Posts tagged ‘love’

The One Post I Hope You Read

Three Generations + the Opportunity of a Lifetime

My Mom and Grandmother

Who inspires you? For me, it’s the heart of service that my family has lived for and stood for that inspires me everyday. This is why, I am so thankful, humbled and hopeful that later this month, my mom, my grandma and I are joining a group of good-hearted and high-spirited individuals on a service trip to Guatemala through the organization the Amistad Foundation.

On our trip, we will visit Guatemala City, La Limonada (see picture below) and some of Guatemala’s villages. We will be working with the Guatemalan people to help them develop skills to grow and develop sustainable businesses and relationships. From helping their crop program to teaching them business skills, basic communication and motor skills, as well as administering eye exams and mainly–sharing love and support.

The Guatemalan Situation

Image of La Limonada

La Limonada--The Largest Slum in Central America

Guatemala has recently been served a triple blow: 1) The Pacaya Volcano erupted spewing lava, rocks and debris just south of Guatemala city; 2)  This past Sunday, a sinkhole in the middle of Guatemala City swallowed a whole three-story building; and 3) Tropical storm Agathe hit parts of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras causing 150,000 people to evacuate due to heavy flooding and landslides. Adding to the situation, the United Nations recently reported that:

  • An estimated 43% of Guatemalan children below the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition, one of the worst rates in the world.
  • Guatemala has been hit by one of the worst droughts in 30 years, causing their worst famine in 30 years with 2.7 million people requiring urgent aid.

#loveroofs: 7 Roofs, 7 Families, 7 Days

Where do you turn during the rainy seasons in your life? For me, it’s home–it’s family. There are families, in one of the villages (vagueness is for security reasons) we are visiting that don’t have a safe place to go when the torrential rain comes. We want to help provide them a safe home by providing them roofs over their shelter–what I call #loveroofs for they will be funded and built with love to support the growth of love. The cost to do this is about $157 per home. Our goal is to raise $1,100 to provide seven roofs to seven families within seven days!

While there, I will be able to capture photos of the people in the village and help us all connect and enjoy in this journey together. Upon my return, I will share the pictures and insights with you so you know your money went to a good cause.

How You Can Help

Can you help us raise $1,100? I’ve been looking into ways to go about this so that we can all see the progress while being transparent at the same time–and I discovered CrowdRise. I’m a first timer, but I hear good things about the platform and will be able to report to you about how it all goes. All funds donated will be donated to the Amistad Foundation who will work with their contacts on the ground in Guatemala to make this happen (and I’ll provide images and updates as well). THANK YOU


Go to, and give what you can. Our goal is to raise $1,100 to provide seven roofs to seven families within seven days!

Trust me when I say that both my family and myself understand the economic times–for us, this is truly a trip based in love and faith, so know that I understand if you can’t give–but we’ll take encouragement too. I plan on sharing this post with all those on the trip–so please leave a note of encouragement below. =)

Quote of the Week: Unleashing Love

This week’s quote comes from one of my favorite people in the non-profit tech community, Stacey Monk of Epic Change:

In America alone, we spend $14.6B annually on Mother’s Day for “stuff” that could just never say what’s in our hearts. What if instead, we all just unleashed that love on the world? How would it impact our world if we stopped using stuff as a surrogate for love? What if we invested that love to make the world a better place for Mamas & children everywhere?

Love Your Mama

This thinking led to Epic Change’s latest fundraising initiative, in honor of mothers everywhere–including Mama Lucy. Mama Lucy is Epic Change’s Tanzanian partner–the money raised from the effort will go towards the children’s home Mama Lucy wants to build for her primary school.

To date, over 200 mamas have been honored and over $11,000 has been raised–making a home for 12 children. The goal is to create a home for 50 children. You can contribute by unleashing your love and honoring your own mama by create a heart space–an online, visual tribute to your mom over at

Unleashing Love

The idea of unleashing love, however, can live beyond Mother’s Day and can be applied towards an organization as well.

