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Category Archives: Mind’s Eye View

I HAVE MOVED

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Please visit my new home for Grace and Me.  We re-launched on a new site to celebrate our first anniversary.  Hope to see you there!

Give and Take?

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*Update after post*  This was part of my personal philosophy on volunteerism as it relates to philanthropy.  I have blurred the lines between the true definitions of donating, volunteering, and fundraising simply because I have a hard time separating these concepts in my own head.  My main goal was to share how important it is for ME to give back to my community.  And how I strive to remain connected and aware of what is happening in my country and the world at large.  This was not meant in any way to be a judgement on those that may not hold philantropy in the same light.

 

National Volunteer Week is approaching.  When someone mentions volunteerism, do you shudder and think, “Ok, what are they going to ask me to do now?”  Or do you think, “Wow, that’s a great idea, how can I help?”  Lets face it, we are all busy.  You might think that your kind of busy is more important than mine, but thats a different topic for another day.

I have been volunteering since the age of 13, at least that’s as far back as I remember.  My first gig was as a volunteer leader for The B&G Club, which was my Church’s co-ed version of  Boy Scouts or Girl Guides.  I had graduated from the program, so was invited to continue on as mentor.  Naturally, being very shy, it was a real challenge for me to try and talk to people.  Having gone through the program myself, it was easy to use my own feelings and experiences as a way to encourage my younger friends.  Volunteerism has become a natural concept to me and continues to be a big part of my life.

There are groups that make constant pleas for donations and volunteers and this can seem like a pain in the rump.  And yes, some organizations do go overboard, trying to evoke guilt to motivate people to give money.  Those that don’t have money to give, tune out, saying “I can’t help.”  I am in this category at times, I won’t deny it.  I like to encourage people by reminding them that giving isn’t exclusive to monetary donations.  You don’t have to make lengthy commitments or join a club either.  Find an issue you are passionate about and determine a way to offer sincere aide.  GIVE: TIME, TALENT, or TREASURE.  It could be as simple as shoveling the driveway of a senior in your neighbourhood, or cleaning out your closet and giving gently used items to a women’s shelter.

I’m going to get nerdy and throw a few stats at you *snort, snort*.

Who do organizations serve?
Seventy-three percent of nonprofit and voluntary organizations provide services or products directly to people (as opposed
to other organizations). These organizations most frequently report serving the general public (46%)(Table 1.3). However,
they also provide services to specific segments of the population. Children and youth are served by 23% of organizations,
the elderly by 11% and persons with disabilities by 8%. Other specific populations served include Aboriginal peoples,
immigrant populations and religious communities.

Cornerstones of Community, Stats Canada Catalogue, 2003

There are many needs in every community that are met by the caring hands of volunteers.  They don’t often get a lot of praise for what they do, but that isn’t what motivates us anyway.  I have benefited from the nurture and guidance given to me by volunteer run programs, as a child, a college student, and now as an adult.  I choose to give because I want to have a positive influence on the issues affecting neighbours in my neck of the woods.  National Volunteer Week is coming soon, thank a Volunteer .

National Volunteer Week is April 10-16, 2011

**photo is from Volunteer Canada site

No H-8

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I had a perky blog saved in my draft’s folder to add to the usual jubilance I feel on Friday’s.  I don’t know why Friday is my favourite day of the week.  It’s not like I ever really have weekends off, but anyway, I digress.

I had a little Twitter scuffle yesterday.  Someone that doesn’t follow or have a relationship with me decided to make offensive remarks about the child of someone I follow.  Since I am still naive inspite of my crazy mixed-up life experiences, I was surprised at the ‘drive-by hate’.  It was random and unsolicitated.  I want positive relationships, so tried to find a redeeming quality in this stranger that had made her presence known in my little world.  After visiting her profile I found that it was FILLED to the brim, top to bottom with slurs, and negativity.  This stranger posted one more negative comment about my weight, before I blocked her.  I actually laughed at being called ‘fatso’ because it was so childish.  I would be more offended if someone called me stupid, I have reconciled my weight issues a LONG time ago. 

