Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Transparency

3:53 PM 3 Comments
A while back, I wrote a post entitled Dreams Can Become Reality. In it, I mentioned a desire to be more transparent. At the time, I had a blog post brewing in my head. It wasn't anything dramatic, just a simple 10 things you may not have known about me. However, in true me fashion as of late, the post never got written. Then, today, I was pointed towards Tony's post The Word "Wish" and in it, he mentioned Ryan's post What I Wish More People Knew About Me. Guess what that post is? A 10 things you may not know about me post. Between the pair of them, I'm convinced it's time to write my own 10 things list. Are you ready for this? I'm not sure that I am but the time is right and the time is now.

1.) I love to write but I'm afraid that nobody ever reads it or cares about what I write. - I've been blogging for about 12 years now (yes, before Blogger even existed!) and to this day, I'm sure that nobody ever reads it. I tell myself that I write for me and in part, that's very true, but like most people, I crave the feedback and the oh my gosh, that's awesome responses that I see other places.

2.) I have no idea what I want to do when I grow up. - Seriously. Not one single clue. Recently, I realized it's because I love so many things and I just don't quite know how to put them all together. Then, I realized that maybe this blog is how to put them all together. Then, I realized I don't know how to make that happen so I'm back at step 1 again. Ok, maybe step 1a. I'm not really sure.

3.) I will pick things up out of people's trash or on the side of the road. - It's true. For example, the shelving in my bathroom? Total on the side of the road with a free sign on it find. A ton of scrubbing later (I think it was stored in a machine shed..it had grease and grime everywhere!) and it's currently holding toilet paper and extra shampoo/soap/etc. Last night, at 11pm, I pulled to the side of the street and snagged a milk crate filled with flower pots. I have no shame. Really.

4.) I consider myself a baby blogger & it makes my day to have a grown up blogger talk to me or comment on one of my posts.  - I know that it's baffling to people like Janice & Susan from 5MinutesForMom when I get all hyper and giddy when one of them comment, but it happens every single time. I've been blogging for 12 years and I have 60 followers. I'm not approached by big companies. I don't have 10,000 Twitter followers. Heck, I can't even make it to 500. I'm a nobody in the blogger world so when a somebody talks to me, it blows my mind. I swear Tom Cruise could come up and have a conversation with me and I'd be like well, that was nice, but for example, if Ryan, Tony, or I dunno...Ree were to comment on this post or heaven help me, actually send others to follow me, read my posts or anything, I'd practically fall off my bed. I want these people to be my friends but I'm pretty sure they don't know I exist.

5.) I am obsessively organized but my house is a disaster right now. - This one is tough to write about because everyone thinks I have it so together, but the truth is, I'm digging out when it comes to my house. I'm a serious packrat and due to emotional issues stemming back to childhood, I tend to collect to give myself a sense of security. It's false security and I know this so I'm digging my way out. I'm blessed to have two awesome kids who are helping me in this process.

6.) I have a degree in Psychology but I don't psychoanalyze people. - This might seem weird to some, but recently, I was accused of psychoanalyzing someone because I asked them if there was a reason for why they did what they were doing. I had to point out to them that if they'd known me before I was handed a piece of paper, I would have asked them the same question. My mind has always worked along those lines and it's part of the reason people tend to come to me for advice.

7.) I'm not like all the other girls you know.  - I'm including this one because it was pointed out to me recently that I don't think and act like other women. I honestly couldn't exactly explain why this is or how I'm different, just that I tend to think differently on a variety of subjects. I learned a long time ago that this world is not black or white. I think in shades of grey, I guess you could say.

8.) I have a hard time not being on. - In other words, I have a hard time shutting off. I was taught at a fairly young age that I was the one responsible for things I never should have been responsible for. It's led me to be that person who feels she has to fix the world. If something is wrong, it's very hard for me to not jump in. My brain is always running at psychotic speeds and that doesn't always stop when I go to sleep. This also means that I have a hard time simply relaxing and enjoying things. I've been blessed to find certain people in my life who have that ability. When I'm with them, I can shut down and just relax. I don't have to think or fix things.

9.) I think in shades of grey and yet have a need to define everything. - Figure that one out. I honestly can't, but it's the truth. I rarely think of things as black or white and yet, I'm constantly trying to define or compartmentalize things. It's the most baffling thing. It happens most often with relationships. I need to know precisely where I stand with people. The unknown is terrifying to me. I know that it comes from childhood and the instability and insecurities but I also know it drives people insane sometimes when they're dealing with me.

