea how much it would be like collecting coins with my sister and dad. Although it is much less tangible than a pile of coins, creating change is about small moments that may seem insignificant like a penny in your pocket, but when piled up and tallied with others they surprise you with their worth. Therefore, I thought I would share with you the small pocket of change that I have collected over the past month.
Change #1: As we walked across the street to enter one of our favorite summer time spots, the public library in Ocean Park, Maine, Nolan announced with excitement, “Mom, do you see the new accessible ramp to the library? Now, everyone can get books.”
Change #2: During a lazy summer morning, Caitlin and Nolan were cuddled on the couch watching their favorite shows on PBS when Coach Hooper appeared encouraging viewers to get up and move. Ignoring his instructions to stand and reach up high, the kids continued to stay huddled on the couch until Coach Hooper was done. Then, Caitlin popped up and turned away from the television. Concerned, she said, “Mom, they didn’t show any kids who move in different ways. They should include kids who move differently.”
Change #3: I was sitting at my desk writing when I was interrupted for the third time in five minutes by Nolan. Annoyed, I explained to him I was writing and I needed to focus for the next 30 minutes to finish up an interview. He responded, “Mom, I want you to be successful. This is really important work. I will play with Caitlin and make sure you get that story done.”
Change #4: “It’s one of a kind,” my colleague proudly stated as I carefully unwrapped the glass bowl she gave me for a parting gift. “It is a mosaic,” she explained further. Shaped from glass and mosaic tiles, the colorful bowl carries a hidden message. It is a reminder of a conversation we had a few years ago, and one I have had with many of my former students. It is a reminder that we are not seeking a melting pot, but instead we want to celebrate what makes all of us unique to create something that would be not be possible alone- a beautiful mosaic.
Change #5: This excerpt is from an email sent by a former student… I am reading the book you lent me, The Other Side of the Sky and on page 78, I read this passage and loved it. It is such a strong passage for me…It brought to mind Team Possible, and all the stories you have written about, and all the others to come.
“I didn’t want pity. If less is expected of me, less was thought of me. That’s how I saw it. I refused to concede that stepping on a land mine had made me any less than I used to be or could be. I refuse to scale back my ambitions or reduce my expectations of myself.”
I still have some change to share. However, I will keep them in my pocket for now. They will encourage me to keep collecting and remind me that small change can be significant. So… what change is in your pockets?