So this kind of put me in a funk.  I began thinking about the large number of people that use social networking sites.  I was an avid Facebooker for years, until I got a blogging gig last summer and was asked to Tweet for the CNE.  So timidly I stepped into the Twitter-verse for the first time.  I know that human nature can make us feel safe when critisizing someone while hiding behind a computer.  Really, we are offering information about ourselves for strangers to judge or misuse.  You know the ones.  Every site or group seems to have at least one user that will attempt to use the forum to spread their message of negativity or hate.  It may seem like we won’t have to take responsibility or ownership for any nastiness we put into cyberspace.  One payback for being rude; it doesn’t usually lead to positive relationships or success in the ways that count.  Relationships are everything in social networking.

In light of this, I still believe in the social networking power held within our computers, and smartphones.   Blogging has changed my life in the last year.  And relationships I have made in various sites and forums have helped me through this new transition called parenthood.  I would like to ask, “Can’t we all just get along?”.  I know the answer is “No”.  Being unique, with different personality querks, opinions, and points of view, is what makes life interesting.  How could we ever learn respect or acceptance if we all agreed on every single topic?  As we meet people with opposing views, we learn more about the world around us.  The world is a shared space afterall, and becoming ‘smaller’ as the social networks grow.  As we meet people with similar life experiences we find comfort in knowing we are not alone.

Some important things to remember;

Have control over what people know about you online. 

Know the security limits of the sites you use. 

Stand up against cyberbullying.  You can disagree without hate.  It’s requires maturity and falls under the umbrella of such social skills as acceptance and respect.

*stock photo courtesy of dreamstime.com

Sugar Sugar

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Well, day 10 of sugar detox is going surprisingly well.  I am not crazy hungry, and no one has run away from home in fear of my mood swings.  I am not going to use the “D” word, that begins with “DIE”.  I prefer to call this new eating plan, downsizing.  Mostly because I hope it results in downsizing my pants, shirts, dresses, etc.  It is also a prettier word to describe something that isn’t always pretty or easy.  I have lost significant amounts of weight in the past, and even managed to keep most of the pounds off.  For me it requires constant vigilance, and that is the part that wears me down eventually. 

Here are a few things that keep me moving forward in my downsizing plan:

Before you start: See your doctor for a check up and tell them you are thinking about losing weight.  Then talk to a dietitian and find out healthy ways to reach your goal.

Set goals: Set a weight loss or health goal and figure out how you are going to acheive it.  Do you have more success with a work-out partner?  Do you need a weigh-in buddy to be accountable to or give moral support?  I am a lone ranger for the most part, but do need a meal plan to give me specific examples of what I should eat.

Keep positive: Don’t let negativity keep you from reaching your goal.  If you have a bad day or week, move on and try to do better, allow yourself a do-over.  Reward yourself with ‘non-food’ treats when you have success.

Educate yourself :  Read packages, you will be surprised at what is hiding in some of your favourite foods.  Learn about portion sizes, invest in a good food scale, measuring cups, and digital weight scale.  I find that using a smaller plate, or bowl will help me keep portions in check too. 

For example, I began to measure portions, and took note of just how much the serving sizes are for some of my favourite foods.  They aren’t necessarily all junk foods, but things I eat everyday, and contain some sugar.  I don’t eat a lot of take-out or junk food, ‘normal’ foods are making me fat because my servings are often super-sized!  My morning cereal regime was double the suggested serving.

cereal serving 1

Suggested Serving

 

serving 2

Normal Serving

 

More ideas?  Some people find that counting calories and keeping a food journal helps them.  I opted out of those routines.  I have a meal chart from my dietitian that tells me how many starches, proteins, veg, and dairy I should be aiming for during the whole day.

Last, but not least, get moving!  I enjoy walking, but not much else when it comes to exercise.  Find something that works for you and your schedule and stick to it.  Consistency is important, it is hard to reach any goal without it.  Whether it is working toward a promotion at work, or teaching your toddler to potty train.

I am finding it difficult to fit some of my new goals into an already busy schedule.  I find that I have to constantly give myself permission to ‘think of me’.   Like a lot of people in a caregiver role, I sometimes feel guilty for putting my needs into the list of priorities.  I realized that if I don’t take care of myself, I am an unhappy mommy who can’t keep up with her toddler.  I’m sure you will get to hear a lot more about this new ‘sugar-free’ adventure!

Live the Change You Want to See.

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Well it is Wednesday.  And I am extra late getting a new blog out into cyber space.  I have a few blog drafts saved, but couldn’t decide on one that was appropriate for this mid-week post.  My heart is heavy with the images I see on the news.  Even while having it play in the background, sound turned down, the images of what is happening in JAPAN are so heartbreaking. 

