28 December, 2011

Days like this...

Some days are hard. Some days it seems you struggle just to get through. Some days are one silent defeat after another.

Some days just suck.



Life seems to cycle. It goes from being dynamic highs to feeling like I am trudging through the mud. It's hard; I feel beat down. I want to stay inside, beneath the covers and cry.

There is nominal comfort in the knowledge that things cannot stay this way. In the moment, in the muck, when all I can feel is anger and my short tempered flaring and increasing isolation, that is of little comfort.

What is going on? I feel alone and scared and exhausted. There was no catalyst. Nothing "happened." I am just having a bad week and for now that needs to be enough.

So I am trying to stay small, to stay out of people's way, to be detached. It's not your fault things are this way and I won't take it out on you.

It's days like this I think of Rwanda, of being on that hillside and watching the sunset and wondering if life could not always be so simple. 

07 December, 2011

enjoy the view.

Day Five: Enjoy the View.


So I cheated, this is from a few years ago when my dear friend and I went tree cutting together. I love the image and use it to symbolize this time of year.

Day Six: Some small delight today.




 
Going through boxes of Christmas decorations I came across these figurines that belong to my boyfriend. In the joining of traditions, new ones develop, but there are stories and history in the ones brought into our relationship.

06 December, 2011

Reframing the Season

Day Two:  Reframing the Season


I wanted to get the Christmas tree up before taking this shot. This is my first year getting a real tree for myself. Before it's always been with my family or a fake one my parents gave me. This tree symbolizes reframing Christmas traditions and making traditions all my own

Day Four: The Key
(What helps you to slow down, take a deep breath and enjoy the moment? Capture it!)



The first thing I thought of was a Christmas light when I read this challenge. Even now, after a hectic day, I came home, plugged in the tree and took a moment. It reminds me to breathe, to release, to let go and just be. I can look at the beauty of the tree and just take a moment. Somehow in what happens around it - family, laughter, forgetting what happens outside this time - I find reality and for a moment, stability.  

05 December, 2011

Picture the Holidays

I am doing a project called Picture the Holidays this year with Paper Coterie. Each day a different image in the countdown to Christmas.

Day One was gratitude:



I am grateful for the gift of learning and how, even when we least suspect it, we can learn something new. I was in CA and learned about tide pools, something I never knew about being that I am live in the mountains!


Day Three was love - focus on love. Feel it. Be it. Capture it. Share it:





So I chose to be literal - it is all about love, taken on a shoot with the boy no less :-)

(Day two is coming!)

22 November, 2011

21 November, 2011

Gratitude: Day Twelve

Today I am grateful for my car - the car I own. The car I was able to pay off in only 18 months. I got this car in May of last year and paid my final payment today. It's amazing.

I love this car. It is my dream car. VW stopped making this car in 2001 - so it's hard to find, and I was blessed to have a friend who wanted to sells their once I got back from DC.

I love being that during the summer I can drive home with the sun on my face. I love looking at the fall colors in panorama. This little car (my LC!) makes road trips better, especially those on rocky mountain roads.

When I took my niece in it for the first time, she told me we took "its top off." And that might be what I love most about this car - sitting under the stars with the top off and just being.

But today, I love that it is paid off and that is money I can put towards others things - like student loans.

I am grateful for reliable transportation, and the ability to pay off a car thanks to a steady job and the funds to pay my bills.

It has taken a lot of hard work, but I did it!



18 November, 2011

Gratitude: Day Eleven

Today I am thankful for Worship.

I got this email this morning and it just hit me. I tend to think of worship as David dancing for joy when the ark came into the city. The Bible says, "And David was dancing before the LORD with all his might" (2 Samuel 6:14).

It has been a while since I have been there. But like a dear friend told me recently, I can still put on the music and let it speak what I cannot. I've come to realize the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, bringing our petitions to God and so, even now, with a broken heart and a tired spirit, I hope it still is.

The word “sing” occurs over one hundred times in the Bible—more than sixty of them in the book of Psalms alone. Verses 4 and 12 in today’s passage (Ps 30) both tie singing and giving thanks together. There are a number of illustrations in Scripture of the powerful effect of praise through music.

When I talk with women who are struggling with chronic discouragement or depression, I often ask two questions: (1) Are you memorizing Scripture? and (2) Are you singing to the Lord? These aren’t magic “pills” that will make every emotional struggle go away, but I’ve found them to be extremely effective at recalibrating my heart and restoring inner peace. At times, when I am deeply distraught or discouraged, I’ll open my hymnal and just begin to sing. As I sing to the Lord, my heart and mind are re-tethered to His goodness and love, and invariably, the cloud begins to lift.

Whether it’s a cloudy or sunny day in your heart, sing! Right now, if possible. Put on a CD or your iPod and sing along with others, or just sing to Him on your own.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Right now JJ Heller's new CD is on repeat, it is amazing and fills me with joy and peace.

Some other songs I use frequently when I want to worship:

What artists do you turn to? What songs do you turn to when you want to sing out and praise?

17 November, 2011

Gratitude: Day Ten

Today I am thankful for people who know me, people who really know me - who haven't given up (or blamed me) due to my slightly reserved, guarded nature. Those who realize I am an open book, but you have to ask - and then ask again. Who realize I am passionate, strong-willed, determined and expect the best/most of people.

I am very grateful for people who have taken time to LISTEN over the last few years. Who don't just spew answers at me or give me a cheese, empty, flat Christian responses.

Perry Noble wrote this post and it really got me thinking. I think I can list on one hand the number of people who fit this list, and maybe that's okay. I don't need a lot of friends, but I need loyal ones. I am blessed to have some of those people around me. They can come from unexpected places - but they are there.

I've also come to realize that to find those people I have to let people know the real me, I have to let someone see the worse of me and not just assume that just because someone responded very poorly to something that everyone will. But that is hard for me, and so, like I said, my friends with patience and grace are the ones who I let my guard down around.

Judgment is one of the quickest things a person can do to turn me off. Especially ignorant judgment. Do not lecture me until you listen. I think if I have learned anything in the last three years it's compassion, empathy and the beauty of quiet when someone is hurting.

I don't tell people things to get them fixed, I tell people things to unload my burden. And the people I listen to are the people who get that.

Here is the list.

