About Paula Kiger

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Heifer’s “Cows to Classrooms” Program is Expanding!

This post is made possible by support from Heifer International. All opinions are my own (but I’m not sure what Joey from Friends thinks). 

It has been quite a few years since I had to open one of these:

School Milk….. but I’m pretty sure nothing has happened in the decades between elementary school and now to make it easier to get to that milk!

This guy has a similar problem:

The gentleman in the video above was hardly alone. Remember how Joey on Friends struggled with traditional milk cartons?

When The Problem Is Bigger than Difficulty Getting Into the Container

For children in Tanzania, having access to milk itself is the challenge, no matter what the container.

A Heifer International program in Tanzania  that began in 2008 helps dairy farmers increase milk production. They are now broadening that focus through the school milk feeding program, which has a goal of creating viable and diverse markets for the farmers. Government agencies and school districts are part of the initiative to encourage a generation of milk-drinkers and increase the well-being and nutrition of eager students.

(And good news – the milk comes in packets rather than those blasted cartons!).

School Milk

Photo Credit: Heifer International

More about the School Milk Feeding Program

The School Milk Feeding Program officially began in July 2017. Besides the fact that it gives children in Tanzania access to milk and the ability to learn better, I love the way the program integrates communities by bringing the “cow to the classroom.”

During my trips to Central America, and as a fan/supporter of Linda Freeman, who has worked with communities in Cambodia to develop goat banks, I have gained a deeper appreciation of the link between animals and community self-support. This chicken in Guatemala, for example, is a key element of the family’s survival strategy.

School Milk

Here’s more about the “cows to classrooms” concept, which brings Heifer’s community efforts full circle.

School Milk

Where the Milk Goes Now (and Where It Will Go in the Future)

The July launch of the program put 200 ml packets of milk, providing 25% of the daily share of calcium, in the hands of 1742 pupils in the Njombe region; they’ll keep getting milk Monday through Friday for the rest of the school year.

Heifer wants to expand the program so that 9,000 pupils ages 9 and under in the Njombe, Iringa, Mbeya, and Songwe regions get a packet of free fresh milk every day Monday – Friday during the school year.

Besides the obvious health/learning benefits for the children involved, the cow to classroom program also creates a reliable market for producers and increases the farmers’ incomes.

What Will The Expansion Take?

I am excited to partner with Heifer to let you know how we can help this project reach its goal of providing milk every school day to 9000 children in Tanzania!

Donations of any size are appreciated. Even $2.00 would cover a week! It would be the perfect way to observe World School Milk Day on September 27.

School Milk

Photo Credit: Heifer International

If you would like to donate, please click here.

If you can’t donate right now, please consider sharing this post; the more people who are aware, the better (just click here to send a tweet now!). Women Online will donate $1 for each Facebook share or Twitter Retweet (up to $2000 total) to Heifer’s School Milk Feeding Program!

To learn more and/or spread the word, here are links to Heifer International’s website and social media accounts: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

I promise giving (or sharing socially) will be easier than opening a #$#(!* elementary school milk carton!

School Milk

Photo Credit: Heifer International

 

Introducing the Start-Up Guide for Online Writers

*This post contains an affiliate link. The opinion is all my own!*

“I’ve always wanted to blog but am not sure how to get started.”

“I’m going to blog someday when I figure out where to start.”

“People always tell me I should be blogging about [insert incredibly riveting experience/expertise/fashion sense here]”

If the above statements sound like something you would say, I am happy to recommend a great resource!

Online Writing

Author Kate Motaung has put a lot of devotion, sweat (and maybe a few tears — doesn’t the process of birthing something incredible always come at a bit of a price?) into an e-course that compiles all of the resources she recommends to online writers in one comprehensive resource.

The course is, as Kate reminds us, not a “how to” but a “what-to-do.” The specific recommendations she makes help the reader walk away with an action plan and increased confidence in their ability to join the online writing community (if they haven’t done so already).

