Posted by: mesabimisadventures | May 27, 2013

Saying Goodbye, Going Away

I was that kid.  You know the one, the kid whose parents were divorced (whisper whisper) and who had to live with her grandparents (gossip gossip) and who was probably a bad influence on your child (snark snark).  Every weekend, I’d pack my backpack and wait to get picked up by either my dad or my mom for a weekend at their respective house.  And then Sunday would come and I’d pack back up, inevitably forgetting something, and head back to my grandparents for another week.  As a child in the 80s in a small town, I didn’t have any friends in that situation.  I was surrounded by kids who all had nuclear families and one home.

Oh how I wanted one home.  One place where all of my stuff was and where I was completely settled, completely comfortable. 

In 2003, I decided I was fed up with living in apartments and having landlords so I purchased my first home in Southside Virginia.  My own home.  My own garage and my own kitchen and my own bedroom and my own bathroom and… well, you get the idea.  It was nothing fancy, but it was home and it felt amazing. 

The day I closed on it, I went over and stood outside and just kept touching it like it was something sparkly and magical.  “This is mine.  This is my home.  Mine mine mine” like a greedy leprechaun hugging his pot of gold.

It might as well have been a pot of gold.

It was a home. 

My own home.

But the time has come to sell it and move on so that Matt and I can move forward with building our own new home together.  I thought it would be simple – clean it up, put it on the market and be done.  But it’s been much tougher emotionally than I would have thought it would be. 

My mom and I were cleaning up the backyard and my mind was flooded with “oh man, these flowering plum and crabapple trees from the Soil and Water District were scrawny little sticks when I planted them 7 years ago” and “can you believe there used to be a house in this backyard?” and “I remember the summer I taught Upward Bound and spent my mornings working in this garden before I’d go to teach”.   All the hours spent laboring in the backyard and the emotions connected to that time period of my life were impossible not to think about. 

And inside the house, it hasn’t been any easier.  Memories of finally finishing my thesis in the bedroom I used as an office, remodeling the interior with my mom after I had moved out and laughing at the crazy 70s wallpaper that was under the paneling when we tore it down, and deciding to end a 5-year relationship sitting in the front porch watching a rain storm on the 4th of July.

I know it’s time to sell it.  Time to let someone else have it as their home, a place to let their dog into the backyard to run around, use the sauna on those bitter cold January nights, and develop their own set of memories. 

I need to move on and let go.  I’m probably too emotionally attached, but it was my first home.  And it WAS sparkly and magical.

It was my 20s.  It was Christmas trees and learning how to replace a thermostat and building a fence and landscaping and adopting two little balls of fur and starting new jobs and making new friends and becoming an adult.

It was home.

And that’s all I ever wanted.

Posted by: mesabimisadventures | September 17, 2012

Fear of Your Unknown

Discussing your political beliefs at the office usually ranks high in lists of career-limiting moves, unless you work in politics and maybe even then… 

Either way, it’s frowned upon and well, perhaps it should be.  There are few quicker ways to guarantee you will upset someone, so it’s usually suggested that those conversations simply don’t happen.  But how can you separate politics from your life at work, especially if you’re in a career that is affected by politics (such as mining) or if it simply is an election year and the primary story in the news?

I’m not sure, so that’s probably why I occasionally indulge in political discussions there, even if it means taking a risk.  In my quest to figure out how a moderate like me should be voting, I feel it’s important for me to have those discussions with really smart people like my coworkers and be willing to be challenged in my beliefs. 

All too often, I find myself responding with gut feelings towards issues and I suspect that I’m not alone in that regard.  What makes each of us respond a certain way to a Democrat or a Republican?  What is at our core that makes us react the way we do?  Is it our religious beliefs?  Education?  Job?  Family history?  Why do you choose the news source that you do, when the opposing news source just simply irks you or makes you roll your eyes, sigh and think to yourself “I can’t believe anyone believes this bull$%it.”

A coworker recently asked me why I didn’t like a certain political candidate and all I could think of as a response was, “I just don’t.  He just makes my skin crawl and I’m fairly certain he’s evil.”  I said that I knew I had better reasons than that, but at that moment, that was the best I could do.  Everything I read or hear about that candidate makes me angry or sad or both, but when it came down to a list of concrete reasons, I froze up and instead thought of the intentionally inflammatory headlines.

