Coming Clean

I was intrigued to do another “quotes” post when I read the Blogging Quote Challenge from Cresting The Hill (I did a “quotes” post in July of last year).

This busy September, when I have taken on additional responsibilities at work, will be traveling eight of the 17 days that are left, is perhaps the wrong time to confront this life issue, but I am so tired of excuses and disarray.

Therefore my three quotes are dedicated to the CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) of my home.

Quote Number One (Source: Flylady)

Your attitude has to change from “Why do I have to do this!” to “This is my home and I deserve to have a wonderful place to live, this blesses my home, and my family and most of all me!” Fly Lady Logo

My attitude about housecleaning caroms all over the place, from resentment that I have to do it, to frustration that I am so incompetent at it, to amazement at my inability to delegate, even when our home health people are being paid to help, to guilt that I have raised my
children in a place where you always get your laundry out of the pile on the love seat and unexpected guests throw life into a panicked scramble.

Quote Number Two (Source: Six Word Memoirist enginethatcould)

Guilt trip tickets are always non-refundable.

The place that should be my haven and a safe source of comfort (which is different than being an interior decorating showplace: I just mean a reasonably clean and orderly refuge from the rough edges of the world) factors into the weight of guilt I carry around, almost constantly. Guilt at having fun writing a blog post, running, or doing volunteer work when I could be scrubbing baseboards, scrubbing the accumulation of years of neglect off of our bathroom tile, or folding laundry.

In addition to the house, there’s something else I would like to whisk away: guilt.

Quote Number Three (Source: Philadelphia (writer: Ron Nyswaner))

Every problem has a solution.

This one won’t surprise readers familiar with my blog, especially since I featured this quote during Blogust.

It’s time for me to prove to myself what I believe to be true in espousing “every problem has a solution” as one of my favorite quotes.

What has worked for you to overcome tasks which you have avoided (for decades!)?

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

When Problems Seem Insurmountable: #Blogust 2015

I am not sure exactly why my husband and I ended up at the movie Philadelphia in early 1994. As a couple, we have not historically been big on going to movies together. I think it was a night out with a group of friends. Wayne loves Bruce Springsteen (who sang the movie’s theme song) too so maybe that nudged us there.

It was a raw time in our lives, a hauntingly raw time. Wayne’s sister had just died in her sleep at the age of 30, weeks before. I remember sitting by him in the theater wondering what kind of grief reaction the movie’s topic would induce.

Andrew Beckett, the character played by Tom Hanks, was a rising star in a high-profile law firm. As his AIDS diagnosis came to light (as well as his sexual preference), he was released from the firm.

Andrew hired one of the only attorneys who would take his case: Joe Miller, played by Denzel Washington. Joe Miller took on a problem he had no business taking on (from the outer world’s perspective), that of representing Andrew. He didn’t practice the right kind of law. He didn’t drive the right kind of car, live in the right kind of house, or have a diploma from the right kind of school hanging on his wall.

Although I was still in mourning for Wayne’s sister myself, the stronger pull of the film for me was the way it brought back to life all of the conversations I had as a counselor on the Florida AIDS Hotline when it first began (around 1987). Andrew’s struggle to navigate family and society dynamics unearthed the emotions I had felt when someone I loved told me he was gay.

Andrew’s mantra, through all of the doubt pervading his world, was:

EVERY PROBLEM HAS A SOLUTION

Although I have many favorite quotes (some of them listed here), and I love a well turned, elegant phrase, the truth and simplicity of this quote never fails to inspire me to keep trying, to entertain novel solutions to deeply entrenched problems, and to hope for a bright outcome even in times of darkness.

That is how I feel about being a part of Shot at Life. It would be easy to become overwhelmed by the magnitude of the issues facing children around the world who are dying from vaccine-preventable diseases. It is hard to figure out how to get a vaccine to a child in some remote part of the world – how to physically get the vaccine to that child, how to get his or her mother to trust that the vaccine is something that will benefit their child, how to coordinate multiple moving parts to create a curative whole which will help as many children as possible make it to their fifth birthdays.

But I do believe “every problem has a solution.” I don’t always know what that solution is or how I personally can apply it, but I do know turning my back on this problem is not a solution. That is why I meet with my legislators and their staffs to encourage United States support of global immunization issues; it is why I learn as much as I can, from people who think differently and more creatively than me. It is why I cling tightly to the idea that one person, one idea, one conversation can make a difference.

Won’t you join me in making a difference today?

When Problems Seem Insurmountable: #Blogust 2015

During Shot@Life’s Blogust 2015—a month-long blog relay—some of North America’s most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share inspirational quotes for their children. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or take action using the social media on this website, Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, one vaccine will be donated to a child around the world (up to 50,000).

