Do the Right Thing; “Va' dove ti porta il cuore”

I have been mulling over this post for about 4 weeks now, just as I have been mulling over my next step in the campaign for good over okay

Or, as you fashion folk might understand it:

The Couture Intervention vs "One Size Fits All".

And the delay in transmission has come as a result of exactly what pulls us back from the campaign; Real Life.

Because when things get tough at home, I have learned to pull up the draw bridge and concentrate on what is happening between our walls. To not let anything else drain my energy away. But I learned this the hard way, because time and time again, I have burnt myself trying to "do the right thing".

You see, I feel a strong commitment to my "community" and I always feel that if I can help, if I have the skills, then I should. I also feel, often times that if I don't do it, no one will.
I would feel this irresistible pull to volunteer to help out, to turn up at a meeting or a presentation, even if it was putting unreasonable pressure on myself and my family.

And many times we do make these choices, and other people benefit. It has to be said that the entire movement of Irish Autism advocacy, including the school that my children attend, is down to people doing just that. Going beyond any benefit to themselves and their child, to give up their time and use their considerable skills to help all of us. And thank goodness they do.

And then there are the others who concentrate all of their energy on the home environment, giving their kids the best possible intervention; which is admirable too.

I guess the way to look at it is the difference between Big Picture and Small Picture.

If you spend all your time on the Big Picture, many people may benefit. But maybe your home situation will suffer. If you are all about the small picture, then hopefully the reward will be happier children, but there are outside influences that may thwart you, and make you feel powerless- then you need the big picture; the Macro.

In my experience, there will always be people who are looking to you to lead, and to do all the work, without making any kind of commitment themselves. They will happily benefit and enjoy your efforts, but will also be very quick to complain at the slightest thing going wrong.
And they will only notice how much you are doing; when you stop.
A few years ago a clever friend was watching me about to get involved in just such a project; and noting my frustration she gave me an excellent piece of advice:
"You can't pull people along"

Giving your all to a project when people are not fully on board, is only going to end in tears, mostly yours.
Firstly, you will be dealing with conflict all the time as you try to rally everyone along with your enthusiasm and single minded passion for the cause or project.
You will be inundated with tasks to complete, with nobody to delegate to, as everyone will be passively watching to see how it all works out. And you will most likely reach a point where you simply lose ownership of the project as it goes out of your exhausted control and then fails.

(or appears to, by your impossible standards)

It took me a few tries to realise how right my friend was.
Last year, I got involved with a project for which I took all the responsibility for organisation, negotiation and fundraising. (I have a lot of chutzpah when it comes to applying for grants, and a very clever friend who did the bookwork)

I put it all together and then had to hand it over to the health and educational professionals to implement, so the training could benefit more children.
One of these people described me as "The Little Red Hen".
I had planted the grain, picked the grain, milled it into flour, and made the bread;
Only to have this little lot turn up and make burnt toast, leaving me to clean up the crumbs.
Driven demented with regret, I chastised myself with thoughts of what I could have done to make it work better.
I felt sick every time I thought of it. Lost half a stone. (Boobs and face = Not Good)
And my child did not benefit. Not one bit.
And the lesson; when you are looking to invest yourself in a project; you have to look hard and decide what benefit this will have to the people you love, and how much you have to give to it.

Some people very successfully use good business skills, negotiation, diplomacy, and The Art of the Deal, to benefit all of us. And, thank goodness they do because they have given my son back to me, and are making life a whole lot more hopeful for my daughter.

And The New School simply wouldn't exist without these people.

Some, when they find out that their child has autism, use a different power to help us all: Fame.
In Ireland, literally millions of euro has been raised, thanks to the patronage of one member of a boy band from the mid 90's: Keith Duffy. Not only does he work tirelessly to elicit the charitable support of many to our cause; he cajoles and recruits others to use their celebrity to our benefit.

I am sure he finds it very gratifying to be able to do this. Sure, I often imagine what it would be like to raise half a million euro, just by turning up to an event. But he does more than this. He genuinely involves himself and adds his influence to as many of the projects that our group can line him up for. And sets up quite a few himself.
Look, I'll admit it, I am mad about him. So I will just stop gushing and finish my post.