10.) Sometimes I hate the internet. - Please don't shoot me or send me hate mail for this one. You have to understand that I've been online since before Google existed. I've been part of the online community since before everyone had a web page. In terms of the internet, I'm old and old people get tired. For me, there's a certain exhaustion that sometimes rolls around when I sit down behind a computer screen. I long for the days when I hung out with people whose faces I could see or whose hands I could touch. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't exchange any of my online friends for anything, but I'm human and sometimes I crave face to face interaction with people. I also think that the internet has caused us to become socially lazy. I've seen how the acronyms we invented back in talker days have become common use and how people somehow think that sending a Facebook message somehow replaces a phone call or even..and nobody have a heart attack here...but mail. Not email. Real mail. In internet slang (yes slang) snail mail. That stuff that you have to actually walk out to the mailbox to get. I received a just because card in the mail yesterday and let me tell you, it made my day that someone took the time to find a card for me, to write in it, to address an envelope and to actually mail it. Sometimes, I hate the internet and the laziness and impersonal interactions that we have allowed it to lead to. People are people even if they're living behind a screen. I think sometimes we tend to forget that and forget that as humans, we require interactions to have healthy psyches.

11.) I am a survivor. - I know I said 10, but I wanted/needed to include this one. I am a survivor. I have survived emotional and physical abuse. I have survived rape. I have survived divorce and more. I am a survivor and I need to remember this. I can do anything.

There are probably so many more things that I could write about but for now, I'm going to leave you with those and go take some deep breathes. That post was tougher to write than I think I realized it would be. I hope that maybe my words will inspire you to write your own post. Let's really get to know one another. I promise it's a good thing.

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PS Yes, that is actually a picture of me...one of the rare ones that exist. If you're not sure, I'm the girl on the left. It was at a radio event last year. I miss my show but like #1, I was convinced no one ever listened.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Am I Enough?

2:07 PM 4 Comments
This isn't the post that I had planned on writing today. I had planned on a lovely book review for all of you to read and maybe even go find so that you could read it yourself. That was my plan. Then, life happened.

Life has a way of happening to me. I spoke with an amazing friend today on the phone and even he commented that when something good happens to me, life seems to come along and try to knock me down. In the past, I've let it knock me down. I've let it knock me down, let it move forward and then I've struggled back to my feet. It somehow always seemed easier that way. Don't fight it, just let it happen and then move on.

Today, I didn't let it happen and move on. I had someone hurt my feelings and I told them that they hurt my feelings. It wasn't just my feelings. They hurt me. It was like a physical blow. It made me cry. Today, I stood up for myself and said hey, you hurt me. They never responded directly to me. Instead, there was a comment on Twitter directed towards a group we're both part of. All I can say is thank you. Thank you for showing me part of your true nature. Life happens.

Life happened 11+ years ago when my baby boy was born with Cerebral Palsy. It happened again yesterday when we had to go speak to a surgeon about lengthening his hamstrings. It happened while she lectured us on how we haven't been doing enough for him and if we didn't do what needed to be doing, surgery could make things worse. I left that office feeling like I was the worst mother in the history of parenthood. I have a son who is scared and in tears about having to have surgery and who just keeps wondering why he has to be different from his brother and I don't have the right answers. How do I explain this so he understands and feels good about himself? How do I tell the surgeon that he hasn't had therapy this summer because I don't have the money to take him?

Now, we have to make those big decisions. Do we get him the surgery? I think we've decided that we need to. When do we do it? His dad wants to do it during Christmas vacation because otherwise, he'll miss a week of school. Me? I'm torn between a) it seems a cruel Christmas gift b) but I'll lose a week of my time with him and c) Responsible parents sometimes don't do the popular thing. In the end, I know I'll go with c but sometimes I just want to shout to the heavens that it's not fair.

Life isn't fair. Life is life. Life is hard. Right now, life is leaving me feeling that I'm just not enough. I'm not enough friend. I'm not enough parent. I'm not enough house cleaner or organizer. That's what I'm hearing and feeling right now. Is it true? If I'm honest, I'm going to say partially. I could do better. I need to do better. I've let things slip. I've given in to doing what's easy instead of what needs to be done.

Here's the honest to goodness truth. I need help. Not in the, I'll come take your kid to therapy for you sense, but in the honest to goodness good friend sense. Sometimes, living out here in the middle of nowhere, I feel alone. Sometimes, I feel as if I'm the one who people come to but that I don't ever speak up and say hey, what about me? Sometimes, I'm the one who needs the hug or the shoulder to cry on. I'm not good at that. I was raised to be the strong one. I'm the one who is expected to fix everyone else. The problem with that..I don't fix me or my life. I forget about taking care of me. I need to take care of me and sometimes, just sometimes, I need to be taken care of.

