Saturday, April 30, 2011

40 days and 40 Ways ...(to help) #33 Who would I be?

I love California. It's beautiful and sunny all the time and the people are diverse and eclectic.....but it's just not the South.

The people here are different. They are good people, but more reserved. Strangers don't really talk to you like they do back home. Certainly, nobody calls you "Honey" or "Baby" unless they are your husband. No one says, "Ma'am" or "Sir" and they don't even dress up for Easter! It's nice that it's so laid back, but it's not home. It's not "Come on by" and "Lemme gitcha somethin' more to eat" or "Stay awhile".

And recently, it's got me thinking, who would I be if not for the South?

I've been thinking that since about Wednesday, since I heard about and saw videos of and got phone calls from friends and family telling me about the destruction and devastation in this place that I call home.

Who would I be if I didn't advocate for help?

The death toll is currently at 330. 248 of those are in Alabama. 79 are from the Chattanooga, TN area, where I considered "home" before I came here. There are so many terrible stories of finding bodies of neighbors, children and adults alike. Whole families killed in one night. As of Friday there were 95,000 homes in the Chattanooga area without power. Many won't get it back until Monday at the earliest. Many more across the state of Alabama. Whole towns were basically destroyed like Ringgold, GA, leaving people searching for family members and memorabilia from what they knew of their lives before Wednesday night. I praise God for the safety of my friends, former coworkers, and family, and pray for those who were less fortunate.

Although FEMA is making a (rather late) appearance, there is help. The night of the storms the Red Cross set up mass casualty units as well as trailers to give out supplies and food, and shelter locations for those with severe destruction or absolute loss of homes. I can't imagine how much it will take to restore these communities, but I have to ask myself:
Who would I be if I didn't help??

Here are some ways to help:
Call 205-248-5045, to volunteer with FEMA,
Or text "Give" to 80888 to make a $10 donation through the Salvation Army

Monday, April 25, 2011

40 days and 40 Ways ...(to help) #32 Locks of Love

I'm sure you've heard of this amazing organization. You probably know quite a few people who've contributed. is an organization that works to create hair pieces for disadvantaged children under the age of 21 that have lost their hair due to illnesses or treatments. Many times hairpieces are made of synthetic fibers that become frizzy with excessive styling, and it's difficult to find pieces to fit children and their cute little heads. Therefore, Locks of Love was created to help children to find hairpieces that make them feel more comfortable in a difficult time in their lives.

You can help by donating your hair to Locks of Love. They do have a few regulations, such as your hair must be 10 inches cut in a ponytail, not bleached, etc.

What a simple way to help someone. It's free. It's easy. And once again, you are making a change for the world :D

40 Days and 40 Ways ...(to help) #31 Teach!

I'm not just saying that you should teach because well, it is the greatest profession ever (minus the whole lack of respect from much of society and crappy pay bit), but I'm saying it because we all benefit from learning from each other.

I can't count how many things I've learned from my husband in the two years we've been married. I've learned to downhill ski, snowshoe, shovel snow, cross country ski, rock climb, play racquetball, surf, ride a bike (they say you never forget, but turns out I didn't know that much to begin with), make sushi, and truly, unselfishly love someone without condition.

That's a lot. And it doesn't even count the time he taught me to throw a football when I was 12!

I feel so blessed and that my life is so enriched by these experiences. By him teaching me. Imagine what you could do in someone's life if you took the time to teach them something that no one else had. Trust me, it is an AMAZING experience when you realize that someone can do something new because you taught them!

So try it! Teach your grandma to use email (or facebook!) Teach your little cousin how to knit or wear makeup. Teach your niece how to braid her hair or tie her shoes. Or go out and learn something! I have a date with my grandma this summer to learn how to can tomatoes :D

Some of the greatest skills are becoming lost arts. Teach them, learn them!

40 Days and 40 Ways ...(to help) #30 FAIL

Yup. Big, fat, FAIL. I'm not suggesting you do this, by any means, but I'm saying that I did. Blogfail/LentFail. Today is the day after Easter, and after the last day of Lent and I still have 10 more blogs to go. But I have learned a lesson from all this, and in turn, another new way to change the world!

Don't set yourself up for failure.