Why do I automatically believe and get fired up about every negative story in the media about the one candidate and not the other? 

Is that fair? 

Not particularly. 

Is it common?

I suspect so.

A few months ago (although it may have been a year, time flies), a study came out that demonstrated that people surround themselves with opinions that match their own.  We are apparently uncomfortable with opinions that differ from our own, to the extent that many people will “unfriend” people that post opposing political views on their Facebook pages. 

Really?

That’s pretty weak.  If your opinion has that flimsy of a base, then perhaps it’s time to reconsider that opinion.  And if you’re that opposed to different opinions, then it’s time to reassess your views towards that pesky first amendment of ours. 

We shouldn’t isolate ourselves into little clans with similar views and we shouldn’t insulate ourselves from the world at large, as frustrating as we may find it.  And we should be respectful of others’ political views, no matter how incredibly dumb we think they are at the moment. 

And we will.  Find other opinions dumb that is.  Because those opinions challenge ours and to accept those opinions as plausible would mean that we would have to accept that our opinions and worldview just may be wrong.

Gasp!

Or we’re just guilty of arrogance when it comes to political views, which is sort of a shame because then we’re closed off to learning from the other half of people that we share this country with or at least a place of employment.

Yep, sort of a shame…

My challenge to those of you who read this (and to myself) is for the next week, time allowing, actually read the articles posted by others that you disagree with politically.  But go into it with the same attitude you would want them to have to your candidate.  Read them without preset disgust or anger.  Read them from the point-of-view of someone with a different background or current life status as you.  I’m not saying you need to change your mind, but at least begin to understand why the other half feels the way they do.  It’ll only help you cement your beliefs.

And don’t be scared to talk to your coworkers, they just might teach you a thing or two.

Posted by: mesabimisadventures | September 12, 2012

Not at the Dinner Table Julie!!!

I once went almost an entire year without speaking to my father because of a fight over politics.  After the year had gone past, give or take a few weeks, I called him up and before he could say anything more than a cautious hello, I said, “I’ll speak to you again on two conditions.  One – we don’t talk about mom and two – we don’t discuss politics.” 

I’d love to be able to tell you what the fight was about, but I really can’t remember.  I vaguely recall saying loudly into the phone that Rush Limbaugh was a %$#&ing idiot, but beyond that detail, the memory eludes me.

Two things I do know for certain.  One, I can be pretty passionate about politics.  Two, apparently it’s genetic.

I try not to discuss politics with folks just like I try to avoid discussing religion, gay rights, abortion and whether Matt and I are going to have kids.  But that superball keeps bouncing within my head and I need to find an outlet before the energy inside me causes my freckles to fly off of me in all directions.  So, I’m going to dust off this blog and get back to writing about all the things that drive me insane.  It’s probably better for my marriage that I subject random strangers and generous friends to my ramblings anyhow.

If I was strictly a Democrat or a Republican, it’d be easier for me.  I could go to the blogs and websites full of people who easily identify as Blue or Red and I could indulge myself in those ideas, ideals, and idealistic worlds. 

But I’m not.  I’m purple.  Or according to a website quiz (www.isidewith.com) I took, I’m green, but…

Where do we go?  Those of us in between.  Who is the voice of us, the ones I dare to deem “normal”?  In only a few short months, I’ll be casting a ballot and at this point, I’m completely unsure of how to vote.  At this point, it feels like a lose/lose proposition for me and it makes me wonder if perhaps one key reason for low voter turnout is exactly what I’m facing.  Who will do the least damage to my life?  More importantly, whose victory will invigorate a population that will do the least damage to my life? 

I’m sure I’ll upset some folks who dare to read this blog as I pick apart my feelings on the different races and I’ll probably get unfriended by people on Facebook, but I can’t make everyone happy.  As I posted on Facebook a few weeks ago, “The one thing Facebook has taught me is that my family/friends have insanely different views of the world and how it should work. Therefore all the time I’m thinking half of you are wrong about something.” 

