I saw lots of stock photos in my four years of doing freelance social media work, writing, and editing. If I used a search term like “leader,” I could predict the types of images I’ would find. The one above is an example.
But I could also predict the types of images I would not be likely to detect:
Leading in the Mountains
I have been involved for years in Unbound, a non-profit program that works to help people in poverty. When I participated in a blogger trip in 2014 and had an opportunity to meet participants in El Salvador up close, one of the most memorable activities was a meeting with a mothers’ group high in the mountains.
The organization’s philosophy revolves around the concept that people benefit more from learning to help themselves (with support, as needed) than from handouts.
That’s where the mothers come in. As the organization found in a 2017 report, “mother and guardian empowerment” in topics such as decision-making, community involvement, and employment leads to “increased choices in life, positive change and greater personal control.”
The rural areas of El Salvador are far removed physically from typical corporate board rooms, but the qualities I saw among these moms paralleled what I would see in a C-Suite officer trying to make sense of corporate finance numbers for the upcoming fiscal year.
When a mother’s group meets in El Salvador, the roll is taken scrupulously. A participant who does not show up and sign in is not eligible to participate in decisions or have a hand in how funding is allocated.
Doesn’t it work the same way in mainstream corporate America? Despite the fact that, as a Harvard Business Review article notes, “one out of every two managers is terrible at accountability,” the expectation is that accountability helps organizations maintain integrity and therefore increase their chances of being profitable.
Being Scrupulous about Setting a Good Example
The mother’s group was populated by moms of varying ages, some still bearing and raising families, others further along in life. These women were conscious of setting an example for one another (and for their children, some of whom were present at the meeting). The tone I got from them was, “as we go, so goes our community.” They meant business, and they loved their community.
Here in the US, employees also look up to leaders to set a good example. “[G]iving people a reason to believe and to follow,” is how the American Management Association puts it, and I agree.
Helping Each Other’s Children
These women didn’t watch for their own children solely – every child was every mother’s responsibility, to an extent. It may be a slight over-generalization, but it is what I have observed consistently in Central America: the presence of a commodity (food, a job opportunity, other resources) is treated as a welcome benefit to all, not to just one.
I wish I could say this is true or something I have read or seen in the US, but we all too easily devolve into a me-first culture. In The Collateral Damage of Selfish Leadership, Dan Pontefract wrote, “But it’s the selfish leader [emphasis his] – those choosing to lead with a perilous fixation on power, pay and/or profit – that might be causing much of the disengagement and dissatisfaction in today’s organization.”
Honoring the Culture
Our visit was a “special occasion” (that was humbling), so there was a gracious reception for us with local foods, fresh flowers, and unique decorations. The group didn’t try to adjust for what they thought we wanted; they brought out the best in their cultural expression.
This is a time of many mergers in the global economy. Merging two organizations can’t be easy; it occurs to me these newly joined organizations could take a page from the mothers of El Salvador and figure out what each partner’s roots are before digging everything up and trying to graft two companies together.
True leadership doesn’t require a fancy briefcase, a bespoke business suit, or an advanced degree from an Ivy League institution. Sometimes it shows up most when a Salvadoran mom takes the lead.
Sometimes, we have an overwhelming desire to be somewhere else or our life circumstances make it impossible to stay where we are. This week, three organizations/people addressed that need in ways that deserved more than a quick social media share. Therefore, I have chosen to highlight them today.
A Randy Pausch Quote
Every issue of SmartBrief ends with a quote. The featured quote in many of the January 19 issues came from Randy Pausch.
What this quote has to do with “being elsewhere”:
The first time my husband heard “The Last Lecture,” he said “you’ve got to listen to this.” That was a good call. I wouldn’t go on to decide to leave the job I had held for well over a decade for seven more years, but Randy Pausch planted the seed. I listened to the lecture online, bought DVDs of it to share with friends, purchased the book.
As a person who has hesitated far too often to ask “why?” “how?” and “why not?” for fear of being told “no,” “that’s stupid,” or “who exactly do you think you are?,” Randy Pausch’s lecture reminded me that being reluctant to ask the hard and adventurous questions only hurts me and leads to someone else getting to go on the thrilling adventure.
“Princess Pigtails (PP)” was three when placed into Shannon’s care as a foster child, and almost four when she was placed back with her biological grandmother. Because I have been so absent from working out at the fitness student Shannon owns, I never met PP, but I felt like I knew her through the stories Shannon shared on social media (many of which comprise the Tampa Bay piece).
For her own protection, PP needed to “be elsewhere,” at least temporarily. As you’ll see from the story, our state’s laws, system and philosophy about what is best for foster children are imperfect at best. The placement may have been temporary, but PP made a permanent difference on many hearts (and I believe the experience may lead to positive changes for other children in foster care). Thank you, Shannon, for taking the risk to love this child even though it split your heart open when she moved on, and thank you PP for being a gift to so many of us.
