Happy Mother’s Day

Mom on Beach8 months ago we wondered what was going on with mom. Her forgetfulness had surpassed the normal “senior” moments, and she had started repeating herself in the same conversation.

We knew she needed to get checked out, but unfortunately, she was in Italy for a several month trip. What to do? We decided, that we needed to get her home. We probably didn’t appreciate the extent of my mom’s mental impairment, and my poor mom had to navigate trains and planes in a foreign country.

My dad arrived at the Denver airport to pick her up, and she never showed up at baggage claim. We knew she had gotten on the plane to Denver, but where was she? So he started walking around the airport and discovered her just wandering around not quite sure where she was or where she was going.

A visit to the emergency room confirmed our worst fear: brain tumor. But we wouldn’t know what kind until the results of the biopsy. While we were waiting, we turned to the internet and we discovered a new worst fear: Glioblastoma Multiform, an aggressive brain cancer with a median survival rate of 12-15 months.

The results from the biopsy confirmed it. It’s difficult to describe the shock.

My mom was 59 years old and in great health. My mom was full of energy and filled her days with activities. My mom was independent and fearless; she lived in Mexico for part of the year and traveled the rest. My mom was a social butterfly and brought people together at happy hours and parties. And almost over night, she became a shell of who she used to be.

She started a treatment of chemo and radiation and the first MRI showed the cancer was responding. But the second MRI showed it growing again. And we made the very difficult decision to stop treating the cancer, so we could focus on quality of life.

We don’t know if she has 3 weeks or 3 months. It will go as it goes, but we know that she will not be suffering. She sleeps most of the time, and when she’s awake, we talk and laugh– at least my my mom still has her sense of humor. She was always the funniest person in the room, and you couldn’t not laugh when my mom was around. And she’s still still throwing out the one-liners.

Happy Mother’s Day

Mom on bike

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and naturally I’m looking at it with fresh eyes and with heightened appreciation for my mom.

Maya Angelou wrote, “To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.”

For much of my life, I did not fully appreciate my mom and her gifts. But when I look at the impact she’s had on others, when I realize what she sacrificed to give my sister and me a shot at what she never had– and that it worked, when I appreciate the challenges she faced in her life, then I’m filled with so much gratitude for who she is and what’s she’s done. And I wish I could go back and spend more time appreciating her.

So, I would like to wish my mother the Happy Mother’s Day I should have always given her and honor her for being the force of nature she was. Thank you mom for your life, your love, your light, and your laughter. Thank you for always doing the best you could with the tools you had at the time. You always did your best to make Jess and me proud of you. Well, congratulations, it worked. We are so proud of you.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s. Poverty Busters member Darlene is a new mom. Poverty Busters and Pets member, Gail is a new grandmom. To all the mom’s out there, Happy Mother’s Day <3

Earth Day Challenge

I’m here with the next installment of our 12 Month Giving Challenge.

I designed this challenge to intentionally to touch on many different areas. This world is a vibrant tapestry composed of countless individual threads representing the billions of people, animals, environments, and interests on this planet. Each thread is crucial to the tapestry’s integrity and beauty, and each month in this 12 Month Giving Challenge touches on a different thread of this world’s beautiful tapestry, and I believe that if each one of these threads were cared for, restored and honored, then our world would be amazing!

In April, we will give to the planet to recognize that our lives are possible because of her gifts. Her air fills our lungs. Her water quenches our thirst. Her plants and animals provide our shelter and food. And if we love ourselves, we must love and care for that which makes it possible.

Like John Muir cautioned us, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” And so our physical and spiritual health is hitched to the health of the planet.

Here are 3 ideas on what you can do to celebrate Earth Day that will make this planet and us just a little healthier.

How Are Your New Year’s Resolution Going?

Time flies! Can you believe that March is over??? That means that 25% of 2014 is behind us! This is a great time to check back in on your New Year’s Resolutions.

Did you make a goal to give back more this year?

If so, you’re a lot like me. I know that I have been so fortunate in my life and there are so many who don’t get the same opportunities. There are so many people, animals, causes I want to support, and because I want the world to be a better place, I resolved to give back more this year.

