Fighting Poverty with Passion
Life is beautiful. Within this last month I have actualized a lifelong dream. I am a Godfather. Godfather Januzzi. His name is Christopher and he is a Red Eared Slider. No, that is not a nickname. He is my Godturtle named Christopher. I have to thank my fellow VISTA Brianna for bestowing this great honor onto me and for being a kind-hearted person by adopting Christopher to begin with.
As Mario Puzo once wrote, “Italians have a little joke, that the world is so hard a man must have two fathers to look after him, and that’s why they have godfathers.” Life can be hard and no man is an island. This is my opportunity to pass along life lessons and share with Christopher the experiences of how to be a good person, er, turtle. In my Godfather research over the past week (including re-watching the Godfather of course) I have found some life lessons that all Godfathers must do and all people should try to do in their relationships with others.
1. Improve your memory. My Godturtle is going to have birthdays, his first day of turtle school, his first turtle kiss, and even turtle graduation. It is important to be there for those we love on their biggest days. However, the everyday moments are worth remembering and are just as important. That one time milk shot out their nose from laughing so hard, the day they got drenched in water from a big rig while waiting for the bus, the time they flipped a coin ten times and it was heads every.single.time, or even that time they started crying over a broken sunny side up egg (it wasn’t about the egg). These moments need to be remembered and serve as a reminder of great memories you share with others. Friendship is about getting people to those big days by being there for them every day.
2. Celebrate Successes. We tend to focus on improving ourselves by fixing what is wrong with us rather than duplicating and working to master what is right with us. As Godfathers, and as good people, we need to highlight the bright spots in ourselves and other people. Duplicating successes rather than fixing problems is a more positive, growth centered approach.
3. Support your family. They brought you into this world. For better and for worse they raised you, fed you, clothed you, and gave you shelter. You only have one family in this lifetime. People define family in different ways but whoever they might be, spend time with them. In person, on the phone, over skype, through snapchat or even emoji filled texts. Be dependable to those that were so dependable for you. As the Godfather would say, “A man (or woman) who doesn’t spend time with his (or her) family can never be a real man (or woman).”
4. Be a confidant. A best friend, a parent, a sibling, or strangers we have one-time conversations with, we all have confidants. They take different forms in different moments in our lives. I will be a confidant for Christopher. Always available to talk about whatever is on his mind. A person he can trust and never feel alone. Confidants always listen first but are still unafraid to share their own struggles and opinions even if it’s not what the person wants to hear.
5. Share what you know. We are all teachers. We all have unique knowledge , perspectives and experiences. Share this with others! The best part is, while we teach we learn. A win-win all around.
6. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Relationships are difficult. They are a day to day grind that exist in the balance of our internal psychology, our work life, our personal hobbies, our home environments, and just the daily twists and turns that come with being a human. The quickest way to lose a friend is to lose their trust. Be there for those you love most and do not overextend yourself.
I can guarantee this is the first Godfather themed post about a Turtle in the history of the Tulane AmeriCorps VISTA program. It was a silly idea and just a fun way to celebrate my recent Godfather news. But, the important idea still remains: having deep and dependable relationships with friends and family that we love equates to a happy life. These people will help us overcome our challenges, embrace our gifts, and lead us in a life well lived. Take today to rekindle relationships that have fallen by the wayside and strengthen those that currently exist.