When the World is Heavy

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The world seems so heavy right now. Hurricane Harvey is devastating the lives of many Americans, politics are in shambles right now and North Korea. Someone close to me is recovering from a mastectomy, another has Alzheimer’s and sometimes it just all seems like too much. It is an easy place to find despair and cynicism—and even more important that we don’t. In these moments, what joys we can find , no matter their size or significance can be our strength. Have a listen…

In these moments where the world seems in chaos, we must hold tight to our humanity. We all share the human condition. We all experience, sadness, fear, happiness and joy. Continue reading

Who are Refugees? — part 2

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Zeina, a Syrian refugee who came to Detroit in 2012 with her mother and younger brother.

This is part two in a series. To read Part 1 first, click here.

I’m sitting on my bed, deciding where to go to breakfast with my husband on a Sunday morning.  We slept soundly last night. I will brush my teeth, take a hot shower (as long as I like) and have my choice of clothes to wear for the day. Then we will go get breakfast and enjoy each other’s company for the rest of the day. The safety and comfort of home is a normalcy in my life and community, as is the freedom to go and do whatever I like.  This is not the case for refugees. These simple everyday things are exactly what they are seeking — a place that will allow them to simply be.

ref*u*gee

a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

Here are two stories about two groups of refugees after their relocation to the United States and Canada. Continue reading

Who are Refugees? — part 1

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Elena, a 14-year-old Honduran refugee fleeing gang and sexual violence in her country.

Elena, a 14-year-old Honduran refugee who fled to Mexico to escape gang and sex violence.

The new President’s executive order on immigration has provoked a lot of discussion about immigrants and refugees. In the midst of this, and to help us develop informed opinions, it is important that we remind ourselves who these refugees are.

ref*u*gee

a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

Continue reading

Teaching Kids to Give

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The boys learning about giving, money and people in need.

Our three and five year old are no strangers to volunteering. Both my husband and I have strived to get them involved at an early age with giving back. That said, it is a challenge. It’s difficult to help kids understand why there are so many people in need all while keeping it age appropriate. This year, we tried to up the ante with the boys by talking to them about who they wanted to give their own money to. Continue reading

2016 Giving Party Update

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My lovely little niece with one of the care packages we put together. Each had toiletries, granola bar, V-8, pair of socks, beef jerky, hand warmers and a $5 McDonalds gift card.

My lovely little niece with one of the care packages we put together. Each had toiletries, granola bar, V-8, pair of socks, beef jerky, lip balm and a $5 McDonalds gift card.

“No one ever became poor by giving.”
—Anne Frank

 

Here is a quick recap on our Giving Party for 2016! I’m sorry it is so late! If you don’t know,  The Giving Party is an annual party we throw each year where we focus on giving to others in our community. We invite our family and friends to give to a handful of our favorite charities, as well as bring canned foods and toy donations for those in need around the holidays. Below is an update I sent out to everyone that participated this year. If you are interested in being involved next year, please give us a holler! We plan for next year to be even bigger and better and would love for you to join in. Continue reading

Dignity for Christmas

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This video is simple – asking people what they want for Christmas and giving it to them. The only catch is that these folks are homeless. In my experience, what homeless people lack, isn’t just a house, it is also the social constructs of dignity with which we treat each other.

Next time you see someone on the street,  look them in the eye and talk to them like a person. Don’t avoid them. Acknowledge they are there—a person with a past and a future just like you. Talk to them the way you want to be talked to. Treat them the way you want to be treated. The golden rule always comes back around. Thanks to the Random Altruist for this beautiful video showing us how it’s done. Continue reading

Let’s Take Back Our Politics!

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Photo by Aaron Burden.

This election has profoundly polarized American politics like never before. People are choosing sides, surrounding themselves with those who are like-minded and letting the divide between the two ideologies grow wider. I’m only 35, but I can see how things have grown worse over the years. Perhaps it’s that I care more about politics now than I used to, or perhaps the internet has accelerated this decay. Either way, combating this new bitterness requires more of each of us. Let me be clear…

…the people who disagree with you are not idiots.

Continue reading

Good Peep #3 – The Beckster

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Becky dancing in Anchorage. Photo by Gutierrez Photography

Becky dancing in Anchorage. Photo by Gutierrez Photography

I was halfway through my Sophomore year when I met Becky in early 2002. I walked into your typical college party with a friend of mine, who was on a mission to have a not-so-friendly chat with her ex-boyfriend. As we walked past one of the bedrooms, my friend went in, shoved a woman out and slammed the door in the woman’s face. The new woman turned around and looked at me. Our eyes wide with shock, we both burst into laughter and she said, “Hi. I’m Becky,” with her hand outstretched. Continue reading

Run, Mommy! Run!

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Photo by Dave Meier.

Photo by Dave Meier.