One strength of the course is its ability to inform beginners and advanced writers alike. Each section provides “action steps” that the reader can cater to their level.

Here are a few highlights from each section to give you an idea of what to expect:

Begin with the Basics

You have to start somewhere, right? The basics section lays the foundation for setting up a website, beginning to interact on social media, and filling your online writer’s toolbox with the right resources.

Takeaways I especially liked: This section encouraged me, as a veteran blogger (really, has it BEEN EIGHT YEARS?), to do some needed maintenance and clean-up on my website and to lay the groundwork for having an email newsletter (I’m still resisting that, frankly, but Kate makes a compelling case).

Find and Build Community Online

As you can imagine, this was a favorite section of mine (I’m a fan of building community online). This section covers how to build your online influence by finding and creating community online.

Takeaways I especially liked: The main thing this section reminded me of is the power of Facebook groups. Beyond the fact that they are powerful, I realized I have become a bit scattered — I belong to so many groups — I may be better off to pay closer attention to the ones that matter most and jettison some that no longer are a fit for me.

Grow Your Knowledge

This part of the course is brimming with resources that will help online writers improve their writing. Kate recommends listening to podcasts, taking courses, and — my favorite, reading — as ways to become more effective writers.

Takeaways I especially liked: I would love to take one of the online writing courses or join one of the groups Kate recommends. It has been a while since I have had gotten deep feedback on my writing (note: this does not apply to my freelance position summarizing news stories — I get fantastic feedback there frequently — but my entire writing life is broader than two-sentence summaries so I need to put myself (and my writing) under someone’s editorial microscope again).

Engage With Others

This section helps writers have a plan for becoming a more active part of the writing community. Suggestions include writing support groups and includes in its recommendations the Five Minute Friday group (which is how I met Kate).

Takeaways I especially liked: Kate encourages us to submit to that publication we really don’t believe would ever accept us or to invite that blogger we have on a pedestal to share a guest post. This is important to me as I make a plan to work toward getting more paid writing opportunities. You have to ask to get (duh!).

My Amazon review and the reviews of others are available here.

I would also note that the course has its roots as a resource for Christian writers, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to any writer; the only thing you’ll get pressured into with this course is believing in yourself a little bit (or a bunch!) more.

IF THE START-UP GUIDE FOR ONLINE WRITERS IS FOR YOU, HERE ARE THE DETAILS!

The course is available through Tuesday, September 19, for $19.99! (Click here to buy.) After Tuesday, the price will go up to $29.99.

Again, here’s the link!  I look forward to hearing reports of online writing successes!

Online Writing

 

Five Minute Friday: SUPPORT

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: SUPPORT.

 

Five Minute Friday

 

Support is sometimes (often) easier to give than it is to ask for (case in point: ME). I am reading the most interesting, compelling book right now – How to Get Run Over By A Truck.

The author describes laying there, in her hospital bed, with more broken bones and internal injuries than I can possibly describe …. when her friends are finally allowed to visit after she is moved from ICU. She says “I wanted to be the one supporting a patient, not the patient.” AMEN, sister, AMEN.

During one of my college jobs, I worked for someone I respected a great deal. I organized a retreat under her supervision, and things about the retreat didn’t go perfectly (it wasn’t all bad, but it wasn’t a home run). I remember telling her afterwards that I had felt abandoned.

AND …… why didn’t I speak up when the “abandoned” feeling started to creep in?

Some of those same types of issues have crept up lately as I have hesitated to ask “small” questions, the answers to which *may* prevent *big* issues.

I have gotten better at it, at asking the little questions, but the flip side of that is being perceived as “that person who isn’t confident in her own answers, in her ability to solve problems on her own.”

Hurricane Irma probably demonstrated why we sometimes just need to overcome our hesitance and ASK. I think it’s easier to ask when it is on behalf of someone else’s welfare than our own sometimes, but aren’t we worth answer, solutions, support ourselves?

Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.

Chromebook Giveaway!

With two children in college, a freelance work life that keeps me at the laptop for hours a day, and the general technological demands of life in 2017, I think about laptops often.

