You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Community Service’ tag.

Little book….Powerful read!

At the very beginning of the year, one of my friends asked a question on Facebook about the books people were reading.  One of his friends said she had read this book and it was awesome.  So I immediately put it on my list.  I had no idea what it was about, and when I went to go look for it in the book store, I found it in the business section.  Another business book?  Okay….I’ll bite!

The Go-Giver is not your ordinary dried up business how-to book.  To me, it was more like reading Dan Millman’s “Way of the Peaceful Warrior”, but for business.  You get to follow Joe on his search for success where he winds up with this teacher who, over a weeks time, introduces Joe to different people who share with him The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success.  It was such a fun book to read!  As a matter of fact, it was so awesome, that I bought it for christmas presents for several people!  I just had to share this gem!

There were a couple of times in this book where I found myself crying from pure happiness.  I found what I have always believed right here between two covers of a book!  I have always been passionate about customer service, and that is what this book is all about.  But it’s so much more than that!  What you learn in this book reaches far beyond business; you can apply these lessons to your personal relationships!  It has certainly given me a refresher on my enthusiasm for service..especially since I have a new job as a cashier in the busiest lodge on Bogus Basin.

During our orientation for Bogus they talked about how we must anticipate our guests needs and smile and give them the best service.  Of course, I took that to heart.  I always do…remember, I’m passionate about customer service.  But this book took it even further.  Even though I’m “just a cashier” and taking money for things the guests have already decided they want, what more do I have to “sell” them?  Well, it’s my job to sell them on the best Bogus experience they can have…..whether its smiling from my register, making sure the dining room is clean, helping a mom with a screaming child, or just greeting them as they walk in.  It’s my job to provide them with the best and friendliest experience possible.  Will I ever see a monetary return for that?  Probably not.  I get paid what I get paid.  Sometimes someone will leave me their “change” for a tip.  Sometimes someone will actually give me a tip..just for ringing up their food.  But all in all, we don’t get /take tips and I don’t get commission.  So where is the incentive?  The incentive is in seeing their smiles and in knowing that I had some part in their fun time at Bogus.  I love that stuff!  And that is exactly what this book is about!

I also found some encouragement in this book…..to reach for my dreams and my goals.  If I follow these steps (just doing what I already do), then taking the steps to reach my goals and my dreams should be easy..or at least a bit easier. *laugh*  I feel like I am in the right place..both physically and intellectually.  I couldn’t have read this book at the beginning of the year and gotten as much out of it as I did now…everything happens perfectly.  Wow…this whole 52 in 52 journey has been mind-blowing and perfect!  This is no different!

As far as I am concerned, this book is so easy and enjoyable to read, it is a MUST READ for everyone high school age and up!!!!  Doesn’t make a difference if you are in sells, marketing, customer service, or a stay at home  mom….pick up the book and read it!!!!  You will get so much out of it!

Advertisements

“Though I didn’t know it, I was in a dangerous place now.  Having determined that this world was the only one I had–or would ever have–here I was, in conscious mistrust of its core.  And on the other hand, it had been confirmed that the outside world, the one that I had been trying to escape into since I could walk, was not my home either.  I was a misfit in both places.  The only true home I had was inside the notes of music, inside the all-consuming world of white ivory keys and their black flat and sharp companions.”………….

The passage above comes early in this book, thoughts from a 14-year-old Adelaide.  Being raised in an  ultra-conservative home where a girl/woman’s hair was a glory to God, where dancing was not allowed, public bathing (swimming) was not allowed, as well as so many other “thou shalt nots” (as I call them).  From such an early age she wanted to run away and explore, calling herself a gypsy; yet she was stuck in a home with an overbearing mother and father who was emotionally absent most of the time. What she knew to be HER truth and what she was being raised with conflicted on a daily basis, and she found solace and place of “belonging” in her music.  I too shared this kind of confusion in my childhood faith and struggle in my home and solace in my music…..  this was just many of the similarities between Addie and I that I found between the covers of this book!

This book is such a beautiful and heart-warming journey “Walking From Religion to Spirit” (as the cover of the book says).  Isn’t this what this blog is all about?  Well kind of anyway, right?  I, too, was raised in a conservative Christian home.  Though admittedly I was allowed to wear what I want, dance, swim and certainly didn’t have any rules in my house.  The only rules in MY house were that you were to be a God-fearing, tongues speaking, baptised Christian.  Scratch that, these rules weren’t the rules of my house, but they were certainly the rules for ME.  My brothers didn’t have to live by these same rules.  I’m not sure why, but as I read this book and even typed that last sentenced, it dawned on me that possibly the reason that I was the ONLY child out of 4 that was supposed to live by these rules is because I was closest to my mother and I was expected to be a shining light for her.  (Mother daughter issues…….this book is filled with them!)

Anyway, back to the book.  I LOVED it!  I love the history behind the words.  I love the visuals created by the words.  Every time I turned a page, I felt like Addie could have been telling my own story from Religion to Spirit.  I even learned a bit bout my own father and the way he must have been raised (though Addie is nearly 20  years older than my dad would have been today).  More than just her spiritual journey, there are a plethora of insights into being what I call a “sacrificial mom” (or even wife)…of being that care taker.  I found myself self saying out loud…”Hey, Addie!  That is what I am dealing with right now!!!!  Thank you!!!”

