Category Archives: Children

[in photos]: Journey Forward

I joined the Journey Forward series for the first time last week.
It is a perfect pairing with the vibe of Smile at a Stranger.

The goal of participating in Journey Forward is personal enrichment, self awareness, and moving toward your potential.  It is based on a central word, or theme, on which you focus your energy and attention, and blog about it weekly.

My “word” was an easy choice for me because it is an attitude I wish to impart on life in general: Kindness.
This week’s Journey Forward post is about images, or graphics (i.e.- videos) that embody your chosen word; to share some of your pins from Pinterest that exemplify the significance of your word. 
This is what kindness looks (and sounds) like to me:

1- Sarah Kay– Spoken word artist.  “Hands” Listen- It’s just beautiful.
2- Kindness is an animal instinct.  And an animal NEED.
3- Kindness is priceless, ya know.
4- Video- Amy Krause Rosenthal’s “Thought Bubble”- asks “How Do YOU Want to be Remembered”  “What Have You Filled the World With?”
5- Because making others feel good makes ME feel good.
6- Simplicity.  Kindness is not complicated.
7- Anis Logjani– Spoken word artist.  “Shake the Dust” Another amazing person trying to lift people up with his wonderful gift with words.
8- This is what I see everyday at home with my two boys, and besides a mother’s love for her children, sibling love is one of the purest forms of love (and kindness) there is.
9- Do RIGHT.  Because it’s wayyyy cooler than doing wrong.
10- Parents.  And especially my mom.  From whom I learned what kindness was.
11- What Teachers Make- Taylor Mali.  Powerful stuff, y’all.  
Linking up with a fellow NoVA girl, Chelsea, for Journey Forward!  
Can’t wait until next week!

A follow up: Kony 2012

This is a follow up to my Kony 2012 post from earlier today

Due to the amount of attention the video has received and consequently brought upon Invisible Children, the organization has released a lengthy and informative statement regarding their mission, their financials, and their approach.  They just released it over their Facebook page about an hour ago.  It can be found here.  

If your mind is open to learning about this and isn’t your opinion isn’t completely solidified; otherwise, it’s probably not even worth it. 
I have read a lot of commentary about this over the last couple of days (dare I say too much).  I was utterly shocked at how cynical and cruel some people were being about Invisible Children and their mission.  I was so compelled by what I saw, heard, and ultimately learned, that I couldn’t imagine anyone feeling any differently.  
But alas, there are a lot of people who are unwilling to “buy into” all the hype, and who aren’t willing to pledge their support for Kony 2012 because it is facilitated by a group called Invisible Children.  There are questions surrounding their legitimacy and many people are skeptical about where their money is going. 
It seems that people will always find something to be skeptical about.  It’s a frame-of-mind.  It’s also a defense mechanism.  
It is my belief that if we are to acknowledge the atrocities of this world, we would then feel compelled and somewhat obligated to re-examine who “we” are as individuals.  For some, this is simply too overwhelming.  It is easier, for some, sometimes, to bury their heads in the sand and come up with excuses. 
Fortunately, there are millions and millions of people who do seem to be ready to throw themselves behind Invisible Children and stand up for an issue of global concern.
I’m all in.
Sign the pledge hereIt’s free.

Random Cards of Kindness

On my lunch break today, I came across an organization that facilitates random and inspiring communication to children with life-threatening illnesses.  I was moved to write one.
I took out a piece of paper, and wrote a note.  
I don’t know who it will reach, and I don’t know what their situation is.  
But I wrote it and sent it… with all of the empathy, kindness, and love I could retrieve from my spirit.  
I actually started crying sobbing as soon as my pen hit the paper.  Quite an emotional experience.
If you would like to take a minute to write something sweet for a kid in a situation few of us can imagine, you can go to Love Letters: Random Card of Kindness, Inc. for more information.  
Kindly and with love~


Opportunities to help frequently come in such ordinarypackages that it’s easy to let these precious moments slip through our capable fingers: 
How manytimes has someone tried to hand youa flier on your way into a grocery store? How do you respond?  Do you takeit and read it, or perhaps transfer it to the nearest trash bin?  Do you simply give an unreceptive “no thanks,”using your hand as a fleshy barrier between you and what you assume to be anunsolicited marketing ploy?  But what if itweren’t just a pushy attempt to get you to fill out another Sam’s Clubapplication form?  What if it were, forexample, a list of basic food items that families across your community urgentlyneed but cannot afford?  Would thatchange your knee-jerk reaction?
This past weekend,Northern Virginia community members had a chance to do something for a cause byparticipating inStuff the Bus– a Fairfax County initiative to collectdonations for the most vulnerable citizens in the area: those living in poverty.

