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Rita Cobbs:
Grandmother of the Community

In her late 70s, Rita Cobbs is active in building the community. Leader of the Tampa Bay Time Bank, a community organization that helps people with unmet needs, Rita pours her heart and love wherever she goes.
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Rita is also an award-winning watercolor artist. When she first came to my watercolor workshop, I was honestly quite nervous about how this seasoned artist would react to my teaching. To my amazement, Rita showered me with the most generous feedback and encouraged me to teach more. Just like what a grandmother would do, Rita gently and firmly nurtures not only my growth, but the growth of the community.

Q & As between Rita and Me


1. What was one thing you were afraid to do but did it anyway?
As an Indiana flatlander, I had little experience with a fear of heights, but my fear came to a crescendo during team building exercises for Hospice training at Charter Hospital. Our team gathered to go through the Ropes program. When we walked out in the yard I saw a ladder that lead up to a telephone pole horizontally stretched across the sky. Our challenge was to climb until we were about 20 feet above ground and walk across the pole. I was very scared but some force pushed me up the ladder, and off I went. I did not fall. I did not faint. I did not look down. I did, in fact, walk across that massive pole stretched high in the air, and for ever after believed that most impossible things I could do.

2. What was the luckiest thing happened to you recently?
The luckiest thing that happened to me recently was like a miracle, a surprise. Better than wealth, better than possessions is the joy of friendship. In this instance, my taking an art class that seemed likely to offer fun and learning led to the unfolding of a personal relationship, tender and gentle, filled with shared appreciations and interests. Most friendships build slowly, but this one burst into being grounded in mutual interests and spontaneous expression. This experience of rapport led me to reflect on how precious close friendship is, clouded by no other motivations - a complete joy in itself.

3. What is one message you have for yourself and women in the world?
Enjoy each moment! Even if the moment isn't pleasurable, accept it, knowing that each moment transforms to another, and each is complete. Take time to look closely at daisies, sunflowers, mocking birds, rivers, and sunsets. Watch a monarch butterfly emerge from its chrysalis. Nature rejuvenates us. Embrace time with your family and friends; appreciate talking with strangers. As each year passes, life's changes will bring you new passions; take risks to fulfill these new desires. Then, as you grow older, you will have a million memories of experiences. When you look inward, you will find a universal reality, your true self, a joyous awareness beyond aimless anxieties. Our scripture tells us. “Be still and know that I am God.” In stillness and awareness, you will find all you need, accessible in an instance.


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