Thursday, August 1, 2013

I have ideas...

Strange ideas....generally related to book ideas.  Because one day I might write something great.  Not like that really presents itself on this blog, but greatness comes from practice;o)

Here are some random ideas:

1) A book titled something like, "Empowering Women:  An Effective Model for Big Cities."  If we know that empowering women creates stronger communities in developing countries, then why can't a similar model be used in large urban cities?  Time and time again I see that ONE organization in a developing country is making a difference, yet we have hundreds of organizations (churches, outreach groups, government aid, etc.) in big cities and we see very little change.  The book (or maybe large thesis) would revolve around researching 3-5 of the largest cities in America, meeting with focus groups of women who are suffering from low socio-economic status, meeting with all those organizations that are trying to improve the cities, and coming up with a plan or model that can be effective in making a difference.

2) A series of 3 illustrated 5x5 coffee table books of humor, titled: "Pregnancy", "Birth," & "Breastfeeding."  They would be humorous.  Written by my husband (mostly his ideas) and a few of mine.  On one page would be one his infamous phrases (ie: "Lunch-line!") and on the other side would be an illustration to match the phrase (ie: a cartoon of woman's breast area distorted to look like a cafeteria lunch line).  Other one-liners I can remember off the top of my head, "Titty-time" & "Dairy Queen."  Note:  My husband wholly supports breastfeeding & is very empowering of my ability to do so, so his comments are not meant to be insulting - if you take offense, then just ignore this paragraph:o) 

3) A proposal to improve national education by doing an honest and legit comparison to other countries.  The research would be done by teachers.  I've kind of started some work on the proposal plan, but it needs a lot to finish and probably a LOT of editing.

And the only way I see me ever having time to thoroughly complete any of these projects is when I won't have to work because I'll have an investor who believes in one of my crazy ideas & provides my income while I complete a project.  And when my project is complete I will be an awesome (but humble and modest)  success and I will have more ideas, more investors, & my own money to persue new, cool projects.

So, any crazy takers?  LOL!

Never far from my mind...

I haven't posted in ages, but the last few weeks of my pregnancy were just tough, then I gave birth, & now it's been nearly a month & I feel like we're finally getting adjusted in the house.  Blogging wasn't the first thing on my mind.  However, that doesn't mean that the blog or my fundraiser has been on my mind.

So far my Heifer International fundraiser has raised $120.  I recently received donations from some awesome friends of mine.  I'm nearly half way there and I have just a little less than 3 weeks to get there to reach my goal of $250 by August 19th - World Humanitarian Day!

Prior to Maggie being born I had the chance to DVR "Keep A Child Alive."  It is a documentary special with Alicia Keys who took five individuals with her to South Africa to learn about the AIDS epidemic & its impact on the communities.  It was a very good documentary and I highly recommend it.  For more info click here.  I admire anyone who uses their status to make others aware of important issues, but I thought it was very awesome the way she brought along fans who were also truly interested in the issue and want to make a difference in their communities.  I would like to think, given the chance, that I would take the opportunity to travel and learn more about the global issues that raise my curiosity.  I consider how much I want to do already & how much more impacted I would be seeing the issues face to face - how does that truly change a person & what does one do with that new mindset?

I also had the opportunity (just last night) to FINALLY watch "Half the Sky."  I had it recorded forever and had a quiet afternoon and some evening time to get through the movie.  I really enjoyed this documentary as well.  It was not loaded down with number and statistics.  Diane Lane had me cracking up at one point, "Now I'm starting to get pissed, so you better start talking..."  The segment on maternal mortality really spoke to me, probably because I just gave birth less than a month ago, but it also reminded me of my first pregnancy as well.  I was determined to give birth naturally & that required a lot of mental preperation.  My husband used to say to others (who were doubtful that I could/should go without drugs), "Women have been having babies in rivers and huts for hundreds of years without anything."  This is true.  Women did not always have the epidural!  And while that thought was encouraging I naively took my thinking one step further; I thought to myself, "When I give birth, somewhere in the world there will be another woman just like me going through the same thing....and like all the other women who came before us and will come after us, we'll be a shining example of what God created & how awesome he made our bodies & it will be beautiful" & puppies & rainbows and all sorts of other happy thoughts.