When Problems Seem Insurmountable: #Blogust 2015

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

Catching a Wave (A #Blogust Post)

 

Molly says Hi

It was a rushed moment during a tiring evening. My mother in law and I had spent an intense hour and a half at Verizon navigating the purchase of an iPhone for her. We dropped by Publix for some prescriptions she needed. I asked to stop right before entering the store to return a call to my husband. Our little party was standing there, her holding my elbow (she was blind and that is how I assisted with her mobility), clutching her new iPhone so it wouldn’t get stolen, me on my iPhone trying to explain to my husband that we were not at all done with our errands yet (he wanted food…..).

At some point a mom and her two kids walked by. One child was walking; the other was maybe 8 or 9 months old (?), sitting in a stroller. I smiled at both kids and their mom, and the baby waved at me. The mom was surprised and said to her infant, “it’s your first wave!!” She and I shared a quick silent “oh my gosh” moment — I couldn’t get off the phone and she had to concentrate on foot traffic but two moms were happy in that instant …. which all passed unceremoniously in a matter of seconds in front of Publix.

Even though I was a stranger to that child, I was still elated to witness some else’s child’s milestone and his mother’s happiness.

I am just as elated to know that children around the world can have the opportunity to hit their own milestones because of receiving access to immunizations. Although one child currently dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could be prevented from with a vaccine, Shot at Life can change that by helping children get vaccines to survive…and thrive.

Just by commenting on or sharing this post, you can help! It’s as easy as a wave …

Shot@Life-Logo_tagline lockup_vertical

During Shot@Life’s Blogust 2014—a month-long blog relay—some of North America’s most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share stories about Happy and Healthy Firsts. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or share them via social media on this website, Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, Walgreens will donate one vaccine (up to 60,000). Blogust is one part an overall commitment of Walgreens donating up to $1 million through its “Get a Shot. Give a Shot ®” campaign. The campaign will help provide millions of vaccines for children in need around the world.

Sign up here for a daily email so you can quickly and easily comment and share every day during Blogust! For more information, visit shotatlife.org or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

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

Happy 1st Birthday, Shot@Life!

In my Wordless Wednesday post yesterday, I asked who this woman is:

Polly_Headshot_1

and I promised “the icing on the cake” today of revealing her identity as well as the 1st birthday that is being celebrated.

This woman is Polly Palumbo. I am excited to have had an opportunity to learn about her past year as a Champion for Shot@Life, a United Nations Foundation movement to protect children worldwide by providing life-saving vaccines where they are most needed. Shot@Life is celebrating its first birthday this week, along with World Immunization Week.

Here’s our conversation:

PK: There are so many different campaigns about causes that help children. What was it about Shot@Life that captured your attention?

PP: As a mom it’s hard to learn kids are still dying from illnesses we can largely prevent. I also know parenting is challenging. Every day there are decisions, choices to make from the simple to difficult. Although the latest study or expert might claim to know what’s best for your child, it’s not always clear. Sometimes there are no clear answers.  As a former researcher and psychologist who now writes about parenting and children’s health I often hear people say there’s nothing we know for sure about kids or they don’t know who or what to believe. I get it. One expert says make sure your kid drinks 3 glasses of a milk a day, the other one says kids drink too much milk. It’s true we hear more advice than ever, more conflicting advice than ever and I agree, it can be confusing. It’s easy to believe the experts don’t know anything.

But there’s one thing we know for sure – giving children in the developing world access to vaccines is the best way, in fact the most cost-effective way to ensure their future health. Plain and simple. Children are still dying from vaccine-preventable diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea and more parents should hear this. Most of us here in the United States have the luxury of not having to worry about our kids dying from measles or pneumonia but that is not the case in some parts of the world. Yes parenting is a challenge anywhere but there are risks and then there are risks. It’s easy to lose perspective. It’s easy to forget that we do know how to prevent disease and literally save a child’s life. I find that refreshing both as a mother sometimes worrying about things I needn’t worry about and as a professional debunking research and telling parents what we don’t know for sure or what they can ignore.

PK: One thing I have always struggled with as a parent is how to help my children understand that issues in places that are far away affect children who are the same age and gender as they are – that these kids aren’t just a picture in a magazine or an abstract problem (sort of the “eat your dinner, kids in China are starving thing). What is a way that I as a parent can help my children (13 and 16) have a basic understanding of the issues Shot@Life addresses?