If you’re willing to dive into some dinner table-inappropriate discussions, I welcome you.  If your beliefs are so shaky that you’re unwilling to be challenged, then I think you’re better off not reading what I have to say in the next few months.

Feel free to challenge me and defend your side.  My opinion is just that, my opinion, and I’ll respect yours if you respect mine.

And I promise that even if we disagree, it won’t take me a year to speak to you again 🙂

 

 

Posted by: mesabimisadventures | September 11, 2012

Leaving on a Jet Plane…

I don’t know when I’ll be back again…

This morning at our weekly staff meeting, our Controller (best job title ever, just for the record) shared with us something that had come up in an earlier meeting he had attended.  It revolved around our persistent use of “have to’s.”  He reminded our team that it was September 11th today and we should be thinking instead in terms of “get to’s.” 

We “get to” go to work.  We “get to” run the kids around to practice after work.  We “get to” do lots of things that 3000+ people didn’t get to do after the morning of September 11th and the destruction that ensued.

He didn’t say it melodramatically.  He didn’t say it in a chastising way.  He didn’t tell us we were a bunch of whiners.

He just gave us perspective.

And sometimes we all need that.

I flew out east this weekend for an incredible wedding for two incredible people and my flights home didn’t quite go as planned.  At one point I was standing at the Delta counter with tears welling up telling this previously-unknown-to-me lady that “I just want to get home to see my husband tonight because he’s leaving for Canada tomorrow.”  And although it didn’t go as smoothly as it should have and although Matt ended up driving to Duluth to pick me up instead of Hibbing and although it was several hours later than it should have been, the important thing is that I made it home.  My plane landed safely and realistically, that’s all that matters.

We humans really can be whiners, especially a lot of us Americans.  We’re incredibly limited in our perspective and quite honestly, if you stand back and listen objectively to what we’re whining about, we probably should be smacked around a little (not that this pacifist is advocating violence!).  Maybe that’s why the friends of mine who are the happiest people are usually the ones who’ve either spent time in the Peace Corps or have done a lot of traveling to third world countries for various other reasons. 

We do ‘get to” do a lot of pretty awesome things, even if they are downright mundane to us.  And we send emails or post pithy facebook postings about how we’re thankful for going to work because it means we’re employed or thankful for washing dishes because it means we had food on our table, but so often we feel that one moment and then it’s gone the next. 

We have such short attention spans when it comes to feelings of gratitude and such high sensitivity levels to what we don’t have compared to others and such huge expectations that never seem satisfied.

And when we find someone who’s happy for their life and who doesn’t wallow in self-pity or whine incessantly, how do we respond?  We call them Pollyanna and tell them that their naive and unable to see the sorrow that is life.  How dare they be happy when we are trapped in our worlds of have-to’s. 

It’s kind of a disease that runs rampant through our society, this self-induced unhappiness, this (forgive the phrase) pissing contest of who is more miserable, more busy, more (big sigh and eyeroll from them) overwhelmed by everything they have going on.  What if instead of bragging about our agony, we bragged sincerely about how grateful we were to have those mundane things in our lives?

Folks, we really are mortal, contrary to what the evidence looks like for your life right now. 

Enjoy the mundane moments, those are, after all, the majority of your life.  Enjoy the inner jokes with your coworkers and friends.  Enjoy the way your pets or children knock you off your feet when you get home.  Enjoy those moments where an entire conversation is shared between you and another with only one knowing look passing between you both.

Enjoy your “have to’s” by making them “get do’s” because you “can do.”

 

Posted by: mesabimisadventures | January 1, 2012

Another Year, Another Thousand Resolutions

There are few things in this world that I appreciate more than a shiny new Daily Planner.

Yes, I realize that every morning gives us all the opportunity for a fresh start, but there really is something refreshing about a New Year.  If there wasn’t, there wouldn’t be a whole pile of people signing up for gym memberships this week.

I won’t be one of those people.

But only because I live 30 minutes from Hibbing and it would make zero sense for me to drive into town after work and then head back home.  Especially when I have a dog that requires me to spell out w-a-l-k.  Along with millions of other Americans, I will once again set a goal to get back into shape.  That’s just a given.  But what about some other resolutions?  How have old ones panned out for me?