All the way through I kept thinking how incredibly blessed I am to have Addie as a member of my church.  This book was released on her 90th birthday…at my church.  Even though I have been attending this church since January, I had never met her until purchasing her book and having her sign it.  When I smiled and wished her a “Happy Birthday” I had no idea just how much this book would  mean to me and how it would touch my life!  Now all I can think about his how truly blessed I am to have such an amazing woman and possible friend in my church.  I can’t wait to send her a card and thank her personally!

Addie’s story is such a blessing and inspiration to all women out there searching for their spiritual path…for all moms out there who give so much to their families…for all the wives who just might  give too much of themselves to their husbands….to women who suddenly find themselves empty-nesters and wondering what the heck to do next!  For all the women out there who say, “I’m too old to do this…..”  you should read this book!

Have you heard the saying, “the only thing constant in life is change”?  Addie’s book is a perfect reminder of that.   As a matter of fact, one of my favorite quotes in the book says, “For me, the status quo, however appealing, never shone as brightly as the radiance of change.”  You get to follow her journey as she moves from parsonage (the home of a pastor) to parsonage and finally to her own homes.  You get to follow her journey that starts in New York and ends in Idaho and takes you places in between.  You get to cry at the unfairness of abuse, face fear in the face of disease, revel in the feeling of first love, feel the darkness of depression and the climb back out to light.  You get to sit with Addie at the bedside of her loved ones as she says goodbye, and you get to say goodbye too.  You get the thrill of not just becoming a mother..but of becoming a grandmother AND a great-grandmother!  This book is a fascinating and exciting read!

I find myself having a hard time sharing what I have learned from this book, but I will say that there are no coincidences in life…….and just as Addie mentions being led to our church (CSL) for a reason (this book), I feel as though I have been led to CSL for a reason…one of them being this book!

I will close with this thought.  Lately, I have been feeling “old”.  I’m only 41.  Yes, this is young.  I never felt old until I started in a sport where the women start retiring in their mid to late 30’s and I was just getting started!  Trying to get onto a Roller Derby team at the age of 41 seems kinda crazy.  And with my new schedule, I will be 42 by the time I can get drafted!  That is even crazier!  Then to add salt to the wound I was inflicting upon myself, I started to read a book on menopause.  The book is written by one of my favorite, entertaining local authors, but the idea of me going through menopause just made me feel even older!  I had to stop reading it.  The next book I picked up was this one, and towards the end of the book, there is this great quote from Addie reminding me that 41 is still very young!  “The new energy breathed into my home lifted my spirits and supported the feeling that, at the age of eighty-three, I was entering the best era of my life.”

Go, Addie, Go!!!!

THE BEST $7.95 I HAVE EVER SPENT ON A BOOK!!!!!!!

This is a short 122 page book that will have you using just about as many tissues to wipe away the tears!

Okay, to be fair, I have to say that I knew when I picked up a book with this title, that I was going to shed a tear or two.  I knew I was picking up a book that was going to be heart warming.  But seriously, I had no idea just how much this book would affect me!

Follow the story of a young journalist on a mission to have her story land on page 1A (above the fold) of her newspaper.  Like they say about every goal in life, it’s not about the destination in life, but the journey TO the destination.  So true for this book and the story of our young Heroine.

Life is filled with so many amazing lessons about being strong, following your dreams, being forgiving and forgiven, never letting go, letting go, and giving back.  This book just reiterates all of that!

More importantly, reading this book reminded me of so many lessons in my own life, and lessons that I hope I have passed on to my children.  Though, to be honest, it can be challenging to pass on some lessons to your children without the same life shattering experiences to provide the ground work.

I have shared my story with my children numerous times, and I hope they have really HEARD it.

Christmas Fire

 

Christmas in my home was always exciting!  In 1980, this statement was never more true.  I was 11 years old and I had three brothers: Matt age 21, Mark age 17, and Michael 10. With 4 children in our house, you can imagine the excitement around the Christmas tree!  The Christmas season always started the day after Thanksgiving.  Each year, my mom would take us kids out to pick out the best Christmas tree; then we would bring it home and decorate it.  Soon after the decorating was completed, the presents started appearing!  From the moment the presents started appearing under the tree, right up until the magic moment on Christmas Eve when we opened our presents, my little brother and I spent countless hours digging through the presents, reading the tags, shaking them, and counting.  One year, we counted over 120 presents under the Christmas tree!  It was absolutely magical!  In 1980, the presents were already starting to pile up and Michael and I were counting the days until we could open our gifts!  Life had different plans.

 

It was a typical busy day in my home.  My two older brothers,  were both working.  I had been invited to stay the night at my best friend Noelle’s house.  My little brother Michael was home watching TV and my parents had plans to go out for the evening.  Michael was left alone for most of the early evening.  He decided he was going to make popcorn, which back then had to be cooked over the stove.  He had done this plenty of times, so it was no big deal.  After eating his popcorn he headed out to his friend’s house to spend the night.  The house was empty, until my parents came home and went straight to bed.  Then Matt and Mark came home and went straight to their rooms to sleep.

 

The next morning Matt was gone as soon as the sun rose.  My parents were up pretty early as well.  They went into Mark’s room to get the car keys, and they left (leaving Mark’s bedroom door open behind them).  Mark was the only person left in the house, and he was sound asleep; that was until the smoke woke him up.  Coughing, Mark woke up dazed and confused as the smoke-filled his bedroom.  He jumped out of bed and threw the stereo through his bedroom window and then he got himself out  He called the fire department and then waited.

