I’d Rather Work Than Wish

By
Jane Addams, 1915. Source: Wikipedia

This week’s theme for Six Word Friday is “wish”.  But you know what?  I would rather work than wish. 

Wishing serves a purpose.  It helps me identify the dreams and longings of my heart.  But in the end, wishing does nothing but frustrate me.  It doesn’t equal action, it doesn’t make dreams into reality.  Wishing avoids the hard work that goes into making things happen.

I realized this as I was working on a post idea about Jane Addams for Women’s History Month. My Six Word Friday for her life was initially, “I wish for a better tomorrow“. But that significantly downplays the living example of her life – she worked for a better tomorrow, she didn’t merely wish for it.

Hull House from the Special Collections and University Archives, University of Illinois at Chicago Library

Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr began the Hull House in Chicago in the late 1800’s to help new immigrants.  It gave refuge to women who were victims of domestic violence as well as unwanted chiildren, in addition to helping immigrants acclimate to their new life and country.  Unusual for the times, Jane Addams actually lived at the Hull House rather than returning to her parent’s luxurious home at night.

The founders of the Hull House and other influential women became advocates for legislative reform on issues such as child labor, women’s right to vote, healthcare reform, compulsory education, occupational safety & health and many other things.  They opened one of the first kindergartens after observing how the bleak life of children led to mindless jobs and / or a life of crime.

Years ago, I had an opportunity to do a fundraiser for the Hull House.  Someone at work had put a bulletin up for a swimming fundraiser.  I swam then for exercise, as I have started doing again recently.  I looked at that and thought finally, here’s one I can actually do.  I had no association with the Hull House prior to that.  My focus was that it was a fundraiser I could participate in doing something I was capable of.

A wall-mounted quote by Jane Addams in The American Adventure in the World Showcase pavilion of Walt Disney World’s Epcot. Source: Wikipedia

I took it to everyone at work that I ran into.  My favorite boy toy was still in the workplace and I made him take it in.  I called friends and family, took it to church and my neighbors.  Many people were hesitant to just sign up for an undefined amount of swimming, so I promised everyone it would be whatever I could do in 30 minutes (which was usually 30 to 33 laps).

In today’s money, I raised over $5,000.  I was the #2 fundraiser in the entire Chicago area!  I was surprised to win a nice prize – a weekend at a spa retreat with my favorite boy toy.  Better yet, the Hull House wrote a very nice letter to the president of my employer, who gave it to my boss for my permanent record.  I was so proud of that letter and my accomplishment, proud that I could contribute to such a worthy cause.

So going back to the beginning, when I find I am wishing too much for something, when my wishes turn to frustration and disappointment, I remind myself that wishing is not enough to make my life happen.  I need to work, get out of my comfort zone, and put forth the effort needed to make a difference in achieving what I want in life.

My public accomplishments are not on a par with Jane Addams, but my life has had worthy achievements and will continue to do so if I am willing to continue working at it.

[Other posts for Women’s History Month include Anne Morrow Lindbergh and my maternal grandmother.]