The issue of maternal mortality kind of ruined that thought.  Not that parts of it aren't true, but the fact is that there are a lot of women who give birth in developing countries who don't come to terms with giving birth like we do in the US.  They don't have access to birth control to prevent pregnancy at a young age or to space children apart.  They suffer from lack of prenatal care, anemia, and malnutrition.  They may not be pregnant by choice.  They may not have access to a midwife, doctor or hospital and DO give birth in huts that are unsanitary & put them and their babies at risk for infection.  They may be seen as expendable and; therefore, do not get emergency assistance needed during birth to get a c-section and suffer from obstructed birth and other complications.  And they most certainly do not have access to an epidural - but that's the least of their concerns.  Giving birth naturally isn't a choice, but it's also not a worry compared to everything else they must endure.

Women die.  Not because of child birth.  Because of lack of proper health care.  Edna Adan, owner of her own hospital in Somaliland, mentioned in the documentary that women who die in her hospital shouldn't because every one of their cases have preventable treatments.  Women in developed countries like the US don't have to be concerned about these issues the same ways that other women around the world have to worry.  We value women and children; therefore, as a community we do our best to make sure we get as much care as possible to women and children.

I should feel relieved and thankful.  I feel disappointed and sad.

The rest of the movie was also really good.  I think the actresses, America Ferrera & Olivia Wilde, were very genuine.  The idea of micro-financing is very similar to Heifer International.  The idea is not a "hand out" but a "hand up," providing ways for families (especially women) to support themselves independently.  I've chosen to support Heifer because I prefer the idea of providing education, animals, seeds & equipment versus handing someone money.  Even though organizations are setup to try to minimize those who would squander the money, I feel like it is much easier to follow through with a plan when you're already given the materials rather than having to go buy them yourself.  If you have might as well plant them, right?  And, rather than worry about paying back a loan, families who are donated to are only asked to pass on a gift in the form of an animal or equipment (like they received from Heifer) to another family in need - this doesn't take nearly the same financial toll as paying out cash.   

Alright, I'm going to try to either go back to sleep & if that doesn't work I might as well stay up and do some teacher prep.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Helping Out My Girl!

So there's this chick I know...and she's so totally awesome!  Heidi is this great friend that lives less than 15 minutes away and I rarely get to see because our schedules NEVER intertwine!  We met what seems like ages ago when we were planning our weddings and I have to say that I just feel so blessed to have such a positive, strong woman who has such good influence on my life. 

Despite the own craziness that is taking place in her and her husband's life right now, she is still finding time to do the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Charlotte, NC.  A 39.3 mile walk!  (And I thought a half marathon was a lot!!!)  I'm so inspired by her because this is the second time she's taking on this challenge and I can't imagine how she's finding time to train, fundraise, and still take care of everything else around her. 

If you can help her reach her goal of $1800 it would be greatly appreciated!  Any small amount is a BIG help:o)  Here is the link to her site:

Heidi & Tolis - we LOVE you both & are just so happy to call you friends!  We will do whatever we can to help support you guys in ALL your efforts <3 (And once Miss Maggie decides to arrive, I might be joining you for a few walks to get myself prepped for the next half marathon!!!)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

When Cows Fly!

I was so pleased today to receive an email that said my submitted story was being shared online.  Heifer International has a site, "When Cows Fly" where individuals can share their stories about how they're making a difference.  I submitted my story just the other day and was informed that they published it.