 

I had just spent a fun night at Noelle’s house and we were riding our roller skates back to my house when we heard sirens heading in our direction.  We turned around, “Look, Noelle!  A fire truck is heading this direction!  I think it’s going to my house!”  Noelle looked in the direction of the truck, “No it’s not, Martha.  Just watch.”  We watched the fire truck race past us and down the street.  We watched as it turned right on my street.  A sickening feeling rolled through my body.  We skated faster towards my street and reached the alley that ran behind my house.

 

I looked down the alley and saw the smoke.  “Look, Noelle, the smoke is right where my house is!”  I raced to take off my skates.  “Martha.  It’s not your house.  Everything is fine.”  “No,” I said, “It IS my house!  I have to run!”

 

I took off running down my street, racing towards my house.  I saw the 2 fire trucks, police cars, ambulance, and neighbors all around my house.  The black smoke was spiraling into the sky, and I KNEW it was my house long before I ever got there.  When I was 3 doors down from my house Mrs. Mac stopped me and held me tight.  “Mrs. Mac!  It’s my house isn’t it?  My house is on fire!”  Mrs. Mac held me tight as I sobbed in her arms, “Yes, sweetie, it is your house.  Mark was in the house, but he is safe. No one else is home now.  Everything will be alright.”

 

Right after that, my brother Mark came running up to me.  Together we stayed in each other’s arms as we watched the firemen dowse the flames out with their hoses.  After the fire was out, the firemen came up to me one by one giving me hugs.  “Excuse me, Mr. Fireman, can you  tell me what happened to my pets?”  He held my hands, “Your dogs were in the back yard, and they are fine.”  “But, Mr. Fireman, what about my bird that was in my bedroom?  What about our cat?”  The look in his face said it all, and I broke back down into tears.  He couldn’t save my bird, and there was no sign of our cat.

 

Eventually, my parents returned home.  My oldest brother was called home and my little brother, Michael had been retrieved.  The firemen told us that the fire had started in the kitchen at the stove.  “Someone left the stove on, and that’s what started the fire,” they said. The last person in the kitchen had been Michael as he cooked his popcorn over the stove.

 

Since our family was so big, we had to be separated.  Each of the kids went to a different friend’s home, and my parents went to yet another friend’s home.  We were separated for a week or so until my parents could find a house for us to rent until my childhood home was rebuilt

 

Finally my parents found a small, run down house for us to move into.  It was too small for our family, and my little brother had to sleep in the living room on the rented furniture we had until our home and our furniture was repaired.  We moved into our rental house on Christmas Eve.  When we moved in, all we had to bring to the house were a few articles of clothing, rental furniture, and a metal card table with folding chairs for a dining table.  That night, instead of making our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of Tamales and Chili, my mom and I went shopping.  Instead of buying toys and games, my mom and I shopped for plates, silverware, pots & pans, groceries and some more clothes for the family.

 

Instead of wrapping presents and putting them under the Christmas tree, my mom emptied the shopping bags and put the items we just purchased on the card table.  These necessities were our presents, and for the first time in my young life, I realized what Christmas was really about.  It had nothing to do with how many presents were under a Christmas tree.  It had nothing to do with toys and games.  It had everything to do with family and love!  And the best Christmas present I could ever receive is the gift of my family being together happy and healthy.

 

There are so many great lessons in this book and with less than 2 months till Christmas and the stores already playing Christmas carols, I high recommend reading this book to restore some sanity in your life in regards to the holidays.  And with the invention of a child’s gift registry, I highly recommend having your children read this book..or at least sharing the message with them!  It just might change yours and their lives!

Today I had a FANTASTIC morning!  The only thing better than being lost in a beautiful picture book is to share that beautiful  picture book with my 11-year-old daughter, Naomi!

On Tuesday mornings, I go into my daughters class to volunteer.  I get to pick kids out to read to me (and later do math).  I have been doing this for well over a month now, and today was the first time I got to work with my own daughter.  I was so excited!  I prepared the table for reading with the kiddos.  I set out all the books for them to read.  I called out my first student and she read a great rhyming book.  Then, to my extreme pleasure, I got to call out my daughter.  I noticed that in my books was Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe.  John Steptoe is one of my most favorite children’s books authors and I actually own several of his books.  As a matter of fact, I own this book as well, but it has been probably close to a decade since I have read it!  So instead of letting my daughter choose which book she wanted to read, I asked her to read this book to me.  I told her it was one of my all time favorites and I would love to share it with her.  Happily she opened the book and began to read!

The book is an African Folktale that has won a Caldecott Award (which means it won for its pictures, and they are beautiful!)  It is about 2 sisters…one who is bossy and mean and the other who is very sweet.  It is your typical “Cinderella” storyline..well minus the evil step mother!  *laugh*  But it definitely follows the Cinderella archetype as outlined by Carl Jung.  Did you know there are 900 Cinderella stories out there?

Anyway, as Naomi was reading, she stops and says, “Mom, I like Nyasha’s personality better than Manyaras.”  She got excited about seeing a snake in the garden and later asked about the snake again.  This is truly the sign of a great picture book…one that gets the children thinking and asking questions..one that engages them!  John Steptoe is amazing at doing just that!  This book is filled with beautiful pictures, beautiful words, and more importantly a beautiful message…and one that I am so glad I got to share with my daughter!

These last couple of days it has struck me just how much reading is a gift in my life.  The act of learning to read and the character building it gave me while I was bullied for not being able to read….the gift of self-confidence my 5th grade teacher gave me when it came to reading…the safe escape it gave me from abuse in my home…the lessons learned while reading such amazing books…and the gift to be able to share special stories with my children and other children I get to volunteer with!  And in all of my years of being a parent, I am never prouder than when I hear my children tell me they have finished reading a book!