  • Have your employees felt appreciated lately?
  • Is there an organization with an unmet need in your community?
  • Are you following the golden rule–treating others as you want to be treated?

These are just a few examples–but you get the picture, we can unleash love in our daily lives. As As Stacey suggests–What type of impact would that make? Imagine how that could change our world–your world?

So go love–unleashed and with wild abandon.

Are You Keeping the Main Thing, the Main Thing?

I don’t know about you, but this is a question that I make myself answer everyday. Of course, that means that you need to know your main thing. Preparing for marriage over the past year, I’ve found that my main thing has changed. And for me, that’s a good thing because it represents the type of person I want to be, it keeps me more focused, and in in the end, makes me better at everything else.

During one of those moments–you know, the times where you feel like everything is coming at you from all directions and you’re just not sure how you’re going to make it all work–I reached out to my friend Qui, who simply said: “Keep the main thing, the main thing.” Seven simple words that got my head to the ground working, only this time, I was healthier, happier and more productive.

Thus, I want to recognize some colleagues that I know have worked hard this past year to keep the main, the main thing.

Main Thing Keepers

  • Andre Blackman: When I first met Andre, he was living in DC as a newlywed working to balance life, marriage, work and his pursuits in public health. I’ll never forget the look on his face when I told him I was engaged, and he said: Just you wait, things will change. (How right you were friend, and I’m a better woman for it!) Fast forward to today, he’s living closer to family, moving the public health field forward and leading the charge in his role at RTI. Nice job Andre!
  • Geoff Livingston: I greatly respect Geoff’s approach to work and life. For one, I like how he integrates his love for social change pursuits into his work–nice balancing. Further, if you read his blog or follow him on Twitter, you often hear him give props to his wife. In fact, this past year, Geoff sold his company and joined the CRT/Tanaka crew. In his blog post announcing the big move, Geoff acknowledged his appreciation and renewed relationship with his wife! Even better–His first descriptor in his Twitter bio for the longest time was “husband.” To me, for someone who is so accomplished in our field, to wake up everyday and say he is a husband first, that deserves mad respect.
  • Rosetta Thurman: Admittedly, I don’t know Rosetta as well as the other two. But just read her latest post on her own personal revelations when it comes to life, love and the lure of the “career.’ Rosetta, I feel you. I use to deny kids and used to think I was destined to be single–and in fact, I was quite comfortable with that. Now, I’m in love and getting married in a couple months. Thus, I encourage you girl.
  • Bonus: Seth Godin. I don’t know him personally, but I feel it’s very easy for us in the social media field to get thrown off-course. In this video, Seth shares these sentiments and challenges us with the question: “Where are the real relationships?…Networking is so important when it’s real, and it’s always a useless distraction when it’s fake.”

Your turn. Who do you know that is keeping the main thing, the main thing? And better yet, how are they doing it?

Lessons from the Incurable Optimist

I write this post purely out of inspiration gained from one Incurable Optimist–Michael J. Fox. I knew I chose him as my favorite actor when I was 8 years old for a reason.

During Michael J. Fox’s “Adventures of an Incurable Optimist,” I found myself live-tweeting inspirational quotes, thoughts and ideas from the show. As a gift for a job well done this week, I encourage you to check out the points below and remember 1) that hope is alive and 2) it is attainable.


“As hard as things are right now, there is something happening with people…people reaching out and helping each other.”

“Maybe that’s where hope comes from. If I could do everything, I would have no reason to be thankful for hope.”

“I’ve discovered it’s not always about winning…it’s about accepting yourself” -MJFOX (Do we do this enough? Remember to celebrate.)

Did you know that the Bhutanese officially measure GNH: Gross National Happiness. It just makes sense when you think about it. They base this on the belief that a commonality of the human experience is to be happy.

“Optimism is contagious…Happiness is contagious. You can give it out in handing out newspapers.” -Michael J. Fox

Is there a link between optimism and creativity and the arts?

“For everything this disease has taken, something of greater value has been given…After everything with Parkinson’s, I’ve learned that what’s important is always making that one step count.”