But there are others, in every household that our doers, movers and shakers occupy, who work behind the scenes. Who have recognised their skill set is best utilised in the micro management of their child's intervention. They are not hermits or homebodies, as they have to attend the courses, and read all the books and websites and network with other parents, teachers and therapists.
But their contribution is no less valuable.
The balance is in finding out what works for your family. Some of the best Macro's are terrible at the home based stuff. They are better off out shouting at windmills and letting their other half get on with it. And some Micro's are just great at doing what they do. While applauding the others. The wind beneath their windmills I guess?

Which brings me to my second quote from a wonderful strong lady.
When you are deciding which road to take, to do the right thing:

"Va' dove ti porta il cuore " which means, Follow Your Heart.


K.Line said…
The macro vs the micro - it's a painful call, I'm sure. Though it strikes me that some people really do function better in one camp than in the other.

It seems that you manage to bring both skill sets to the table (from what I know of you) and that you are thwarted only by the stupidness of 24 hour days and the need to sleep and eat. And the stupidness of other people, natch. (I know a thing or two about this one!) And on the topic, I can't believe that someone would refer to you as "The Little Red Hen". How about "The Gorgeous Superstar who's made this whole frickin' thing happen"? Huh?

You are walking a long road, Hammie. A road that gives you so much perspective on this awesome world (which brings beautiful things in unlikely packages). And a road that puts blisters on your metaphoric feet (sometimes).

I'm confident you're doing everything as well as you or anyone else can. It may not raise 500 grand a night, but it sure as hell is going to raise some great kids. Keep on, sistah.
Gracie:) said…
I am a Micro, but am eternally gratefull for the Macros who use thier skill, fame, drive and determination for the betterment of others.

Im gearing up for the Horrors of Homework, its all I can take right now.

Skye said…
k.line's comment was so eloquent, now I am lost for words (rare). The macro/micro conflict is one we all feel to some extent, as a stay at home mother it's one that tugs at my conscience often.

You strike me as a woman of very, very sound instincts - trusting those will always be the best way, regardless of what the other voices say.
Skye said…
PS. I'm sorry I didn't see this til now, for some reason my blogroll didn't tell me you'd updated until now. Frustrating as I look forward to your posts very much!
Sesame said…
Third attempt to reply..was going off on one the other 2 times. Basically I get where you're coming from with the Little Red Hen analogy..very disheartening..
makes you wonder why you bothered putting in so much effort for someone else to piss it all away.

There will always be BIG vs small. We are all 'holier than thou' until it comes to the crunch and that's when the true colours show..and unfortunately the reality is that everyone is out for themselves and what benefits them and theirs.

You my dear are one of the exceptions to this rule, as well as the fab Mr Duffy. The autism world needs you and more like you. I have never met(literally)someone who gives so much of their time, wisdom and experience to others both here and on the RC, not forgetting the media, without people like you I would be give a voice to the voiceless and help them find their second wind. This is not meant to be a 'how great thou art' post but it is cos sometimes you don't hear it enough. I don't think you will ever fathom how valuable you are to us autie parents.

So from a much older post of yours "I get knocked down but I get up again".