Today, while listening to Naomi read this story, my heart was filled with such gratitude and pleasure….for so many reasons.

If you have not read this book to your children (or even for yourself), I highly recommend picking it up!  For that matter you can check it out on this link:  http://vimeo.com/6276456  It is an episode of Reading Rainbow (I loved that show!)  This book is filled with great lessons of kindness, compassion, forgiveness and African culture!  It truly is a remarkable book!

Have fun!!!!!

Two words:  Truly Inspirational!

Follow one family’s journey to leave the rat race of consumerism, sell their dream home to move to home half the size and donate half the money from the sell to help end hunger in Africa!  It’s about more than charity work; it’s about bringing a family together!

It’s a fantastic adventure.  And from my “life of service” mentality, it gave me a great perspective on how I approach my community service.  Better yet, it gives me a different angle to use when teaching my Girl Scouts and helping them with their community service projects!

The book is mainly written by the dad, Kevin and at the end of every chapter (and sometimes in the middle) his teenage daughter, Hannah gives her insights and gives the reader assignments to follow through with.  As a mom who is always looking for ways to get the family involved, this book is an awesome resource.  Not only does it actually give you websites to look up to try look for the “perfect” community service fit, but it also gives you suggestions on how to pick your community service project.  This is a big one for me.  What inspires me may not (and usually doesn’t) inspire my husband or my children.  What I am talented in, the rest of my family may not be talented in.  Last year my son and husband volunteered with Recreation Unlimited, teaching physically and cognitively challenged individuals to ski and snowboard.  It’s perfect for them!  I volunteer in other ways.  And my 11 year old daughter, she tends to like what I volunteer with and she helps when she can.  As a family, though, we have not found something that we all want to be part of.  Maybe that will come one day……

This book also gave me a completely new perspective on “mission trips” to other countries.  I learned that alot of what we Westerners perceive as to be helping is actually just continuing the cycle of hunger, poverty, and begging.  What an eye opener!!!!

There are a lot of great quotes in this book; and most of them are quotes by other people (not the authors).  Here are some that I loved:

“He who does not live in some degree for others, hardly lives for himself.”  Michel de Montaigne

“Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.” Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm

“I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right.  It’s as simple as it gets in this complicated world.”  Julia Diaz

“Nobody  made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”  British philosopher Edmund Burke

“Think of other people.  Serve other people sincerely.  No cheating.”  Dalai Lama

“You give but little when you give our possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”  Kahlil Gibran

One of my favorites that has nothing to do with service…..  “Everything you do that is not walking is dancing.”   a saying from Ghana

And I will leave with these quotes and a challenge:

Anita Roddick (founder of The Body Shop) said, “if you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.”  Then Kevin Salwen followed by saying, “In fact, we think everyone can give of the three T’s:  time, talent, or treasure.”

So, my friends, we all have some time, talent or treasure that we can use to be of service.  For me, as a stay at home mom, I have lots of time, so I do a lot of community service for different organizations.  I also use my leadership skills, public speaking talents, and organization skills for these organizations.  And when I can, I give of  my treasures by donating.  Get out a piece of paper and make a list of your 3 T’s……and then do something about it.  I bet you would have more time if you watched less TV or played less video games or spent less time on Facebook :).  What about reading?  You can spend some time reading to kids at the boys and girls clubs or at the libraries :).  Or..you could just go play bingo with the residents at the nursing homes!  There is always something you can do :).

Don’t know where you can volunteer?  Go to http://www.handsonnetwork.org or check with your local religious institution, these places will give you some great ideas!

If you have teens or you work with tween & teens, pick up this book and give it a read..maybe even read it with them!  It’s a great reminder of the way we should live our lives :).

Last week, I received an email from the VP of The Community Center (a place for the LGBT people of Boise to gather for their groups, clubs, or entertainment) saying that I had been nominated for the Willow(Community Volunteer) Award–to the LGBT individual in a non-leadership role for community service.  The actual nomination read:

Martha Spiva–Martha has been working with a.l.p.h.a. as a volunteer for several years, planning the Idaho Women’s Retreat for 2 years now, helping out with Forever Red, and bringing in new partners.  She also works with the Girl Scouts and a number of other groups as a volunteer.  she is a great representative of the queer community.

I was floored, shocked, surprised, but most of all honored!  As it turns out, Duane Quintana the Executive Director of a.l.p.h.a. (Allies Linked for the Prevention of HIV and AIDS) nominated me.  He later told me that he believed I was a great example of the “queer community” (as a bisexual woman) who volunteers not just in the “gay community” but in the Boise community at large.

While it is true, I do volunteer for several different organizations, I never really thought about how much I volunteer (except for on those exhausting weeks where it feels like I don’t have time for everything).  It is just what I do.  My life is dedicated to being of service.

When I was told that I was nominated, I cried.  I know that for those of you who know me, the fact that I cried is NOT a shocker.  I cry at everything.  But this was different because of where this award is coming from.  I realized that I had come full circle.

Just before we moved away from Phoenix, Arizona, I was just starting to “come out” as bisexual.  Some people accepted me like “Whats the big deal?”.  Yet other’s who accepted me at first threatened to throw it in my face later.  See, I was a volunteer for the Cub Scouts (totally homophobic organization and does NOT allow anything other than straight people to be leaders.)  I was also on the board of my child’s school Family Teacher Organization.  I was a pillar in my community and well-known.  When I finally pulled my children out of Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, my “friend” took this personally and threatened to “out” me to all of the parents at our children’s school.  Shortly after that, my husband’s company moved us to Boise, Idaho.