Editor’s Note: Click here for a Tallahassee Democrat account of Shannon’s time with Princess Pigtails and foster care in general.
The people who are “elsewhere” (elsewhere from the United States, or from elsewhere and living in the United States but on the verge of being forcibly returned to “elsewhere”) often deal with the life inequities that come with what Steve (and many others) refer to as “the birth draw.”
I am so grateful to have spent time in Guatemala and El Salvador (that’s Guatemala City in the image I shared). It wasn’t long enough (two weeks in total) and it didn’t go deep enough (although I am grateful to have gone, for sure!). Both times, because I was traveling with Unbound, we were treated as royalty (literally …… flower-petal paths, extravagant (for the area) meals, and deference). They were beautiful, educational trips, but we didn’t deserve the deference — if anyone did, it was the people who work so hard to support their families in the face of indescribable difficulties, violence and educational deficits.
What can you do this week to find your own “elsewhere” (if that’s what you need) or to help another person whose “elsewhere” has become untenable?
It is time to say goodbye to Silvia, the first person our family sponsored through Unbound. Although I knew her time in the program would end, it was still a sobering moment when I received the notification, even though her departure is due to her success.
The Farewell Notification
Unbound sent us a letter notifying us that Silvia had graduated, along with a farewell letter written by Silvia’s cousin (and translated by Unbound), explaining Silvia was unable to write due to her job. Here’s an excerpt:
…Silvia is in good health thanks to God along with her family. We thank you for the support you have given her since it has benefited her with healthcare, education, food supplies, shoes, clothing and much more.
She has gotten other significant benefits such as cinder block, sheets of tin, cookware, bed and others which got better her home. I also tell you that Silvia leaves Unbound program since she graduated from high school and she got the art and sciences diploma, she has gotten a job actually and she works selling clothing, now she is able to support her family.
Our History With Silvia and Her Family
I don’t recall the precise date Silvia became a part of our family when my in-laws chose to sponsor her through Unbound (I think it was around 2002); they picked her partially because she was close in age to Tenley and my nieces, thinking shared gender and age would help the connection feel more “real.”
Over the years, I felt increasingly led to meet Silvia in person. Pictures and letters can only convey so much. I wrote about the goal here and here.
In 2011, th goal became reality! Tenley and I traveled to Guatemala as part of an Unbound Mission Awareness Trip and met Silvia and her mom (also named Silvia). I shared our experiences here and here.
What I Have Learned
Documenting what we have learned over the time we have sponsored Silvia, especially through the trip to meet her in 2011, is a challenging task which largely defies words. A few observations, though.
Sponsorship is not a one-way street. Yes, our monthly contributions provided her and her family with support they would not otherwise have had and enabled her to get an education (not something to be underestimated in Central America) and her family to have better housing. Hopefully the letters and packages (back when we were allowed to send packages) sent by my in-laws and us (technically my in-laws were Silvia’s sponsors) inspired, amused, and affirmed her and her family. But as cliche’ as I know it sounds, we got as much or more out of the experience than they did.
This experience pointed up our sheer humanity and imperfection, which is why God’s grace is so central to our lives. My fellow parishioners at Holy Comforter made a beautiful quilt for Silvia. Each parishioner crocheted or knitted a square, then they were sewn together and blessed at church before being taken to Silvia. It was truly a lovely gift. I have to say, though, in retrospect, Guatemala is a very hot place. I am sure Silvia and her family treasure the gift but as practical gifts go, I could possibly have made a more useful choice! I also underestimated the fact that she was (at the time of our visit) a typical teenage girl. After meeting her and seeing her sense of style, I thought of other things we could have given her that may have been a bit more to her liking!
Spending time in a developing country is far superior to reading about a developing country. I know we can’t all go to countries about which we are curious due to financial, time, or health constraints, but do it if you can. I will never, ever, ever forget visiting one family’s humble home with a homemade welcome sign on the door. The home was so primitive, and the owner apologized for the home’s small size as I entered. But the sentiment on the door and the genuine love shown by the people we visited trumped every standard-of-living consideration. That said, we have it so good here, y’all (speaking to my friends in the US, Canada, and other countries where we have everything we need even if sometimes we perceive we don’t have what we want). We need to let that ease of living fuel our generosity to help others who aren’t so fortunate have the tools they need to support themselves.
Having to wait things out is a blessing.Our first 24-48 hours in Guatemala did not go smoothly. It was an adjustment to remember to throw the toilet paper away rather than flush it, to take the Pepto Bismol every four hours to fend off gastrointestinal distress, to remember not to drink the water. I am not exaggerating one bit to say Tenley was miserable and I am pretty sure I recall her emailing her dad (when we had a moment of internet connectivity at Unbound’s center) to tell him she wanted to go home NOW. Thank goodness that wasn’t a possibility, because she had done an emotional 360 by the end of the week. We have all gotten used to instantaneous everything, including rapidly ditching situations that no longer please us. I am so grateful that wasn’t an option for us.