But life has a tendency to get in the way. We’re so busy and there is so much demand for our time and money and sometimes even though we want to give back, we just don’t do it as much as we would like.

This video will give some tools and inspiration for you to stay on track or get on track, so you can make 2014 your most generous year yet.

What Is Generosity?

An Example of Generosity

In the O’Henry short story The Gift of the Magi, Della has one prized possession and that is her long and beautiful hair. But more than anything in the world, she wants to give her a husband a Christmas present worthy of him. So she sells her hair for $20, cutting it short to her chin, to buy him a chain for his watch.

She knows that her husband Jim also has one prized possession and that is his watch, and this chain is the perfect gift for him. Jim also wants nothing more than to buy his wife the perfect Christmas present, so he sells his watch to buy Della two pure tortoise shell combs to hold back her gorgeous hair.

I love this story, because it captures the generosity we are capable of us humans. We are willing to sacrifice the possessions we hold most dear for love.

Generosity is a beautiful thing. But what really is generosity? We want to be generous. We want to be thought of as generous. We want the world was more generous. But what does that mean?

And that is the topic for this video.

Let’s Start With…

In 2009, The University of Notre Dame started the “Science of Generosity” Initiative. And for the past 5 years, they’ve been studying generosity- what is it? when are people generous? and how can people become even more generous?

They offer a definition that identifies three different components of generosity:

  1. Generosity involves giving to others not simply anything in abundance but rather giving those things that are good for others. Generosity always intends to enhance the true well-being of those to whom it gives.
  2. Generosity is the virtue of giving good things to others freely and abundantly.
  3. Generosity is in its mature form, a basic, personal, moral orientation to life…. Generosity entails not only the moral good expressed but also many vices rejected.

Watch Out For

I’ll go in-depth into each of these components and help you avoid common mistakes.

Then End With…

What I hope is my succinct and clear definition.

Share With Me

What do you think generosity is?

How do you express generosity in your life?

Month 3 Giving Challenge: Help Homeless Pets

We’re three months into our 12 Month Giving Challenge.

In January, we supported a local homeless shelter.

In February, we did something special for a senior in our life or community.

And in March, we’re going to do something to support your local homeless pets. Somewhere in your community is an animal shelter or rescue working hard to save animals, and they’re doing it with barely enough resources.

Did you know…

  • 6 to 8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year.
  • Only 3 to 4 million cats and dogs are adopted from shelters each year.
  • That means 2.7 million adoptable cats and dogs euthanized in shelters each year. That’s gotten a lot better when 12-20 million pets were killed every year.

What You Can Do:

  1. Spay or neuter your own pet.

    There are now so many low cost options available, so if you’ve been putting it off because you think you can’t afford it, contact your local NoKill animal shelter and ask them if they know about any low cost options in your area.

  2. Adopt
    The great new is that there is room for improving that 2.7 million euthanized pets, because only 30% of pets in homes today have come from shelters. The more people who adopt rather than buy a pet, the fewer pets who will die. So the first thing you can do to help a homeless pet, is to adopt one!
  3. Foster
    If your home is complete with the animals you have, can you foster a dog or cat until a forever home is found?
  4. Give Money or Goods
    If you can’t foster, can you donate money or goods? A cash donation lets them buy exactly what they need when they need it, but they might also need specific items. So call them and ask, do you need food? blankets?
  5. Give Time
    Finally, you can donate time. Dogs need to be walked and brushed. Litter boxes need to be cleaned. Websites maintained. Letters sent to past donors. Your local animal rescue may gladly welcome your time and expertise, so call them and ask how you can help.
  6. So that is our challenge in March. Support homeless pets.

    Thanks so much for joining me for month 3 of our 12 month giving challenge.

    Leave a comment below about how you helped a homeless pet this month.

Give to a Senior on Valentine’s Day

Month 2

It’s the second month of our 12 month giving challenge. In January, we supported a local homeless shelter. In February, we’ll direct our attention to the seniors in our lives and communities.