On New Year’s Day 1998, I made a simple resolution that I think I’m going to use again – when faced with a decision, make the right choice.

Yeah, apparently 1997 was a year of poor choices…

2011 wasn’t, but I know I  can do better.  And so can all of us.

One of my biggest frustrations in life is with folks who don’t believe they have the power to affect their lives.  Those people are considered E-LOC people.  LOC stands for Locus of Control (click here for more information).  Some of us are I-LOC (Internal LOC)  individuals who believe we are in control of our destiny whereas E-LOC (External) folks believe that life controls them.  I have this sneaking suspicion that many of us who create resolutions that we actually strive to meet are I-LOCers.

In 2012, I can achieve most of my goals if I remember that 1998 resolution and how I have that power to make decisions for myself.  We can’t control our circumstances always.  Stuff happens.  How do we deal with those so-called curveballs that life throws at all?  Do we whine about the unfairness of life or do we roll with it?  Do we control what is within our power to control?  And for those circumstances that aren’t in our control, do we remember that we still are granted the power to choose our response?

I’m only half-joking when I say I have a thousand resolutions, meaning that I have about 500.  Eat more fruits and veggies.  Swear less.  Break my addiction to Plants vs. Zombies.

Well, I should try to accomplish at least 2 of those 3.  And I won’t say which will be the most challenging.

Seriously though, the year is sitting in front of us all and although nothing magical ever happens at midnight (from what I can remember from the years I stayed awake for it!), this could be the year something magical happens to you.

The challenge will be in recognizing that you’re the magician who needs to make it happen.

Happy New Year to all of you and best wishes on achieving the goals you’ve set out for yourself!

Posted by: mesabimisadventures | December 31, 2011

Giving Thanks for Giving

Well, it’s the last day of the year and I’ll summarize my last 5 days as well as my feelings on the Project as a whole.

For my 27th Day of Giving, I gave thanks for always having a place to live as a kid by donating to Life House in Duluth.  Life House helps out homeless youth in NE Minnesota and is the only drop-in center for them in the area.  There are a lot of kids who didn’t get blessed with responsible parents and we can’t turn our backs on them.  How we respond as a community to these kids will shape the adults they become.  If they feel that someone does care, they will stand a much better chance of becoming responsible adults who believe in themselves.  A lot of us are completely clueless about subcultures that exist around us.  Many of us never have had to worry about parents who abused drugs or alcohol or neglected us for other reasons.  I don’t know that I blame them for running away from “home” but I do blame us if we turn our backs on them and say that they aren’t our kids so we don’t need to worry about them.  We complain about our taxes going to welfare or to pay for prisons, so why don’t we be proactive and help some of these high-risks kids out now so they can instead become respected colleagues and friends of our children?

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On the opposite end of the age spectrum – for my 28th Day of Giving, I chose to support Meals on Wheels and give thanks for the seniors in my life that pass on their wisdom and love to me.  A few elderly folks I know rely on this service for a warm home-cooked meal 5 days a week.  They are lucky enough to still live in their homes, but they aren’t able to easily get to the grocery store.  Not only is that a challenge, but it isn’t easy to cook for one without either having no diversity in meals or wasting a lot of food.  Meals for Wheels is also great for seniors because it ensures that once a day someone is checking up on that person and making sure they’re alright.  If things go well, all of us will be old at some point and we may be that person who needs help with meals.  Senior hunger is a real problem and our love can’t always flow downhill to our children.

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Many families had an empty chair at their table this Christmas with their loved one deployed overseas in the military.  For my 29th Day of Giving, I give thanks to those families for their sacrifice by donating to Beyond the Yellow Ribbon.  This program aims to provide support to the families and servicemembers who bear the burden for protecting all of us.  We may not always agree with the missions that they are on, but we should reserve our judgement for the politicians who place them there.  I know that I would never be brave enough to sign up for the military and I doubt that I would remain strong if my husband or son/daughter were deployed to dangerous places.  They are there for all of us and for that I am grateful.  Beyond the Yellow Ribbon helps to support those families and we should as communities and neighbors.  If we haven’t been in their shoes, we will never understand the stress of a deployment or the patriotism that drives these servicemembers and their families to make the ultimate sacrifice.  To donate to the cause, click here for a list of organizations that are helping out and pick the one that best fits you.