What We Hope For Silvia
One of the biggest challenges of the end of an Unbound sponsorship is the fact that it truly is a final “goodbye.” For a variety of reasons that make perfect sense from a practical and security standpoint, we are not allowed to share addresses or attempt to continue contact.
Tenley said to simply “tell her we love her and to never lose faith in Christ.”
Maybe it’s as basic as that. We want her to always know how loved she was (and is) and to keep up her faith. I would add, though, that as a female in her early 20s in a country like Guatemala, I pray that she use the education she received to control the reins of her life, that she is immune from being controlled by a man who does not want the best for her, from being restricted by a government that does not value her equally with males, that she is as free as possible from self-doubt.
How to Help Other “Silvias”
Unbound gave us the option to roll my father-in-law’s monthly contribution to another sponsored individual, but due to his terminal illness, we declined. (Our family still sponsors Estela in Guatemala and Stanley in El Salvador.)
If you are seeking a way to make a difference for a child, individual with special needs, or aging person, I strongly encourage you to consider sponsoring through Unbound via a $36 per month contribution.
Because it is more difficult for adults to find sponsors, I have chosen to feature Leonel Oscar:
According to Leonel Oscar’s profile on the Unbound website, he Leonel likes praying for the people in his community, so they can live with a better quality of life. He has a mental disability which makes it difficult for him to pronounce some words. Speech therapy would help him improve his ability to communicate with others. Leonel lives with his sister in a concrete-block dwelling. It’s far from the urban area, so they go by bus to the market. Leonel and his sister grow watercress and herbs to sell there.
Unbound’s site shares information about everyone needing sponsors on their site; you can sort by birthday, first name (I had hoped to find another “Silvia” to share with you!), and other criteria. Click here to start your sponsorship journey. (If you have an interest in Leonel Oscar specifically and can’t find him, I will be happy to try to help you.)
It’s no secret at all that my candidate did not win the US Presidency. The election of Donald Trump to the US Presidency makes me sad, angry, and terrified for the impact his policy choices will have on my fellow Americans, on me, and on the world at large.
But he did win, he is being inaugurated on January 20, and I have a choice to make regarding how I respond.
Although One20 is focusing on January 20 to begin with, I anticipate that start will create ripple effects long into the future. One20 has inspired the structure of this post: 20 things I, as ONE single person, can do and say in response to the establishment of the Trump Administration.
1. I am not using the #NotMyPresident hashtag.
The day after the election, my daughter and I were discussing the election’s outcome and the reactions of people around us. “Is it that bad?” was her question. While I do believe it is, indeed, that bad, I am choosing not to use the #NotMyPresident hashtag.
I am choosing not to use the #NotMyPresident hashtag because, like it or not, he is what I am getting. However, in the same way that I went to the Grads Made Good breakfast at Florida State year after year and refused to clap for Dr. Stephen Winters (RIP) who groped me in Dodd Hall when I was a freshman, the professor a higher-up administrator basically looked the other way about when I shared the information, I will not be applauding our new President.
2. An Addition to My White House Selfies
Every time I go to DC, I take the obligatory “here I am in front of the White House picture,” like this one from last September.
When I go to the Shot at Life Champions Summit next month, though, the picture may still have a green pen in it (I mean, that’s the norm now, right?) BUT I will also feature a safety pin prominently in the picture. I have seen so many individuals and groups deeply hurt by the reinvigorated spirit of hatred and divisiveness in our country, it is imperative to me that people know I, like @IBexWeBex, am a safe place.
3. I will participate in the Tallahassee Women’s March on January 21.
Organized by the Florida Planned Parenthood Alliance, the event is “a 100% inclusive event and all genders, races, ages, religions, sexual orientations – everyone! – is invited to participate.”
4. Involvement in local, state, and federal politics.
I will redouble my efforts to be personally familiar with the choices my local, state, and federal leaders are making, and to make my positions clear with them.
5. My Profile Picture on January 20
I am not changing my profile picture to one of President Obama on January 20, as many people I know are planning. This relates to the fact that I am not using the #notmypresident hashtag. I am beyond grateful to President Obama and his family. He has been a singularly outstanding President, and I am so excited about how he can apply his intellect and passions once he no longer has the constraints of the Presidency.
6. Helping Homeless Women With Personal Hygiene Needs
In keeping with the idea that we can collectively make big impacts when many people do small things, I am adding feminine products to the non perishables I purchase for local food drives. For more on this topic, visit Bustle.