Valentines Day is when we shower the ones we love with extra special attention, and it might be a hard day for a senior. If they’re widowed they might be remembering the Valentine Days they shared together in the past. They may wonder if they are still loved and needed by anyone. So, this Valentine’s Day, let them know, they are still loved and still needed.

If your grandparents are still alive, maybe this is a great time to pull out the family photo album and ask for the story on how they met and fell in love. Give them an opportunity to relive a great memory.

Maybe there’s a neighbor living alone who might enjoy a homemade valentine and a cookie. Maybe you even want to sit down and share a cup of tea together and ask for advice on a situation and give them an opportunity to share their experience and contribute their wisdom.

Or your Local senior center is also a great place to give your time or money to on Valentine’s Day. Centers often host special dinners or dances and they might need an extra hand to ensure a successful event. Start by calling your local senior center and ask them how you can help.

There are so many ways you could bring a little happiness to hearts of seniors on Valentine’s Day, and I’d love to hear how you plan to spend Valentine’s Day.

How will you brighten the day for a senior you know and love or a senior you don’t know?

Winter Imaginings

Is it Christmas already? I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready. The year has flown by in a mad rush, and I’ve arrived at the dead of winter wondering what happened.

Hundreds of years ago, life slowed down in the winter. There was less work to do, because the harvest had been reaped. There was less light, because the shorter days couldn’t be augmented by artificial light.

Aside from doing more sleeping, I imagine that we used to do lot of sitting around in the winter. When people gather together and sit, we also talk, sing, laugh, eat, tell stories, and imagine. When I say “imagine”, I don’t mean fanciful constructions. I mean forming new images and sensations that are not perceived through sight, hearing, or our other senses. When we imagine, we ask questions and then open our hearts and minds to possible.

We imagine why we’re here. We imagine where we came from. And through our imaginings, we find meaning and purpose.

So, in the dead of winter, when there is the least reason to be outside, we have the perfect opportunity to go inside ourselves and find our meaning and our purpose. Tomorrow, the 21st, the Winter Equinox marks the shortest day of the year. Each day after grows progressively longer.

As the day grows longer, we can take what we’ve discovered during our winter imaginings and bring it into the world. I know my purpose is to live fully, love unconditionally, and to inspire others to do the same.

What about you? What is your purpose? What do you need to give to yourself and of yourself to find meaning and purpose in 2014?

My holiday wish from my heart to yours is that your generous spirits create a life filled with love and joy for you, your families, and the world this holiday and every day.

Giving Thanks by Giving Money

Traditionally, Thanksgiving is the time of year where we give thanks. Above all, I want to express my gratitude to you. You are one of 25 people who have joined me in the quest for making better donations. I am deeply grateful for you, your trust, and your willingness to put your money where your heart is.

Together will we have donated $6,116 by the end of the year

Yes! Your $25 per month has added up to $6,116! Your $25 was increased by 24,356%! That’s not a typo. 24,356%!

You’ve heard me say time and again, that our power comes not just from the fact that we donate together, but that we donate smarter. Our $25 to the wrong charity could be worth ZERO dollars. But we’re choosing well-researched charities doing great work. We’re making sure our donations matter.

What’s so important about making our donations matter?

Sometimes there is a tendency to dismiss the meaning of donating money. We may have the impression that giving time is more valuable than giving money and that it’s something we do when we can’t or don’t want to donate our time. Now, I, in no way, intend to diminish the importance of giving time. Time is the essence of our life. Our lives are measured by minutes, hours, days, weeks, years, beginnings, and ends. Our life is time. Each minute lived is one minute we never have again. When we give our time, we give our life.

Giving money is equally important to giving time. Money is a symbolic and material object that we’ve received in exchange for our time– for our life. When we give our money, we have chosen to say that this thing/event/cause is worthy of my life. What we spend our money on is who we are.

You’ve decided that who you are is a person who cares AND a person who does. In the final analysis, what we say and what we believe is of little consequence. What matters is what we do.