“Optimists are open to alternatives in the face of adversity.”

So I ask you: Do you consider yourself to be an optimist? I think if we can attain just an ounce of the optimism, joy and connected-ness that I witness in Michael J. Fox, my mom, my friends, the dear elderly man in my building who smiles and loves the moment in a simple hello….then I think we’ll all be okay.

flickr:  Shanissinha

What Coffee Has to Teach Us about Adversity



With the economic hardships–both current and foretold–upon us, the coffee we drink every morning offers up a daily reminder of the hope we can find. The following is an email my mother sent to me, that offers the following challenge: In times of adversity, how do you respond? Are you a carrot? An egg? Or coffee?  I promise, you will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.



        A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up, She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
        Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first, she placed carrots; in the second, she  placed eggs; and in the last, she placed ground coffee beans . She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

         In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl.  She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the  coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see.”

        “Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

         Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.  The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, mother?”

          Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The  ground coffee beans were unique, however.  After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

          “Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?”


Activity.  Think and reflect. In times of adversity? How do you react?

  • Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
  • Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes  with the heat?  Did I have a fluid spirit,  but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial,  have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff  spirit and hardened heart?
  • Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot  water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor.  If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is th e darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle  adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

“May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy. The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way.”

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My 4th of July Surprise

I apologize for being very MIA the past few days…it’s not like me. But, I had one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments happen over the holiday weekend:


Yes, this bog is about social marketing. Yes, it’s also about social media. But, for this small 300-word post, I’m going to share a BIG slice of my life with you. My favorite holiday is the 4th of July, and I just moved to Washington D.C. in January. My parents are my best friends and my boyfriend (now fiance) is the love of my life.

Jack Vettriano

Thus, the rents planned a 4th of July trip to D.C. for their first-ever visit to where I now call home. Little did I know that my now-fiance was plotting the whole time to pop the big question. A dinner cruise, a fancy red dress, the song ‘Lady in Red,’ (played by Dennis the piano player who learned the song just for this occassion), dancing and fireworks later….I was engaged. and it was all a surprise.

Life. Is. Great. =)

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Another Turn on the 29-Day Giving Challenge

The 29-Day Giving Challenge movement was started by Cami, when she was faced the diagnosis of the chronic illness multiple sclerosis during a major move. A spiritual teacher of hers, Mbali Creazzo, suggested that she give away 29 things in 29 days in an effort to get outside her own struggle each day.

According to Mbali, the 29 gifts originated as an African tradition. Today, over 2,000 people have participated in the challenge so far. And, I am joining them.

The challenge focuses on giving, anything – from clothes, to money, to smiles, hugs, compliments, time and energy, love, compassion, empathy or an extra hand – any way to GIVE. The challenge does come with a set of rules, mainly, to have fun, relax and reflect.

I joined this challenge for a variety of reasons.

First, I connected to Cami’s story as my best friend has multiple sclerosis. Secondly, that same friend continues to teach me, and give to me, AND give to others on a daily basis. She is continually reading and sharing her joy for life, her keen insight into the human spirit and her enthusiasm and love for life.

So, I’m taking the challenge, and taking it another turn: I want to concentrate my giving on those that are close to me, to show appreciation and love for what they do. Often time, I think it’s easy for us to focus on trying to help others, especially in the nonprofit and social marketing fields. Sometimes, we overlook those right in front of us in the process. (Note: It’s still important to give to others, but u pickin’ up what I’m putting down, right?) Thus, I plan on doing the 29-Day Giving Challenge:

  • With my boyfriend. My mom. My best friend. My roommate.
  • And groups of people including coworkers, friends who live far away, the homeless, nonprofits, etc.

Imagine what we could do if we TARGETED not only our financial giving, but the gifts that take extra time, extra thought and that extra step…to say thank you, you are loved, and I care.

I invite you to join us! The 29-Day Giving Challenge also has an online community here.

I will share my reflections on my experience at the end of each time period.


If you’ve participated in the 29-Day Giving Challenge, share your experiences with us in the comments section, =).

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