7. Making an Impact in Person, not just Online
I read a great post on Facebook about how we should attend to seeing how we can positively impact the people within five feet of us. I can’t find the initial post, but the concept is true. It is so easy to get wrapped up in our virtual communities that we forget what we can do for the people right next to us. Let’s do it.
9. I am refusing to stay silent in the face of racist, anti-semitic, or other hate jokes.
When a national rental car company picked me up to take me to pick up a car right after the election, the driver, commenting on how safe my neighborhood appeared, went on to remark, “be glad you’re not in California where those Muslims are lying down in the streets.” When I responded that they had something to say, he went on to explain how we can never get along with “them,” and how I would “figure that out someday.”
I doubt my attempt to defend Muslims registered with him AT ALL, but maybe, just maybe, he will think in the future before spouting his hatred. It mattered to try.
10. I am not moving to Costa Rica, Canada, or anywhere off of US soil.*
I am not going to let this President and his administration run me off. I love my country, think it is great already, and plan to stay put.
11. Voting Matters Now More Than Ever*
I will support efforts to get out the vote, to encourage people to register to vote, and to make it easy for my fellow citizens to vote.
12. Supporting Equity and Safety for Black Students
I am grateful to have met Kelly Wickham-Hurst, creator of Being Black at School. I have made a donation and will continue to support her work advocating for equity and safety for Black students.*
13. Kindness > Sarcasm
Inspired by Caitie Whelan’s Lightning Notes about The Kindness Impulse, I will strengthen my kindness impulse so it is stronger than my sarcasm impulse. For the record, it would probably be easier to move to Canada!
14. You’re Never Too Young to Learn to Make a Difference
I will believe in the capacity of the youngest among us to embrace diversity, to make a difference, and to positively influence their peers. A great place to start is by sharing one of the books featured in this #MomsReading blog from Moms Rising.
15. None of Us Can Afford to Be Single Issue Voters
I will continue to educate myself about issues that affect my fellow women and Americans, even if they don’t directly affect me. It started with We Won’t Wait 2016 and will only grow in the face of closed-mindedness and hatred from our newly elected leaders.
16. I will support the LGBTQIA+ Community
I joined Equality Florida in order to stay informed about issues important to Florida’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community (as well as Floridians at large) including Discrimination, Adoption, Family Recognition, Safe and Healthy Schools, Hate Crimes, Voter Mobilization, Marriage, Transaction, and Gun Violence Prevention.
17. I Will Advocate Tirelessly for Banned Books
I will continue to advocate passionately against censorship and other types of limitations to the freedom to read. Learn more about Banned Books Week.
18. Climate Change Is Bigger To Me Now
Although it has not been one of my “top” issues, I will redouble my efforts to track climate change issues and make a personal impact (ten good ideas in this article).
19. The World Beyond Our National Borders Deserves My Support
I will continue to be involved in international issues and in the lives of individuals in other countries for whom my access to freedom, resources, and security can be a help, such as the three children we sponsor in Guatemala and El Salvador through Unbound.
20. I Will Respect The Lessons of History
At the wise recommendation of Steve Schale, I read Rep. John Lewis’s letter of forgiveness to Governor George Wallace today. In one passage, he said, “Much of the bloodshed in Alabama occurred on Governor Wallace’s watch. Although he never pulled a trigger or threw a bomb, he created the climate of fear and intimidation in which those acts were deemed acceptable.” In the letter, Rep. Lewis forgave Governor Wallace, who in his view “grew to see that we as human beings are joined by a common bond.”
President Elect Trump will probably never pull a trigger or throw a bomb himself, but until he is proven otherwise, I stand ready to be one of the many Americans doing my part to mitigate the climate of fear and intimidation I see infiltrating the 2017 version of America which should know so much better by now.
We tell people who we are with every breath we breathe. (Source Unknown)
Mary’s unknown source is so right.
I can’t change who is going to be sworn in on January 20, but I can be a part of keeping America great …. for all Americans … until I run out of breath.
*Items with asterisks were inspired by “my commitments to protecting our democracy,” a reflection on President Obama’s farewell address by Leah Jones. Thank you, Leah, for helping me fill out my list of 20 actions/observations in such a substantive way.
More Ideas For How To Continue Advocacy Beyond 1/20/17
As I write this, we have had power back on for almost 8 hours. Yes, we did do a happy dance of celebration at 3 am when the whole house lit up after a hurricane-induced outage of more than 48 hours.
Our outage was a “hardship.” Our home was really hot; we had to cook our eggs in a cast iron pot on the grill before they spoiled. My son mastered backgammon by flashlight. I was the first to volunteer for ANY outing that would take me out of the house and into blessed air conditioning. It was sad and frustrating to deal with my father-in-law’s constant requests for TV (he has short term memory issues).