So…who do we listen to?  Who is it that should ALWAYS have access to us…and we should ALWAYS desire their thoughts and ideas…here are EIGHT things…I should always listen to…

#1 – Those who know me, who have spent time with me and understand that there is a person behind the personality.
#2 – Those who have seen me at my best and worst…and love me anyway.
#3 – Those who do not automatically assume the worse about me and always give me the benefit of the doubt.  (ALWAYS beware of the person who seeks to pounce on you as soon as they hear something bad!)
#4 – Those who are willing to stand with me in a tough time–THOSE WHO BLEED WITH ME CAN LEAD WITH ME!!!
#5 – Those who offer correction for the purpose of building up rather than tearing down (people who always seek to tear you down should be ignored!  If they do not correct/confront in love then they are nothing more than a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal – see I Corinthians 13:1)
#6 – Those who are willing to take a confrontation straight to the person rather to an online audience.
#7 – Those who are not always looking for a reason to attack/hate you.
#8 – Those who have the goal of restoring you when you mess up and not wounding you!

Who does these things for you? 

15 November, 2011

Gratitude: Day Nine

Today I am grateful for the Sane Nurse Program at Memorial Hospital.  

I am grateful for the women at Memorial Hospital who are there to serve those in the midst of the worse day of their lives. They are there 24/7 to care for, treat and assist victims of violence.

They see the worse that man can do to each other, and yet, retain kindness, gentleness and a sense of goodness about the world.

These are some of the best people you will ever meet. I think seeing pain makes them more compassionate, facing the effects of evil makes them more giving. And, at its core, is the knowledge that without self-care there is burn out, fatigue and shutting down.


Only by taking care of themselves can they take care of others. 


I am glad we have this program so that regular 'ol male, ER doctors or ordinary nurses are not attempting to examine a victim and collect evidence with no real idea what they are doing. I am grateful for the nurses who help a victim of violence ensure they are okay, have the resources for care they need and that they have been checked out by someone who knows more about what attack can do to a body than anyone else. I am thankful for the nurses who are willing to see and hear what many of us cannot imagine to ensure their patient is okay.

Thank you ladies, I know our community would be at a loss without you. 




11 November, 2011

Gratitude - Day Eight

Today I am grateful that it is the weekend, that I get to sleep in tomorrow and stay in my PJs and drink coffee and write.

I am grateful that the week is over and that in an hour I get to go home.

I am thankful for the weekend - petty, maybe, but it's what I got today.

10 November, 2011

Gratitude - Day Seven

Today I am thankful for D.

It is hard to fully explain what he does in my life, what he does for me. He is my best friend, my confidant, my cheerleader, my soft shoulder, my reality check, my dreamer.

He is the best guy a girl could ask for. He can make me laugh like no one else. He is there when I need to laugh, to cry, to vent, to just be. With D I am who I am. There is no pretending, there is no trying to figure out who to be to keep him happy - he wants me to be who I am, and I want the same for him. There is encouragement between us, refinement, calling out each other's masks and the best things about the other.

I love that he is a photographer too, an adventurer, that he wants to get out and do new things, and craves a simple life.

I am thankful for him because he is there for me. I am thankful that my family likes him, that my friends adore him, that he treats me and my friends with the utmost respect. My identity is not dependent on what D thinks, but he does have a way of drawing out the best of who I am. The last year has not been easy, but he has been there every day.

I don't have to apologize for my passion with him, I don't have to try and mask how I feel, I can be affectionate, silly, goofy, and real. With D I have learned how to express disappointment and hurt, and to receive those emotions back. I have come to see that honesty in relationships is key, that I can love and be loved by someone and that does not mean we will never hurt each other - we will, but how do we react to that? D has taught me to be open, to risk love and letting someone love me.

It hasn't all been easy. We are moving from one challenge to another, from one mountain to the next, but I see a future with D that is good. If my best friend is there - bring on whatever else can come our way.


09 November, 2011

Gratitude - Day Six

Today I am grateful for struggle.

The ability to admit that some days are hard. Some days I want to stay in bed, with the sheets up to my nose and just let the day pass. Sometimes I just want to sit in the corner and weep for reasons I cannot fully identify.

I am grateful that it is okay to admit I don't have it all together. 

Maybe, today, I am thankful for weakness. For crying out. For tears of pain that lead to release. I am thankful for imperfection - for the race not yet done - for the reminder that life is never supposed to be easy, but in the pain there is refinement and peace.

Who do I trust on days like today? Where do I turn?

  • If  I look to man - I am disappointed. 
  • If I look to my friends - I will conform and stop being real. 
  • If I look to my job - then it is all about works. 
  • If I look to my accomplishments - I feel even more like a failure. 
  • If I look to myself - then I have nowhere left to go. 

But if I stop - let the pain come - face it with honesty - and then admit I am nothing and rest in the One who holds me together - I find peace.


That does not mean I do not hurt. That does not mean the pain goes away - it means I know there is more to come after it - and that I am not in it alone.

Today I am thankful for weakness, because out of that debt my hope is found.




08 November, 2011

Gratitude - Day Five

Today I am thankful for rest.


Physical - mental - spiritual - emotional

rest

It can come about in different ways, a quiet cup of coffee, a note from a friend, a moment of silence, a comfy bed to sleep in. However it comes there is something about rejuvenation and stillness that is comfort and safety. 



Jesus said "Come to Me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."


Rest from the day, rest from what we cannot understand, rest from what drives us, from what won't let us sleep. Sometimes it is the closing of our eyes to sleep, other times it is a moment for ourselves, but whatever it looks like - I am thankful for it. 


Here are some other ideas for rest.


How do you rest? 

07 November, 2011

Gratitude - Day Four

Today I am grateful for my job. I am grateful to be doing something meaningful, to be helping people gain and maintain their independence, to be growing, and learning, discovering things about myself and others.

I have the most AMAZING co-workers. I have come to see them as deeply caring people who are here because they want to make a difference. You do not get paid well in the social services field, and the more I get to see their hearts and hear about their lives, the more impressed and humbled I am.

This job is amazing because there is independence in it for me. Independence to be who I am, not judged by some arbitrary standards, I feel valued and seen. I am appreciated for what I bring, carried where I am weak, seen for what I can become.