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Where would I be without teachers?  I loved school and am surprised at times that I never went to school to be a teacher.  With gratitude for those amazing folks, I chose to support them on my 30th Day of Giving by donating to Adopt-a-Classroom where you can be matched up with a teacher that could use your financial help.  You can even select if you’d like it to go to a school with a high percentage of children at poverty level.  I would also like to encourage teachers who read this to sign up your classrooms so that those of us wh0 want to help you out are more easily able to do so.  So many people complain about teachers, but do they really think they could do a better job guiding 15-25 young, energetic children?  I’m sure there are a few bad ones out there, just as in any profession, but the vast majority are doing their best to shape our next generation.  They manage to teach while also dealing with children who are tired, hungry, abused, mentally ill or on the flip side, spoiled rotten brats!  Seriously though, they don’t always get to hear thank you’s from students or parents for being one of the most important people in that child’s life.  Let’s be thankful for them and not only “give them a hand” but also lend them one.

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Finally, with nothing but thanks for my incredible husband, I selected Wish Upon a Wedding for my 31st and last Day of Giving.  I was pretty good at shrugging off the importance of marriage in my 20s, not really understanding how powerful the right marriage can be.  I “get” it now and I also get how important it is to announce your commitment  and share your joy with your family and friends.  Wish Upon a Wedding is a nonprofit organization that provides weddings and vow renewals to couples facing terminal illnesses and serious life-altering circumstances.  Everyone who wants it deserves that day where you stand in front of everyone that cares about you and you publicly commit to love your one person for the rest of your lives.  I cried throughout our entire wedding, from the minute I started walking down the aisle to the end where we walked back down it together as husband and wife and neither one of us was even facing an illness!  I want other people to be able to experience that overwhelming joy and love!

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So there it ends, my 31 Days of Giving.  I wish I could have done justice to all of the different organizations, but somedays I just wasn’t able to get to my computer.  I hope you all learned about a few new organizations.  I know I did!  It was tough at times because the need in the world is neverending and I felt absolutely powerless.  But then I was able to feel empowered by being able to support people that have dedicated their lives to making life easier for others.

I get so frustrated with the world, all the hate and cruelty, but the beauty and love is there if you look for it.

Posted by: mesabimisadventures | December 26, 2011

Bless the Beauty

Bless those who bring beauty to the world, who bring light, who bring laughter.  Bless those who see beyond the daily, the tolls, the taxes.  Bless those that make us ponder, smile, pause, perhaps cry.

Bless the artists.

Bless the music, the paintings, the sculptures, the written word.

Bless the beauty.

It can’t all be about survival.

What is survival without joy and where is joy without art?

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“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”  – Pablo Picasso

For my 22nd -26th Days of Giving, I chose to support the Arts by supporting the following organizations: Virginia Community Foundation, The Reif Center, Lyric Center for the Arts, Minnesota Discovery Center and Minnesota Public Radio.

An upsetting number of people enjoy disparaging Northern Minnesota by saying that we don’t have any culture up here.

Bah humbug.

Open your eyes.  Open their eyes.

Posted by: mesabimisadventures | December 21, 2011

For The Little Ones

Matt and I owe a lot to our siblings.  After all, we couldn’t be Uncle Matt and Auntie Julie without their assistance!

Being that we don’t have kids, we occasionally get referred to as DINKs (double income, no kids) but I prefer to think of Matt as a PUNK and myself as a PANK (professional uncle/aunt, no kids).  We love our nephew and nieces and feel grateful to get to play a role in their lives as they grow up.  We hope that as they get older they will come to us for guidance on questions they don’t feel comfortable asking their parents, will lean on us when they need another set of shoulders and will always remember that we have their backs (and best interests in mind).  Our world wouldn’t be the same without them.  It’d definitely be way too quiet!

So in honor of Nick, Kaitlinn, Rayna, Isabella, and Riata (in chronological order), we are choosing to dedicate our 17-21st Days of Giving to the five organizations below.

