Ann runs the Giraffe Project out of Whidbey Island, Washington. For 30 years she's been rewarding people who stick their necks out. Her life has always been fascinating, from early childhood on. And recently she published her first novel which is fabulous. (and awfully autobiographical). I love her poetry. She's about risk, and choice, serious reflection and profound joy.
1. What motivates you to get up in the morning?
Right now, after a long visit from the Black Dog, I talk to myself about the things I'll do to make this one day a beautiful one. The combination of Winter aught eight/aught nine, and this stunning economic crash had me sunk in the big unanswerable questions--you know, Why are we here? What's the point? Who the hell is driving this bus? Now the jonquils are up, despite surprise hailstorms, and I'm settling for making one day as fine as I can make it. Instead of the big questions I'm asking if I can send out a good Heads Up by afternoon; Have I got the ingredients to make popovers, which I dearly love; and Where's my favorite sweater, because I always feel good wearing it. Answerable questions. Much better. (Heads Up is a mini e-zine I write every week or so. People tell me that reading it helps, so it's one way to serve.)
2. What keeps you awake at night? What obsesses you?
Nothing keeps me from falling asleep. I distract myself at night with good novels and movies--other people's stories. But I sleep lightly--small noises wake me. Then it can be Game On. "Why are we here?" "What's the point?" etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseum.
3. What do you struggle with the most?
Thinking I'm not doing enough. There's this nun in my head telling small-girl me that God-given abilities have to be used. Took me so long to realize I had some of those, I'm way behind in using them. And Sister Eulalia really mouths off if/when I'm just amusing myself. Someday I'm going to strangle her.
4. What is the most valuable lesson you've learned?
That I do have something to offer.
5. What is your personal philosophy or motto?
Funny you should ask--I only recently figured that one out (and I'm old). It struck me that the Golden Rule is over-rated even though it's said to be at the core of so many religious traditions. There's a threat in it that if you treat others badly you're gonna get it. I find it cleaner and less self-serving to say----It's hard being here, so the Prime Directive is to help each other through.
Writer Ann Medlock founded the nonprofit Giraffe Heroes Project to honor people who stick their necks out for the common good and to encourage others to follow their lead. Her driving force is a deep concern for the health of the body politic, which she is certain will die without engaged, courageous citizens.
Giraffe Heroes materials for kids are in kindergarten-through-high-school classes in all 50 states and in American schools abroad. The Project is now partnering with Teachers Without Borders to distribute civic engagement materials to teachers in 117 nations.
Medlock blogs at the Project’s website, at her own and on Huffington Post. She’s been speechwriter to US politicians and to the Aga Khan, and has spoken, written and/or taught in Kobe, Kinshasha, Saigon, Beijing and Moscow as well as in Chicago, Washington DC and New York City.
She now lives, leads the Giraffe team, and writes (heroes’ profiles, blogs, opeds, fiction and poetry) on an island in the Pacific Northwest.