For the first time, I am in an office that does not segregate by position. Executive down to admin are treated the same, and we are ALL invited to the discussion and asked to contribute in the big and the small. It is refreshing and edifying.

Where I am is a breath of fresh air that I am exceedingly grateful for. 





04 November, 2011

Gratitude - Day Three

Today I am grateful for videos that can always make me smile. This is one of them. The original song is pretty stupid, but this video is just classic. I think Fallon is a genius.

Today I reflect on simple joys, the ability to laugh, to smile, to enjoy (and even create) the silly.

Enjoy! I'll see you Monday.



03 November, 2011

Gratitude - Day Two

I am grateful for i encourage on Facebook. If you don't follow them - you should! They send out daily reminders of things to encourage their readers. Often times their posts are ways you can encourage others.

Over the past few weeks, here are some that have struck me:
  • Think of three people you are grateful for today... Give them a text, email or phone call and tell them. 
  • You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream. ~ C.S. Lewis.
  • Do something anonymously today to brighten someone's day - buy a coke for the person in the drive-thru line behind you or bring a neighbor's paper or trashcan up to their home... it will brighten their day, but will also brighten yours :-)
  • Are you waiting... for something you thought you'd have by now? Be strong.. you can make it. And maybe in the end, you'll discover who you became during the wait is as precious as having the thing you waited for. 
I look for their update in my news feed in the morning. It is three sisters working together to encourage and challenge their readers to pass it on.


Thank you, i encourage

02 November, 2011

Gratitude - Day One

“Gratitude is learning to recognize and express appreciation for the benefits we have received from God and from others.” ~ Nancy Leigh DeMoss

For the next thirty days I am going to focus on gratitude. For the month of November (yes a day late, I realize) I am going to post what I am grateful for. 


Before I begin, Nancy posted these levels of gratitude. Where do you fall? Where do you want to be?
  • I look at the world through grateful eyes and consistently express my gratitude to God and others.
  • I know I’ve been greatly blessed, but I don’t often stop to actually express my gratitude to God and others.
  • To be honest, I had not thought a lot about gratitude until starting this challenge. I’ve got a long way to go to develop a lifestyle of gratitude.
  • I’m a whiner! I tend to focus on my problems and I frequently express them to others.

Today I am grateful for the snow. 




I am grateful for how it covers the landscape and makes things appear still and quiet. Looking out the window (it snowed here last night) I think of Narnia - how it is always Christmas. Somehow things seem frozen in time. It allows me to be still for a moment. There is hope in snow. New possibility. 


I am grateful for snow when I don't have to drive in it. I love snow when I get to stay in and read a book, drink coffee and leave the winter wonderland on the other side of my window. 




What are you grateful for today?

31 October, 2011

Small Budget Event

We had an open house at work last week for our new CEO. Almost 100 people came. They were from agencies in the city we work with, friends of the Center and various other connections.

When it comes to planning an event there are a lot of things to consider.
  • Theme
  • Colors
  • Goals for the event (a key and often overlooked step), 
  • Budget
  • Food
  • How you want people to mingle and move (This was going to be a lot of people's first time to the Center, so we had tours and staff to direct visitors). 
  • Volunteers - you might need them more than just on the day of the event. For each step along the way think of what needs to be done. If you can delegate - do it!

It helps me to come up with a list (to the left). We actually had two events last week, but I am just going to focus on the Open House.

An event is like a mini project management task.
  • What needs to be accomplished for the event to be a success? For you to gauge that, you have to know what a "successful" event is.  
  • How are you going to get there? Write out steps and name who has to be there for each step along the way. 
  • Are you going to stay inside or outside of the company? We could have done the flowers ourselves, and sure, there are a lot of things that can be done internally. But take into consideration cost of supplies AND the time of your employees. With the flowers, when I added in the time of my going to get the supplies and the cost of my (plus one or two other) people's time to assemble them - it was a no brainer. We went with an independent florist. And the flowers were amazingly beautiful!
  • Who can help with your event? We went with independent companies for both our flowers and the cupcakes. It saved us the time of our employees, they were cheaper than a larger organization, and it helps them to get exposure. Do a favor and put their cards out so people can see who made what they are enjoying.
We had a small budget for the event. So we chose to focus on a few key touches. We started shooting for the moon - our ideal event would have welcome banners, wine, more decorations through out the building, dishwasher safe serving pieces, etc. Our budget would allow for a few key decorations (like the flowers) that could carry the theme across a wide space. When a budget is tight prioritize what you need and what you want and proceed accordingly.

We chose to do food in-house, because the cost of catering would have been more than doing it ourselves.
Look at numbers. Don't assume. I did a Costco run and made a list of every food item we would buy. I multiplied that out. Sometimes the prep things you can do before hand will save you money later on.

Get help. Give people the chance to be involved. We have a dedicated crew of people who help with every event, but this was a key event for the whole building. And so I opened it up and had people sign up so it all didn't rest on four or five people and it lets people get connected. Get supervisors to require their staff to sign up, pull on people's hidden talents. This only works well if the executives at your organization get that it is not just up to the admins to pull an event off. I had most of our executive staff helping with clean up - that says something. 



We spaced the tables out to get people to move around the Center. In hindsight we should have had our CEO in the room with the food, but we'll do that next time. Here are a few pictures from the night.
 



In the end, have fun. I have been doing events for almost fifteen years. Just because you are the organizer doesn't mean you need to be stressed out. If you are, then you are probably not delegating enough. And, one final thing, don't bark at people all night. If you treat people like they don't matter then no one is going to help you. So if no one is stepping up to help, you might need to ask if you are hard to work with or tend to be a bit micromanaging. People are willing to help people who treat others with respect. Just saying.


Any other tips you have? What have you found works or doesn't in the events you've plan? Any secrets you'd be willing to share? 

12 October, 2011

Sand Dunes Adventure

I recently spent some time at the Sand Dunes. It was an incredible adventure. A friend and I went for a long weekend. We rented a trailer and got out of town.

I miss the quiet of morning. I remember it from the ranch - when I could walk down the road and only hear the ground crunch under my feet and, perhaps, the sound of the horses getting collected for the day.