At the time in your life when you are married, working two jobs, starting a doctorate and finishing up a certification you should just relish in the fact that you are very busy trying to save the world in doing all these things. It's tempting to try to go a step further and to share with the rest of the world ways to help, but don't bite off more than you can chew. (like me ;D)

So, if you want to help others to not get in over their head, how about helping them to take a load off? I bet all of us know some mothers that could use even an hour or two of babysitting so they could recharge their batteries. Or perhaps you know someone that could really use a few already-cooked-meals while they are recuperating from surgery or the flu. Think of ways to help others that maybe have a liiiiiittle too much on their plates right now. They will appreciate it, for sure, but they may not be willing (or capable) of asking for help.

So my challenge for you this week is to think of one person and one way you could make their life easier. Do it! :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

40 Days and 40 Ways ...(to help) #29 Autism

Being a teacher I've dealt with many of these quirky cuties, but it wasn't until I began working as an ABA therapist this past January that I really saw what it was like for those kids and their families living with Autism.

I can't even describe how difficult it must be for the parents of these little guys. I mean that literally. That's why I'm posting this video to give you an idea:

As a general member of society there are only so many ways to help. One way would be to donate or sponsor someone participating in a fundraiser for Autism. There is no cure yet, but we can help supply the means for the research. This can be done at

We can advocate for them and educate ourselves. By being compassionate and non-judgemental we can help people with Autism as well as their family members to feel accepted. The last thing anyone needs is to feel more isolated. To do this you can check out this site which offers a 30-minute online course on Autism Spectrum Disorder.

If you do know of someone, or a family with a member with Autism, I found this great article on Huffington Post's Living website that gives suggestions of how to help:

Finally, as there is no real way to prevent Autism, you may take into consideration these things that have been linked to Autism in children:
Older age of parents
BP-A, the chemical found in all canned goods, plastics, ya know, just about everything. It's pretty terrible for us, and awful for fetuses. you can also listen to Diane Rehm's talk on it
TV before the age of 3: I know you've heard me harp on this before, but it really stresses me out to see children in front of a television. Here's a good article on why:

Monday, April 18, 2011

40 days and 40 Ways ...(to help) #28 Do your research

I heard someone say once that every time you go shopping, it's like you're voting. It's true, in a way. When you buy a product that company makes money. This creates a supply and demand. When you bought that product you were voting for that company over another. You are essentially wanting that company to succeed over the others. But would you vote without knowing what the candidate stood for? Would you cast an uneducated ballot? I certainly hope not. I hope that you'd research the candidates, their agendas, beliefs, viewpoints, etc. So why don't we do that as consumers?

Here's some information to help you make more "informed" decisions:

M&M's (Mars Candy): Evidence that they use child slave labor.
Verizon Cell Phones and Service: Have given $84 million to Washington Lobbyists; discriminated against pregnant employees.
Coca-Cola: On the Multinational Monitor's "Worst Corporation" list for 3 years; hinders clean water access abroad; is the target of major human rights boycotts.
Lubriderm: #17 in "Top 100 Corporate Criminals"; has the worst environmental record in the industry; continues unnecessary animal testing.


Tom's of Maine: (Toothpaste, soap, etc.): Powered by 100% renewable energy; gives 10% of profits to nonprofits; ranked #8 best company on the planet.
New Belgium (beer): 1st 100% wind-powered brewery; conserves 50% more water vs. average; employee-owned business; gives $1.6 million to local community.
Chipotle (fast food): Actively sources from family farms; supports humane treatment of animals; 30% of beans utilized are organic; 50-100% of meat utilized is natural-raised.

Seriously, who would you vote for?

I found this info in a book I recently purchased called "The Better World Shopping Guide" by Ellis Jones. I keep it in my purse now for when I go to the grocery. I have to admit it has been difficult giving up on some of these "trusted" brands that I've grown up with (I still SERIOUSLY struggle with Coca-Cola), but I think about how so many companies are trying to do what is right when it would be so easy to do the wrong things and make more money. I want to support what is right. I want to teach my kids to do what is right. How can I do that by supporting those that do wrong?

40 days and 40 Ways ...(to help) #27 Don't Do Anything

I realize that this sounds a bit counterproductive from all the advice I've been spewing this Lent season, but it actually makes sense. I read this blog that talks about how if we really want to save the world then we should just stop doing stuff.

Much like my favorite mantra: Live simply so that other's may simply live.