I decided that when we moved to Boise, I was going to live my life “out of the closet”.  Yes, I’m married; yes, I’m bisexual.  The first thing I did was look for a LGBT community center, and I found it.  They were amazingly welcoming.  I started attending a group called Your Family Friends and Neighbors.  Looking to get my kids involved in something, I attended the youth group there. I also attended the women’s Halloween dance.  Everything was going great until a lesbian woman at the dance found out that I was married & bisexual, and she shunned me.  I then gave up on being part of the LGBT community.  I did find other people who loved and accepted me just the way I am, and continued on with my life.  We love it here in Boise!

Eventually, I got involved with a.l.p.h.a.  I had heard about the organization from my massage clients and from my son’s friends who volunteered there while she was in high school.  But it wasn’t until one of my husband’s friends contacted me to ask me to do massages for the Idaho Women’s Retreat (for women living with HIV/AIDS) that I really got involved.  I ended up running the retreat and getting involved with a.l.p.h.a. in other ways….like condom raids, teaching compassion classes, planning Forever Red (the Award Banquet), and KYS’s (Know You Status FREE HIV testing events).  As you might imagine, while volunteering with a.l.p.h.a. and HIV/AIDS centered organization, I started getting to know alot of the LGBT community.  Here I found acceptance as a married bisexual woman!  I was just one of the gang!  I love working with these people!

And now, here I was being nominated for this award by the community that at first shunned me…and now is awarding me as one of them volunteering FOR them as well as our community at large!  I finally felt like I was “home”!

I looked at the other nominees; they either volunteered for The  Community Center (the people hosting the award ceremony) or they were very well-known people within the LGBT community.  I didn’t think I had a chance at winning.  But it was put to a public vote.  We were encouraged to send out the email and post it on facebook….and that is exactly what I did.  Sure enough, I had enough votes, I was awarded the Willow Award for being a bisexual woman who performs community service in and outside the LGBT community!  This felt amazing!

They called my name, and I could hardly believe it.  I walked up to the stage and was given the chance to make an acceptance speech where I shared my story of contacting The Community Center first..and now I am receiving an award from them.  Everything goes full circle!

I am humbled and honored just from the nomination, and even more so with the fact that people voted for me and I won.  Volunteering is something that I do.  It is my “job”.  I am very fortunate to be able to be a stay at home  mom and volunteer my time.  I am grateful to my husband for supporting me in this and for my family being generous with their “mom time” and sharing me with our community.  I could never do what I do without my family!  I am very blessed!

And I was just told this morning that I am being nominated for another award; this time it’s a national award with the opportunity (if I win) to be awarded a significant amount of money to be donated to my volunteer organization.  For the nomination process, I was asked to gather and write a kind of resume of my community service.  I only started keeping track in 1998.  But it dawned on me that I have been volunteering since I was  12 years old.  That is 29 years of community service!!!  I am so very grateful for the opportunity to be of service to my community (where ever that is at the time).  I have touched so many lives, but in turn so many lives have touched mine in ways that I will never be able to communicate.

My life is truly blessed and not a moment goes by that I do not recognize this.

Thank you for everyone who voted for me to receive The Willow Award.  Thank you to my family for all of your support.  Thank you to a.l.p.h.a. for using my talents and pushing me to be better with them.  Thank you to the Girl Scouts of America for being inclusive and being such great examples for our girls.  Thank you to the Junior League of Boise for providing me with the leadership opportunities so that I can grow and be stronger!

If you ever have the opportunity to be of service, even if its just for one hour, please take it.  Every minute of service counts.  Remember that what you give, you will receive.  You get from life what you put into it.  What are you putting into your life?  Are you giving back?  Are you paying it forward?  I hope so; you won’t regret it!  I  never do!

I picked up this easy to read 135 page book when I went to see His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar while he was here in Boise.  Until recently, I had never even heard of him but all of a sudden, I have seen him twice in 2 days (1st a major public appearance and 2nd at a private gathering at my church) and now I have read just one of his books.  When I went to the resource table at the big event, I looked around at all the books and all the cd’s that were there.  The title of this book is why I ultimately chose the book.  I can always use a little more fun in my life.

This book touches on the topics of fun, true intimacy, the four approaches to practical and spiritual life, real laughter, dealing with feelings, the nature of God and being a fool.  When I picked up the book to check it out, I noticed these topics and thought, “Wow!  This should be a fun read…..fun, laughter, being a fool!  That’s right up my alley!”

I have to say that when I started reading the book, I kept hearing Sri Sri’s voice as if he was saying it to me instead of me reading it.  It made reading this book so much more fun.  I saw his gentle smile and heard his laughter in the words he wrote.  I saw the mischievous look in his eyes when he cracked the jokes.  It really did make this book that much more enjoyable.  But even without that first hand experience with Sri Sri, the book is a very easy and enjoyable read.  It does get into some very deep thinking, and I did have to re-read things on several occasions.  This is definitely a book that will need to be read a couple of times.  Good thing it only takes a couple of hours to read to begin with!

So what did I learn?  It is more about what I re-learned.  I take things too seriously.  Reading this book just reminds me of that.