Wouldn’t it be great to add a brand new laptop to your inventory? I know I would love to do that!

Here’s an opportunity, through my the Chromebook giveaway I am participating in with other blogger friends.

Chromebook Giveaway

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

Prize: HP 14” Chromebook ($200 ARV)

Co-hosts: The Mommyhood Mentor® // Mama’s Mission // Surviving Mommy // Crayons & Cravings // Coupons and Freebies Mom // Jenns Blah Blah Blog // Capri’s Coupons // Lipgloss and Crayons // Mom and More // Improve Your Mental Health //  Peanut Butter and Whine // Sparkles and Shoes // Getting Fit Fab // Misadventures with Andi // Beautiful Touches // Java John Z’s // The Frugal Free Gal // SWEETHAUTE // Ottawa Mommy Club // babushka’s baile // Foxy’s Domestic Side // Burning Moon’s Inside Advice // Organized Island // I Choose My Best Life // Southern Mommas //  Deliciously Savvy // Living Simply // Oh, The Places We Travel! // MommaDJane // Pumps & Push-Ups // Now This Is 40 // Not a Trophy Wife // geniabeme // Show me Ashley // Made In A Pinch // Mahogany Closet // Heartbeats ~ Soul Stains // Kathryn Anywhere // Mommies with Cents

Giveaway organized by: Oh My Gosh Beck!

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter daily. Giveaway ends 10/10 and is open worldwide. Winner will be notified via email.

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog? Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Chromebook Giveaway

12 Things I Would Do If I Didn’t Have to Work

Imagine this! Your life fairy godmother just waved her wand and *poof!* you can do whatever the heck you want to do with your time.

What do you choose?

Mama Kat suggested we blog about “10 things you would do if you didn’t have to work.” Before sharing my list, I must add two caveats:

First: I love working. There have certainly been things throughout my career that I did not love and did not do to the fullest of my capabilities, but in general I value being part of a team, contributing to a goal, making a difference. If I won the lottery, I suspect I would keep working in some capacity, but I would take advantage of the windfall to fit in a heck of a lot more of the things I am about to list.

Second: Up until May 2014, when I left Healthy Kids, I had always worked full time (with tiny breaks when I moved back to Tallahassee from NYC and my two maternity leaves). The whole time, I thought “I don’t know how I’m fitting this all in” and almost always felt like I wasn’t giving anything 100% because I was split so many ways.

Having been out of the traditional work force for three years, I can attest that (at least for me) it is true that “people who have the most to do get the most done.” When your day is unstructured, it takes an iron will to whip it into some kind of order. If I did not actually have to work, I absolutely know I would need to have some type of structure (probably in the form of work!) to keep myself together and prevent inertia. (This is why taking on a structured part-time job in January 2017 that, although it is done from home, requires my full attention from 6:45 am to 12:30 pm every day was a game changer.)

Here is my list of 10 (plus two bonuses), in relatively random order (paging Fairy Godmother STAT!):

Travel to Valencia, Spain

I took a Spanish course in college that was far above my fluency level. Ironically, I learned so much from this class — from being forced to keep up with a group composed mostly of native speakers. I am not sure exactly what it was, but something about Valencia piqued my curiosity and ignited a desire that has been in my gut for decades.

Personal Life Goals

Picture me here! That’s what I’m doing. Credit: Flickr user Bruno.

A Spanish Immersion Program

Perhaps this should be in the number one slot (but I would be willing to muddle through a trip to Valencia with my less-than-advanced Spanish!). No matter how many courses I take and how much practice I get locally, nothing replaces having to live with a language for its usefulness to language learning.

More Yoga

Arguably, I could do more  yoga starting … NOW! The minute I finish this blog post. But my list for today (besides the fact that there may well be a Category 3 Hurricane here within 48 hours) is lengthy. I have been to yoga once in the past six months, and I have missed its benefits … for my body as well as my mind. I’d love to buy an “unlimited” yoga card and use it without my mind reeling from the 1,001 other things I should be doing.