At the dunes I laid in the camper and listened to morning come. There were creatures stirring, the wind soft and faint. It was bitter cold (our heating died) but it was magical. It carried me back to the uninterrupted morning of my childhood, when nothing seemed to exist but the sun on the horizon and the promise of a new day.

One morning we built a fire and ate breakfast, watching the sun hit the dunes and give the sand definition. We determined that every time we looked at the dunes they were different. You could probably take a photo every morning at the same time and end up with a different image. 

There is something magical about the Dunes. If you have never been, go. It's only $3 and so worth it. You can play on the dunes and fight to get to the top. We took a Frisbee and used it to determine our path. There is some childlike quality to the sand and the chance to just run and be free and silly. 


06 October, 2011

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. ... If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on." (Steve Jobs)
 
what is that for you dear friends, what is that for you? 

 

01 September, 2011

Update

I know it has been a while, sorry about that. Things are seemingly crazier than ever.

I started a new job,working at an organization assisting people with disabilities to live independent lives. It is really amazing to come to work everyday. I am blessed to be surrounded by people with really amazing hearts, and get to see the power of creativity, love and endurance our clients have. My boss is amazing, and is doing a lot to redefine and set a vision for the organization. I am learning a lot about how to manage a board and the inner constructs for a functional NGO, which is helpful because...

I am registering my own NGO. A dear friend of mine is doing the work to file paperwork (saving my sanity!) and then we can start fundraising and work to get this thing off the ground.

Between those two things, friends and moving this weekend, life is busy. I can say that I feel lighter than I have in a long time. Life is good friends. I've come to realize that good doesn't mean lack of conflict, or being settled, or everything is ideal. It's more the ability to say in the midst of life that there is clarity and a direction and I can see it all as stepping stones.

I will try to be more consistent here, time management seems to be my nemesis right now. But it's coming. I am trying to balance it all and fit it some things that make me smile. I am writing again, trying to work on the manuscripts I have and process them towards publication. It's one money at a time, but I am slowly learning the beauty of busyness and the joy of retreat. I feel like this is a planting time, there is a song I love that I always go back to in terms of the phases of life:

The Desert Song - Hillsong

This is my prayer in the desert, when all that's within me feels dry. This is my prayer in my hunger and need, my God is the God who provides

And this is my prayer in the fire, in weakness or trial or pain. There is a faith proved of more worth than gold, so refine me Lord through the flame

And I will bring praise, I will bring praise. No weapon formed against me shall remain. I will rejoice, I will declare God is my victory and He is here

And this is my prayer in the battle, when triumph is still on it's way. I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ so firm on His promise I'll stand

And I will bring praise, I will bring praise. No weapon formed against me shall remain. I will rejoice, I will declare God is my victory and He is here

All of my life, in every season, You are still God. I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship.

This is my prayer in the harvest, when favor and providence flow. I know I'm filled to be emptied again, the seed I've recieved I will sow.

 

Listen to it here.


14 July, 2011

Inspiration

site
The 36th Avenue wrote a blog for U-Create about decorating her workspace. She found old wine boxes, painted and then accented them.


I want to try this in my office (if I had an office). One would have a map, another a camera, maybe a typewriter. There is a great quote (find it here) that I would put on the board, next to pins to be able to list my goals for the next year. 


What would drive your creativity? What makes you feel inspired?

11 July, 2011

Finances

Being on starting the journey to work place freedom means money is tight. I did the opposite of what almost every blog I read said and did not plan too long-term before I left my full time job. In an ideal situation, the decision to go independent would come enough in advance to allow you to save for months (ideally up to 9 months from what I've read) of living expenses.

I didn't do that. I am a fairly frugal gal anyway, I don't really have a vice (except books ;-)). I sensed the time was coming to move into working for myself,. and so had created a base budget. Some people will tell you this is what you need to live on - period. But like a restricting diet that leaves you eating lettuce and radishes, you are bound to cheat, and eventually, blow your budget.

I started with the bare minimum I needed to make to cover my set bills: student loans, car and old credit card debt. Rent and utilities are negotiable, because it is possible to move somewhere cheaper, get a roommate, work to conserve energy, etc. I moved home, which might not be a possibility for everyone, but is for me because my parents are amazing.

Don't forget to add it things like groceries and gas. I collected these for a few months prior to see how much I needed to get by. I enjoy eating well -- no TV dinners and ramen for this girl -- and so kept those relatively the same as they had been, realizing I had the flexibility to cut back on food or ride my bike more if I needed to downsize the gas line.

Then I deviated greatly from the old wisdom - I added in fun money. I take out $60 a week and split that between being able to eat out and my other expenses envelope - that includes runs to Costco, or the movies, or birthday gifts, essentially any expense not covered above, meaning it is outside my set budget.

Now, I don't use my debit card except for gas. I don't use my credit card at all. But by building into my budget fun money I also don't have to worry about splurging and blowing my overly restrictive budget.

So I took all that - set bills, rent + utilities, the basics like food and gas, add in fun funds and then divided that total by four. That is how much I need to bring in a week to survive.

I also included health insurance and savings into my plan. I refuse to live on savings, and if the last year has taught me anything - the unexpected will always come when you don't have any savings (hello credit card debt!), so as much as you can, stop living from your savings account immediately and get on income again

To make it work, you need to cut down on your spending. You do not need Starbucks every day, you do not need new shoes (or books!), it is possible to shave off a lot of funds a month by cutting out additional spending. You will be amazed to discover how much you do not "need" and how much you can do without spending money.

Ultimately, as Jason points out, make a plan. You will never be able to save money or get out of debt if there is not a plan. I have a countdown in the back of my binder and cross off my car and credit card payments every month.  Keep it simple, don't have twenty categories when seven will do. Don't spend any money that has not been delegated to that expense. Old wisdom for getting out of debt and being able to save money - save more than you spend!

If you cannot control your spending, give your credit cards to a friend and go to the envelope system. When I was trying to get out of debt in DC and was on a (even more) bare bones budget I did this. It is a super easy way to control your funds and see where your money goes. When you only have $10 for the rest of the week, that daily latte looks a  lot less "necessary."

Any money tips you've found that works?

05 July, 2011

Water of Life.

Water of Life is Compassion's new initiative to fight the illnesses found in the dirty water many around the world are forced to drink.