Stop wanting stuff. The more crap we buy, the more demand there is for it, so the more companies make of it. Just stop wanting it. You don't need it. It's just more junk that will end up in a landfill for our kids to deal with. Sounds easy enough, but any American will tell you, it's stinkin' hard!! Americans LUUUUUV stuff. I love stuff. But I challenge you, go a week without buying anything new (except food, but try to buy all unpackaged food). Then try to do it for a whole month. Imagine how much money you'd save. If you really really REALLY have to buy something, try to find it used first. There's no since creating more.

Stop going to do stuff. That's not really true, but try to do better stuff. Instead of wasting the gas driving to spend 933423483 dollars to see the newest movie, try doing something good for you. Go on a bike ride. Walk in the park with a friend. Unclutter your house. Don't spend money or resources and just see how much fun you have :)

Be mindful. I have a wonderful husband that helps me to be accountable. He helps me to be mindful of others and the environment (like when I want to go buy new stuff and he reminds me of my quest to save the world). But even with having my John here to help, I want to make a conscience effort to think of others (people, animals, environment, etc.) all the time. So I pray for mindfulness. I pray that God will help me to remember others and bring it to my mind when I'm doing something that isn't beneficial for myself, others, or the environment.
That's more than half the battle.

40 days and 40 Ways ...(to help) #26 Shoes again?!

Okay, what? I know this is my second blog in this series about shoes. I'm a girl; I LOVE shoes! More specifically right now I'm in love with TOMS shoes

I was eyeing these hippie-looking soles for a while before I heard the story of TOMS. I could tell it to you, but instead I chose to steal it from the source:

In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS customers.

So if you buy a pair of TOMS shoes (much like this adorable pair pictured, that I ordered this weekend) another pair will be given to a child in need.

Just another reason to go shoe shopping!! :D

40 days and 40 Ways ...(to help) #24 Easy as Pie

Here's a super easy one for ya! You can put this as your home page (or just go to the site) and click. The advertisers on the site send moolah per click to feed others! You can also click for breast cancer, rainforest, literacy, veterans, kiddos, etc!!

Told ya it was easy!

Friday, April 8, 2011

40 days and 40 Ways ...(to help) #24 Eva's HeroesI

I watched an interview yesterday with one of my new favorite celebrities, Eva Longoria. She is considered a new favorite because of the interview. I'll admit I was expecting the typical, "I'm a celebrity, I adopt children from other countries so you'll love me, but really I pay my nannies to take care of them while I steal other peoples' husbands." But I got something totally different. I think I've found a kindred spirit!!

Not only is Eva Longoria a super hot actor/model/producer/director, but she also is a student. Eva (I'm pretty sure she'd want us to be on a first name basis) is currently working on her Master's in History and Chicano studies. She is an advocate for not only equal rights and social justice of Latino's and migrant workers in America, but she has created a documentary to create awareness for the new slave class that we have created in this country. I'm speaking of the young American citizen children that are working in our fields today. They are victims of generational poverty, unable to escape due to their lack of education created by the demand for agricultural work. In the interview she says, "We won't by t-shirts from China because they were made from kids in sweatshops, but we have our own children, legal citizens, picking our fruits and vegetables!" I <3 her.

Although I haven't found the right way to get behind this fight she's fighting for our Hispanic children (maybe just getting the word out, starting petitions? ...Any ideas?), I have found the way to get behind another one of Eva's great projects. Eva's Heroes, Eva created this project in honor of her older sister, Lisa. Seeing how much independence has helped Lisa, Eva created Eva's Heroes to help other kids with disabilities, namely Down's syndrome, to live lively, active lives. Eva's Heroes is an after school and summer program for children 14-21 in the San Antonio area. Check it out, I think it will bless you!

Finally, an actor I can like!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

40 Days and 40 Ways ...(to help) #23 Mandala House: The search for strength

This morning on our way to church, John and I were having a conversation about the difference between being "tough" and being considered "strong." It takes an extremely tough person to survive a traumatic event, but it takes an even stronger person to survive the event and to find peace again. That rarely happens alone.

The people of Mandala House recognize this, and they are change agents for strength.

At they work with victims of gender-based violence such as rape, and/or sexual and physical abuse in Uganda, Sri Lanka, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Many of these women and children were abused in war-time situations, and/or held captive, displaced from their families, and often forced to become soldiers of the war. Mandala House works with mental health counselors and instructors to help these victims to trust others and their own emotions again through instruction in yoga, meditation, and non-violent communication techniques.