Personal Life Goals

More Aggressively Pursue Options for My Tachycardia

If you have been a reader for a while, you may be aware that I have multifocal atrial tachycardia, mostly exercise-induced.

Victor Martinez of the Detroit Tigers apparently has a similar problem (he has atrial fibrillation, which is worse (relatively) than my MAT). He is scheduled to have an ablation, and I hope it works (I was not a candidate for an ablation after my electrophysiology study in April 2015). It’s important to keep in mind what Terry Francona, the Cleveland Indians manager, who also had an ablation, said: “You’re talking about life, not just baseball.”

What would I do differently about my medical situation if I didn’t have to work? (Caveat: I’m sort of assuming that along with her dispensation allowing me not work, the Fairy Godmother gives me a bit of a blank check!).

My tachycardia issue has gone far past interfering solely with my running at this point. I need to find a solution.

The nurse practitioner at my appointment yesterday scheduled me for another check in four months and said, “you know, another EP study wouldn’t be the end of the world; the circumstances that prevented an ablation before may have gone away by now.” She’s right, but I hesitate to take the time off from work (the gig economy doesn’t come with medical leave).

But there are some additional avenues I have hesitated to follow. A friend with extensive personal experience has urged me (strongly) to get a second opinion from the Cleveland Clinic. She is right (and to be fair, my electrophysiologist said he would help me pursue a second opinion if it was important to me), but I hesitate, wary of the long list of diagnostics I need to send them and the price tag. Ironically, I would (and have) advocate to any friend to be their own strongest advocate for their health.

The past year of not running has (in some very small ways) revealed some qualities about life I had been missing (hello, Saturday mornings!), but good golly I miss running. I miss exercise endorphins. I miss my running community.

Clean My House

Yes, I have written before (as recently as last week) that I know myself well enough to know I need help to overcome my housecleaning inadequacies. BUT with a little extra time, I think I could master the basics.

Help at a Public School

In my mind’s eye, this means reading with elementary school kids, but I imagine there are some middle schools and high schools that could also use a caring adult to pitch in. There’s so much work to do — teachers are stretched frightfully thin and I would love to help relieve some of the stress.

Be a Hospice and/or Alzheimer’s Association Volunteer

This one is inspired by our recent experience and the ways volunteers made the process of navigating terminal illness with a loved one more bearable. I know in our area, the outlying counties beyond Leon are more stretched for volunteers; I would be willing to drive quite a ways if it would help a family be a hair less stressed.

Go to New York City Much More Frequently

Best case scenario: I have a tiny, but safe, studio in New York that is available to me year-round and I use it. I could go with an annual two-week stay or briefer, quarterly stays. I need NYC far more often than I get it.

Take a Cruise

I’ve never been on a cruise and would love to check this off my list! I’m not too picky about which line (although Disney Cruise Lines would be extra-magical!) or where I go. I just want to be able to chime in to cruise conversations with some experiences of my own.

Spend Time at the Beach

When we went to Daytona Beach earlier this month to help Wayne Kevin with arrangements regarding school, we had dinner at the beach both nights we were there. I only got a quick glance at the sea, a few moments on the sand, but even that little bit of time was restorative.

Personal Life Goals

Write More Letters

It’s no secret that I love snail mail but I send out far fewer letters than I would like. I would especially love to send out “just because” notes.

Travel to Australia

I have relatives in Australia; visiting them (and the country) would be a dream! Not sure what I would do first, or what my priority would be, but three top contenders would be to see the Sydney Opera House, to visit New South Wales (I know this is a broad desire!), and to visit something well off the beaten tourist path (I have plenty of time to come up with a plan on that).

YOUR TURN

What would you do if you didn’t have to work?

Personal Life Goals

This post is a response to a Mama’s Losin’ It prompt: 10 things you would do if you didn’t have to work.

Five Minute Friday: WORK

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: WORK.