  • I learned that God loves fools and that being foolish is really being more like God than being this serious person is.  The chapter on being a fool was very enlightening!
  • I learned more about laughter!  I have taken laughter yoga classes, and this just reiterated what I learned from those classes.
  • He also talked about observing our feelings; this is something I was working on in therapy.  This is also something I read about in Geneen Roth’s book.  So here I go again, re-learning it in this book.  Being mindful of my feelings, allowing myself to feel them, and then let go.  Sri Sri suggests taking the feeling to its height (which may mean feeling at your lowest) and once you have done that, you have  felt and experienced all there is to feel with that feeling and it will just disappear.  How cool is that?  He says to feel it, but not to act on it.
  • Stop paying attention to happenings.  When we are attached to happenings, we create opinions, then we are stuck and attached to them.  We are living in the past and we will never remain open to new experiences and live in NOW.
  • “An enlightened person may not say, “I love you so much.”  In the very presence, you can feel the love.  In the very breath, you can experience love.  In the very look, you can experience love.  In any word spoken, you will hear that it is full of love.  The very existence is love.  That is enlightened love.”
  • “True intimacy is not in a hurry; it’s not anxious.  It relaxes, it knows.”
  • I am you.  You are me.  We are God.  We are all one creation/mind manifesting itself in different bodies.  This brings a whole new depth to the belief that we are One.  The book explains it so beautifully :).
  • In most of our problems, the biggest issue we have is the fight we have with our mind.  This is so true.  When I am miserable or depressed or stressed, it is because of an issue/conflict I am having within my mind.  It is MY experience, my THINKING that is causing me so much distress.  Sri Sri talks about letting go and surrendering.  and Forgiving myself.
  • This is one of my favorite paragraphs in the book:  “Thinking is like chewing gum.  It doesn’t produce anything.  You can think about only those things which you know.  and once you know, what is the need to  think about it?  And you can’t think something which you don’t know.  How can you?  It is not possible.  Ultimately, thinking is useless!!!”
  • Here is a great strategy for life:  “See life as a game, as a play.  You are God, you know it.  I am God, I know it.  So let us play. And when you come from that level of consciousness, there is nothing to teach.  Only being.  Come and sit, be with me for a while.  That is enough, for you and I are one.  This is love,  isn’t it?  That is what God is telling you every day, ‘I am doing everything.  You come and sit with me.  Whatever needs to be done, I will get it done through you.  You simply stop existing.'”  I know I am guilty of taking life too seriously..always looking for a connection to God..always learning..always searching.  It’s what I do.  Yet, I have found recently that all I want to do is do things that make me smile, feel joy and live.  I find myself wanting to PLAY and be joyful.  Not only am I WANTING to do this but I AM DOING this.  It’s pretty darn cool!

I will close with this last quote found in the chapter about being a fool.  “George Bernard Shaw said somewhere, ‘Cricket is a game where eleven fools play and eleven thousand watch.’  It is true.  All games are foolish acts.  A game is a game because it is foolish.  If you find meaning, purpose, aim and competition, you destroy the whole game.”  How about we just stop looking for the meaning of life, and just in-joy it!  Have fun!  Play!  Laugh!  And just BE!

This book is the follow-up to The Four Agreements also by Don Miguel Ruiz.  When I opened the book, and saw that it went over the first 4 agreements again, I thought “Wow! This is going to be a long re-read!”  I was completely wrong.  Yes, it went over the first 4 agreements again, but it gave me new insights.  This is always a welcome treat.

Have you ever had a book where you love almost each and every word you read?  It’s like each word has a direct link to your heart and means so much more than the paper it is written on?  That is this book!  Almost every page is dog-eared and has notes written on its pages.  I love the quotes that can be pulled from this book as well as the huge insights and awakenings it gives!  You won’t be disappointed!

I am pretty certain I have said this before, but I have always felt that if we just listened to each other’s stories, World Peace would be a reality.  Well the 5th Agreement is just that!  Be skeptical, and listen!  Listen to each other.  You don’t have believe what they say or share their believes, but LISTEN.  You will find out where they are coming from and why they act the way they do.  You will UNDERSTAND why they are different from you and maybe even find out that they are the SAME as you!  Listen, but be skeptical.  I loved this!

You know that saying, “Ignorance is bliss”?  Here is a quote in this book that reiterated this for me:

You existed  long before you understood all those symbols, before you learned to speak, and just like any child before he or she learns to speak, you were completely authentic.  You didn’t pretend to be what you are not.  Without even knowing it, you trusted yourself completely; you loved yourself completely.  Before you learned knowledge, you were totally free to be what you really are because all those opinions and stories from other humans were not in your head already.

We knew bliss once before as a child.  Before our parents and society told us what to believe about ourselves and the world around us, we knew we were perfect.  We were thrilled with ourselves.  We  had no reason to believe we were anything other than amazing!  We experienced bliss every single day of our lives!  Before knowledge, there is ignorance…and IGNORANCE IS BLISS!  Once we let go our attachment to this “knowledge” we will find our way back to that bliss :).

One of the reasons I loved this book so much is that it spoke to the huge issue of Self-esteem.  Since I teach a self-esteem class for girls, this obviously got my attention.  One of the subjects we touch on in my class is the idea of perfection.  As a society, we tell ourselves that no body is perfect.  What a lie!!!!!  Ruiz, tells us that by teaching our children and believing that “nobody is perfect”, we spend our entire lives measuring ourselves against this idea of “perfection”.  We spend our entire lives trying to look perfect, act perfect, be perfect.  We create “perfection” in the media through digital manipulation and tell our girls, “This is what perfect looks like.” But even the woman in that picture doesn’t look like the woman who is in that picture!  Seriously!!!!  Just go take a look at the video clip “Evolution” by Dove  and see for yourself.  Yet, here we are telling ourselves and our children that “nobody’s perfect”.  It’s a lie!!!!  Every human is perfect!  “The truth is that everything in creation is perfect, including humans.”