In the scheme of things, however, we had it good. Our home is solid. Legions of utility personnel flowed into town and worked day and night to get us back up and running.
For families served by Unbound in Guatemala, the set of challenges is different. Because homes are often constructed of less-than-solid materials and methods. Because families rely upon day-to-day agricultural or other “get it as you can” work, a natural disaster poses daunting problems.
As this 2010 blog documenting the Unbound response to natural disasters in Guatemala documents, issues can include perilous roads, mudslides, volcanoes, and theft of personal property because homes are not secured.
For children like Jose, sponsorship can make a difference through providing food, health care, education, and support of his family’s efforts to make a living for themselves (via owning animals like chickens that produce eggs or by instructing a mom in a skill like sewing). In addition, Unbound holds two quetzales per child specifically to be able to respond immediately in case of disaster.
A home we visited in Guatemala — it always humbled me that the family put so much work into creating the welcome sign and the dad said “I am sorry my home is so small.” It was very large in hospitality.
Unbound does an incredible job of balancing its imperative to help families learn how to help themselves, with providing support at times when survival is at stake. That’s one of the many reasons we love Unbound and sponsor three children (a young adult woman in Guatemala, a young girl in Guatemala, and a little boy in El Salvador).
Meet Jose, age 7, from Guatemala, who is seeking sponsorship now:
Unbound shares the following about Jose:
Jose has fun singing and playing with toy cars, alongside his two brothers. He’s diligent in his studies and loves physical education.
At home, Jose helps his grandmother feed the pigs and he helps make the beds.
He and his family have lived with his grandparents for some time now. Their block home has a sheet metal roof and cement floor. His mother tends to the household chores.
Jose’s father is a mason’s assistant, but the work is unsteady. To augment his income, he also has a part-time job at a local store.
To help Jose:
If you are interested in sponsoring Jose, please outreach (at) unbound.org or call Clair, the Outreach Coordinator, at 800.875.6564 ext. 7309. I would also be happy to facilitate putting you in touch with Unbound.
Sponsorship is $36 a month. In the scheme of things, it’s a small investment which yields enormous results both for Jose and his family, for the good of humankind in general, and in the relationship you’ll develop with Jose and his family via letters (and, when fate really smiles upon you, VISITS).
I am part of an Unbound effort to help secure sponsors for 100 children by Christmas. Since Jose turns 8 on December 10, I’m shooting for about 15 days earlier than that for him to hear those happy words “you have a new friend.”
A neighborhood we visited in Guatemala. The families are VERY grateful to the sponsors and humbled us with such a grand welcome.
As I compose this post, I am 26 tweets away from my 100,000th tweet.
Although Twitter says I have had an account since September 2008, apparently I didn’t tweet until April 2009. And boy howdy was it a profound one. The program “First Tweet” says my first tweet was this:
In the six years and eight months since April 2009, I have amassed almost 100,000 more tweets. Hopefully, on balance, some of them were more profound than “going to bed!” (although I am a BIG FAN of sleep, don’t get me wrong).
To do some rough math …
If each of 100,000 tweets were a full 140 characters, that would be 14 MILLION characters (if my words averaged six characters each that would be 2,333,333 words!).
I just timed myself composing a tweet, and it took 27 seconds. For ease of math, let’s say each one takes 25 seconds, that’s 694 HOURS (an average month has 730 hours).
All those characters and seconds add up!
In preparation for hitting 100,000, I am trying to manipulate things so that I can have control over that 100,000th tweet. It isn’t as easy as it sounds! I’ve stopped sharing from Triberr for a few days. I have deactivated my Revive Old Posts plugin. I’ve realized that tweeting has become a reflex for me and for the first time in years have found myself thinking, “do you really want to spend a tweet on that?” (perhaps it is not a bad thing to think before tweeting, honestly……). Keeping this post family friendly, I’ll just say it feels a little bit like foreplay, because I am having a lot of fun but want the big moment to be really special.
Ten Thoughts As the Big Tweet Approaches
Ultimately, Twitter is just another way to write. Hence, as a lover of writing, I love Twitter.
I have connected with incredible people on Twitter who I would not have met otherwise. They have entertained me, consoled me, informed me, inspired me. They (especially the running community) have shared my passions and given me a sense of community.
Fortunately, this is a much shorter list than the “Great People” list but there are some bad actors on Twitter. YUCK. Specifically, the guy whose bio says he is in the top 2000 of Twitter accounts. The guy who told me to “EFF OFF YOU C*NT” (this is a sanitized paraphrase). Yes, I do find it humorous, profane guy, that you blocked my main account but haven’t figured out I have a second Twitter account that you have not blocked. All I can say is meanspiritedness is never ever ever in style.