 

Five Minute Friday

Work. SO weird that it ended up being the word of the week since I brought up my new part-time gig in the lead-up Twitter party.

I love working (usually) AND I also believe work is something much more broad than what we do for which we are paid.

Work was the effort, love and energy I put into raising my family.

Work was the three years I spent being caregiver for my father-in-law.

I do struggle with one concept (among others). I have always embraced the book title, “Do what you love and the money will follow.” However, there’s a popular self-help author who argues that “passion” and working to “fulfill your passion” is crazy. No wonder I disagree with him on other things too.

I struggle (look for the word “struggle” more than once in this five minutes!) with my work life. I loved Healthy Kids (where I worked almost 20 years) but never quite found the sweet spot of my skills and the organization’s goals.

My point: sometimes it isn’t enough to love a place if you aren’t a good fit.

I can beat myself up with the best of them and demand perfection of myself, but it’s such a balancing act to figure out how to best funnel your skills (and the new things you make a point to learn along the way) into a work situation where they are needed (and where you can keep growing simultaneously).

I made an error today at Part Time Job #1 and didn’t realize I had made it until the final came out (I am one in a series of writers who touch the material). I can either beat myself up for it or remind myself that tomorrow is a new day.

Seems like work again tomorrow, and a new opportunity to pursue that fit.

Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.

Sustainable Clothing for Your Busy Days: #WhereDoYouprAna

I received two pieces of clothing from prAna for this review. All opinions are my own (although my cat pitched in her thoughts too!). 

Two months out from the end of our time being caregivers, and I am slowly remembering how to savor the sheer freedom to come and go as I please, and to do a few more things that matter to me.

I enjoyed wearing my two new pieces of prAna clothing recently as I went on a small adventure (and also when I checked out a new location for a favorite food cooperative here in town).

Rocking My Message

Recently, I went to see 9 to 5 the Musical at Theatre Tallahassee, after which I had a mission. I had a very special rock to hide! (If you’re unfamiliar with the rock hiding craze, here’s more info.) I needed something pretty enough to fit in at the theatre and comfy enough to stand up to my rock-hiding expedition.

Sustainable ClothingThis particular rock was in honor of the You Matter Marathon (read more about it here). As you can tell, I was holding it upside down in one of the pictures — but I kind of like the reminder that things sometimes just get turned around but the message is still a worthy one. And I doubt the ducks will find the rock BUT maybe they’ll bear witness to the recipient’s joy when they find it!

 

And About the Cat

Sustainable Clothing

New businesses are popping up all over Tallahassee, and I was excited to see that a fave food co-op, New Leaf Market, had opened a new location on our north side. After happy hour with my girlfriends recently, I popped in to check it out! Among all of their natural, organic options, I was impressed by their pet supplies. Bella would be too (she’s in charge, after all!). Don’t you agree I deserve to sit back with a bit of our local (also awesome!) Lucky Goat coffee after she gets into the catnip? This prAna top is perfect for exploring a food co-op then relaxing with some delicious coffee.

 

More about prAna

I have let my clothing game, which was pretty anemic anyway, slide over the past three years when I have been working from home and caregiving. I enjoyed these awesome pieces prAna sent me — they were a perfect blend of fashionable and functional.
prAna focuses on creating sustainable clothing, and says their goal is to create apparel that will get you through your whole day, no matter what that brings. The lavender piece I wore to the theatre and park is the Tilly Top, which is made from organic cotton and recycled polyester blend burnout lightweight jersey knit. I loved the lace insets.
The rose top I wore to New Leaf is the Penelope Pullover, which is made from organic cotton and a polyester blend lightweight jersey knit. I love the fact that it is Fair Trade Certified™, meaning that the factory where it was made meets criteria regarding safe working conditions, equal treatment for women, and more.
Learn more about prAna’s approach here:

 

A Special Discount For You

I am excited to share this discount code with you! Use it when you order something from prAna, and you’ll get 15% off your purchase (the code is good through October 3). Sustainable ClothingTo learn more about prAna, visit their website here. They’re also all over social, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

How about you?