According to their site, every 15 seconds a child dies from a water-related illness. 15 seconds.

That's four children  a minute, 240 an hour, 5,760 kids a day. 

Almost 6,000 children die a day from water-related illnesses. Treatable water-related illness.

But Compassion is doing something about it. They are bringing safe drinking water to individual homes, for far less than you might expect.

How? By providing families with a filter...

Each filter is made up of tiny microtubes with pores hundreds of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. These pores remove deadly bacteria and allow only clean water to pass through for drinking. The Water of Life system effectively eliminates parasites and bacterial contaminants that cause cholera, typhoid, E. coli, amoebic dysentery and many other devastating diseases.

Dirty water from sources such as lakes, rivers, ponds or puddles is poured into the system’s bucket. As the water flows through the filter, it comes out completely safe to drink.

When the flow rate begins to slow after multiple uses, the user simply disconnects the primary filter unit and rinses it with clear water. Depending on the level of contaminants in the dirty water, some systems may require more-frequent rinsing. Unlike typical water filters, the Water of Life filter will remain highly effective over time while purifying at least one million gallons. (site)

Find out more about Water of Life. Then make a $55 donation to provide a filter to a family.

27 June, 2011

Warriors

A few weeks ago I helped out at the Warrior Games. It was an incredible experience. I was there for wheelchair basketball, a game between the Marines and the Air Force. To see what these men and women can accomplish is humbling and inspiring. I support and value our military, and feel enough is not being done to highlight what they do, what they defend, and what they sacrifice.

Beyond the competition is the camaraderie- yes, they played as Branches, but there was a level of respect between them I have rarely seen elsewhere. I would encourage all of you to come next year. I am already getting my nephews to volunteer with me and I hope to be able to be there for the swimming, track and biking events.


A shot from the closing ceremonies, over 200 athletes competed

If you go here there is a video on 31 May about the competition (sorry couldn't figure out how to embed it).

16 June, 2011

Goals II

We started this week talking about professional goals, and now we are going to turn to personal.
 
It is essential to have goals for ourselves and where we want to end up. Too often years pass and time slips away because we are not intentionally pursuing what we want out of life.
 
Sometimes (often times) goals are longer term. I know someone who is planning for something that probably won't come about for 15 more years. But they are doing things now to make that become a reality then.
 
It can be small things - take a language or a class, volunteer, look into local programs, etc.
 
 
So, again, one - five - ten year goals.
 
 
One year from now I want to be working with an organization focused on services with/for victims of violence.
 
That is broad, there are multiple levels to that statement. Ideally, I would like to be doing outreach or training, but I would be an admin if it got my foot in the door and connected me into that arena again.
 
 
You don't go from step one to twenty in anything. Goals fill in the gaps and give you benchmarks.  
 
 
After setting a goal, break it down into smaller units.
 
 
One year from now, I want to be done with a novel and have it ready to publish.
 
Therefore, I will dedicate five hours a week (all I can right now) to editing and find someone to be an objective editor.
 
Block in intentional time.
 
Put it as an event on your calendar. It is the concept of blocking in the important things first - not trying to squeeze it in after your schedule is chaotic.
 
 
When I decided to pursue freelance, I made a bare bones budget and then broke that down into weekly goals. I need $--- a week to pay my most basic bills. In that budget, I put in savings and fun because I knew without it I would blow the budget and overspend. That was part of the move to working for myself, the ability to know how much of savings I needed and how much I need to bring in now to stay afloat.
 
Preparation is essential. That's another reason goals are important for your life, they help you move to something and plan for what you ultimately want.
 
Be realistic with yourself and what you want to accomplish. Whether it's buying a home, launching a business, changing jobs, taking that trip to Europe - intentionality is the key to making things happen.

14 June, 2011

Goals

I've been thinking a lot recently about goals - personal, professional and life goals. Things you want to have done in one, five, and ten years in each of these areas.

It ties into legacy. I think we have to be intentional about what we want to be known for. What do you want people to say about you takes time, intentionality, and purpose.

Today, let's focus on professional goals.

Like I said - one, five and ten years.

They must be a statement,
and they must have something tangible in them.


A one year goal for me - get Let Them Have Faces registered as a 501(c)3 and have 20 partner organizations with Her Shoes.

Define words in your goals.

Partner Organization - someone who has regular contact with Her Shoes, who is giving or receiving direct benefit to the program.

It is different than a donor, a volunteer, an advocate. It is an organization who is more than a contact, to someone having an active role in the work.

Five years - have Her Shoes programs running along the West Coast and be moving into the Mid-West

What defines a program? That will come as Her Shoes gets more firmed up. But, for now, an active contact who has active contacts at the organizations working in their area for victims of violence.

Ten years -  Her Shoes as an international organization, working with organizations all over the world who work alongside victims of violence.



In the end, goals are fluid. But you have to know where you are going. If you achieve a goal early, then reset the rest. I have a hard time not meeting a goal. So, if you can't meet a goal, be realistic as to why. Take time to figure out what is not happening and what you need to change. Sometimes our goals aren't realistic, but other times we just need to find a new way of motivating ourselves or bring in other people to help.


We will cover personal and life goals later. But for now...


Where do you want your business to be in one, five and ten years?

24 May, 2011

Guest Post: Elizabeth


Today I’m participating in the Ultimate Blog Swap. You’ll find me posting over at Blogging with Amy about The Journey of Becoming, and I’m excited to welcome Elizabeth from Adventures in Life, Love, and Librarianship  to Dillon Bailey:

People who are into personal and/or career development (or have to attend a lot of workshops like me) know a lot about goal setting.  Leaders, managers, and other general advice-givers tell us that goal setting is the best way to get what we want and if we set goals and work towards them, we should, eventually, achieve those goals.  

Sounds easy, right?

Except when it's totally not.

Saying you'll do something or work towards something, whether it's getting a promotion or simply getting to work on time, isn't enough.  You need to do more than just say (or write) "I'm going to do X".  You need a plan.  You need to lay out a way for you to achieve your goal so that you can actually achieve it.  You need to set a SMART goal.

What is a SMART goal?  A SMART goal is a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.  Pretty fun acronym right?  So not only is your goal smart, it's SMART. 