There’s no place like Twitter for safely getting something off of your chest. When I say that, I mean things like “holy cow this traffic stinks.” I don’t mean being obnoxious to a business without giving them time to rectify the issue. After all, I wrote this and need to practice what I preach.
When you’re a frequent tweeter, you never know what goodies are going to show up on your doorstep. I think my favorite was the fact that I ended up in the Pretzel of the Month club for a year. All of a sudden, a huge variety box of pretzels showed up on my doorstep one day. The same thing happened the next month. And monthly for the following 10 months! Thanks, Snyders!
As a faceblind individual, every in person interaction carries with it the likelihood that I will fail to recognize someone I should recognize or, if I take the risk of using the name I think is correct, of making a social gaffe. Thanks, Twitter, for telling me exactly who I am dealing with and eliminating that whole social awkwardness potential!
TWITTER BRINGS OUT MY EXTROVERT
My extrovert/introvert tendencies are pretty much 50/50 but I know in my heart of hearts I am an introvert. Not on Twitter, though! I love connecting on Twitter. Maybe because I can disengage at any time and go recharge.
TWITTER IS NOT THE BEST FOR FAMILY RELATIONS
I’ve come a long way since social media was younger. Of course my children were younger when I first got involved with social media. Five years ago, I was hurt and floored when my daughter unfriended me on Facebook. Now I am glad we are Facebook friends but that connection doesn’t carry the same emotional weight for me. I sure as heck don’t follow her on Twitter anymore after the one tweet I saw where she was venting about my crappy parenting. (Guess that “it’s good to vent on Twitter” thing goes two ways, no?)
THE BIG GREEN PEN GETS AROUND
Nothing makes me happier than meeting a twitter acquaintance in real life for the first time and having them say, “oh YOU’RE the big green pen!” A handle that was born of my intense and meticulous editing has ended up allowing me to compose some fun life adventures, 140 characters at a time.
Those ten things in mind, I do know that Twitter is just one piece of the human relationship puzzle. Nothing replaces looking someone in the eye, and I do regret time I have lost interacting with my family because I was fixated on a screen, as well as the role my intrigue with social media had in the degree to which I lost interest in my previous job and failed to do the quality work I owed my employer.
In addition, all that tweeting undoubtedly led to the fact that I now get to tweet for a living as part of my responsibilities with Weaving Influence and Lead Change. I still love to tweet, and it is icing on the cake to get compensated for it.
I do have a specific tweet planned for number 100,000, if all my machinations to make it happen work. I will post it here after it tweets!
UPDATE: I hit the big 100K mark just after midnight on Christmas Day 2015! With heartfelt gratitude to Lou Kellenberger for permission to use his image, here’s the tweet!
If you have read my blog for a while, you may know that my involvement with Unbound originated with my in-laws. More than a decade ago, they decided to sponsor Silvia, a young girl in Guatemala. They chose Silvia because she was around the same age as my daughter, Tenley, my niece, Elizabeth, and several other of their grandchildren. My mother-in-law, Barb, and I held many conversations over the years about Silvia, putting together birthday and Christmas packages, reading her letters, and preparing letters back to her. One of the high points of our sponsorship journey was Tenley’s and my meeting Silvia and her mother in 2011!
When Unbound asked me to share the story of a child on my blog as part of an effort to find him a sponsor, I felt like Barb, who passed away in 2013, was looking over my shoulder as I read this line about Josue’s father: “There’s a software JAWS (Job Access With Speech) that tells you what’s on the screen.” Jose, the father, who is blind, works in local radio for a small town. The software and access to a computer is essential for him to try to make a living for himself, Josue’s mother Daysi, Josue, and his two other children.
I’ve shared profiles of other children hoping for Unbound sponsorship before. Because I am intrigued with the “currently” prompt which I saw on Simply Elle, I’m going to try to blend a little creative writing with a LOT of factual data to share a profile of Josue’s family with you!
CURRENTLY: Jose and His Familia
From Josue (he prefers to be called Toñito): I am 5 years old, so I am not reading yet. I like to draw and I like coloring books. My parents pray that I will get an education so that I can read and have more potential for work as I grow up.
From Daysi (Josue’s mom): Jose gives me four dollars a day to get food for the five people in our family. Because he is blind and his job options are limited, the income from his radio announcing in this small town is not consistent. Even four dollars a day is often difficult to come up with.
From Jose: I am thinking about my dreams for Toñito and my other children. I dream for them to be good people, but the situation here in El Salvador is difficult. As a parent, I do my best to educate them to be good people who will grow up to make good decisions. I would like for my children to get an education and go to college.
LOOKING FORWARD TO
From Jose: I am looking forward to my children growing up and having more options than I have. When Toñito was born, Daysi was only 27 weeks pregnant. He stayed in the hospital for three months as the doctors worked on his heart problem and repaired a hernia. Now that such a difficult start is behind him, I am looking forward to a healthy future.