I’m honored to be a person who does with you.

Giving Thanks by Giving Money

Donating money is only one way I give thanks for all the blessings I have in my life, but it seems the most appropriate one to talk about here with you. And I would like to honor you and to give thanks to you for the pleasure of making great donations together, so I am donating an additional $25 to each giving circle for our December donation.

I can’t wait to find out what amazing charities we’ll support next!

The Power of Giving Circles

The idea of a giving circle is as old as civilization. It’s based on the simple truth that people doing something small but doing it together is more powerful than going it alone. There are over 800 giving circles across the country donating more than $100 million every year.

At my Giving Circles Help Blog, I interview leaders of giving circles from around the country, and I’m amazed by their accomplishments. Below you’ll find just a few of these phenomenal giving circles and what they’ve accomplished.

Remember, that these giving circles are accomplishing this because of people like you! People who walk the talk, who put their money where their heart is. The more people who join, the bigger the impact we can make, and I invite you to be a part of it!

The Giving Circle Showcase

  • Impact Austin: There are 500 members donating $1,000 per year. In 9 years, they’ve donated more than $3 million to charities in their community.
  • Baltimore Women’s Giving Circle: Their 375 members donate $1,100 per year. Founded in 2001, they’ve donated $2.7 million.
  • Giving Circle of Hope: Members contribute $365/year for a total of $375,000 in donations since 2004.
  • Rochester Women’s Giving Circle: Founded in 2008, they grew from 5 members to 80 members. Each member contributes $1,040 dollars– which has added up to over $250,000 for charities in their communities.
  • Anne Arundel Women Giving Together: Members contribute $500 a year and in 6 years, they have donated more than $400,000.
  • Giving Circle of Alexandria: Members must contribute at least $150, but can contribute as much as they’d like. Together they’ve donated over $350,000 to their community over the past 6 years.
  • Moscow Women’s Giving Circle: In 4 years with members contributing just $1/day, they’ve donated over $40,000.

Join Now

Make easy, affordable, and powerful donations through a virtual giving circle. There’s no fee. It’s just great people doing something about what we care about. Be a part of it!

It’s A Beautiful World

It’s true that this world if filled with pain, suffering, injustice, and other ugliness. How’s that for a start to a blog post about beauty??

It’s also true that this world is filled with people acting beautifully. I’d like to spend a couple minutes today appreciating the better side of human nature, acknowledging the progress being made, and celebrating our successes.

As we donate our hard earned dollars to make this world a better place, let’s remember the good that’s already happening.

Men Behaving Beautifully

Schoep is one lucky dog. John Unger adopted him from a shelter at 8 months old. And today, Schoep’s 19! He has terrible arthritis, and every night, John Unger takes Schoep into Lake Superior where the buoyancy of the water gives Schoep relief from the pain. Schoep rests his head on John’s shoulder and falls asleep for a few minutes. Isn’t this beautiful?

I also love that when this picture went viral, donations poured in to help with medical costs. When they received more money than they could use, John set up a fund to help other dogs with their veterinary care.

Success! Afghan Girls Skate Club

We hear horror stories about girls in Afghanistan, but let’s take a moment the celebrate success and progress that’s happening there, too. I think there is no greater joy than to see children being children, and this inspirational video will have you cheering for these young girls who are attending school and… skateboarding! Yes, skateboarding! I don’t know about you, but seeing these young girls with helmets, elbow pads, and giant grins gives me hope for the future.

A Veteran’s Inspirational Recovery

We have resources inside us we don’t even know exist, and it’s never too late to show up as the person we were born to be. Arthur was injured in the Gulf War. He was told he would never walk unassisted again, and he spiraled into a deep depression. At 47, he weighed 297 pounds and had given up hope of ever being happy again. After taking up Yoga, he lost lost 140lbs in just ten months and can not only walk without his canes and leg braces– he can run! Watch his inspirational story below.

It’s a Beautiful World

I hope you enjoyed a look at some of the beauty in the world and that you will discover the beauty all around you, too.

Do you have an inspirational story you’d like to share?