Year in Review

This weekend I was looking back on my little New Years Resolution post-it for 2015. Overall I was pretty happy but it was a mixed bag. Some went in the opposite direction, some I did okay on and some I blew out of the water.

Let’s focus on the one I blew out of the water. I had resolved to volunteer 75 hours in 2015. This year I volunteered just over 200 hours. That’s more than a half hour per day on average. It also doesn’t feel like I’ve spent that much time volunteering, it hasn’t felt like a struggle to get those hours in.

Over the year I volunteered for –

  • Special Olympics World Games
    • The Special Olympics World Games was a life changing experience. It was wonderful to be a part of something so big and wonderful and overwhelming!
  • Crisis Text Line
    • I started volunteering for Crisis Text Line because of an article I read in a fashion magazine. It has also been life changing and I’ve learned so much about how to be a better helper, how to deal with crisis’ in my own life, and how to put empathy first. #SuperHero
  • 826 LA – SAT Prep, College Application & Scholarship Essay writing
    • I’ve been volunteering for 826 National for a few years now and always enjoy it. This year reminded me how nice it is to be older and not have to take the SATs. It was also fun to share the excitement with these young women and men as they embark on the college adventure and the rest of their lives.
  • Homeboy Industries
    • Homeboy Industries is something that I wish I could support more but I suppose everything helps.
  • American Red Cross
    • More on this a little later in this post
  • Hand-knit donations to various organizations (we have a knitting/sewing group at work that finds homes for whatever you make)
    • I only got to knit a couple of things this year but I always enjoy doing it. I have recently been tapped as a sewer since there aren’t many in the group and we have some projects on our horizon.


The other very exciting thing that happened this year didn’t start on my resolution post-it – starting this blog. The idea actually started from a job I was passed over for. I didn’t get the job but the job got to me and  I decided to make it happen for myself. The job was to think about how the company can give in a more organized and meaningful way. To take the good already being done and focus it. And after just a couple of months I feel like it’s working. I’ve been able to stick to a writing schedule and really think about how and why I give back.


It’s just a couple more days before it’s 2016 so it’s time to reset the resolutions.


  • 200 Volunteer Hours
  • Give Blood/Platelets/Plasma on a regular basis
    • I gave blood this year and other than the prick on your finger that hurts really bad for days it’s easy and painless. But so far I’ve taken a very passive approach to donating blood, waiting for drives to come my way.
  • Read 12 books a year (last year this was 24 and I missed it by kind of a lot).
    • I was an English major in college and have always loved reading. It’s just been so hard to find time for it in recent years so I really need to make the time.
  • Keep and grow this blog and reach more people.
    • I’m planning on focusing on each of my four giving facets quarterly. Q1 Self Care. Q2 Traditional Volunteering. Q3 Personal Kindness. Q4 Charitable Giving.

I hope you’ll join me in my resolutions or share your own here. 2016 is going to be amazing, I can feel it!!!


Happy New Year!







Weekly Check-In

I hope everyone had a nice holiday. I was going to post this yesterday but my Aussie Shepherd Emerson was curled up on my feet and that is my Achilles heel. She’s so soft and fluffy and sweet and my feet get so warm. It’s the best kind of procrastination.

  • Traditional Volunteerism
    • 4 Hours of Crisis Text Line


  • Charitable Giving
    • $25 – I decided to participate in The Compassion Collective (which includes a writer I love – Cheryl Strayed) raising over $1 for Syrian Refugees. All with donations of $25 or less. I started with $5 and realized that my company would match if I gave $25 so I gave $20 more. I think this might have messed up my company match having it split up (only by a couple of minutes) so we’ll see. It is a lot of money for me right now but it was worth it to be a part of something really special.


  • Personal Kindnesses
    • It’s Christmas time and there have been gifts. Nothing extravagant as my budget for gifts this year was nonexistent but I managed to get something off to my Niece and I got a couple of nice surprises including some free goodies from work. I think when you don’t have piles of gifts it’s easier to notice the kindness behind the gifts, you can really appreciate the giving and receiving.
    • Also I’m close with my brother and growing closer with my Sister-in-Law and the special little moments of her stealing the phone from my brother on Christmas day to talk to me and texting each other about food was a sweet gift.


  • Self Care
    • I’m really taking advantage of my extra free time and focusing on making things. Knitting and sewing and baking. All things I very much enjoy.


Please share in the comments how you’re doing this week!

Enjoy the Holidays

It’s almost Christmas and New Year’s Eve and it’s the time for joy and family, traditions and fun, food and presents, decorations and sparkles but it can also be a time of stress, guilt, and sadness. I think what I’ve accepted is you can and mostly like will have a mixture of both. Life is complicated and wonderful!



I think that in this season of giving we need to remember to give to ourselves too. Self-care is always important but especially this time of year. I think that we put too much pressure on ourselves to make the holidays perfect. We put too much pressure on the time of year, trying to do too much or please others. It’s easy to forget that you’re in control. You  don’t have to accept the stress that others are putting on you. You don’t have to feel guilty for not giving the perfect present or not going to every event. The holidays are for you to enjoy. If a family member brings up a conversation that makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s okay to remove yourself and do something that calms you down. It’s okay if you can’t afford the most glamorous presents or can’t volunteer or donate to charity right now. It’s okay if a holiday tradition or two skips a year. Do what you can and let go of the rest.