....and it can be exhausting.



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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Guest Post : Story Telling

12:07 PM 1 Comments

What is your story?

This afternoon I watched a video of Author Chimamanda Adichie give a speech titled The Danger of the Single Story. This video is an incredible testament of our human tendency to boil the beautiful intricacies of our world down to surface level single stories. After watching this video, I began reflecting on all the ways that our culture encourages us to avoid seeing people, countries, and even entire continents as intricate works of art. Sometimes we even allow other’s misunderstandings to become the very lens for which we determine truths and make assumptions of the world around us. I do not know about you, but I want to enjoy this world in its entire splendor. I do not want a portion of the story…. No, I want the entire story; or at least I want to strive to see, hear, taste, feel, live, breath, and love in full.

Maybe our tendency is to choose a single story because it is more comfortable. Perhaps if life is made up of vignettes of single truths we can more easily comprehend. Well, I prefer a more complicated route. Maybe you agree with me. Maybe you have yourself been a victim of the single story that without your permission “defined” how others understood you. Maybe you became the boy with an addiction or the girl that struggles with her weight. Perhaps you were the man who got it wrong or the woman who is angry. I hope you know that you are far more than this single story. Please, please believe that you are more than this story.

I think it is time we stand up to the single story and show that this world is just too beautiful to be misunderstood labeled, and stereotyped. Adichie eloquently shares that she “always felt that it is impossible to engage properly with a place or a person without engaging with all of the stories of that place and that person. The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.”

So, today I challenge you to join me in telling another story. We each have our own passions and dreams; and we all possess knowledge of injustices that get to the core of our very being and stir up all sorts of emotions.  We have all witnessed people robbed of their dignity and now it is time to tell another story, a more accurate and truthful story.

The single story I wish to expand begins with the continent of Africa. Too often Africa is painted in the shadows of three dark topics: corruption, conflict, and disease. Unfortunately, some of this is a reality in Africa; nonetheless, there is more to this story. There is incredible beauty in which I can witness to you today after spending time living on and studying the Continent.

Today, I want to share with you about an amazing African organization that is working toward sustainable transformation in the West African country of Ghana. In Ghana, there is a vibrant culture of capable, innovative, and talented business people actively searching for opportunities to expand their businesses and transform their communities. Hopeline institute works with these business people, specifically aiming to provide egalitarian access to marginalized populations. Since 2007, Hopeline Institute has as served and invested in over 500 women-owned businesses. Many of these micro-businesses have grown to small and medium sized enterprises, creating jobs and positively transforming entire communities.  I believe this is a pretty impressive story that is lost when Africa is labeled as the “dark continent”.

This August, I have the incredible opportunity to return to Ghana as an intern with Hopeline Institute. As I work with Hopeline Institute, I will aim to energetically contribute to the restoration of hope and dignity to marginalized populations throughout Ghana by being a positive, affirming, and encouraging partner, and walking alongside Ghanaian business owners who are working to make an impact in their community. As an intern I will assist in the implementation of the small and medium size enterprise program, focusing on business training and mentoring.  I will make field visits to member businesses, gather business stories, share promising practices and lessons learned, coordinate Global Business Affiliate visits, and facilitate cultural awareness training programs.  Additionally, I will participate as needed in the Village Savings and Loan Association project, now in over 190 villages, and the Behavioral Health Change program, also run by Hopeline Institute. However, I will need to raise a total of $15,480 dollars to cover all of my travel, work, and living expenses for the entire year. At this time I would like to request that you consider joining me on a journey to tell a different story about Africa, a story of hope, innovation, creativity, and transformation.

There is another side to every story. Now is the time that this side of the story is told. May you find your story and may you tell it with deep rooted passion and belief in the beauty and intricacies of this world.

Have a beautiful day, my story telling friends.

All donations are tax deductible. Online donations can be made by visiting http://donate.partnersworldwide.org. At the Gift Designation section, choose “People” and then choose “Emily Daher (Ghana)” in the box to the right. Please make checks payable to Partners Worldwide and designate “Emily Daher” on the memo line to be sure your donation is directed toward my work in Ghana. Checks should be mailed to Partners Worldwide, 6139 Tahoe Dr. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546. 
Thank you for your time, consideration, and support. To learn more about my work in Ghana please visit http://emilydaher.wordpress.com/ .

