What’s New With Me These Days?

I know, I know, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve no good excuse except for being incredibly busy with a new contract, my current job, juggling husband and kid activities, staying true to my goal of exercising every day, keeping up with friends, worrying about my elderly parents, and trying to stop my cats from scratching up my furniture and eating my cooking. But my blog is never far from my mind and I really miss writing.

My kids don't really think this way...

My kids don’t really think this way…

I’m having fun with this new contract. I’d been wanting to pick up some hours as my current job was only part-time and I was feeling ready to expand my skill set a bit. In fact, this past fall, the work I had done with my coaching group made me realize I was ready to launch a consulting practice.

I really love how serendipity works: I received a fundraising email from a parent at my son’s elementary school who happened to be President of the Board at a small arts non-profit. I had been wanting to do some more volunteering to expand my skill set and also to get to know some other nonprofits a little better. So when I got this email I was intrigued: how did this very busy guy get a pretty cool volunteering position as President of a Board? I made a mental note to email him and ask him some questions.

That very same day, I kid you not, I was at the grocery store when I ran into HIM of all people! During our brief conversation he told me this organization could use some help. He learned I had some extra time, so we decided to email about this and a few weeks later met for coffee to talk more.

Turns out, what he needed and what I wanted were a perfect match!  One of the things I have been wanting to do through my consulting practice is help organizations through transition. It was a match made in heaven! So much for having the time to volunteer. It’s still on my list of priorities, especially doing it with my family.

It’s only been a few weeks, but here is what I have learned so far:

  • I LOVE using my untapped skill set: being a mentor and coach to staff and being a leader during an uncertain time.
  • Being a good listener and being steady and calm are essential particularly when people feel stretched thin and have not been given clear direction about priorities.
  • I am a big picture person and love thinking about how systems are currently working within an organization. How is the organization marketing itself? Are the databases and marketing materials accessible and user-friendly? Who is the audience and are we reaching them?

Thanks for being my 12th man (go Seahawks!!) by continuing to read my blog! Will be back soon!

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Fight the Ladykiller

My Parentmap post about Barbra Streisand and heart disease is up. Check it out!

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Feeding Kids over the Weekend

And here’s another post I enjoyed writing about a program with the schools that we have been partnering with at FamilyWorks. Check it out.

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Eating Granola for Good

I have been eating some really yummy granola. What’s the big deal about that?

Well, it makes me happy to indulge in my (mind you, infrequent) consumerist habits knowing that spending money on granola just gets donated right back to FamilyWorks!

Read my blog post on the FamilyWorks site and find out more!

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An Inspiring Post Gleaned from Facebook

I’m at home with a sick child, doing some work and decided to take a break and check Facebook. Yes, when I need a diversion, that’s what I sometimes do, I admit it. Although, I prefer to stand up after sitting down for way too long and work on peeling an orange to see if I can do it in just one long peel.

So I saw on Facebook that a friend had shared a really moving post written by a woman, a poet, who was stranded at an airport. She heard an announcement that someone who spoke Arabic was needed at her gate immediately (coincidence, huh?). Check it out.

It will make your day.

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Being a Do-gooder Can Potentially Get You Arrested

There’s been quite a buzz lately about 90-year-old Arnold Abbott’s efforts to feed homeless people through his nonprofit organization, Love Thy Neighbor, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Abbott, a”do-gooder”, as some call him, has been trying to help feed homeless people for the last 20 years and he has been cited several times (his third citation just happened the other day) for violating a city ordinance prohibiting food sharing in public spaces.

Arnold Abbott

Arnold Abbott

At first, when I read some brief Facebook posts about this and the ensuing comments, I felt pretty bummed out and even said so. I thought, instead of preventing crime and helping people in need, the police are arresting a 90-year-old man for helping homeless people?? What’s wrong with these people?

But then I stopped myself from jumping to conclusions and decided to find out more about the ordinance and why it was instituted in the first place.

And here is what I learned:

What is the Fort Lauderdale city ordinance that was passed?

Apparently, the city ordinance requires groups to provide portable toilets, hand washing stations, and a permit for handling the food in outdoor public spaces. The intent is to move these public feedings indoors for safety and sanitary reasons. Opponents say it is a “cleansing” of homelessness effort and part of a national effort to “criminalize homelessness”.

What articles shed information on the issue?

I suspect the reactions most people have (indignation, sadness) are from brief, skim-the surface articles that don’t really talk about the issue in depth. Of course one would be outraged if an elderly man trying to help homeless people would be arrested! For example, this Miami article really does not provide the whole story, so I had to dig further. And this ABC news article does provide a little more information but it doesn’t really address the whole reason why the ordinance exists and all the perspectives about the city’s approach to homelessness.

I found this blog post, which had a personal perspective I found interesting, on why the ordinance exists: charitable organizations leave messes on the street which attract rodents and therefore create a whole host of public health problems. Apparently, Fort Lauderdale is one of the 10 most rat-infested cities in the USA.

In a CBS Miami article, the city of Fort Lauderdale says it is working with churches as part of a plan to address homelessness. Reverend Mark Sims, one of the church leaders who was cited along with Abbott, believes the law is detrimental to homeless people and he said, “I think one of the things we can do is find a more comprehensive plan to be able to feed and house those people who are hungry and homeless and also to care for those people where we do not have enough beds,” Sims said.

Without knowing the whole story it seems that developing a proactive plan is a good course of action.

I am not an expert on homelessness issues, but I am guilty of jumping to conclusions, particularly when it comes to anything involving humanitarian actions. So as you can see, it is important to look at all sides of the story before reacting quickly. The media is pretty savvy with playing up issues without really providing the background information that is so necessary to have before making a judgment call.

 

 

 

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Educating About Gender Expression Through Children’s Books

I’ve read several children’s books about kids who express themselves in gender non-conforming ways or who are transgender. For example, My Princess Boy is written by a local author, Cheryl Kilodavis, who writes about her son who likes to wear pretty dresses and gets laughed at. Its theme really is about the importance of acceptance.

There really aren’t any books for K-2 elementary school children that show how a gender non-conforming child can handle challenges and how these can be resolved.

Then I learned about Sharon Mentyka’s soon-to-be published book, B in the World, which addresses this gap.

Ilustrated by Stephen Schlott

Ilustrated by Stephen Schlott

There are two things I really like about her book:

1. It is a realistic portrayal of what happens to B, a boy who likes to wear pink, wears his hair long, and wants to be a mermaid in the school play. It evokes emotions in the reader (I teared up several times) because it is so touching and so right on.

2. It is a great teaching tool for elementary-age children to introduce the concepts of compassion, acceptance, and practical strategies for dealing with bullies and unsupportive teachers.

Please take a look at my Parentmap article that explores this in greater depth and has an interview with the author.

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