I hope your holidays are happy and safe! I hope that you enjoy traditions, make new ones, and follow your own heart! I hope you give all you can this time of year and all year round!


Share your traditions or holiday struggles you’ve overcome below.

Weekly Check-In

Just a quick recap of the week.

  • Traditional Volunteerism
    • 4 hours on Crisis Text Line
    • 1 hour helping at an adopt a family gift drop off. I directed traffic (with a lightsaber) and helped sort and load things onto trucks.


  • Charitable Giving
    • I didn’t give any money away this week.


  • Personal Kindnesses
    • I noticed one of my coworkers wasn’t her normal self so I took a moment to check in on her. I did this even though I was having a difficult week at work. Actually we ended up checking in on each other. I think it’s important to notice how people are feeling and say something about it in a way that allows them to share if they want to or keep it to themselves.


  • Self Care
    • I know coloring books for adults are the latest fade but I’ve been coloring as an adult for as long as I’ve been an adult. Coloring was my dream job (I wanted to be an Animation Ink & Paint girl. Thanks computers for crushing that dream) and I find it extremely relaxing.


Please share in the comments how you’re doing this week!

What We Say Matters

What we say matters. I’ve always believed that and I think that recent events have very clearly demonstrated it. It’s easy to be careless and to say the first thing that comes to mind. Speaking with the listener in mind isn’t something that comes naturally to most of us. Empathetic speech is a hard hard practice. It’s what writers spend their lives doing, looking for the right words, the ones that can really get at the heart of things, the ones that are honest and full of true emotions.

In the news recently we’ve seen the rise of hateful rhetoric side-by-side with hateful actions. I think the link is very clear. Part of the problem is that the term ‘Politically Correct’ is being misused to the point that it’s meaning is changing just like “literally” now means both literally and figuratively. Politically correct is rhetoric that is crafted and approved for political gain. Trump and others say that they don’t care about being politically correct and proceed to spew hateful rhetoric. They are using the term politically correct as it’s meaning and it’s opposite. Their rhetoric is hateful and apathetic and very much crafted for political gain. It’s both careless and careful. We should be praising empathetic speech over so called ‘genuine speech’. I want my leaders and political figures to speak with care knowing that what we say matters and respecting their position. Calling people of a race, sex, or religion evil, ugly, other hateful names isn’t genuine, it’s apathetic. And we’ve seen the effects of not being careful with what we say. It leads to attacks on people spurred on by this rhetoric. It tears us apart. I don’t use the R-word, or the N-word, or the C-word and it isn’t because I’m politically correct, it’s because I practice kindness and empathy in what I say. It’s about treating people with respect.


Just a week or two ago Mark Zuckerberg published a letter to his newborn daughter. What he says has a big impact and reach and the internet has been a buzz ever since. Is he genuine? How do we react? What does this mean? Who thinks this means something? What is he really saying?

While I’d like to completely believe the sentiment is truly genuine the way he published it leaves room for cynicism. It wasn’t a call to action but a manifesto telling his daughter and the world that he is a good guy, that money doesn’t matter, and he was going to fix the world. With the letter Zuckerberg (and his wife who he spoke for as well) hit a nerve. There is an international inequity in philanthropy. From first scan it seemed as if Zuckerberg started what we’d call a charity, but he didn’t, he started an LLC, a limited liability company. He didn’t donate all his wealth; he pledged to eventually give it away. But I also want to shine the positive light on this letter. The cynicism shouldn’t take away from his desire in wanting to have a positive impact on the world, wanting all kids to be healthy and educated.


While I was watching CNN Heroes and it was a celebration of great cause after great cause after great cause. The one thing that struck me while watching was that all of these heroes were people who saw a problem in their life, their community and tried to solve it. They started with one community water source, they started with their own small savings, they started with their own pain and effort to heal themselves. It didn’t take a billionaire, a politician, or a princess to make a huge difference in the world. The stories were all inspiring but what was more inspiring was being reminded that we all have the power to change the world for the better and become philanthropists without wealth or fame.

We have the power. That is the heart of this blog. I want to live my life as a philanthropist. I want to make a positive impact. I don’t have billions of dollars and I wasn’t born into royalty and I didn’t marry into a philanthropic position. But I can say things in my daily life to lift people up one by one, I can volunteer my time to help others, I can give some money away, and most importantly I can choose to act with kindness. I have the power to lead and hopefully inspire others to act with kindness. I may never get a White House retweet or have a billion dollar LLC but I can share my thoughts and actions to inspire others.

You have that power too. It comes in what you say. Our voices are counted in polls and votes and purchases and hours dedicated. The news is commonly quoting our tweets, even the ones we post in haste and delete. The hateful speech that villainizes others in our community isn’t just hurtful to those it’s directed at but also those who hear it so often that it seeps into them and harms them. You may not have billions of dollars but you do have billions of kind words and actions. You have the power to change the world for the better.