PP: Kids get Shot@Life and want to help. I don’t think it’s hard for them to understand, even young children. After I spent a couple days at the Shot@Life Summit in D.C. last year I came home and told my children about it and explained what was so important to take me away from them.  They had a lot of questions. Kids want to know, they want to put it all into context. We talked about how kids were still dying from diseases we could prevent, ones we could prevent for very little money. My kindergartener at the time looked up and asked “how much money?”  When I said a few dollars he asked why if he had that much money in his piggy bank, the kids were still dying. He just couldn’t understand why the grown ups were not saving more kids. I told him I didn’t understand. That’s when I knew I would do more to help. It’s my kids, really, they make me want to help and they were eager to get involved.

Older children obviously have different questions and concerns. My oldest, a sixth-grader, had questions about the diseases themselves. She wanted to know about measles and polio in particular, where people were still contracting these diseases and also the history of these diseases here in the United States. We looked at several sites online together.

PK: Once my kids understand these issues, how can they get involved?

PP: My kids threw a simple fundraiser at their school (where they have a dress code). They sponsored a dress-down day where kids donate a dollar. They gave a brief presentation about Shot@Life. My daughters had fun making Shot@Life bracelets and cupcakes. We’re planning on making some t-shirts too. My oldest and I do Charity Miles for Shot@Life.

Kids can also write letters to their Senators and members of Congress on behalf of Shot@Life. An advocate in California, Tracy Clark, her teenaged daughter basically got her involved through Model UN at school. Other kids have participated in Valentine-making parties, birthday parties, free-throw fundraisers, walkathons, and helping out at booths at street fairs. The events have been so creative. My kids are already planning lemonade stands for the summer. They’ll help me throw some parties and a tag sale.

PK: How do you keep Shot@Life “front and center” among the various causes you espouse?

PP: Good question. We all have so many opportunities to help so I find it helpful to be clear why I advocate. There are causes or organizations that help a lot of people but in a small way. Then there are causes that can significantly improve the lives of a smaller group of children, maybe even kids who live around the corner. Then there’s Shot@Life that significantly changes, even saves the lives of a lot of children. So it gets my attention over and over! From writing about it on my blog, participating in Twitter parties, speaking about the cause at others organizations, making green friendship bracelets with my kid to finding myself in the same room (a large one!) at a “high-level” polio summit with world leaders at the United Nations, Shot@Life provides plenty of opportunities to get involved.

How do I keep it front and center? It’s not difficult with the momentum surrounding Shot@Life. From Blogust, the Champion Summit and the Global Mom Relay to this Birthday Bash, there’s always something brewing at Shot@Life. As one of the first advocates I now mentor other champions of the campaign. I find these women and men volunteering their time, efforts and dedication to helping kids so inspiring. It’s a pleasure to get to meet with people from other organizations and speak about Shot@Life.  Each time I go out on behalf of Shot@Life I am reminded each time that people identify with the cause, with the need to improve the health of children everywhere, be it in their families, neighbors or across the world. People want to help, they understand the pain of having a sick child. Their kids have had pneumonia or diarrhea. They didn’t have to worry if their children would survive these illnesses. Some remember measles and polio first-hand. And it’s easy to get involved. Sign up for emails, follow Shot@Life on Twitter, fill out an advocacy card, write a Senator, like us on Facebook, buy a t-shirt, go to a fundraiser, become a champion. Or download Charity Miles, a great way to get involved on a regular basis. I’ve enjoyed watching how Shot@Life figures into other advocates’ lives from photographers championing through their artwork, writers in their articles, health professionals in their offices or practices and teachers in their classrooms. We lend our unique gifts and insights to helping kids.

PK: As a Champion, what has been a highlight of the past year in terms of making a difference through Shot@Life?

PP: One of my most memorable experiences and probably most rewarding came in a room of women mostly in their seventies and eighties. I’d been invited to speak but after a few minutes of technical difficulties I couldn’t show a slideshow so decided to ask about their experiences with polio and other illnesses. I asked if anyone in the room or a close family member had had polio. Some hands went up. Then I asked if they’d had friends with polio.  More hands. Then I asked about measles, pneumonia and you can guess that most hands were in the air. They remembered these diseases all too well. They were eager to tell their stories. Also they just wanted to say thank you to me even though I’d basically just showed up, talked some then listened. They wanted to help too. So although I haven’t traveled to Nigeria or India on behalf of Shot@Life or met any families directly helped by the campaign, I think these women reminded me how terribly devastating these illnesses can be and not just for the victim but their family and friends even decades, a near lifetime later. They still remembered the pain.

lit one candle

Don’t you agree this interview is the “icing on the cake” that I promised last night?

 Thank you, Polly!

Shot@Life-Logo_tagline lockup_vertical

(I am linking this post up to Mama Kat. One of the prompts this week was “describe a time when you wish you had spoken up.” I think issues like immunization beg for us to speak up, and I thank Polly for helping me broaden the ways in which I can do so as well as my children.)

Mama’s Losin’ It

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