St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

Occasionally babies pop into this world sooner than scheduled.  When this happens, it takes solid expertise to help the babies finish their development.  It also takes a dedicated team to help the parent(s) through an incredibly stressful time.  I always thought that the nearest NICU unit was in the Twin Cities, so thank you to Derek G. for telling me his happy-ending story about his son who arrived too soon and was helped out at the Duluth hospital.  It completely blows my mind that babies as small as one pound can be saved and go on to live normal lives.  How many families have been saved from tragedy by this NICU and others throughout the country?

The Essentia Health’s SMDC Foundation is currently raising $2.5 million for a new 18-room Newborn Intensive Care Unit. For more information, or to donate, visit Essentia Health’s SMDC Foundation.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

What could make a parent feel more hopeless (and perhaps helpless) than having their child diagnosed with cancer or another devastating disease?  St. Jude is the patron saint of hopeless causes and is the saint that Danny Thomas chose to pray to as a young man for guidance in his life.  Mr. Thomas vowed that if he got his act together, he would build a shrine to St. Jude.  He did get his act together, became a famous entertainer, and he never forgot his promise.  St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is the result of this promise and treats, on average, 5900 children every year.  The overall survival rate for childhood cancers has gone from less than 20% in 1962, the year St. Jude’s opened to 80% today thanks in part to the research that has been conducted there.  Every child deserves to have hope and every family deserves to watch their children grow older.

Children’s Cancer Research Fund

The more brains, the better, especially when researching the prevention, treatment and cures for childhood cancers.  The Children’s Cancer Research Fund provides funding to the University of Minnesota specifically for those purposes.  Their focus is on pioneering research initiatives that lead to larger studies, including clinical trials for brain tumor vaccines.  If you can handle crying right now, I highly suggest you read this story about a little girl named Chloe who beat her leukemia and grew up to win the 2006 American Quarter Horse Youth Association world championship in barrel racing.  With four little nieces that love horses, Chloe’s story hit way too close to home.  Supporting the Children’s Cancer Research Fund allows researchers to develop new treatments, such as the umbilical cord blood transplant that saved Chloe’s life.  Not every kid will grow up to be the person who finally cures cancer, but this organization helps make it possible for more children to have a chance to grow up to be that person.

HURU International

This next organization is going to cause a few people to raise their eyebrows and there will be a few people who will feel squicky, but this cause is too important to young women for me to ignore and not discuss (especially with four very important girls in my life!).

There are few things more important to me than educating young women throughout the world.  An educated woman has freedom.  Freedom to choose her own path in life, freedom to not have to stay in a destructive relationship, freedom to be herself. Huru is the Swahili word for freedom and Huru International strives to grant young women in Africa freedom by providing a very simple object to them that many of us usually don’t think twice about – sanitary napkins (aka pads).  Lots of folks don’t like to think about or discuss menstruation – too bad.  Menstruation is a fact of life, but let’s face it, it’s not one we get excited about for obvious reasons.

So imagine being a young woman trying to go to school so that you can improve your life and escape a future of poverty, but once a month you have to miss school for several days all because you have your period and no sanitary way to deal with it.  For $25, Huru will give one young woman an equal opportunity at schooling by providing one kit in a backpack that includes reusable sanitary napkins (good for one year), underwear, soap, a storage bag and educational materials.

So women menstruate.  So what?  That definitely isn’t enough reason for us to not be educated just like those who don’t!

Make-a-Wish Foundation

Since 1980, the Make-a-Wish Foundation has granted 215,899 wishes.  That number increases by 1 every 40 minutes!  Wishes are granted to children that have been diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions (it’s a myth that they are all terminal according to the website).  The wishes vary from trips to fire station bedrooms to seeing snow to anything you can imagine.  It’s not a hard concept to “get behind”.  We all have dreams and wishes and we’ve all played the games of “bucket lists” and “if you won the lottery what would you do first?”  When a family faces the prospect of losing a child, they deserve an escape from that pain and stress.  The child deserves the purest joy they can experience.  Make-a-Wish makes that happen.  Let’s help them make that happen.

Note: These are the 17th-21st posts in a series of 31 highlighting donation opportunities this holiday season.  