I love this:

Everything about us is perfect, including any disability or disease that we may have.  Someone with a learning difficulty is perfect; someone born without a finger or an arm or an ear is perfect; someone with a disease is perfect.  Only perfection exists, and that awareness is another important step in our evolution.

PERFECT!!!!  It’s not enough to say this, but we need to BELIEVE IT!!!!  I believe it, do you???

I will leave with this thought.  Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in this world.”  This is something I remind myself on a daily basis.  If I want my children to be a certain way, then I must model that for them.  Ruiz says, “When you’re happy, the people around you are happy too, and it inspires them to change their own world.”  My passion and mission in this life is to be of service and change the world through my service.  If you want to change the world, start with yourself.  Be the change you want to be see in this world, and the people around you will follow.  Change/better yourself = change/better the world.

Thank you for reading  my blog.  Even if you don’t comment, I see that you are reading, and that means the world to me.  This journey is mine, but it is also yours.  We are walking this path together and together we can accomplish anything!  So thank you!

So this morning I was watching the news and there was a clip about the 8% budget cuts for Idaho Schools.  Teacher’s pay will start at a little over $29K.  I was very upset about this.  Our kids are our future.  They deserve better than this, and the teachers who mold our children’s minds deserve better than this!  OUR FUTURE DESERVES BETTER THAN THIS!!!

Usually on my Facebook statuses I’m a very positive person, but today I posted my frustration.  Then later, as I was looking for an uplifting quote to post as my new status message, I saw a quote in The Laws of Spirit by Dan Millman that shifted my mood:

“I’m filled with faith.  Real problems exist.  But even as we address the issues that cry out for help, it seems wisest to focus on positive outcomes and on our human potential.  The Law of Expectation teaches that what we focus on expands; fighting problems only strengthens them by giving them energy.  So focus on the solutions, not the problems.”

As I was taking my shower, I couldn’t stop thinking about this quote.  And I couldn’t stop thinking about my “Fierce Dream” and my “Fierce Light” (see my blog about Fierce Light) and I remembered a quote from one of the other participants at the workshop I attended.  ‘Instead of thinking how hard something can be, why not think of how EASY it can be!”  Wow!  Okay….  So I started thinking about ways to fund our children’s education.  I started thinking about solutions to a teen center and what my focus should be on…creating PHYSICALLY HEALTHY CHILDREN!!!!  And I got excited….

So hear me out…

What if….

Funding Education:

What if private corporations funneled money into the schools?  Like a sponsorship.  It could be local corporations or even national ones.  So like here in Boise, we have Micron and HP.  What if they gave money to the public schools to help fund reading and writing?  I realize that sometimes they donate computers and stuff, but what if they gave MONEY to the schools to help the school buy books or whatever is needed in that way?  Or what if they started their own schools?  I don’t really know how this works out..it was just ideas flowing through my head.  I don’t have all the answers, but what if?  What if they created Public schools..like a charter school…  What if ALL of the major corporations did this instead of spilling all of their money into costly marketing campaigns?  The community service/schools would be the marketing campaigns.  The success of the schools they created would be a HUGE marketing boost for them.  Make this accessible to every/any child..not just a private school with kids who have money.  The same can work for major corporations…MICROSOFT, APPLE, GOOGLE, or any other major corporation.  I was about to say CocaCola..but what if Coke want to put their bad for your drinks and foods in the schools..that wouldnt’ work would it?

What if the major/local sports franchises put money into the schools for Physical Education?  So PE wouldn’t be cut from the budgets…and our kids could stay healthy?  They would be giving back..not just “token” amounts of time or money..but serious money that really made a difference.

Would this cost something on their ends?  Would it create sacrifices on the companies ends?  Maybe…but in the long run, wouldn’t they create smarter more successful future employees?  It’s just a thought.  I don’t have all the answers, but what if this could be part of the solution.

Okay, so I am gonna say something that maybe some of you might not like.  I know people don’t like Big Government…or like alot of Government in your lives.  I can understand that.  And I don’t know if what I am about to say is going to sound Socialist..and actually, I just don’t care what it sounds like.  But here it is..here is my thought…since that is what Blogging is about, right?  What if the government mandated that all major corporations (who made a certain amount of money) give back a certain percentage of their income to the public school system?  Same thing with sports franchises?  What if they were told they had to give back in order to support the full circle of life..in order to have a great country of qualified, smart, valuable employees, they would have to invest their money into the future.   Sure some of those kids would not end up working for them, but some would..its an investment in our country’s future!  It would come back around.  The USA could catch back up in the technology race.  And the community at large would be supporting itself.  We would be self-sustaining..recirculating..giving back..careing for…  How amazing would that be?

Instead of looking out for number one..we look out for each other..for the country at large.  It’s possible.  Anything could happen.  What if it was that easy?????

My “Fierce Dream” of a youth center:

So for years I have had a dream about owning a roller rink or a laser tag center.  I have dreamed of a community center for youth.  I have dreamed about healthy children (both physically and emotionally).

What if…….

