The name of the post was a sign on my office wall.

On September 12, 2001, I looked at that sign, and I thought about falling people and disintegrating buildings and hundreds upon thousands of my brothers and sisters, vaporized, and realized that I couldn’t spend my life in a cubicle.

So I changed my life. I got a job that allowed me to work at home so that I could garden. I built my consulting business. I got a national certification as a figure skating coach.

Like nearly everyone in America, I’m just a couple of degrees from a death at the World Trade Center–the brother of a colleague, and my cousin who mercifully decided not to go for a job interview at 3 WTC that day.  A friend of a friend was a NYC firefighter, enough said. The wrenching horror of the day stays with me; I will never trust another clear bright September sky.

I know that nonprofit is about hope. It’s about the belief that lives can be changed, that even horrific events can be a catalyst for good. In nonprofit we accept that difficult is how you start every day, and that you never accept the idea of impossible. Nonprofit is about change for the good. Sitting in that cubicle, I couldn’t affect positive change, not in my own life, or anyone else’s. But by tending my garden, and growing my business, and by teaching the children born after that awful day I took my grief and turned it into energy. Especially through teaching, I believe that I have helped someone else, too.

September 11 changed me, and I used the change to transform the way I live in the world. And I hope that changing myself has brought positive change to someone else, and that the bright September sky, in the next ten years, will be about hope.

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