What qualities do you look for in clothing to get you through a typical day, looking good and feeling comfortable? Are sustainability and fair trade practices factors in your choices? For me, prAna gets gold stars for all of that and I encourage you to check it out for yourself (and remember to use your special discount code MHMPK15 to save 15%!).
Sustainable Clothing

13 Life Questions to Ask Yourself

Many experts say your blog should be consistent in theme, and no one does that better than Bob Tiede, whose Leading with Questions blog does, in fact, focus on questions almost exclusively.

A recent guest post by Dr. Travis Bradberry detailing 13 Questions That Will Change Your Life especially captured my attention. After reading it, I thought, if I could truly focus on answering these 13 questions for myself, and take action on my candid answers, I could be in a better place emotionally and serve those around me more fully.

Writing about all that could lead to a novel rather than a blog, though, so I am giving myself 100 words per question. Let’s see how that turns out. Or, in the spirit of the “questions” blog, “How will that idea pan out?”

Question 1: How do people see me differently than I see myself? 

My Weaving Influence coworkers gave me a “virtual going away party” recently. When Becky asked me if I wanted to record it, I declined. No one participating in a video call (unless it’s with a client) really goes into it prepared to be recorded. I suppose the comments that meant the most were about my patience, my authenticity, and my ability to help visual learners understand concepts. The last is something I have been told periodically over the years, and it usually makes me wonder why I haven’t pursued some type of training responsibilities in my work life.

Self Examination

A quick shot I grabbed of my virtual going-away party.

Question 2: What/Whom did I make better today?

I suppose a flip of this question is to ask every morning, “what/whom can I make better today?” I’m at a pretty funky place about this question right now. Of course I have a commitment to trying to make things around me better, but we can make things worse when we think we are making them better. And my continuing fatigue two months after Dad passed away reminds me that recovery from a life-changing event isn’t immediate. At the risk of sounding selfish, I think I need to put my own oxygen mask on first right now.

Question 3: Am I being true to my values?

My biggest “aha” recently has been around family dinner time (great timing since we’re now an empty nest eh?). When Wayne Kevin’s girlfriend started eating dinner with us more often, we actually started moving the laptops away from the dining room table, he stopped taking his dinner to his room to consume while playing video games, and …. we talked! I may not be able to convince my husband to move his laptop during dinners, but I can do something about ME. I can pay attention to my food and the people at the table again. People matter most.

Question 4: If I achieved all of my goals, how would I feel? What can I do to feel that way as I work to achieve them?

In June, I wrote a post in which I recommitted to having written goals. This question’s reference to “all of my goals” is a pretty broad thing. But baby steps make a difference, and in June I told everyone that I would improve my Spanish, eat better, and move more. I committed to enroll in Berlitz’s online Spanish program, but allowed frugality to stop me. $99 may be a small leap but as of this writing, I am enrolled! ¡Bueno! I committed to eat better and move more. Time to whip up a salad and go for a walk.

Question 5: What haven’t I taken the time to learn about?

From a practical standpoint, it would be in my absolute best interest to learn more about WordPress, especially the back end and coding, so I could be less dependent on others. Next up, also a practical thing: learning to drive a standard transmission. It’s been on my list since we got my son’s car, which is manual. We have had it since November 2015; although he has moved away, the car was here in Tallahassee, the best car in the family, and I was relegated to my older car with the non-functioning air conditioning because I couldn’t drive his.

Question 6: In what areas of my life am I settling?

Life is a balancing act, and I would argue “settling” is sometimes a necessity and not that much of a sacrifice. I love well-tailored clothes and pricier pieces, but with two kids in college and some debt obligations I created for myself, forgoing some fashion fun is not the end of the world to me. I have, though, “settled” for staying put – I haven’t driven hard enough to do some of the overseas traveling I want to do, and that is a harder pill to swallow.

Question 7: What do I want my life to be like in five years?