"Blogger Holding Fundraiser for Heifer International" reads the tab and then the link brings you directly to my story.  So awesome.  Hopefully this will help generate some funds for the project.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Patience....little vs. big things

Despite it being the Sunday School virtue of the month, PATIENCE seems to be the one thing I'm lacking lately.  I guess I need to join the kiddies for Sunday School and skip regular service, eh?  From my cell phone, to a 3 year old's ridiculous arguments/requests, to students, etc.  I have no patience.  Granted, being 34 weeks pregnant (AND learning to go w/o coffee) doesn't help AND that doesn't mean my irritation isn't justified, but regardless I've been having to ask for help with having patience.

All these little things add up and become irritable, but they remind me of a bigger thing, too.  They remind me of the type of person I am.  Instant gratification.  Wanting something done RIGHT NOW and having to wait for things to come to fruition.  And it's definitely something I've been working on and gotten much better at dealing with in larger circumstances.

I think I've mentioned before that I am the type of girl who puts a lot on her plate.  One of the most frustrating feelings in life is to know that you were meant for something MORE, but have no idea what that MORE you try to do as much as possible to feel accomplished in something.  Now, I have done a lot and I recognize where I've done some good.  I've worked in daycares/preschools, been a nanny to several wonderful children, worked in several classroom settings, done small scale projects to benefit others, etc.  And big or small, I know the differences I've made and those in themselves are blessings.  THIS is where I've learned patience.  Not necessarily with the crazy kids and the bad days and where just making it through an afternoon requires every thread of my being to hold onto my sanity....PATIENCE in having that one day or one student or one afternoon where I realized that I made a difference.  Realizing that maybe not everyday I am going to feel great, but waiting for that moment to arrive and letting it just happen.  Not forcing it, not trying to be the difference maker, just doing whatever it is that I do that might change an attitude or uplift a person or make someone laugh or smile.  Maybe it's that extra 5 minutes to color or paint with my kid.  Maybe it's sending an e-mail to a parent who needs to know they're kid had a good day and then WAITING for that awesome response. 

The other day I heard a radio discussion about how helping others actually benefits the person who does the helping MORE than the person they're helping.  It just makes you feel that awesome that you've helped in some way, that you emotionally feel uplifted and it benefits the rest of your life.  It's so true.

It doesn't bug me that not every person in the world reads my blog.  I feel awesome when I see that one person read it because it means that someone else might have the same attitude or being inspired to help someone in need.

It won't bug me if I don't reach my goal for $250 by Aug 19 because ONE donation practically made me leap for joy because someone else was inspired to help through me.

I once did a neighborhood food drive and could not believe the outpouring of community involvement and thought, "Wow, this is just cool." 

The things don't have to be big.  Nor do they have to be what the world deems "successful."  Success, in this one aspect of my life, is just that one other person somewhere in the world is inspired to help another human being.  And it's already happened.  And I truly believe it will continue to happen. 

Waiting for all these little blessings to take place is SO worth it and I have all the patience in the world to see what God has planned for me.  I know that I'm meant for more.  And if I have the chance to make more awesome things happen, then I will give it a try and have patience to see if it works out.  And if it doesn't, then I will try something else.  But I know I'll be doing awesome work.

So...if I have all the patience in the world to watch big ideas come to fruition....why is pajama time with a 3 year old so frustrating?!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Only $190 to go!

In other awesome news the R.I.C.H.'s Helpers Team received a $60 donation yesterday, so we're well on the way to $250 by August 19th.  YAY!

Receive Answers!

In an earlier blog post, "Ask Questions" I discussed how I was inquiring with Heifer International about local offices and why there had been, but not one currently in the Triangle area.  I e-mailed the woman in charge of the East Coast area, Patty Reed.  She responded in such a timely manner and answered just about every question!  She recently had been in NC and was sorry we hadn't gotten a chance to connect sooner, otherwise who knows what sort of blog posts I'd be writing today!  She explained that Heifer had to close some local offices in the past few years due to financial reasons, but was very open for me to contact her if I ever wanted to know more about the US Project - Seeds for Change or if I just had general inquiries.  She's also provided me with another contact person who is more local and who directs volunteer opportunities if I ever feel like I have more time to dedicate to the cause.  Very cool stuff!