Being a Mom is tough work. It is a 24-hour-job that is often thankless. You are teacher, chef, counselor, cleaner, nurse, and more, all wrapped into one. You oscillate between the guilt of not spending enough time with your kids and the regret of not having the career you trained for. You typically have no idea what you are doing, but you go ahead and do it anyway.

Running takes a bite out of all the things that make this stage of life so tricky. Continue reading

Democracy is the worst.
Do it anyway.

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Democracy

Photo by Matthew Wiebe.

My family, kids and all, went to the 2016 Democratic caucus last night in Lafayette, Colorado. Just to give you an idea of what this round of American democracy looks like, below is a video that shows me walking from the start of the line to the end of the line. The video is nearly four and a half minutes long. This is the line to get in the building. Continue reading

The Right to Bear Happiness

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columbine flowers

Columbine flowers

I woke up in England today at 3:00 am U.S. time to the BBC News: another random shooting in the U.S.—I’m immediately asking where it is, whom do I know there, and why? My assistant and wingwoman in my small business, Danielle, lives in Portage, Michigan, Kalamazoo County. I jumped online to her Facebook page Continue reading

Ask for Generosity

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Generosity

Photo by Meja Petric, courtesy of Unsplash.com.

This Christmas, we decided to do something different. It was my husband’s idea. He was inspired by the images of refugees fleeing war and the contrast between those in need and the oncoming glut of excess that seems to follow Christmas. He said, “Why don’t we have a party where the whole idea is about giving to others?” We decided to call it a Giving Party. We had no idea if anyone would be interested. It is a busy time of year and folks are already stretched thin with their time and wallets. We gave it a go anyway. Continue reading

Sink In.

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A snapshot from Richard Smith's, "The Farm," video.

A snapshot from Richard Smith’s, “The Farm,” video.

This video is brought to you by Death to Stock photo. The site is a collection of breathtaking photographs that are free for anyone to use. More importantly, the community supports artists far and wide in their efforts to produce something beautiful and meaningful—including the funding of this video.

Paired with a simple poem, this video reminds us who we are when the world slows down. Continue reading

Adventure Has a New Face

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Two boys at Marshall Mesa

Our two little guys at Marshall Mesa in Boulder, about 50-60 feet from the parking lot.

I used to travel the world, helped Indigenous Australians with economic development work, volunteered with the Red Cross in New York after 9-11… however, I have a 2-and-4-year-old now, and adventure has a new face. It looks like this: Continue reading

3-D Printing for a Cause

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Albert Manero and 6-year-old Alex Pring.

Albert Manero is a Fulbright Scholar, a doctoral student in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Central Florida and a keen inventor. He’s recently been in the news because in addition to that, he has a big heart. After hearing a radio story about a man in South Africa who used a 3-D printer to make a prosthetic hand he decided to put his talents to work. His creation: a low-cost bionic arm for six-year-old Alex Pring, who was born with no arm from the elbow down. As soon as Albert met him, he was inspired to help. Continue reading

Help Syrian Refugees Now

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Syrian refugee children, 2013. Photo courtesy of MoroccoWorldNews.com.

By the end of August, the United Nations estimates that 6.5 million Syrians have been displaced and 3 million have gone to nearby countries to flee the civil war and ISIS. Of the 4,088,078 who have registered, just over two in five are under age 11, and half of those under age four. Now in its fifth year, the war in Syria has killed around 222,000 people. This is one of the worst refugee crises in world history and the international refugee aid system is straining under its weight. Continue reading

Intergenerational Genius

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Alex Stafie, 5, and Wallace Scherer, 92, make sack lunches for the homeless during an activity at Providence Mount St. Vincent home for older adults in West Seattle. Children from the Intergenerational Learning Center, a licensed childcare program, is also housed at Providence Mount St. Vincent. Five days a week, the seniors and children connect in a variety of programs including art classes, music time and story time, exercise and one-on-one visiting.

Alex Stafie, 5, and Wallace Scherer, 92, make sack lunches for the homeless at the Intergenerational Learning Center at Providence Mount St. Vincent home for older adults in West Seattle. Photo courtesy of the Seattle Times.

The way senior citizens are treated in America does not do justice to their experience or what they have given to us through their lifetime. I see it with the senior I used to work with and I see it with my own grandmother: as people age, they become more and more removed from the life they once had. As a fact of life, their bodies begin to fail them and they regularly attend funerals of friends and family, suffering isolation as a result. In 2014, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that 28% of people over age 65 live alone. Isolation has been linked to poor mental and physical health1, increased cognitive decline2, and depression3. However, there is hope and it is growing. Continue reading

#BeAwesomeToSomebody

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Mark Bustos is a high-end stylist that gives trims to homeless folks on his day off.

Mark Bustos is a high-end stylist that gives trims to homeless folks on his day off.

Meet Mark Bustos. Mark is a barber at a high-end salon in New York City, with clients like Norah Jones and Marc Jacobs. He works six days a week but on his day off, he voluntarily works some more. He walks around New York City befriending homeless people and giving away free haircuts.  Continue reading