Today is my day to bake cookies for the tiny home community that houses low-income seniors. A group of amazing women in my life have been bringing dinner once a month for the last couple years, and I have become the Cookie Person.

I have cooked and baked for so many gatherings and causes throughout my adulthood. Birthday cakes once a month for a recovery community, so many breakfasts and dinners cooked in the drop-in center for unhoused youth where I used to work, cookies for my children’s elementary school teachers, soup for grieving people, leftovers for neighbors recovering from surgery, lunches for outreach workers.

It has not resulted in systemic change. It definitely has not alleviated oppression or changed the world.

But it always, always changes me.

If we don’t have places of service in our lives—however small!—we are actually less happy. We become overly absorbed in our own worries and hardships. We cogitate on the ways our lives are less abundant than our neighbors or friends. We become focused on acquisition instead of connection. We overanalyze or doomscroll, deciding, in the end, that the world’s problems are too big for us to make a dent in them.

Last night, I looked at my calendar, saw the “Make cookies for Tiny Homes!” reminder, and my heart sunk a bit. For a moment, I regretted and questioned this obligation.

But this morning, creaming the butter and measuring the flour, I was overcome with a sense of well-being that few other activities give me. There is something about getting my body in motion and doing something. Anything! The ritual reminds me that I have agency. I am not helpless in the face of inequity and poverty.  I refuse to stop caring, to settle for a world where so many people have drastically less than others.

I talked with a client this week who’s facing some big challenges in their organization and was feeling overwhelmed about where to start. I shared this same wisdom with them—just start somewhere. However small. It might not be exactly the right intervention, but it will lead to something else. And that will lead to something else. So often, we think what we need is skill. Really, we need courage and patience.

As the summer starts, bringing change (and maybe anxiety), pay attention to what has heart and meaning for you. Do something to acknowledge and follow that energy of “yes,” however small.

P.S. Loving the cookbook Snackable Bakes, where both cookies I made today are from. Thick, chewy sugar cookies and Rice Krispie treats made with browned butter and sweetened condensed milk.  I used to be a food blogger in a past life, and I really can’t resist a good cookie.