What are the things that we hope most to see in our children? Of all of the lessons we try to teach, with all of the time and effort put in to raising the next generation, what really matters the most? Rebekah Pierce, one of our newest members of the Communications Committee, would propose that integrity and kindness should be at the top of our lists.
In describing the lessons she learned as a child, she shared that she grew up in a community settled by her ancestors over 100 years before she was born with over 100 members of her dad’s family living very close. Her parents built a home next door to the homes of her dad’s parents, his uncle, and one of his cousins. She says, “It was a great place to be a kid. I loved growing up next door to my grandma.”
This tightly knit family life is where she learned, by watching her parents and grandparents, the important lesson, “Show integrity in all you do.” She further explained, “Your actions should be in line with your beliefs. You decide what your values are; you set the course, and you work hard to achieve it. Boundaries are important, and they should be well defined from the start; when we don’t know where we are going, we are often led astray.” She has tried to incorporate into her life what she learned by watching her parents – prioritizing family, doing honest work, loving and serving others – and to that end she says, “I like to think that I am dependable; that I do what I say and don’t make excuses or blame someone else when I don’t hold up my end of the bargain. I own my actions. That, to me, is integrity.”
Carrying on the legacy of what she learned growing up, she is proud that she has been able to be a strong support to her husband in his education, and continues to work interdependently with him to make their life work with his demanding career. And while she calls herself “unconventional in many ways,” she is also proud of her “evolution as a mother.” She pointed out that “it took a little work,” but she was able to become a nurturing mother, and is most proud of the fact that her four children are kind. She said, “I know that despite the weaknesses I see in them, when they are out in the world, they are good kids. They are polite, they are concerned about others, and they serve willingly. I can’t take all the credit for that, but if I had to pick brilliant or kind, I would pick kind every time.”
Kindness has become a very powerful force in Rebekah’s life. Over the course of about five years, she had several surgeries which led to her having to learn to accept the service of others. Even though it would have been possible for her children to help carry the burden, she said, “I was blessed by the love of others.” These experiences led her to promising to “look for opportunities to pay it forward” which has provided her with “some of the most difficult and rewarding experiences” of her life. She is especially thankful for the “village of women” who have helped to support her through the last few years when she lost her mother and her daughter was married. She says, “True service gives us the opportunity to be humbled and find gratitude in the things that make up the bulk of everyday lives.”
Rebekah’s everyday life is very much involved with helping her children and running her home, but she also loves to write and dreams about writing a book someday, loves to plan trips and travel with her family, is a “party planner extraordinaire,” and is a lifelong learner with a passion for reading and studying interesting topics “into the ground.” She earned a BS in Sociology from the University of Utah and graduated on her oldest daughter’s first birthday, which is why instead of walking in the commencement ceremony, she was at home blowing up Winnie-the-Pooh balloons for a birthday party. She recently signed up for an online Intro to Art History course through the University of Utah, fulfilling a promise she had made to herself when she was younger.
The interest she has in politics, current events, and how people interact and are “impacted by those who lead them” along with her love of learning and writing led to her becoming involved in Big Ocean Women. She felt that Tenet 2, “We recognize and follow our intuitive internal compass to speak and act with integrity” especially resonated with her. She said, “I want women everywhere to understand the power they have in the example they set. There is no one right way to be a woman; we all wear so many hats. I do know that women by nature are nurturers and that we need to develop that. The world needs the civility of women. Women need to remember to be civil, not passive, but civil. Model respectful behaviors, even when you are angry. Stand up for yourself, defend yourself, protect yourself. All of those things are behaviors that are respectful towards you. Teach the children, not just yours, but ALL children that they are worthy of love. Do not accept excuses as to why public policies that support women and families cannot be implemented. Families need strong women and strong men, in many capacities. As women, if we focus on our commonalities, instead of our differences, the societies we live in will be better for it.”
Rebekah is an example to us all of integrity and kindness, lessons she learned as a child and has worked to teach her children. Now, in this new endeavor with Big Ocean Women, and in her next phase of life, she hopes to be able to help inspire change for a world with more civility and more interest in and care for others.