Nick McGivney said…
I wouldn't have this much respect for Keith Duffy today if I didn't have so much respect for you yesterday. Having said that, it was easier for you in some respects. You didn't have a back catalogue of nails-scraping-blackboard 'hit' albums that I had to get therapy for just to get over. So that makes KD an even bigger hero now, I guess. Not only is he doing what he's doing, but he's undoing what he's done. Speaking of done, I am. Postscript: Have all the out-loud self doubt you want, just as long as you remember that you're wrong. You're doing tremendously inspiring stuff.
Lisamaree said…
First online and I had only just posted my first version. (I always tweak a few times in the first 24 hours)
Thankyou, it is lovely to hear such encouragement and empathy.
I have learned the hardway, but I will promise to be smarter next time.
Mammy; read your comment in the dark of the night while up with Bratty. I find YOU a great inspiration. I added a paragraph today to represent what you say; all the time to boost me.
Skye: Thank God! I was sulking at being ignored. No, not really. It was such a long time between posts that I knew everyone would have given up checking. I was just enjoying the time to plod about and do a bit of shopping. (sales and outlets)
It is great being a Stay at Home Mamma. More power and respect to it. We make people. We grow a person inside our bodies. Why isn't that enough? And boy, you do such a great job with the stylee. You have lifted my blogroll to very impressive and inspiring heights, as my special friends have told me.
Sesame: go off on a tangent on your own blog! I would love to hear more of your take on this issue, and I can be link you up then, more views the merrier!(and I can sit back and loaf around)
Nick: I won't hear a WORD against Our Keef! An absolute honey and has to be the most photographed man in the Irish Autism Action newsletters. Come to the next concert and watch the spanx fly!
He he.
Cathal's Mammy said…
What can I say, I second everything (including Nick's comments about dubious Boyzone music). Your a macro- micro, micro-macro, organising, brain full of stuff goddess. And I thank you flr all the great advice you have passed on to me. Without people like you who want to help others, I would not be half as organised about Cathal as I am today. You've certainly inspired me to get out there to try and impart knowledge on others.
Sister Wolf said…
I don't do anything macro or micro, I just try to survive without killing or being killed. But I think I can get off my ass to help get your book published.

Would that be micro or macro?
Anonymous said…
hammie, I nodded my way through this post whilst reading it. Beautifully written and so much advice and wisdom in it (I thought of 3 people straight to send it on to). I thought the little red hen comment was a compliment (I'm not very socially aware) someone recognized all the work that you did and that you handed on. As I recall the little red hen was pissed off too. I know i'm going to read this post again and again.
Elizabeth said…
Sometimes you have to step back and let someone ELSE do the work.

Hammie must take care of her own, sometimes.
bronwyn said…
Sending you a hug...just because. Alot also depends on the people you work with, how committed they are past the big talk, and if they truly share the same vision and agenda. Sadly, I have found that often people's ego's get in the way of a project achieving its maximum potential.
Seeker said…
My dear Hammie, thank you so much for mention me with so nice and kind words. You’re always a sweetheart.

I sense your sadness and frustration because you think that when you are working for the others somehow you are neglecting your ones and with no recognition. I understand your feelings and you have my total support.
I also can't believe that someone would refer to you as "The Little Red Hen". And I’m so sure that you're doing everything as well as you or anyone else can, a great job to support people inside and to touch the “outsiders” and also raising some great kids.

However I believed we need more than 70 years in this planet to evolve spiritually.
I believe that one must return here several times to achieve that goal. I believe that when we return we return with a mission. Normally that mission goal is related to solving our fears, or Karma.

In your post you talk about the big picture let me talk about a bigger picture:
Consider that you had come with the important mission of spreading the word about autism, doesn’t matter what others think about you or your work because you must do that to fulfil your mission and fulfilling your mission you are helping yourself, those you love and all the others families affected by the problem. So it’s something that you have to do, so don’t regret anything you’ve done.
Off course you are human and those feelings that you sense are natural, so you must protect yourself.
But you will always feel the need to work in the macro, to be an inspiration to others that still are in the micro, and when you’ll feel that need inside you, don’t stop... "Va' dove ti porta il cuore "

Lots of love
Big Hug

PS- Sorry for not have been here earlier, but I’m with a problem in my right wriest, with many pain, so it’s difficult to work with the mouse, it’s a mark of my car accident that I talk in my post A turning point
that I would like you to read when you feel like it.