Okay, enough with my cheesy puns.  What does setting a SMART goal really mean?  Let's take a look at one of my most recent goalsand decide if it is SMART or not.  One of my May goals was to organize my office; it's a big project and I've been dreading taking it on so I set it as one of my May goals.  Let's take it letter by letter and see if I set a SMART goal.

Is the goal specific? Probably not as specific as it needs to be.  I didn't lay out how I was going to clean my office or what I meant by "organize".  I admitted that I had a problem (that's always the first step, right?), but I didn't create a plan on how to attack it.  This part needs work.

Is the goal measurable?  No, it's not.  I didn't say how I would determine if I organized my office or not.  What counts as organized?  I need to write down more specifics about how I would measure my success.

Is the goal attainable?  This is not a huge project and it's definitely something I can do in a month.  I would say this is something I can achieve if I work at it.

Is it realistic?  Yes, this is a realistic goal.  I have all the resources I need (or the ability to buy what I need) and organizing my office is something that I know I can realistically do alone.

Is it timely?  Yes, I have set a time frame to when I need to achieve this goal (by the end of the month).

So this is this a SMART goal?  I would say yes and no.  It is attainable, realistic, and timely, but it is not specific or measurable.  I should have laid out a better plan on how I would organize my office and how I would measure when I was done.  So rather than simply saying one of my May goals was to organize my office, I should have said, "during the month of May, I would like to organize my office by filing all loose paperwork and decluttering my desk".  

This new goal is specific because I laid out what I meant by organizing, it's measurable because I know I will have completed the task when I've decluttered my desk and filed all my loose paperwork, and we've already determined the goals was attainable, realistic, and timely.  

Setting SMART goals can be applied to both your personal and professional life and it can be applied to both short and long term goals.  Want to get a raise; great!  Lay out a goal that will specifically guide you there and make sure to set a time frame.  You can achieve your goals, you just need a little planning to get started.

Have you ever set a SMART goal?  How did it go?  If you haven't, do you think you will now?

Elizabeth blogs about her cat, love, food, and occasionally libraries at Adventures in Life, Love, and Librarianship.  She is also tweeting all the randomness that doesn't make it on her blog as LibrarianLizy.

Visit Life...Your Way to see all of the Ultimate Blog Swap participants!

23 May, 2011

Planning

All the websites I've read about blogging have said that one of the most important things to do is to plan out what you are going to blog about.

I've been blogging since 2003 and have never sat down and thought about what I was going to say. 

Not that I'm disagreeing with them, that's not it at all, rather, I've always seen my blogs as a source to update what's going on in my life or my head, or to post interesting articles... it's always been something that just occurs. 

But I like the idea of planning, I like the idea of setting a goal and working towards it. 

Consistent posts, preplanned ideas, focusing enough to figure out what I want to say when -

Sounds like a good idea to me. 


Stay tuned: I'm having a guest blogger tomorrow!

Also, I will be guest posting at Blogging with Amy.  Feel free to stop over and read my reflections from Suzy Welch's talk at the Chick-fil-A Leadercast. 

06 May, 2011

Winding Down

The countdown is going - one week until my last day. They've hired a replacement, so I am tying up loose ends and getting things ready. It's a busy time. Beyond work, I am committed to two side projects, launching a third and am getting into the routine of grad school.

It's fun. And while I still am trying to figure out the next step, I am also realizing that too often we don't get that until we let go. Let go of pretending I can control any of this, let go of trying to make it all fit in my timeline. If it is not His will, then I don't want it. And while that might require a bit more patience than I have (given I have none), I know it will be worth it.

Off to the Chick-fil-A Leadercast today. Will bring back notes and insights for next week.


Have a good weekend, friends.

27 April, 2011

Reflection

I started this post a few days ago and let it slip, but I've decide to go ahead and post it.

What Easter Means to Me:

An empty cross, a barren tomb.
What once was no longer is.
Shattered dreams, relinquished promises
Things not yet understood remain.

Hope. New Hope. Better Hope. Complete Hope.
Resplendent dreams, Ultimate Promises.
Renewed Life. A New Creation.
Not just remade, but made new.

What once was sorrow is now joy.
No longer scared but empowered.
It was all true, and still carries on.

He defeated death to give me life.
I have nothing to offer but humility.
Careful obedience of a life in one direction.
I am alive because he first died to save me.


I sense Easter in a different way this year. I am coming off of three years of almost dead faith. Even before Rwanda I was hollow and sad. The walls keeping me from God too tall for me to even see. They blended into the landscape, they had become permanent to me.

But God does not leave us. It is the one constant I always have - I am never alone.

I am walking back, coming home. I will not bow like the prodigal son, though I do not deserve the fatten calf any more than he did. I am embraced and held by a Father who loves me, who whispered truth to me in my time away, who managed to beat down the wall that kept us apart, and give me instead a place of safety, intimacy and rest.

I am a new creation - new! Not just cleaned up, or rebuilt, or fixed-up, but new. It's an amazing gift, a life-sustaining promise, one I am just starting to understand.

So what does Easter mean to me? Everything.

20 April, 2011

Dreams and Goals

What is the difference between a dream and a goal?

Dictionary.com defines them as follows:

Dream: noun. an aspiration; goal; aim; a wild or vain fancy; something of an unreal beauty, charm, or excellence.

Goal: noun. the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.

One is fanciful, the other an achievement.


We tell our kids to pursue their dreams, but what if those only become tangible when they become goals?

To perform on Broadway is a dream. Taking ballet, dance, singing lessons, performing everywhere you can, acting in community theater, applying at Juilliard - those are goals.


Maybe it's not that dreams are unattainable, but we can't always keep our focus on them. We have to look to our goals, the steps we will take to get where we want to go.



I had a discussion with someone this weekend to that effect. Where do I want to be in ten years? This is sometimes referred to as "the sweet spot," when you are doing something that gives you bliss.

Identify your sweet spot and then set markers to get there. Invest in education, get your name out there, build your blog readership, read everything you can, get a mentor... All of those build up to what you really want to do.


I am honing in on my list. Narrowing down to my sweet spot. It's ok to have more than one passion, more than one thing I long to pursue. Someday my writing, photography, drive towards ending injustice and education will mold into something quite lovely. For now, they are being developed separately so they can be used together to do something bold.