What if the community center I create doesn’t look like any other community center out there?  Ya know the typical rooms filled with computers, tv, video games, maybe a gym to play ball in,  maybe a dance studio.  What if, my community center is a facility with a roller rink AND a laser tag arena?  What if it also had a room to serve as a dance/aerobic dance studio.  What if, instead of serving sodas and cotton candy, it served smoothies and healthy snacks?  What if it also allowed for quiet spaces to do homework and open conversations with mentors.  It could have a couple of video games and computers, I suppose.  But the major focus would be on team building, healthy relationships, homework, mentoring, and physical activity!

Currently, there is one roller rink and one laser tag arena here in town, but they are both FOR PROFIT. What if my facility was a 501c3…NON PROFIT!!!!!  Created for kids and families to create a healthy lifestyle and a safe place for kids to hang after school and on the weekends and on holidays.  That would rock!!!!!

So, my very appreciated readers, what do you think about my what ifs?  I would love to hear it!

Some things are just to beautiful for words, which makes it pretty hard to blog about!  This past weekend was just that.  I had the extreme pleasure and honor of meeting Velcrow Ripper and watching his film Fierce Light:  When Spirit Meets Action and taking his workshop.  And of course, between the movie on Saturday night and his workshop Sunday after noon, there was my regular church service at Center for Spiritual Living of the Treasure Valley.  Wowzers!

When I decided to go see the movie and take the workshop I really didn’t know what I was in for.  Except that I had decided at the beginning of the year to take the workshops, watch the movies, read the books….to help me grow.  When the opportunity came, I had to take it.  Right?  Right.  Besides, it goes along with my passion…being of service.  Or so I thought.

It did,  kinda sorta in a way.  It was more on Spiritual Activism.  I’m not much of an activist.  I mean I attend the same-sex marriage rallies.  Every once in a while you might find me a peace rally.  But in general, I’m not a huge activist.  Mostly because I find people are more angry and one-sided about their side of things, and that is not an energy I want to surround myself with, but when its done from a place of love; it is an amazing thing.  Anyway, this movie was phenomenal.  It spoke of Ghandi, and of what Spiritual Activism means.  It spoke of non-violence.  And it spoke to my very strong belief that we are ALL one!

“I am because you are, and there is no space between human beings, what I do to you essentially I do to myself.”

” We are one family, one people, we are citizens of this world, citizens of this planet.”

Watch the movie, and make sure you have a box of tissues with you when you watch it.  I guarantee you..you will cry.  I sobbed, and I would guess by the sounds of sniffles in the room, at least half of the 50 people in the room with me at the time also cried.  You will too!  It’s a call to action.  Be prepared to feel inspired to be and create the change you want to see in this world!

Then next day, I took Velcrow’s workshop.  I was told it would help me find my “Fierce Light”.  As I am transitioning from  one of my volunteer organizations to “I don’t know what comes next”, I thought this would be a good time to find that “Fierce Light” and maybe find some direction.  What I found during this workshop shocked me.  I found more healing/awareness/teaching around the incest at my father’s hands.  Between Church’s message of “there are no victims” to an exercise that asked “Who are you?”, I found out that I am my father, and that he has gifted me with lessons of compassion.  For that I am grateful.  (I realize that may be clear as mud, but for me to type it all out word for word, would take DAYS!)  Just trust, that this realization was HUGE, HEALING, and POWERFUL.  Not just for me, but for the other women that came up to me later (after I openly shared what I experienced) and thanked me for helping them see it in their lives as well.

The other part that shocked me (or maybe not so much) was what my “Fierce Light” turned out being.  I know I have a passion for youth.  I know I have a passion for service. I also know that my  kids and I have often discussed the lack of things for kids to do at our end of town.  So why did my “Fierce Light” really shock me?  I don’t know.  It turns out that my “Fierce Light/Dream” is to open a community center for youth and a resource center for women/moms here at my end of town.  Not sure why this shocked me…maybe because I have been all talk and not really felt motivated to do it myself.  In my own thoughts, I always thought it would be nice to have but someone else should create it.  *laugh*  The city should do it!  The YMCA should do it.  They Boys and Girls Club should do it.  Not me!  Well, I found out..that Yes, it should be me!  If I see a need, it should be me that stands up and makes it happen.  It not me?  Who?  If not Now?  When?

I’m not certain how this will play out.  Actually, I don’t think I have an inkling of an idea of how it should happen.  I just know it should.  And as a confirmation of that, at the beginning of the workshop we were told to pick out a gift form this bag.  Midge Woods (a community leader here in town) picked out a walnut seed and said how perfect it was for her.  I picked out a bone carving of Quan Yin (Goddess of Compassion) which I thought was perfect for me.  Little did we know that through this event, we would be exchanging these gifts with other participants.  During the workshop, at some point, I was working with Midge and she and I discussed creating community centers (since this is what she has done).  She is very inspiring.  She had no idea what it would look like for her either, but she did it.  And it’s amazing.  Here’s is a spiritual community center.  The very last exercise we did, I was with a completely different person and we exchanged gifts again.  I ended up with that same Walnut Seed that Midge had picked out at the beginning….indeed very appropriate.  The seed of community spirit, center has been passed down from Midge to myself.  It is time.  Not sure how….but it WILL be done :).

I would be remiss if I did not share with you how to purchase or find out more about this amazing movie and workshop.  www.fiercelight.org www.velcrowripper.com Both of these are excellent sources for more information about the movie and the film maker.  Please, if you are passionate about change in your community, world or planet, check out these websites and find your inspiration!  Get involved!  Find your Fierce Dream and shine your Fierce Light!