To view Author Chimamanda Adichie’s speech visit: http://www.ted.com/talks/view/lang/eng//id/652


Emily is the younger sister of one of my friends and after hearing her story, I wanted to do what I could t help her dream come true. As of this writing, Emily still needs $8,840 dollars for her story to become a reality. She told me that she had to have half of her money pledged before she could go and then she could continue to raise funds while she is in Africa. Let's see what we can do to get her there. I know that we can do this. I have faith in us. Please share this post with anyone you know. Let's get Emily to Ghana.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Simplify

12:00 AM 1 Comments
I don't know if you can see that tiny print over there on the left, but it says simplify. If you remember back, this was my theme for the year and while I've played with it some, I haven't really taken it seriously until recently.

What changed? I think part of it was a book that I read recently. In fact, if you were here yesterday, you saw the review that I wrote for it. It really got me thinking about how the boys and I are living our lives and what, as a parent, I'm teaching them.  Then, came the conversation with Roger (age 10) as he dramatically flopped across my bed one afternoon. The first words out of his mouth? "Mom, I'm bored." I thought, how could this kid be bored? There are 2 video game systems, hundreds of books, board games and toys in this house. There's a backyard to run around in. Then, it hit me. He's not bored. He's overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices he has.

So, we're making changes. One of the first changes has to do with computer time. Starting today, the boys are now limited to 3 hours each every day. I know this sounds like a lot and it is a lot. However, I'm weaning them off. Prior to today, the pair of them would probably spend twice that playing on the computer. Now, that's being cut in half which is a pretty heft change for two kids.

What's next? Well, today, instead of sitting online or watching tv, we're going to the lake. There's a nice (supposedly) beach about 20 minutes from here. After lunch, we're packing up and we're going to go check it out. We're going to play in the water for a few hours and then, after a quick stop to pick up some new shelving (thank you, Craig's List!) for our laundry room, we'll be home and spend the evening relaxing together.

That's something else that is changing for me. For a while now, I've been in full envy mode. I've envied other people's "perfect" houses and the nice items that they had. Now, I'm shaking my head at myself. I may not have the nicest items in the world, but I do have what's most important. I have my boys. I have a man who loves me and puts up with all of my silliness. I don't need new dishes. There is nothing wrong with the dishes that I do have. Of course, I also don't need the giant pile of towels that I discovered we had once we caught up on laundry. So, I'm passing a big bag of those on to some friends who do need them.

It's about simplicity. It's about getting back to basics. It's about setting goals for our family and achieving them. For the first time ever, my boys have a daily chore list. It's amazing how much we're getting done around the house.  Each night, I write the boys out a list of 6-9 things that they need to get done the following day. I place it on the table outside of their bedroom door and each day, they find it, do the items and cross them off of their list. Seeing those lines gives them a real sense of accomplishment and it's teaching them to be more responsible.  Already, I've noticed that they're picking things up when they're done so that they don't have to do a big clean up later.

Getting back to basics is a good thing and I honestly feel blessed that as we downsize, we can give things to those who need them. I'm passing towels and bedding onto Lindy and Paulie. I'm passing on a box of girls' books to my friend Lauren and her soon to be step-daughters. I know that Freecycle is going to get a few boxes of items very soon. As we have less, we feel as if we have more. It's a really good feeling.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Book Review: Money Secrets of the Amish

12:17 PM 0 Comments
Hi all! I'm back with another book review and honestly, this is the first one that I just want to tell y'all to go out and buy. I devoured this book for so many reasons. The first is probably pretty obvious. Our little family is perpetually broke and learning how to save a few more dollars certainly can't hurt. The second is that, in my mind, the Amish are the epitome of Simple. Simple is my goal for this year. I'm working on simplifying our lives in a lot of ways and I was sure that this book could help me on the path to that.

Did it? Yes and No. There wasn't anything in this book that I found to be mind blowing. To me, it was all common and good sense advice. That being said, I've always been on the frugal side of nature. I'm also one of those "green freaks." What this book did for me was to bring me back to that. My kiddos and I have been becoming more and more I want it now mixed with oooh shiney! That's not what I want for us as a family. It's not what I want for myself. This book reminded me of those basic feelings and beliefs. I'm now implementing some of those things into our lives.

I honestly cannot recommend this book enough. It's a nice and easy read. It's filled with some really great basic advice and real life applications. Plus, it doesn't hurt that the author is a local girl who probably lives maybe an hour from me. I have to tell you that I would love to go garage saling with her! I think she would be a total hoot.  Did I mention that she has a blog that I totally intend on stalking visiting on a regular basis?

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I received a copy of this book via the BookSneeze program. All thoughts, comments and opinions are totally mine because we all know that no one puts Baby...no wait, no one tells this girl what to think. Oh and that image up there probably technically belongs to Amazon but if you click it, it leads to one awesome book that I think you should buy.