I would like for my debt to be drastically reduced if not gone. For my daughter to have a career she loves and be personally happy. Ditto for my son. This may sound superficial, but I want my house to be cleaner and I’ve lived with myself long enough to know that means hiring someone to do it. I want less house and more travel. And to be connected with a cause (or causes), with the flexibility to give my time freely and travel to support those causes.

Question 8: What would I do if I wasn’t scared?

This one doesn’t take a hundred words: WRITE THE BOOK.

Question 9: Who has qualities that I aspire to develop?

I have a counterpoint question to this: Why is it so hard to balance the message “you are enough” and “there’s only one you” with the fact that other people’s qualities sometimes lead you to ask “why can’t I be more like [name of awesome person]?” But in the spirit of answering the question: the sales/business/promotion savvy of my former boss, Becky; the “I can move mountains and did” chutzpah of another former boss, Rose Naff. The writing chops of Jodi Picoult, Mark King and Ann Patchett (this list could go on and on…). The humanity of Malala.

Question 10: What problem are we solving?

Given my background in crisis counseling and mental health, I can count on the fingers of my two hands the times I have asked “closed-ended questions” when talking with someone about a problem over the past few decades. I’m also a big believer in finding root causes rather than being distracted by symptoms. In our current tension-fraught times, I would argue that there is a deeper challenge to be resolved than can be managed solely by taking down statues (without having a plan for dialogue and some way to document the context).

Question 11: What’s stopping me from doing the things that I should be doing?

Usually, when I feel “stuck” from making progress toward a goal, I determine to at least take a baby step. While “some progress” is usually a positive, I wonder if it has become a bit of a coping mechanism for me. I could argue that financial challenges are “stopping me” but I am also pretty creative about finding my way around those. I think I am failing to “ask for more” when I could probably get more. I love writing so much I do it for free, but why don’t I take the step of sending more queries for paid projects?

Question 12: Will you be my mentor?

Travis Bradberry says, “Everyone likes being looked up to, and it feels good to share our knowledge with others” in explaining why he recommends having a mentor and why people who are asked rarely turn down the request. This is one I’ll keep thinking about.

Question 13: What’s the most important lesson I’ve learned so far in life? Am I living that lesson?

Almost every day, I think about sitting in the car with Wayne, leaving our neighborhood, and him asking “did you call Ann (his sister)?” We were in the process of buying a townhouse from, her, we had gotten some painting done that was agreed to as part of the process, and he wanted me to let her know. I wasn’t in a hurry to make a phone call, so I put it off. She died in her sleep roughly nine hours later. It would have been a cut-and-dried conversation about a home repair detail, but I would have heard her voice. The lesson? Don’t assume you have the luxury of time.

What are YOUR hard questions?

Travis Bradberry closes by saying, “Asking the hard questions can be extremely uncomfortable. But we don’t learn and grow by sticking with what’s comfortable.”

He is right. Ask the questions. Give yourself grace to explore the “what if’s” while protecting your deepest “self” from the fact that other people may want you to adopt their hopes/opinions as your own.

Self Examination

Five Minute Friday: NEIGHBOR

Welcome to this week’s Five Minute Friday. Our instructions, via creator Kate Motaung: “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.” Today’s prompt: NEIGHBOR  .

Five Minute Friday

Mr. Rogers was onto something when he asked, “won’t you be my neighbor?”

When I learned the prompt for this week was “neighbor,” I was tempted to do what is a typical format for me: talk about my current experience of being a neighbor and having neighbors, and how I wish I could have done some things about that differently (in retrospect).

My mind, though, fell on a neighbor I had when I was in high school. Although we weren’t “technically” neighbors (we lived about a mile apart), it was a small enough town that everyone was sort of your neighbor.

I would drop in, unannounced, at her house, and she (busy working parent of three young boys) would always be gracious about it, always work my visit into whatever was going on anyway.

I remember one time when she was baking her son’s birthday cake.

I don’t really multi-task well like that (baking AND making conversation?!) but she did.