Lisamaree said…
Cathal's Mammy:
Oh You!
You are an inspiration to me.
Sis' the only thing that keeps me from killing some days, is having to clean up the mess and hide the bodies. I think that is micro/macro.
Cybil: The little red hen was very pissed off. But as I recall she didnt share the bread. Much smarter than me.
enc. Thankyou., finally learning that. That is the only thing that gives me the feeling that whatever I put in, I get back.
But then I get frustrated by the direction of the universe and start trying to shift if by sheer force of will. hmmmmmm
Bronwyn: I am 40 this year. And am only just copping on to what you are saying. make sure you are surrounded by like minded people. Stupid me, I thought the not for profit sector would be free of ego
Seeker; I am so sorry to hear your wrist is bothering you. I have had carpal tunnell in my right wrist but it was exaperated by writing with a pen. I hope you can get the physical therapy you need to keep typing; we will miss you.
Your comments are always worth waiting for anyway.
I am always so moved by your insight I can barely respond.
Thankyou. I have more to think about.
Seeker said…
My darling, concerning your questions:
- “But how do I know that this is what the universe wants me to do?” I believe that if you look around you, you see the signs that you are in the right path, furthermore you feel it, and you sense a harmony field around you and you receive things that come like a bonus.
-“But what you are saying is that what we learned along the way is just as important?” I believe that what we learn walking the path it’s very important. Even when situations seem to be or look like catastrophic there is always a positive aspect which we must keep and learn with it in the future.

The strength of relationships subsists in the hearts and minds of the people who are in it.
“New” relation, new beginning.

For now this is all I can tell you.

Lots of love and support.
Big Hug
Nan P. said…
Hammie, I have been reading your blog only a short while, but I sense a tremendous energy from you, mixed with so much passion and generosity! The whole lot sprinkled with the type of humour that tickles me best . . . You are a woman after my own heart.

Now, forgive me if I sound like an “Ould One” (me…? the never-wants-to-grow-up-teenager-deep-down!) but here two things I have painfully found out over my various “lives”:
1. If in doubt always follow your gut feelings, not your logic or reasoning. It’s the best form of self preservation on earth! And it's a nice way of knowing where the balance is best between Macro and micro.
2. You can never change anybody else but yourself. So if someone is so stupid, or egotistic, as not to recognise what you are trying to do for them, pity them! And feel good about yourself. But don’t row against their current. It’s useless.

And this is enough of serious thought for today. :-)

Sending you a big encouragement HUG if I may.
Seeker said…
Just a simple quote I remembered
“Do not worry about what the world wants of you. Worry about what makes you come alive because what the world needs is people who are more alive.” Lawrence LeShan
Lisamaree said…
Seeker and Nan: Thankyou for the wise words. Your advice is very timely, I just need to get the balance right. I have to make sure there is enough of me for my babies, before I stretch out.
Anonymous said…
I adore you. I have a post queued up about a similar theme - public versus guerrilla activism - and was starting to wonder if I should refrain from posting it. But if YOU - who are clearly so engaged and active in the causes that touch your life and the lives of your family - recognize the importance of boundaries in giving time and energy, then I can preach that gospel, too.

We all do what we can. When we do more than we can, we hurt ourselves. And even though the lazy and idiotic of the world would LOVE for us to push our limits and tap our reserves, we just shouldn't. Because helping others is a worthwhile endeavor, but it loses it worth when we destroy ourselves in the process.

It's so hard to remember this - especially for someone with a heart as big as yours. But it sounds like you're figuring out how to remind yourself. Which will just help make you even awesomer than you are now.
Anonymous said…
Aww crap. My comment just got ate. Let me see if I can recreate it:

I adore you. I have a post queued up about a similar theme - public versus guerrilla activism - and was considering chickening out and not posting it. But if YOU - who are so clearly committed to the causes that affect your family - can recognize the importance of creating and maintaining boundaries, then I can sure as hell preach the word, too.

We do what we can. When we do more than we can, we damage ourselves. And even though the lazy and idiotic of the world would love to see us drain our resources and tap our reserves, we mustn't. Because helping others is a worthwhile endeavor, but loses its worth when we harm ourselves in the process.

For someone with a heart as big as yours, this can be tough to keep in mind. But it sounds like you're forcing yourself to do just that. And I believe it will make you even awesomer than you are now. And that's saying something.

Like mammyvalentine, I am deeply grateful for the Macros, but have finally accepted myself as a Micro. It works better for me and I feel more effective. But it took me a long time to make my peace with that.