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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mamavation - Guest Post

10:51 PM 0 Comments

Hello All… I am Megan or @NcCarterFamily and I am basically the Zoo Keeper for our family. I am a stay at home mom but rarely am I actually at home. I have 3 crazy boys, a husband and we live on the family property so my in laws are our neighbors. I blog at www.carterzoochronicles.blogspot.com and http://cartersautismdogadventures.blogspot.com

I started having kids very early in life and spent time being a mom and not really taking the best care of myself. When 2 of my children were diagnosised with Autism I jumped head first and lived everything that I needed to do or could think to do to dealing with their issues. Which meant a lot of emotional eating for me. Also a lot of quick meals and fast food while playing Taxi driver for the family. To add more to my plate I am also starting back to school this fall.

I’ve always put everyone else before me and have never really found out who Megan is. I know Megan is not who I am now. I am not this obese mother who is too tired, too fat, too lazy, too exhausted, too stressed out to be the mother my kids deserve. I want to be able to run after them scratch that I have to be able to run and catch them because of the autism. I want to be able to take them to the water park, or to ride the roller coasters with them. I want to be running around playing basketball, chase whatever it is they want to do I want to be able to join them and I WILL DO IT.

I know that signing my ass over to Leah and Daniel along with the other Coaches and Mentors and going through the Mamavation Mom boot camp will be a life changing opportunity for myself and my family. It will give me the tools that I HAVE to learn to make this LIFE STYLE CHANGE for my family. I don’t want my children to have to grow up and then learn a healthy lifestyle I want them to learn it from me. I also want to inspire the others in my family so that they can learn and see what I have done to change my life. I have been a Sista with www.Mamavation.com for 7 months and this is my 3 Campaign.

I hope you will take a moment and head over to the Mamavation Site and Vote for me NcCarterFamily… http://www.mamavation.com/2011/07/mamavation-finalists-campaign-9.html


**** Hi all! Katie, here. This is my good friend, Megan. She's in the running for something that could change not only her life, but that of her family. Please take a moment and go over and vote for her, please. Help this mama help another mama help her entire family. ****

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Dreams Can Become Reality

12:13 AM 1 Comments
After my last post, my heart has been hurting and my mind has been spinning. I had the opportunity to talk with Graham and I'm glad that I did. We've both realized that time is a blessing and if we don't take our chances now, the chance might not be there later. So, I've been thinking...What do I want to do with my life?

For the first time ever, I'm going to put it down into writing. What it is that I want to do with my life right now. Consider this to be a bit like What I See Myself Doing in 5 Years. Did anyone besides me hate those essays in school? Even then, I didn't have the first clue what I wanted to do with my life. Well, after a lot of thought, I have some idea and I want to share it with you. I'm going to put it out into the universe and see how it feels.

1. I want to write. I've spent major portions of my life writing and it's something that I love to do. I actually started a book. I want to pull that out and start typing it up and adding to it. I want to share things with the world. More than that, I want to write for a website. Specifically, I want to write and work for 5MinutesForMom.com. There, I said it. I don't believe that it's any great secret, but for the first time, I've made it a declarative statement and not a joking one.

2. I want to teach. I don't think that this one will surprise very many people either. I don't want to get a degree in it. I want to teach at conferences. I want to share what I know.

3. I want to learn to bootblack. I know that this seems totally random but those closest to me will understand that it's not.

4. I want to get back on air. I don't want to do a daily show anymore but I do miss dj'ing and I want to sign on and do a show from time to time. More than just music, I would love to incorporate an advice segment.

5. I want to be more open and transparent. For a variety of reasons, I have hidden certain aspects of my life and I no longer have a desire to do so. I don't know that it's possible right now to be 100% transparent but I would like to work towards that goal.

6. I want to travel. I want to attend conferences. I want to attend events, both in the more hidden aspects of my life and the more public ones. I would love to see me combine 2, 3 and 6 and/or various aspects of those.

7. I want to learn Irish. I started and stopped and keep making excuses for why I haven't picked it up again.

8. I want to be me. I'm pretty good at it and it's time that I let other people see that I'm good at it too. I have talents and abilities and it's time to share those with the world.

When I grow up, I want to do all of these things. Step 1 is done. I've put them down into writing. I've shared them with all of you. Now, it's up to me to put them into action. It's time to stop wasting my talents and my abilities and to use them. Time is a precious gift and I've been squandering it, assuming there will always be a tomorrow. My friends, sometimes tomorrow doesn't come and so we have to appreciate and live now.

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