From Jose: The more I can learn about computers, the better. Before I had access to a computer, I had to work under the hot sun, selling items in the market. I have also worked as a shoe maker, sold newspapers, made crafts for sale, and made furniture. I did anything I could to try to move forward.
From Jose: My family. The joy I feel inside my heart. Trying to motivate others! My wife Daysi’s humility and fighting spirit.
From Jose: I continue to learn all I can about computers, because that helps me have other wage-earning possibilities. JAWS (the software) tells you what is on the screen, but I only have a PC and keyboard, so that limits how much JAWS can help me.
From Jose and Daysi: In a household with three kids, there’s always noise! I hear the sounds of our town’s animals, and love it when the local musicians are playing.
From the whole family: The local street dogs do funny antics!
From Jose: As a parent, I feel like I am a drowning man anxiously holding an arm out of the water for someone to throw me a rope! This request for sponsorship is not for me: it is for my child. All three of my kids are growing up and they need to be prepared for a world threatened by climate change yet enhanced by advanced technology. Where we live, there are no job opportunities; if you don’t have an education it is almost impossible, and I am very worried for them.
If someone decides to sponsor my son, to say “Here I am, I’m next to you,” I will be endlessly grateful. I would send so many blessings to that person because, honestly, I would not have words to express how I would feel.
Notes from Paula
I hope this “currently” exercise gave you a glimpse into the life of Toñito and his family, and the reasons why sponsorship can make such a huge difference!
A little more about the family’s living situation: They live in a humble adobe home. Jose says, “I know there are many repairs that need to be made in my house, but my biggest concern is having money to buy food for my wife and children.” They do not have running water; they have a community well. They do have electricity, but it was very hard to obtain.
Although four of Jose’s clients pay monthly, most of them are seasonal, which leads to variability in income. He also teaches Braille four days a month to supplement the family income. The family net income is around $100 a month (remember they spend about $4 a day to eat, and last time I checked $100 minus $120 did not lead to a positive balance).
A contribution of $36 per month can help Toñito have his basic needs met so that he can grow, get an education, and thrive.
Again, to sponsor Toñito, click here. If you are not in a position to sponsor now, please consider sharing this with someone who may be. Prayers are ALWAYS accepted and appreciated!
UPDATE: Josue has been sponsored! What a blessing! I am so grateful to my friend who decided to sponsor him!!! There are many more children, youth, and aging awaiting sponsorship in 22 countries around the world! For more information, please click here.
As far back as I can remember, my daughter Tenley has loved shoes. She had a little pair of patent red shoes when she was a baby which were THE BOMB shoe-wise. As she grew and was able to choose her own shoes, it became clear that she was a shoe-lover. We jokingly called her Baby Imelda.
Tenley is almost out of her teen years, but I still have a distinct memory of those adorable red shoes. Thinking of them brings back happy memories of her babyhood.
I, on the other hand, can take or leave shoes (although I do appreciate a cool pair of shoes like these on MiamiStyleMom!). In response to Mama Kat’s “list eight things you are thankful for” prompt, I decided to see what I could do in relation to shoes:
(1) My Running Shoes
My love for my running shoes knows no bounds. Everyone who knows me knows I would rather arrive at a business trip having forgotten my “work” shoes than my running shoes! I am thankful for the miles of therapy they take me on.
(2) My Indoor Cycling Sandals
Although I haven’t had the opportunity to wear them too many times, these indoor cycling sandals by Nashbar with clips are so great! A) no socks needed B) every time I wear them I think about the first time I ever clipped in to anything: at SoulCycle in NYC and C) I am thankful that they make the experience of indoor cycling so much more efficient!
(3) The Tennis Shoes I Wore in El Salvador
They’re just Payless tennis shoes, and the laces were so incredibly long that people were always commenting, “do you realize your shoes are untied?” BUT they are the shoes I bought to wear when I went to El Salvador as part of the first Unbound Blogging Trip, so they bring back great memories. I am thankful that I walked the ground of El Salvador in these shoes.
(4) My Favorite Black Shiny/Matte Shoes
This is my most current pair of black dress shoes. I don’t recall exactly when I bought them, but it was either for an important meeting or a film school project. I love the matte/shiny effect. They’re close to being way too worn now but I am thankful that I have enjoyed them so much.
(5) My Brown Boots
I bought these shoes last year when I was going to be having a high school reunion on a farm. Although I was going to be wearing jeans, I wanted something a little dressier than tennis shoes. These filled the bill, and I am thankful that they give me another option when I need to be a little bit more dressed “up” than “down.”
