"Never take away anyone's hope. That may be all they have."

That from the end of an extremely long chain mail letter I received from my aunt tonight. It felt especially true to me because I've always felt that once you've lost your hope, you've truly lost everything. I know that because there are times when I have felt utterly hopeless, and I can't imagine a feeling more devastating.

Today I have hope because I stepped out on the line and took a chance on myself. It's been a long time since I've done that. Today I have hope because one of my staff members took the time to bring me a card of encouragement, telling me how much she appreciates what I do for our school. Today I have hope because both of my boys hugged me and told me they love me. Today, I have hope because even though I still cry whenever I see a baby, I know I am more fortunate than many people, and I'm tired of taking things for granted.

Sometimes it's easy to look around and feel like my problems are staggeringly impossible and more threatening than anyone else. It's easy to think noone has ever felt like I do, that noone will ever know what I go through from day to day. Easy to throw my pity party and forget that relationships crumble and are rebuilt each day all around me, that worlds fall apart while I sleep peacefully beneath my non-allergenic synthesized down comforter, listening to MP3's coming from one of my three computers.

Then I remember the family that is one day from eviction, less than weeks from a reposessed car, and without food for their chldren and diapers for their baby. The family that clings to the hope that someone will believe in them enough to help them get back on their feet, wondering how they ever got off their feet to begin with.

And when I think of that, and of the many children I spent time with at the children's hospital, and the horrific images that flash across the television on a daily basis, I am truly thankful for a life as rich as mine has been and hopeful for what is yet to come. And I hope that in some way I make a difference, no matter how small, in at least one person's life each day.

The way my staff member made a difference with her card, the way my children do each day, the way the man I love does every time I hear his voice.

Like that. Without even trying.

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