If you aren't into donations, then I would ask that we at least pray diligently for the women and children that are searching for strength. I can't imagine how someone could come back from that, but I do know that God can do anything. I pray that He supply these counselors and trainers with the skills to equip them for such a huge job. And if He has lain it on your heart to help such a worthy cause, you can do so here:

40 Days and 40 Ways ...(to help) #22 Share a Book

Let's just chit chat for a moment about one of my other passions - reading! I read (hehe) that 1/3 of high school graduates never read another book after they graduate!! (This was from a survey done by the Jenkins Group, an independent publishing services group) Is that nuts or what?! I don't know if it's just all the new technology or that these people just never found a book that moved them in some way. It was devastating to read this as a teacher, and a reader. Therefore, I began searching for ways to help :)

One great way to help would be to help out the library! You can donate your old books to your public library! I know that in this economy a lot of people are turning to the library for various reasons such as movie rentals, free internet access, entertainment for their kids, etc. What if your donated book caught their eye, they picked it up, checked it out and they loved it so much that they became a lifelong reader???

Okay, maybe not as probable as using this tactic: This website suggests that you print off their sticker, put your name on the sticker and put it in a book you have finished. You then register the book and then leave the book somewhere for someone else to find. Maybe a coffee shop, your hotel room, the park, just somewhere that someone will find it. Who knows, maybe that book will really touch their lives. Maybe they are struggling financially, trying to live in a big city and they run across your copy of A Moveable Feast and it inspires them to keep pursuing their passion rather than to give up. Perhaps some guy has been pining after the same girl for years, beginning to consider giving up on her when he finds your cast aside copy of Love in the Time of Cholera (or maybe he realizes it is time to give up if you pass along your Great Gatsby). You could be the reason someone finds their personal legend from reading The Alchemist.

Change the world. Encourage literacy.

Tell me you don't love this idea.

40 Days and 40 Ways ...(to help) #21 Save The Children

Save the Children.
This one is very dear to my heart, not just because this organization is working to exactly fulfill what I believe my purpose is- to save children, but also because of it's origin.
Save the Children was created 75 years ago in rural Appalachia, to help children during the depression. I became familiar with the organization while I was working for The Center for Educational Research in Appalachia in Richmond, KY during graduate school. Save the Children is still doing work in rural Appalachia to resolve the issues that children there face everyday, the issues of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, and disease. In their 75 years of existence they have expanded to more than 50 countries working to save children. You will see them providing aid after every major catastrophe, including with the recent tsunami victims in Japan.
If you are looking for one charity to give to annually, or on a monthly basis, to help children around the world, this is the one I recommend.

40 Days and 40 Ways ...(to help) #20 Airline Miles

My husband thinks that accruing airline miles is pointless (no pun intended). I am obsessed with them :) But there's always that time when you have like 5000 miles and nothing to do with them. It will take forever to accumulate enough points for another flight and for whatever reason, you've moved on to another airline. What do you do with the extra points?

Donate them!! There are so many great charities that can use your extra points! Check them out!!

The American Cancer Society


The Salvation Army

and many more!

40 Days and 40 Ways ...(to help) #19 Encouragement

I bet if you sat down and thought for a minute, you would come up with someone that you know who could use a little encouragement. I can think of plenty. The friends that just had a new baby, the girlfriend that is going through a terrible breakup, the one with the new job that is overwhelming them, etc., etc. I can always think of someone that could use a little cheering up. I challenge myself to be encouraging at least once a week. That sounds lame, I know, but honestly, it's difficult sometimes. It takes time to pull yourself away from your own life to have a 30 minute phone conversation, or write out a note, or send an encouraging email, or buy a little gift for someone. But it is so worth it. Once a week. Challenge yourself. Make a list of people, go buy a stack of encouraging cards, put post-it reminders on your computer, or just check out these sites:

40 Days and 40 Ways ...(to help) #18 Blood

On the Red Cross website it states that only 3 out of every 100 Americans donates blood. That's a sad number when you think about how essential blood is for life!

In short, have a bleeding heart! ;) Click here to find ways to give (blood drives, donation centers etc.)

It just costs a little time to help save lives. get a cookie and juice!! :D