Newsletter: My hero was a maid

do what you love

There is something wonderfully simple about loving what you do. Love may feel like a strong word, or as a client said when it showed up in a mission statement recently, “a high bar.” Maybe, unless it’s not.

One of my most clear examples of loving what you do came from my grandmother, my hero. Although a self-described “homemaker,” her paid work over decades was taking in laundry or cleaning a family-owned motel in our small town. She cleaned to enable my mother to become the first person in our immediate family to graduate from college. She also cleaned because that was her gift. (Which I say with no intention of glamorizing the hardships of other Black domestic workers.) Grandma Essie was doing what she loved.

For my grandmother, cleaning and washing clothes created or restored an order she prized. She bragged to me that she was once in a hurry at the bank downtown and did not have time to straighten the notoriously messy table with the deposit slips as she completed her form. The teller was surprised and mentioned it. Grandma Essie was proud that the teller had noticed that she always left places better than she found them. Near the end of her life, when her cancer had spread, the “tell” that things were much worse than Grandma Essie divulged was that her cleaning slowed. When a cousin called me to say: “she’s not washing each day,” I hung up immediately to contact the oncologist and book a plane ticket. We knew things were amiss, because Grandma Essie was not doing what she adored.

In this season of love, I urge you to consider, what’s your “tell?” I think mine is advising. If I did not offer an opinion or try to help when an issue arose, I think (hope!) someone would notice. Have you found a way to incorporate your strengths and passion so fully into your daily life, and ideally your work, that people would notice if you did not pursue it? I’d love to hear about it.


Precious Williams Owodunni | President & Founder of Mountaintop Consulting

This letter was originally published in Mountaintop Consulting’s monthly newsletter. You can read the full newsletter here.

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