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On Saturday, I attended a memorial party for a dear friend of almost 50 years who passed two weeks ago. It was almost 50 years of laughter, support, secrets, wild outrageous adventures, and unlimited service. 

Her five kids followed her request to celebrate her life rather than mourn her death. It was filled with laughter, music, an open bar, and for Marilyn, a lot of Italian food. Tears flowed as did the laughter. In watching all the slide shows, hearing all the stories of her unlimited and unconditional love for everyone she met, the one message I kept hearing in my heart was that “Marilyn lived large. She did nothing in a small way.” Her impact and influence were demonstrably large and for so many she knew and those didn’t know. She raised five kids, was a chaplain, worked for the Red Cross in crisis situations across the country, and so much more.

Nonetheless, until a few years ago, she was still the last person to leave the dance floor just before closing. She had no clue how to cook for one… At one time an inner-city parish asked us for blankets for the homeless. I suggested we each call 50 people we knew. Marilyn suggested we call blanket manufacturers and get them to donate seconds, get a tax write-off, and have trailer loads delivered to us. As I said, she lived large, and gave large.

How are you doing your life? So many I work with are struggling to be seen. They want themselves or their businesses to be recognized and highly successful while simultaneously being so frightened of being seen. Frightened of having a mistake pointed out, of not looking smart or qualified enough, or of not knowing what to do in any particular situation.  All of that may happen. Welcome to humanity…

Not one of us has all the answers. As I have said before, not one of us has all the questions, much less all the answers. You will make mistakes; you will need to regroup on occasion, and you will need to ask many questions. None of that is a reason to live small. Ask those questions; make those mistakes. They don’t show incompetence. They show intelligence and a willingness to try new things, to explore options, and to stand out.

A personality assessment tool I took recently showed me to be The Change Maker. It says my secret sauce is that I am very powerful and innovative. There is no way on earth those characteristics call for being invisible. In spite of myself, I standout and naturally live innovatively and “out of the box.” Even with that, in a new room or a new group I can be very quiet initially, feeling the room out, assessing the crowd, and understanding the expectations, fears, and needs. Standing out just to be seen is a fragile ego. Standing out because you have a spiritual purpose, a “Why” of service, is necessary for folks to know you want to support their mission and vision.

On a personal note, standing out may mean you have chosen to truly live this life, with passion, vibrancy, outrageousness, and a desire to truly live rather than survive. It may mean, like Marilyn, that you jump into everything that feeds your soul with all of who you are. Do so knowing that those meant to walk with you in silence as well as at the party or on the dance floor, will do so and you will both be blessed, whether for 5 weeks, 5 months, or almost 50 years. Grief at loss is natural – gratitude at the blessing of the experience is a wondrous choice. 

My wish for you is that you stand out and live your life large – whatever that means for you.

Never hide your light under a bushel, allow it, and you, to shine. Bless the world with your presence while you can, it all goes far too quickly!


Dr. Dorothy’s life story of coming from an orphanage, being raised in the housing projects of South Boston, becoming a Catholic nun, an international airline stewardess, a wife, mother, graduate faculty member, Clinical Instructor at a Medical School, and so much more provides the perfect backdrop for her message of joy, humor, passion and faith as the necessary tools for life.