Crisis Text Line


“Crisis Text Line is free, 24/7 support for those in crisis.”

Crisis Text Line (CTL) was founded by Nancy Lublin in 2013. You can watch her TED Talk. I first found out about it in a spring issues of Marie Claire Magazine. When I first read about it I was immediately excited. It was right around the time that news stories came out about people in domestic violence situations who couldn’t call for help ordering pizza and sending message covertly. There are so many times when it’s too difficult to call for help because someone might overhear or just because sometimes it’s mentally easier to not have to say your problems out loud. I know I’ve had moments when I couldn’t speak without sobbing and texting would have been a welcome alternative.

The other thing that excited me about CTL is that it’s very data driven. I’m a bit of a nerd and think that gathering the data will only help us be better at helping in the future. They publish the data they collect here. You can see what issues come up when, where people are texting from, and even what time of day certain issues come up. If we want to end suicide, hate crimes, domestic and sexual abuse, etc, we need to know everything we can about it. By collecting and sharing the data CTL is helping more than those who text in.

Recently the cell phone carriers AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, & Verizon showed their support by waving all charges for texts to CTL and making it so that CTL will not show up on cell phone statements. Crisis Text Line also works to refer texters to wonderful organizations like TWLOHA, RAINN, & The Trevor Project.

So now that you know how amazing CTL is – what can you do to help?

  • Spread the Word 
    • Tell everyone to text 741741 when in crisis. Anywhere, anytime. You never know what someone might be going through or when someone might need it. It’s nice to know someone is there 24/7 to help when you need it. Post this flyer – CTLTexterFlyer
  • Donate

    • Along with volunteer counselors we have amazing supervisors, trainers, and techs. The backend of the platform is sophisticated and always improving and needs financial support to do that.
    • You can send your tax-deductible donations via Paypal (link here) or by sending a check to:
      Crisis Text Line
      Attn: Finance Dept.
      24 West 25th Street, 6th Fl
      New York, NY 10010
  •  Volunteer
    • Being a volunteer is as difficult as it is rewarding. After an extensive application process about a third of those that apply are chosen. There is a six week training process and time shadowing current volunteers followed by a final exam before you go live with texters. You need to commit to four hours a week for a year. The training is wonderful and full of support as is the volunteer experience week to week. That said it is a huge commitment. There are the four hours on the platform, you’ll have hundreds of challenging and not always rewarding conversations over the year. You’ll need time to debrief and you’ll become an expert and self-care in your own life. It’s challenging to say the least. Conversations can be difficult for so many reasons from tragic situations to people who aren’t ready to accept help to the sheer volume of those reaching out to crisis that may remind you of your own. But. But there are moments when you know you’ve helped someone at one of the lowest points of their life and you feel like a superhero. You can be a superhero!
    • More information about Volunteering can be found here.


I’m so excited to be a part of this organization. Please consider getting involved and don’t be afraid to ask any questions you have.

Weekly Check-In

It’s getting to that holiday craziness time of year. I hope to have another post up this weekend.


  • Traditional Volunteerism
    • I made up for last week with 2 Crisis Text Line shifts this week. That’s 8 hours of crisis counseling which took a ton of energy but is always worth it.


  • Charitable Giving
    • I didn’t give any money away this week. I wish I had room in my budget and hopefully 2016 will bring better fortune.


  • Personal Kindnesses
    • This week I got multiple compliments from my coworkers on my positive attitude. This was so nice to hear especially when, especially in my current work situation, I feel dejected. It was a nice reminder how taking the time to compliment someone you see everyday can make a difference.


  • Self Care
    • I got new running shoes and am getting frighteningly close to my marathon. Running has improved my mental fitness as much as it has my physical fitness.
    • Gummi bears. Crisis Text Line has brought out a sweet tooth I didn’t know I had.


Please share in the comments how you’re doing this week!

Weekly Check-In

I have been having a hard week personally and have focused most if not all my energy on self care.


  • Traditional Volunteerism
    • I postponed my Crisis Text Line shift until next week so I could be a present, good counselor.


  • Charitable Giving
    • I used the “Charity Miles” app here and there but am starting to get frustrated with it’s poor history and inaccurate tracking. I walk more miles than it counts.
    • Again I put a couple dollars into the Salvation Army bin.


  • Personal Kindnesses
    • It was important to me that while I was somewhere that was produced a lot of anxiety and stress for me and most people there, that while I was waiting in the halls I made sure to make eye contact and smiled at as many people as possible. Just saying hi as I passed people really helped me feel grounded and better.


  • Self Care
    • Like I said this was my main focus this week. I ate ice cream which always makes me happy. I tried to exercise when I could, did breathing exercises when I needed them, and pet my sweet dog. But above all I reached out to friends and family for support. I took hugs when they were offered and re-read texts of support over and over until I really internalized them. Self care doesn’t have to be done all by yourself. Sometimes self care means asking and taking help when you need it.


Please share in the comments how you’re doing this week!