I am BLESSED beyond measure and repent for these things I grumble about; our 20-year-old car,  mis-matched chairs around my 30-year-old table, a TV made in 1977, a minimum wage job, and clothes that are hand-me downs or bought at Value Village

I don’t have a house, but I have a HOME.  My family and friends are scattered around the world but I am LOVED.  I don’t always have much choice in what I eat, but I am NEVER STARVING.  I have HOPE living inside of me. And I don’t live in FEAR because of my gender, religious beliefs, or for expressing my opinions.

Earlier today, I watched a video about A. Krishnan.  CNN paid tribute to him during their HEROES show in February 2011.  He gave up his job as a chef because he saw the desperate conditions of people on the streets .  And began showing compassion to people who are otherwise ignored or forgotten.  It broke my heart wide open and reminded me that I am a millionaire compared to how some people are forced to live.  

Mr. Krishnan you recognized a need for change, so YOU changed.  You are a friend to the friendless, an inspiration, and a hero.  You are right, people don’t only need food to live.  A hug, a place to shower, and kind word can “nourish the mind and heart”.

To view the video that moved me to tears, click on the Link obtained from CNN

Donate:
Canadian Red Cross 
American Red Cross 
 

Stranger Danger

For someone who never really had the nerve to speak up about anything for most of my life, things have really changed in the last year.  It is easier to talk to strangers than it is to people I have known for a long time.  I find myself talking to strangers more and more everyday.  Not just behind the privacy of my computer aliases, but in line ups at stores, coffee shops, and random places that my wander lust brings me. It used to be that I would stand stoic in line, waiting for my turn to be next, sometimes grumbling under my breath at the hold-ups.  I used to be able to stealthfully slip into stores and get my purchases home with little attention being drawn to me at all.  Now, I feel like I need to have a little more patience and to put on a happy face during shopping trips. It’s not that I am in any less of a hurry now, or have less on my mind.  I feel like everyone is watching the crazy lady with the cute kid to see what she will do next.  Paranoid?  

The biggest change in the last year and a bit?  For those that don’t know me, I am usually wrestling with an 18 month old while loading and unloading a cart, loading bags, handing over coupons, and paying the cashier.  And then if the totals come up wrong, hold on for another endless wait for correction, or worse yet, be sent to another line up @ the service desk to get your OWN money back.  Phew…excuse the mid-blog rant.  The physics of shopping have changed, so I have had to change too.  It is almost impossible to travel unseen or unheard in public places when you have a baby.  And the odds seem stacked against you for even the simplist of outings: 

1)A stroller or cart loaded to capacity, almost impossible to turn a corner without being Hercules. 

2)The Toddler screaming for the snacks on the shelves or in the hands of other people nearby.

3) The mommy brain that won’t let you remember what was on the list you left on the kitchen counter.

4) Getting on or off a bus with a fully loaded stroller and traversing 3 foot high snowbanks so carefully carved by the plows, and hard packed by the cold.

5) I forgot what I wanted to write for this one…

That being said, I can choose to let the frustrations come out and bombard the people who happen to share my personal space.  Or I can try to put a humourous spin on the situation.  The talking to strangers factor can sometimes pay off.  And generally I find that a smiling baby brings out the best in people, and somehow gives them the desire to be friendly in a situation that could be stressful or irritating.  Yes, I know there are people who claim to hate children, I have met many over the years.  I’m not addressing them today.  A smiling baby also distracts people when you cut in front of them in line.  Talking to strangers has become a newly learned social skill for me.  Apparently it’s not too late to teach this old cat some new tricks. Now if only I could remember what my closing point was supposed to be.

In the Beginning…Imported blogs

childhood visions 02/16/2011

 it’s amazing how a few simple ingredients can be mashed together to form something delicious and comforting. i can close my eyes and see my grandmother pounding bread dough on her wooden table. how many times did i pinch a piece of dough when i thought she wasn’t looking. and i can still smell the fresh out of the oven buttery loaves laying under a fresh tea towel on her counter.  if only life were really that simple again.  i know now that life wasn’t that simple. it seemed simple because my needs, goals, tasks were more focused. i envy people who seem easy-going and wonder what they are really thinking under that “nothing bothers me” veneer. one of my fav authors is Walter Wangerin. my copy of  “Little Lamb Who Made Thee?” has been read and re-read many times. every time i read it, i am left with knew understanding. He has a wisdom and insight into human nature that resounds within my heart.  he delves into his own childhood and parenthood then offers explainations about life issues affecting children, parents, and adults caring for aging/sick loved ones. why should we understand childhood? God has declared that unless we approach him as a child, we will not enter the kingdom. Wangerin’s writings have helped me reconcile the many short-comings i feel when i look at my relationship with God. i see who i want to be, and have even had small glimpses of who i could be. but am so far away from that woman in the vision. i don’t even know where to meet her in the middle. Mr. Wangerin you almost convince me that i can be that meek child that approaches the throne to receive her new glorified being.