And she ended up being there for me during what was, to put it mildly, a “rough patch.”

I am grateful for her, and wonder what happened to neighbors whose doors are always open. I know myself well enough to know that, despite my childhood dreams of being “that house all the kids hang out at,” I am really an introvert with a pretty inflexible way of doing things and was never meant to be “that mom.”

BUT, hopefully I have been the neighbor that was needed (except for that “tall grass citation thing….).

And perhaps the cyber world gives me an opportunity to be neighborly in an equally important way.Five Minute Friday

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday linkup.

Why Does Local Theatre Matter?

Arts Advocacy

QUIZ: Whose motto is this?

Why Art Matters

Before we get to the answer, wouldn’t we all agree that “art works”? Not all art “works,” of course, and not all art works for every person every time, but the process of making and watching art works. In this East Bay Times article, Kay Kleinerman was quoted as saying, “Theater calls on us to engage with our brains, our bodies, our imaginations and our voices. From what could we learn more?”

Why Art Needs Us

As this United Arts Council statement notes, “Funding strategies are critical to local arts agencies, especially in the face of greatly changing private sector support.” This is why I was happy to do a very small part and write a letter of support for Theatre Tallahassee.

I wrote a letter of support because a) Executive Director Theresa Davis asked me to (and I was happy to comply!) and b) I believe there are many ways we can contribute meaningfully to places we love, such as through letters. I encourage you to do the same for an organization you care about.

My Letter

No actors makes it to the stage without intense effort on the parts of many who don’t get to share the limelight.

Similarly, we don’t always immediately see the benefits a long-term, quality arts program brings to a community.

Theatre Tallahassee delivers tangible and intangible assets to our region, by helping the economy while simultaneously engaging a diverse array of citizens through the joy of creating.

Numbers talk. Americans for the Arts found that local nonprofit arts attendees spend an average $17.42 per person (excluding admission costs) in ways that help the local economy (eating out, for example) while non-local attendees spend an average of $39.96 per person (adding other travel expenditures like hotels). Theatre Tallahassee helps our local economy grow.

Numbers talk but, equally important, art matters. Has every show Theatre Tallahassee (previously Tallahassee Little Theatre) produced since Boy Meets Girl in 1949 been a consensus success? Absolutely not. But I would argue that there has been a disproportionately loud amount of applause versus dissatisfaction. Also, the best art is sometimes judged by how you feel about it months later rather than your immediate reaction.

In an East Bay Times article, Kay Kleinerman was quoted as saying, “It’s not about how engaging in theater can boost test scores for students … It’s bigger and more important than that. Plainly and simply, theater is a lens through which to see and understand the world and understand ourselves in the world. It is a way of knowing, perhaps one of the most complete ways of knowing. Theater calls on us to engage with our brains, our bodies, our imaginations and our voices. From what could we learn more?”

Finally, transcending economic numbers and the value of art, Theatre Tallahassee’s power in my life has been personal. I saw my daughter thrive there as an actor. I have shared countless performances as an audience member, many of them with my blind mother-in-law, who held season tickets for years and appreciated the dynamic of live art even if she couldn’t physically see it. I have volunteered at will-call, worked the concession stand, helped at fund-raisers. Each of these things engaged me, in the fulfilling ways Kay Kleinerman summarized in the East Bay Times.

Theatre Tallahassee matters to our community economically and artistically, and to me in ways no other organization could.

I lend the organization my unqualified support.

Paula Kiger

And That Time I Was a Grailfinder

I have to admit one of my happiest moments at Theatre Tallahassee was when I was the “Grailfinder for the Night” during Spamalot!

Arts Advocacy

Who’s Motto is “Art Works” Anyway?

The organization that said, “In its comparatively short existence in the life of civilizations, the U.S. has produced an enduring legacy of cultural achievements, and leaders are fast recognizing the centrality of artistic expression and creativity to a health society, is the National Endowment for the Arts.

It’s one organization’s motto but applies universally.

Art works, and it deserves our support.