But it gets better...

This evening I received an email from Linda Meyers.  She's a part of the Heifer organization and she had seen my blog post, "Ask Questions!"  She read it!  And she even tried to leave a comment!  (but she didn't have an appropriate account to respond, so instead she sent an e-mail)  After reading my post she went out of her way to contact the Senior Director of Branding & Communications to gets answers to all those questions I had asked and then made sure the message got passed along to me somehow.

This truly just tells you what an awesome organization they are - they take the time to read the blogs of those interested in supporting their cause and they go out of their way to find answers to their questions.  Linda could have read my post and just assumed that I would have to wait on a response from Ms. Reed.  Instead, she made sure I got those answers by contacting people on her own time and getting the message to me personally.  Below is the e-mail...just so that YOU can read first hand about what's going on with the nationwide effort of Heifer and maybe find a way that you can help.

We saw your blog post “Ask Questions!” and wanted to send you a response. I tried to post it on your blog as a comment, but couldn’t because we don’t have an appropriate user account to do so. So, here is the response from Joedy Isert, Senior Director of Branding & Communications.

Dear Nancy,
First, we at Heifer International want to thank you for all your support, in your blog and in your gifts, for our work. Nothing we do would be possible without help such as yours, and the fact that you take it and make it so personal through your blog is an even more special gift.
In answer to some of the questions you raised in your post, “Ask Questions!” Heifer International had regional offices in five areas in the United States, including the Chicago area, Southern California, Massachusetts and other regions. In 2009, responding to the economic downturn and decisions to commit additional resources to programs and reduce operational expenses, regional officers were closed. Heifer retained staff in many of the areas, working out of their homes or storefronts as Community Engagement Coordinators, but we stopped spending on brick and mortar offices.
And while Heifer has worked in the United States for most of our nearly 70-year existence, the work in the United States has been on a much smaller footprint than our work in Asia, Africa and elsewhere. We have worked with American Indian reservations in the Southwest, with high-poverty areas in the central Appalachians and in some hard-hit inner-city communities with urban gardening, but there has never been a true nationwide U.S.-based program.
Another challenge is the scope of need and our very limited resources. While we are very proud of the 94.5 million people we have been able to help since 1944, that pales compared to the fact that nearly 1 billion people are chronically hungry around the world. And while we are very generously supported, raising about $100 million annually, to tackle the problems here in the United States and around the world would cost tens of billions of dollars, according to the World Bank. We simply don’t have access to those resources, so we try to work in areas where we can leverage and best use the limited resources we have.
Thus the reason behind our work in the United States high poverty areas in Appalachian North Carolina and in the Arkansas Delta. These are areas with rich soil, but with little economic hope or opportunity. By working with small-landowner farmers and other agricultural interests in these areas, it is our goal to help them produce more and better crops to feed themselves and eventually, to connect to the value chain so they are selling their crops to help provide good, affordable food to hospitals, schools, distributors, groceries and others.
This will create jobs, help give people greater access to better foods, build community networks and as they become independent and successful, we can move to help in other areas such as Raleigh or the Mississippi Delta or the many other areas of high need in this country.
Our mission is to end hunger and poverty and protect the planet, and we wish we were in a position, as do many other similar organizations, to make that happen sooner rather than later. But we have to work to our resources and to our abilities. Every decision on where we work is difficult as we would love to be in every city, state and country where people need help feeding themselves or their families and where agriculture could continue to be a strong contributor to the community.
I hope we have been able to answer some of your questions, and we deeply appreciate your help and support. Thanks again and please keep asking the good questions.

Joedy Isert
Senior Director, Brand & Communications
Heifer International

          Linda Meyers
          Communications Temp

          1 World Avenue, Little Rock | AR 72202 | United States