 liar 02/14/2011

 a blazing “L” needs to be branded to my face some days. there are no such things as white lies. that statement is just as bad as ugly truth. where did we get the right to convince ourselves and others that some lies could be painted with a different colour and therefore become safe. do they give less injury if they are white? if they don’t injure the listener they will injure the teller.  a teen asked me for a dollar the other day. i was minding my own business waiting for my laundry to finish tumbling in the dryer. i lied and said i didn’t carry cash. i felt a burning sensation creep deep into my gut, and prayed that it wouldn’t creep to my face as the blush so easily does. even when i am innocent my cheeks and neck flash red in a single heartbeat. but now in my guilt i had something to hide that i didn’t want betrayed by my blush. i did have a dollar to give. but my truth was covered in a lie. my truth is so much harder to form out loud. my truth can sting like a slap to the face. but my guilt can lay in the pit of my gut like a fiery little creature looking to hibernate. i had a dollar to give, but i decided that i didnt’ feel like being generous. again my mind raced with 100 excuses. $$$ is tight…i have to work twice as hard to get half the pay i used to… i was down to my last dollar…i didn’t feel like giving my last dollar to someone who is probably lazy and should be out trying to earn their own. even as he asked for the $ i could picture it sitting at the bottom of my purse nestled amongst a handful of pennies and a couple dimes. the asker didn’t seem too bothered by my denial of $$. he shrugged and walked out of the room. i have been reminded of it constantly with a feeling worse than indigestion. it bothers me even to this moment, and it’s been nearly a week. i still haven’t been able to spend that dollar sitting in the bottom of my purse. it may as well be glued to my forehead as a constant reminder. you see, i know the ONE who gave everything so we could have a better life. if Jesus had one $ in his pocket he would have given it away. better to be open than to be revealed (a). the Truth will set you free (b). THE WAY THE TRUTH THE LIFE (c).  HIS TRUTH stings with a gentle whisper… i still lack faith to trust that giving away my last $ will not leave me destitute. faith without evidence is dead (d). there is spiritual life in truth, therefore the consequence of lies/sin is death (e). death must be the creature that sits in my gut right now.

Luke 12:2 (a), John 8: 32 (b), John 14:6 (c), James 2:17,20,26 (d), Proverbs 10:16 (e), Romans 6:23 (e)

 100 pieces of me 02/08/2011

 a perfect square. 10×10=100. 100 dollars for a new jogging stroller. 100 sins. 100 loads of laundry. 100 hugs. 100 kisses. 100 x 20 years since Jesus walked the earth. 100 days to break a bad habit. or in my case 100 m&m’s and 100 doritos since i resolved to try and lose 100 pounds in 2011. 100 times falling off the diet wagon. 100 times getting back up to try again. simple math. eat less move more.  logically if i eat 100 less calories a day and burn 100 more calories in exercise i should shrink.  unfortunately that logic doesn’t always translate easily to weight loss. human emotion and error tend to get in the way.  my mind is weighed down by the guilt of 100 mistakes today.  have you ever tried to lift something that weighs 100 pounds? it is usually too heavy for one person. if you take it apart pound by pound it will be easier to shift. why am i willing to carry the extra 100 around day by day by day by day? instead of taking it apart piece by piece and relieving myself of the physical burden? i have to be honest with myself. sometimes it is easier not to try at all, rather than risk failure. admitting we need to change, means admitting we are doing something wrong.100 negative thoughts stand in the way of progress. if my negative thoughts had weight i would never be able to get out of bed in the morning. wait a minute. they do have weight. for every donut, french fry, and milkshake binge is fueled by negative thoughts. and given physical evidence in the climbing numbers on my digital scale and waistband.  100 guilty pleasures. 100 foot steps. 100 pieces of flesh.  i need to find a way to lose 100 pieces of me.