Food for Others, a local nonprofit, maintains that while NorthernVirginia is regarded as one of the nation’s most prosperous areas, the regionhas a poverty rate of about 5%. While that number may sound inconsequential,this equates to 90,000 poverty-stricken people living in NorthernVirginia.  What’s more, an astonishing 30%of that number is made up of children.  This brings us to a tragic reality: Over 25,000 helpless kids are livingin socioeconomic distress in this exceptionally wealthy jurisdiction.  Still sound inconsequential? 
The Stuff the Bus event was held at a Giant Food Store inthe distant and incredible land of McLean, Virginia, where massive castles linegolden streets, where dogs the size of rats wear crowned jewels and velvet robes,and where 6-year-old children have iPhone’s surgically implanted into theirhands.  iPhone’s are just a modern day riteof passage.
The Giant parking lot was ironically tiny, and had troubleholding the hoards of luxury cars, all competing for a front-row spot.  The sky was misting, that barely-there rainthat will totally negate any hair product you attempted to use before leavingthe house, and the ladies had to be extra mindful not to have their perfect tressesmessed with.  Now are we clear whythese front row spots were in such high demand?
A gaggle of geeky tweens were manning the front doors withunimpressive authority, timidly trying to hand out pieces of neon pink paper.  The poor kids were so unsure of themselvesthat they couldn’t even stutter “hi ma’am” without either drooling all overthemselves or breaking out into nervous hives.  
The neon paper that was so readily being dismissed was aninventory of essential items that were needed to replenish the community’s foodpantries.  It was a roster full of simpleitems that are usually taken for granted. Things like ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise: staples for hamburgerlovers, who will gratuitously and instinctively drench their quarter-pounders inas much sauce as they can.  But askcountless families across Northern Virginia, and these commonplace condimentsare considered a scarce indulgence.
The store was packed like a family station wagon, readyingfor retreat.  It was filled to the brim withpeople, yet no one was talking to each other! Most people shuffled from aisle to aisle without so much as a glance atanother human being.  Is the Zombie Apocalypse upon us already!?   
Most people didn’t have a CLUE what the pink papers were,and might not have cared anyway.  Like“long multicolored fur coat lady,” who was obviously aging and in denial, withdyed blonde hair that more closely resembled straw than locks.  She and her rigid husband were stifflypushing an over-flowing cart, full of frivolity: Ten pairs of shoelaces, themost expensive coffee in the store, and most importantly, refrigerated dogfood.  God forbid Fifi goeswithout her gourmet meals!
Giant provides 6 types of carts for shoppers to conveniently choose from:
*        There was a tiny green cart for 3-year-oldchildren whose parents allow them to do their own shopping.  Forget teaching them manners andkindness; just teach them how to grocery shop! 
*        There was a smaller cart made for an adult whoonly needs a few things.  The handheld baskets are too laborious. 
*        There was a basket on wheels that shoppers couldtow behind them.  Very wagon-like. 
*        There was a normal sized cart… complete with a cup holder, in which sat a Venti Starbucks drink forevery 2 out of 3 people. 
*        There was even a cool gadget (a portable scanner) at the front door thatallowed you to completely control your shopping experience by price-checkingall of the items.  Price tags don’t exist anymore?
Do I need to continue?  

It was painfully clear that the masses, on the whole, were completely consumed inself-indulgent, self-fulfilling behaviors, and they seemed to be completely outof touch with one another. 

Ironic, don’t ya think, given the context of thecircumstance.  All of this glamor, allof this glitz, all of this MONEY, yet outside stood a group of young volunteers, some ofwhom might struggle with poverty, but who had little way of reaching the peoplewho have the means to support their noble cause, and sadly have absolutely nowillingness to acknowledge it.  Ignorance is bliss.
On a brighter note, there was about a third of the shoppers had that pink paper in theirhands, and were intently focused onfulfilling the rations spelled out for them. These special few were the only people smiling and making eye contactwith one another.  They, collectively, werea compassionate and considerate breath of fresh air.
Best part of the event: Overhearing a mother asked her [about] 4-year-old son,“Do you know why we are here?”  
To whichhe replied, “To help people and do the right thing.” 
And THAT is where change starts.
Sometimes a man imagines that he will lose himself if he gives himself, and keep himself if he hides himself.  But the contrary takes place with terrible exactitude.”  –Ernest Hello