January 21, 2018


The word change as a verb means make or become different. As a noun it means the act or instance of making or becoming different. What does that mean exactly? Does that mean that the simplest change will transform me, that I will become different? I pondered this question at length. First, I thought about the big things that transformed me, the things I can easily say happened and I became different.

  • I left a small town in Indiana, Elwood to be exact, and moved to the metropolis of Miami. I would never be the same. I learned that it's possible to live in a place and be anonymous. It's possible to be alone when surrounded by others. I learned what the word stranger really means. And it was exhilarating and refreshing.
  • I walked into a synagogue and realized that my soul had always been Jewish. I would never be the same. The bits and pieces of my childhood religion that didn't make sense to me were the bits and pieces that didn't exist in Judaism. My heart opened, every piece fell into place, and I soared.
  • I had a home birth, a birth that instantly confirmed that I too wanted to follow in the footsteps of every birth attendant that came before me. I would never be the same. I could feel this aching in my bones. I waited patiently until my children grew and the time was right and midwifery school made sense. I ran and jumped and practically somersaulted into my new life.

Then there are the things that at first look seemed to be everyday and ordinary but in the end I definitely became different.

  • I walked into a party and met a funny man and that was that. I left. We didn't exchange numbers. We didn't plan coffee or tea. We didn't make a date. Nothing. But several weeks later when he tracked me down and asked me out, I would never be the same. I never looked back. We will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary in February.
  • When I had small children at home, I volunteered as a La Leche League leader. I answered multiple calls a day. Many calls were similar and sometimes I felt as if I was just reading from a script and not making much of a difference. I never knew the outcome. I saw a snippet of their lives and usually never heard back from them. Fast forward to the checkout line in Publix. As I was talking to the cashier, the person behind me asked, "Are you Mary Harris?". When I said yes, she said she recognized my voice and that my words helped her through a very hard time. I would never be the same. Even the smallest words can make a difference.
  • A friend asked me to speak about midwifery at a career fair at the local elementary school. I talked to many different classes that day. The talks were short. There were a few questions, the kids moved on and another group sat down. Some of them were collecting business cards. They turned it into a game and were trading them as if they were gold. I had fun and the day ended. Two years later, I received a phone call from someone requesting an interview appointment. When at my office I was shown a ragged old A Loving Start business card. I was told that the business card was pulled from the drawer in the child's room by loving hands. The card was handed over with these words, " I think this will be the best for you and the baby". I would never be the same. Even our littlest ears can hear.
Then there are the "ordinary" things we do. The things that allow us to grow and become different and transform slowly, constantly, and continually each and every day.

  • Every time you hold a child's hand you grow.
  • Every time you bring soup to a sick friend you become different.
  • Every time you hold your words, take a deep breath, and speak patiently you are transformed.
After all this pondering, yes, I do believe the simplest change will and does transform me and I do believe that I will and do become different. Right now I'm taking a moment just before sleep to look through my entire day and acknowledge the obvious, the not so obvious, and the ordinary moments that transformed me and made me different today.

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