My dream is to have an impact and to make a difference through awareness, education and advocacy.

The goals are the journey that lead to something only we were made for. 


What are your dreams and goals?

19 April, 2011

Peace


DC - Cathedral TG, originally uploaded by mana1024.
This is one of my favorite pictures ever. It was Thanksgiving, and I took this picture from the roof of my apartment building. I love fall in DC. It's days like this I am nostalgic and ready to be back in the city I love.

It took a lot for me to move there. I went with an internship and a place to live. But God was with me. Within a week I had a paid job and fell in with a group of friends. It was incredible.

Each day to the day I got on the airplane was a challenge, full of preparation. I bought a one-way ticket, unsure when (if) I would return to CO. It was faith - and so is this transition.

It's a good thing to remember when all that I have to do overwhelms me. But it's coming... Slowly - it's coming.

18 April, 2011

Steps

In case you hadn't noticed, things look a bit different today.


There is a page for my photography and the freelance services I can provide. They are both a work in progress, but they are there. Oh, and you can learn more about me

I am working with Imagekind and hope to have a site set up by the weekend for you to buy my prints.  

I am focusing this week on a business plan, which will help me know how to move things a bit more. It is coming together - and to be honest, this is all I can really think/talk about! 

Small steps in a good direction. 


In May I am going to be selling my photos at a craft fair. This was successful in the fall when I had prints and card sets with my photos from Cambodia and Rwanda. I was wondering if anyone had any other ideas of things they would like to see? A journal maybe? April is a bit late to do a calendar...


Any ideas for the craft fair? 



15 April, 2011

Listen to Your Heart

PaperNStitch (one of my favorite blogs!) reposted some sage advice from Mayi Carles on how to run a Successful Online Shop.

I love some of Mayi's advice. It is really encouraging me right now:


1. Listen to the little voice inside your heart. Yep, I typed that correctly. I didn’t mean head, but heart. Be aware about your feelings + ask yourselves the hard existential questions “Am I happy, really happy doing what I’m doing?”, “Am I doing what I was destined to do?. The rush of the everyday tends to dilute our emotions. Tip: Don’t be an android + don’t be afraid to feel + listen to your heart. I promise it will take you far when you embrace it.
2. Be a real person. Doing business online can sometimes feel a little cold, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Allow your customers to “see you”. Put a picture of you in your profile + write a heartfelt about page + tell your story. Allow your customers to easily identify with you, the person, not the shop, but actually I real skin + bones + heart pumping human being.
...
4. Take yourself seriously. Get yourself an office space + buy the best supplies you can + hire a professional to help you do what you can’t + seek help + open an online shop. Don’t wait for your big break. Don’t wait for anyone to approve of your less than common career path. Don’t wait until Oprah invites you on her show to take yourself seriously. Give it all you’ve got! Turn off the “I’ll do that when I’m rich” mentality. Tip: take yourself seriously + have the gut to make the important decisions your business needs to grow. (site)

Too often we hold ourselves back from even trying, or when we do, we try to force ourselves into a cookie-cutter mold that isn't us - and isn't why we went into business.

Mayi also posted this helpful worksheet for figuring out what you are amazing at! I am using it in my quest to narrow down a start-up right now.

Risk

"...I'd leave my apartment--after a hot shower, a cup of oatmeal, and a good cry--
and catch the campus shuttle to school. Then I'd find myself alone on the stairwell again. 
Rinse and repeat." 

That was Jasmine Star talking about her days in law school. She's sit there not because it was challenging, but because it wasn't where her heart was.


"People often assume the risk I took to start my business was not returning to law school. 
But that's far from the truth.

 I would have taken a larger risk staying in law school knowing just how unhappy I was.

Sometimes we risk our dreams for safety and comfort, 
but I was ready to risk safety and comfort for my dreams."

Fear - the thing that tells us we can't. We can't pursue what we want. We will never be as successful as _____.

I can relate to the idea that the greater risk is staying where you are unhappy. It is a greater risk in the long run to stifle that voice in us that speaks quietly, pushing us to do something else with our lives.

All of us are made intrinsically with gifts and talents. Some are more obvious than others. But when we are willing enough to stop and listen and bold enough to act - that is when we see joy and fulfillment in careers and life. Then it is not, "this is what I do..." But, "this is who I AM."

I am on that road, the road of trying to be quiet and still enough to figure out what my dream is. Once it's identified I will be ready to run towards it with all I have.

Maybe in a few years time I will be able to echo Jasmine's sentiment:




"Today whenever I eat a PB&J on wheat, I am reminded of my solitude in the stairwell, 
 knowing life will always be filled with risk...

it's simply a matter of choosing which one you'll take."


What risk are you being asked to take?


14 April, 2011

Getting Started

Hmmmmmmm. Where to start.

With the end date of my job getting closer and closer I am a bit perplexed as to how to break into things. I have read the following advice on numerous sites:

  • Network with other blogs
  • Get exposure on Facebook 
  • Develop a Theme 

This transition has been in the back of my mind for months and now to be starting out. I know it will take time, I know nothing happens over night. I am ready for the uphill battle, but the first steps are always the hardest.

In an effort to not freak out too much at the idea of no income, I applied to several places today for virtual work. This might be an even harder than the business world to break into because it's all over the computer. It is hard to cold-email someone and, with very little tangible "virtual" experience, though, my boss travels A LOT and so I know how to manage someone from a distance. 

It comes slowly. 

My friend told me that my job is to find a job, and that I will probably work harder in the coming months than I have in the last year. But it is exciting to be pursuing something you love. I hope in the coming days the idea will become clearer and I can move in a more confident direction. Right now it just kind of feels like throwing spaghetti on the wall.


Any advice you all would like to share? 


13 April, 2011

New Ventures

A new day is dawning, and I am so excited you are going to be here with me...

I am branching out and pursuing the freelancing/contractor world. Right now it all feels very unsure. I am narrowing down the list of what would be best for me to pursue.

I will document this on the blog, along with links to other blogs and resources that catch my eyes. I will continue to post photos, and let you know what is going on.


The question of purpose looms before me (as it does for many of us!). What we are good at might not be what is best for us to pursue. But one day at a time.

As I get to know myself better I hope to figure out more what I can do to truly have an impact and come alongside others.