Posted by: mesabimisadventures | December 21, 2011

Don’t Have a Cow. Give One.

Satchel Paige’s famous quote – “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” should be twisted slightly when you feel the green-eyed monster taking over – “How rich would you be if you didn’t know how rich you are?”

I remember feeling embarrassed in college because my car was old, really old.  Only 2 years newer than me actually.  It was so old it didn’t have fuel injection (or power windows and locks or a/c).  My friends all had significantly newer vehicles and although I loved my car, I couldn’t help but be envious of others.  I used to get frustrated that my parents wouldn’t buy me a nicer car and as a college student, I had no chance of buying a better one for myself.

“Mom, I NEED a new car.  This car is sooo old.”

Need?

If you’re reading this, you’re rich.  Take joy in what you have and recognize that you really could have it much much worse.

You can get mad at me for saying this or you can take a step back and ask yourself, “how can I improve the situation for one person today who genuinely has it much worse than me because as an American, I’m doing pretty swell.  My needs are on a different scale.  And I have the ability to powerfully lower someone’s needs on this Earth we share.”

Don’t have a cow.  Give one.  Literally.

Yes, I’m serious.

Heifer International is an organization that allows you to do just that.  Give a cow.  Or a camel.  Or some honeybees.  Or some… well, check out the options, they are pretty diverse.  In their own words, “With gifts of livestock and training, Heifer projects help families improve their nutrition and generate income in sustainable ways. We refer to the animals as “living loans” because in exchange for their livestock and training, families agree to give one of its animal’s offspring to another family in need. It’s called Passing on the Gift – a cornerstone of our mission that creates an ever-expanding network of hope and peace.”

It may sound kinda’ crazy, but think about the awesomeness of this opportunity.  You are providing sustenance for a family that will appreciate it.  A family with a need that goes beyond our needs, no matter how great we feel they are.  For those of you who are vegetarian or vegan and feel squeamish about giving a living animal to someone knowing that it will most likely be eaten, there are other options, such as trees that you can check out as well.

It’s not a handout.  It’s a hand-up.  You can’t teach a man to fish if there are no fish to start with.  Provide the fish, provide a future.

Thank you to Lindsay E. and Lisa W. who both independently recommended that I check out this organization for my 16th Day of Giving.  This donation is for the both of you who generously give your time and resources to make this world a better place.

Note: This is the sixteenth post in a series of 31 highlighting donation opportunities this holiday season. 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: mesabimisadventures | December 21, 2011

United We Stand

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” – Helen Keller

If there’s one thing I’ve learned this month, it’s that there is no end to amazing organizations that need our help and amazing people who have dedicated their lives to helping others.  Trying to decide what organizations to support can be very overwhelming and disappointing because it’s easy to feel that your money is so insignificant compared to the need.

In reality, the money I’m donating this month is completely insufficient to make any dent.  But when one person’s money is matched by another’s is matched by another’s and so on, then you really CAN make a difference.

That’s why I support the United Way of NE Minnesota every payday, including on my 15th Day of Giving.  Not only do I have the ease of having the donation directly taken from my paycheck before I even know I have that money, but I also get to be a part of a larger movement to help out a wide variety of groups in our area.  By myself, I have limited ability to help, but united with my coworkers and community members, we have the power to change the dynamics of our community in a positive way.

The variety of organizations supported by the United Way is truly impressive (over 61 in NE MN!) and can be viewed here.  There are organizations that support “Meeting Basic Needs” such as the Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank and the Red Cross, organizations that “Support Health and Independence” such as the East Range DAC and Range Respite and organizations that “Nurture Children and Families” such as Range Women’s Advocates and Smiles Across Minnesota.  In recognition of the fact that there are some organizations that folks specifically want their donation to go to and others that they would prefer not to support for various reasons, the United Way now allows you the opportunity to direct your donation either to or from groups if you so desire.  (So there goes that excuse!)

136,000 people received assistance from United Way agencies last year and 99 cents of every dollar donated stayed on the Iron Range.  There is no question that there is a need out there in our community.  The only question is: will you stand united with your Iron Range neighbors to combat this need?

Note: This is the fifteenth post in a series of 31 highlighting donation opportunities this holiday season. 

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