As women everywhere are dealing with unprecedented trials and stress in their lives, A Mother’s Grace: Healing the World One Woman at a Time shares remarkable true (and inspiring) stories from female change-makers with advice about turning adversity into action.
Author Michelle Moore shares how her adversity became a global movement when she survived an aggressive form of breast cancer at the same time her son faced near-fatal complications from juvenile diabetes. Grateful to be alive, she was compelled to make changes in her life and in the lives of others. Along with her own personal story, Moore shares the stories of 10 women and how their lives serendipitously came together in the most unique ways so she could continue to grow this movement and partner with these women in quite miraculous ways.
About the Author:
By day, author Michelle Moore oversees the COVID-19 testing response as a senior vice president for Laboratory Corporation of America; by night, she is the founder of Mother’s Grace, a nonprofit organization that has raised more than $5 million for families in acute crisis, assisting more than 6,000 mothers in the state of Arizona and throughout the world. Mother’s Grace addresses the critical needs of mothers and their children in the midst of tragic life events by helping them with housing costs, medication, meals, housekeeping, childcare, transportation, and a host of other immediate needs. Through mentorship and seed grants, Mother’s Grace also assists women in starting their own nonprofits, with the goal of producing a new generation of women leaders.
Michelle is the recipient of MASK Unity’s Moms Making a Difference Award, the highly coveted Hon-Kachina Award and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Philanthropy in Action Award. In 2019, Moore was awarded the Phoenix Business Journal’s Outstanding Women in Business award and was granted a State of Arizona Commendation by First Lady Angela Ducey for her extraordinary service to the people of Arizona.
HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN PHILANTHROPIC MISSION:
THE SIX BRANCHES TO GRACE
Adapted excerpt from A Mother’s Grace: Healing the World One Woman at a Time
By Michelle Moore
All it takes to begin is taking one step forward, inspired by a dream or a yearning to do something. You may want to start your own 501(c)(3) or volunteer at a local hospital, holding drug-addicted babies. You may want to write a book or start a social media campaign. Whatever it may be, all that’s holding you back is fear.
But fear does not need to render you motionless. Here’s what you can do, one step at a time, according to what I call the Six Branches to Grace. I firmly believe you need to be in touch with God and the world, and most of all your true self, before you can fully realize your own divine journey. Take a stab at the following suggestions that got me started.
1. Grab a notebook.
I believe our phones may be our demise, distracting us from the beauty of the world. God does not come to us on our phones. God’s grace comes in the connections we make with our family, friends, pets, communities, and co-workers, and to those desperately in need of a hand to hold during difficult times. So put your device down, look up and around you, and start to tune in to God’s signs and guidance.
Take a notebook with you and keep articles and assorted things inside it that move you and feel important. Write like a banshee every time something pops into your head. I carried around a red leather notebook for eighteen years. I filled it with articles, advice, photos of inspiring scenes, ideas, quotes, and small pieces of what became content in this book. Make that notebook your own personal project, like a vision board coming to life.
Pray to your God, the universe, or a higher power. To me, prayer is meditation, a release. It’s a total letting go to what will be, and when I have no distractions, I can feel a buzz throughout my body, like every cell is alive but calm. Just find a routine that works for you. I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to pray, but closing your eyes and finding stillness can change the trajectory of your day. Here is an amazing episode on the Science of Success podcast that has assisted me in this process, called, “ The Shocking Secret You Must Know to Create Lasting Behavior Change with John Assaraf.”
3. Listen to inspirational music.
I have my own “innercise” and exercise playlists and after listening my blood is pumping, primarily from great music that gets my ass in gear and makes me appreciate how precious life is. It’s amazing how music can get you going. My friend makes me the most amazing playlists and whenever I am mad or down I listen to them. This reminds me of how he feels about me, and any petty stuff I may be feeling just melts away.
I’ve always been a reader. When I was five years old, I joined a book club in the summer and if I read ten books, I got a free book from the library. I was thrilled to get that new book—the smell, its feel, and the sense of a new adventure. When you’re seeking a quieter, more internal form of inspiration and comfort, read! Keep three or four books by your bedside with a highlighter and read for an hour before you go to sleep. I struggle with this one because at night I like to “check out” mindlessly on Netflix. That means I must force myself to slow down and read, and I’m never sorry when I make that choice.
5. Enlist your posse.
This is of utmost importance. If you don’t have one, create one now. Put together a group of girlfriends who have your back, who you can talk to in the utmost confidence, and who will tell you like it is—lovingly at first, but they should also be willing to hit you over the head, if and when you are being ridiculous. (Confession: I have bruises all over my head.) As you develop your ideas, ask for their opinions and steady feedback. They should also hold you accountable and keep you moving. I called on my posse throughout the entire process of writing this book and developing the charity.
Over the last ten years, I’ve formed a writing group, a travel group, a birthday group, a lunch group, and a prayer group. These special women have carried me through more than any one person in my life, and they are way cheaper than the $150 to $200 bucks you pay for 47.5 minutes with a therapist. (Yes, I like therapists, too, but the older I get the more I appreciate the strong women in my life—my posse.) You can start with one “bestie” and grow it. No games, no agenda, no drama—just pure friendship.