How did you figure out what you were supposed to do?

31 March, 2011

Time Out

I will be gone until 13 April. At which time I will return with a new adventure and some new ponderings. 



Stay Tuned... 

22 March, 2011

The power of venting.

Pete Wilson wrote a blog this morning and it got me thinking. It was about a negative tweet he read. How many of us use our tweets or our facebook statues as platforms to say whatever we want about who/whatever we want? The problem is whether it's a company's reputation or a person's feelings, it will hurt someone. 

Pete summarizes his thoughts here:

There is an element of power in our words and it’s not accidental. Our Creator has shaped our hearts and souls to be impacted by the words of others.  It’s part of your design.
I’m not even going to pretend to understand this spiritual principle, but you certainly can’t ignore it. The words that come out of our mouth or through our typing fingers float through the air and land on souls impacting the course and direction of their life.
GOD HAS DESIGNED THE HUMAN SOUL WHERE YOUR WORDS WILL EITHER DESTROY OR BUILD UP ONE ANOTHER.
It’s a free country. I love that you can tweet whatever the heck you want to. Just don’t ever think that your words don’t have an impact.
They do.
And more than you could ever imagine. (site)

I know the sting of being a recipient of some fairly harsh tweets. Some people knew the person was talking about me, others did not - but I knew. I knew those hurtful words were directed at me. Words posted in anger, in needing to vent, in being mad at me... But the impact still lingers.

Tony Dungy (I wish I had the book with me) wrote about venting. It feels good for the moment, it gets the steam off, but then you are left with the wake.

The Bible talks about words said in anger, and the tongue being a mighty sword. Isn't that all tweets and status updates are? Instead of my venting or yelling about someone or something to ten of my friends, I can post it on my site and suddenly 1,000s of people can ready why I am mad at _______ or think the service at ____________ stinks.

It's not that you deny that your upset, you just don't say it! Dungy talks about keeping a cool head. Is yelling, screaming, venting, posting a spiteful tweet going to change anything? Probably not. It might just make everything a lot worse.

So take some time and let yourself cool down. If you still want to post about how mad you are then do it, but don't do anything in the moment you cannot honestly stand by the next day.

Trying to learn this lesson myself, I'll let you know how it goes.

15 March, 2011

Girls & Education

UNICEF estimates that 93 million children do not currently attend school.

Of that 93 million, 80% are girls.

The highest areas for this are sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia.

Overall, of children of the appropriate age, only 60% attend secondary school. In sub-Sahara Africa that number is 25% (link).

"(I)t is a fundamental human right enshrined in international commitments. From the Millennium Development Goals to the Dakar Declaration, countries have repeatedly committed themselves to achieving universal primary education and eliminating gender disparities at all levels of education by 2015 (link)."

The 26th Article of the UN Declaration of Human Rights reads (emphasis added):

(1) Everyone (including women and the poor) has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children. (link


While having adequate supplies and teachers are vital, the first step is getting kids in school. It took years in this country for education to be free (and compulsory) for children. We had to shift our focus from being a human-propelled agriculture society to developing tools and systems that allowed families to be able to send their kids to school and still make a living.Nothing happens in isolation, microfinance, HIV/AIDS education/prevention/treatment. anti-trafficking measures, clean water, etc. all have to be at work also or, for too many children, education will continue to be a dream.

There are other challenges - cultural stigmas against girls (seeing them as less than boys, viewing/treating them as baby-makers and nothing more, etc), providing quality education (a challenge in the U.S. too!),  access to education for all. It is proven that once a girl is educated changes happen in a society.

"Better-educated girls make better decisions at home, at work, and are better prepared as mothers to protect their children’s health from chronic illnesses like HIV AIDS. Long-term, inequalities between girls and boys have significant negative impacts on societies and progress. Girls’ education is fundamental to economic and social development of individuals, families, and nations." ~The UN

It is an scary reality for some, but one that should be encouraging and exciting. Cultural shifts must be made, behavioral and mental changes too. Girls (and therefore women) must be seen as equals in society. They can contribute, grow, govern and impact their communities, countries and world the same as everyone else.


UNICEF outlines five elements for schools:


1. What students bring to learning. What experiences does the learner bring to school, and what particular challenges does she face? Has she been affected by emergencies, abuse, daily labour or AIDS? Has she had a positive, gender-sensitive early childhood experience within her family, her community and her preschool? How different is the language of her home from the language of her school? Has she been sufficiently oriented to the rhythm of schooling?

2. Environment. Is the learning environment healthy, safe, protective, stimulating and gender-sensitive?

3. Content of education. Are the curriculum and materials relevant? Do they impart basic skills, especially in literacy and numeracy? Do they promote life skills and knowledge areas such as gender, health, nutrition, AIDS prevention, peace, or other national and local priorities? How does the content of curriculum and learning materials include or exclude girls?

4. Processes. Are teachers using child-centred teaching approaches? Do their assessments facilitate learning and reduce disparities? Are classrooms and schools well-managed? Are the methods of teaching, learning and support – whether from supervisors, teachers, parents or communities – enhancing or undermining girls’ achievement?

5. Outcomes. What outcomes of basic education do we expect for girls? How can we document how well girls are learning and how well the curriculum furthers their future growth? Learning outcomes should be linked to national goals for education and should promote positive participation in society. (link)

09 March, 2011

A Lenten Prayer



A Lenten Prayer
By Henri Nouwen

The Lenten season begins. It is a time to be with you, Lord, in a special way, a time to pray, to fast, and thus to follow you on your way to Jerusalem, to Golgotha, and to the final victory over death.



I am still so divided. I truly want to follow you, but I also want to follow my own desires and lend an ear to the voices that speak about prestige, success, pleasure, power, and influence. Help me to become deaf to these voices and more attentive to your voice, which calls me to choose the narrow road to life.



I know that Lent is going to be a very hard time for me. The choice for your way has to be made every moment of my life.  I have to choose thoughts that are your thoughts, words that are your words, and actions that are your actions. There are not times or places without choices. And I know how deeply I resist choosing you.



Please, Lord, be with me at every moment and in every place. Give me the strength and the courage to live this season faithfully, so that, when Easter comes, I will be able to taste with joy the new life that you have prepared for me.



Amen.