(6) My Blue Dress Shoes
I *love* these shoes. I bought them for my friend Mary Jane’s wedding, which was in the spring of 1999. It was down to two pairs of shoes, and these cost a lot (for me), but they have been SO WORTH IT. I almost ruined them this past spring when I went to visit Senator Bill Nelson’s office here in Tallahassee and dealt with a deluge of rain as I was leaving. They *might* have survived. I am thankful that I treated myself to a pair of shoes that I have enjoyed for 16 years.
(7) My Utilitarian Black Boots
When I went to the Shot at Life summit in DC in March of this year, the weather was horrible. Snow, ice, you name it. My DC friend Christina told me to get boots. I scurried over to Kohl’s and picked these up. They may not make a huge style statement but they probably literally saved me from twisting an ankle or something on sidewalks which were literally sheets of ice. I am thankful for friends who tell it like it is.
(8) The Shoes I Will Never See or Wear
This pair of shoes is not on me (my feet aren’t that dainty!). I do not own them. I am never going own them. BUT my friend Linda has a goal of putting these shoes on the feet of 600 children in the Kratie province of Cambodia when she goes there on a mission trip next year. Lacking shoes, these children get ill from infections contracted by walking barefoot and they suffer injuries.
I have submitted a #mygivingstory which, if it wins, would result in Linda and her team getting $5,000 toward their goal of putting shoes on these 600 children (the total cost is $9,000). Read more about The Shoe that Grows here, more about Linda and the children here, and most importantly, please go to this link and simply click like. (The semifinalists will be chosen strictly on the basis of the number of likes.) I am thankful for all likes on this #mygivingstory!
Why do I feel the way I do about these children and these shoes? I have never been able to get the picture out of my mind of a women who met with Tenley’s and my group when we went to Guatemala in 2011. Representing her village among the Unbound visitors was a bit of a privilege for her, and she arrived barefooted. I am sure she didn’t have shoes of her own. She carried herself with such dignity. I am sure she saw this meeting with us as a way to do something that would ultimately help her children.
These shoes for the children in Cambodia are designed to last five years and/or through five sizes. Through her previous work, Linda has already opened a school, provided medical care, and provided hundreds of children with the opportunity to lead much healthier lives.
With a simple click of a like button, we can be a part of the Light of Future too!
Children Linda has served in Cambodia.
NOTE: If you would like to simply make a donation, click here.
I attended mass at Good Shepherd this morning with my good friend, Jacqui, who is visiting from New Hampshire.
When Jacqui returned from receiving Communion, she asked why I had not gone up for a blessing (I am not Catholic).
In the space of a few seconds, I tried to explain how that really wasn’t so much of a “thing” at Blessed Sacrament, where I have attended numerous times over a span of years due to my in-laws being extremely active members of the parish, how I really do love getting a blessing, but that I was never exactly sure how much that was a custom at Good Shepherd. Eventually, I said “what do I have to lose?” and got in line for a blessing.
You know what?
THE SKY DID NOT FALL!
I received a lovely blessing from Father Foley, a priest I respect very much and who was integral in helping me find a sponsor for Carla back when I took on the responsibility of finding her a sponsor through Unbound.
There’s something else worth getting out of your seat for!
Tequila and Tapas for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)
Note: Tequila Servings at the Tapas and Tequila Social will be slightly smaller than this!
If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you might recall that a Tequila Social was the main fundraiser for my campaign to raise $2,500 for LLS so that I could participate in the New York City Half Marathon in March 2015. The event was so much fun (photo evidence here)! Madison Social was the perfect partner. However, I did not manage to sell the number of seats I committed to (or hoped for at least!), despite an effort to get the word out through multiple channels.
It occurs to me that some people out there who actually like tequila and tapas may be “staying in their seats” simply because no one has asked.
Therefore, just like my friend prompted me this morning, here I am asking you, “are you going to go?”
Here are the details!
What: Tapas and Tequila!
Where Madison Social (705 S. Woodward, Tallahassee)
When Thursday, 10/29/15, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Why To Benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Cost $29 per ticket (a generous portion benefits LLS!)
This is going to be a Spanish style social gathering, which includes a sampling of different varieties of tequila and a table of tapas! There will be a table of smoky red pepper hummus (and if you haven’t had MadSo’s hummus, you don’t know what you’re missing!), short rib tacos, shrimp lettuce wraps and mussels. The tequila flight includes El Jimador Reposado, Avion Silver and Herradura Anejo.
Tickets are limited, so visit this link to get yours now!
My decision to get up out of my seat this morning resulted in a blessing; your choice to participate in Tapas and Tequila night will be a blessing to your taste buds, your social life, and the cause of LLS.
If you can’t join us at the Tapas and Tequila Social, we would love for you to join us at Light the Night! It will be on Thursday, November 19, at FSU’s Langford Green. More info available via this link. If you would like to donate, my page is here. I am walking in honor of my awesome friend Mary Jane, a Multiple Myeloma survivor!