6. Secure a project partner.
This may be key for you. I could not get all of my ideas on paper, which made my situation seem insurmountable. Had I not found my project partner, it would have taken me another eighteen years and I would be in an old folks’ home, still trying to write this book. Tell people your goals. Be honest; lay your fears aside and tell the people you have recruited that they will become like vehicles to help you find the right people. You may have to pay your project partner, but that is why they are experts in their field and worth your investment. Aren’t you and your goals worth it, too?
Project partners can be writers, life coaches, therapists, trainers, spiritual advisors, and/or editors, but whomever you choose, it should be someone who can hold you accountable. Paying for these services holds me way more accountable to the process and keeps me motivated and on track. If you can’t find the right fit for your philanthropic mission and you genu- inely feel like your idea fills a gap in the world, then you can start your own 501(c)(3).
Question and Answer with Michelle
1) What advice would you give to women in a crisis?
I would always say to find your faith. It looks different to everyone. Grace will lead you to do the right thing versus trying to place your controlled M.O. on everything that feels forced, difficult, and pain-filled. Find people that can support you unconditionally, a “posse” that just shows up without being asked. You must have two to three “go-to” women that you can call and they will drop what they are doing and come to your aid.
2) This is a fearful time. What is your advice for women who are letting fear hold them back?
Fear is a manifestation in your mind based on your history and experiences and your need to control the feelings that come from sadness and anxiety. The very best advice I have ever received on fear is to surrender and feel every bit of it. Dr. Claire Weekes, an Australian physician says: "Face your fear, accept it; don’t run from it.”
3) In your book, A Mother’s Grace, you pose the question, What is your Grace? What is grace, and how can women call upon grace to inspire them and get them through difficult times?
Grace is that magic that comes from surrendering to God’s/the Universe’s plan for you. So, for example, if I am in crisis and I am riddled with anxiety and trying to figure out what I am going to do and just ruminating over and over to the point of paralysis, grace comes when you pray/pause and reflect, let go, and surrender to God’s plan/the forces of life’s grand plan, Grace is what happens next…things happen out of the complete blue that you had no hand in and beautiful favor in your life, the way God/destiny has planned for you.
4) How can women be change agents in their own communities?
Women do not have to start a 501c3 to be change agents. You can bake cookies for an assisted living facility, take homemade food to a family that is dealing with a crisis, be a sponsor, or write a lovely email to someone who is experiencing grief. Do something. If we all did one small thing for someone once a month, the world would be a different place.
5) Why did you write this book?
I felt a calling and it came in a dream. I put it down 100+ times (over an 18-year span, plus being a wife, mom to 3 kids, and senior VP at a big company - there was not a lot of spare time!) and had no belief in myself, but it was God’s plan for me. When I released, grace came next in the form of some unexpected support or help to get it to the next place. It is all about God and his plan for me and nothing else.
6) Why did you start Mother’s Grace organization?
Moms are truly the backbones of their families and they need a community to lean on. I was in a crisis dealing with my own cancer and child with a life-threatening illness. I was diagnosed with cancer at the same time as two other friends (moms my age) and they both died within a year. I could not for the life of me figure out why I was spared. They were both such wonderful women and way more wonderful than I. In some ways, I felt like I needed to earn my spot on this Earth and do something good with my time.
7) What lessons do you have for women philanthropists who want to start their own entities?
Surround yourself with women who are givers, doers, and who have no personal agenda but to help others. Capitalize on each woman’s individual gifts and you will have the puzzle pieces to make something beautiful. It is truly who you surround yourself with. One lesson I learned is that you cannot do it all yourself. You need a cohort of strong and assertive women to support and take a piece. If you trust them and they know their “stuff,” let them run with it. No micromanaging needed at all.
8) What lessons have you learned from your hardships?
I am a glass-half-full person so during a hardship I always always look for the “lemonade” or what I am grateful for. As we get older, there is a wisdom that comes from the understanding that things work out the way they are supposed to if you let them. I look back on my deepest hurts and hardships and wish sometimes I knew what I know now--that they all work out in the right timing, not always the way we wanted at the time but the way it is supposed to be.
Also, more importantly than anything, I have learned how to be there for others. I have been through traumatic loss, horrific illness, crippling anxiety, paralyzing worry, and monumental change and disappointment. Some days I feel like there is nothing I can't relate to when talking with another--and more important--“listening to another”. My presence, my consideration, and, many times, action without being asked is the most important thing you can do for another. It is definitely not “all about me.” I get that now, and that is the most important lesson I think we can all learn.
9) How can we teach our children to be empathetic and giving?
Expose your children as young as possible. I take my kids everywhere and always have. I took them to NOLA to help clean up after Hurricane Katrina and to Africa to work in an orphanage. However, even more, important than anything on a large scale is doing small things consistently in your own community. Model, model, model. Adopt families during the holidays, have the kids work at soup kitchens, have them give up part of their allowance to donate to their favorite charity. Have your kids write thank-you notes. This manifests gratefulness and accountability. Keep them involved in a spiritual community. Take them out into nature and teach them to respect it. I think having kids be responsible for a pet teaches such compassion and responsibility. I ask my kids this question all of the time, and they answer that watching what I did influence them, and they all practice empathy and giving in their own ways (I could not be more proud). Let your children give in the way that resonates most with them and it will take on a life of its own.
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