Where to start about where to start…

I’m a modern woman and one of the things that that means is I’m in a constant struggle with being overwhelmed. Twitter makes me feel like I have sudden onset ADD. I’m not as attached to my phone as some but I do own an iPhone and spend most of my day looking at screens to write, read, and consume entertainment. I love TV and am addicted to my DVR (remember when you had to watch commercials?). I love to read and do yoga whenever I can find tiny pockets of space. I’m training for a marathon with takes big chunks of my week because I run super slow. I have friends and family that I like to talk to and spend time with. I have a part-time job with full-time impact. I have a dog that is adorable but has way more energy than I do. And I have to eat, pay bills, and do the laundry – all those adult things we have to somehow fit into our day. It’s a lot and we can all get sucked into the culture of stress and exhaustion. I have an ambitious and curious personality so I’m even more susceptible to it, but it’s a universal issues to us modern men and women.

What compounds this issue is when I start thinking about the Being Goode challenge and how to be a self-made philanthropist is that every action matters – no matter how little. The words I say, the transportation and energy I use, the things I buy; every choice I make has an impact. That’s a lot. And while I have no desire, and make no recommendation to you to be obsessive about your choices, I think that they do merit some thought. If I want my choices to make a strong impact, I need to try and make them as well as I can.

In my job I help employees find a greener way to work by ride sharing. We offer planning services and incentives but the biggest challenge by far is to get people to think about their commute. In America when you get a new job you plan out your first day’s outfit, maybe pack your briefcase, get a few things prepared but I bet very few of us consciously think about how we’re getting to work. We drive. We might plan out our route and allow extra time for traffic but don’t give it much thought after that, it doesn’t even enter our conscious thought.

And it just gets more complicated from there. If I fill up my reusable water bottle while I’m at the movie theatre (movies are notorious energy consumers) then what impact am I really having on the environment? Do I buy jeans from a more expensive store where I know the factory they’re made in protects human rights even though they may pay minimum wage and have awful scheduling practices for the person behind the counter? Can I afford to do that because my company gives me just under the required hours to pay me benefits? What if I go to McDonalds that isn’t the healthiest option for me but I put all my change into the Ronald McDonald house collection tray that is so great? Which of the hundreds of diseases do I donate money to research? What color ribbon do I wear? Focus on local causes or pay attention to the third world? Issues like AIDS and homelessness and women’s rights affect me personally but that’s not to say I don’t care about breast cancer and bullying and PTSD. It’s a lot but asking the questions is a start. I chose to start this blog because it is an overwhelming and complicated topic and writing is how I venture to understand the world.

And I truly believe that I can make an impact if I find some answers to these questions. I may not get it right all the time but I can feel it when I really do. When I say something that really helps someone in crisis or I see less smog in the LA skies or when I can see on someone’s face how important it is that I’m there – I know. I know I have superpowers. I know that asking the question, making the choice, and trying to do better all have a positive global impact. I can be a self-made philanthropist and I believe you can too. Let’s ask these questions together and explore ways to be better.

First Week Check-In

I believe there are four facets to the Being Goode Challenge –

  • Traditional Volunteerism
    • What it sounds like, helping in soup kitchens, tutoring, etc.
  • Charitable Giving
    • Giving or raising money to donate to a charity.
  • Personal Kindnesses
    • Little or big gestures to put smiles on the faces of others.
  • Self Care
    • Kindnesses directed at myself. More important than people realize.

I want to share with you here the progress I’m making in those categories each week. More than likely the charitable giving category is going to be on the lighter side and the others will have off weeks but it’s good to check in and see how I’m doing.

This week I’ve had a head cold, which has been more annoying than anything else. I have a standing shift with Crisis Text Line where I’m a counselor on Wednesday nights and as you saw me tweet I almost called in sick to my shift and happened to see the article about Jimmy Carter who is in his nineties and has cancer still being a hard core humanitarian and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.

  • Traditional Volunteerism
    • 4 hour Crisis Text Line Shift
    • I track my volunteer hours through my company in order to earn a bonus charitable donation at the end of the year. This week I hit the top level at over 150 hours this calendar year. That’s about a half hour of volunteer a day. It feels great to hit this milestone.
  • Personal Kindnesses
    • One of my co-workers went on a job interview and as I struggle to get ahead in my career I made sure to support her. I checked in with her before and after her interview and made sure to keep her in my thoughts.
  • Self Care
    • This week mostly consisted of spending all my free time sleeping and drinking orange juice.
    • But I also started this blog, which is bringing me a great amount of joy after only a week.

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

The Being Goode Challenge

I watch Kate Middleton, Michelle Obama, I read about Melinda Gates and think to myself – that’s what I want to be, what I want to do. I want to be a Princess, First Lady, Philanthropist. I want to visit underprivileged youth in schools, I want to Move 5 and I want to puzzle out how to bring clean water to Africa.

There are a couple of difficulties for me though. And no the mansions and beautiful wardrobes don’t count, although those would be nice. The difficulties are the classic ones – money and time. Princess, First Ladies and Philanthropists have the luxury, the resources to help people. From the time they get up in the morning until they go to bed all they need to do to be successful is to help someone, make a positive impact on a life. How lucky. How challenging.

With no prince charming in sight I’ve decided to make my own luck, start my own challenge. The challenge is – to figure out how to use my limited resources to make the most impact to the issues that matter to me, how to be the smartest giver possible.

I’m a writer (another occupation where money and time are in short supply) and I work in Corporate Responsibility at an international company here in Los Angeles. I’ve been volunteering all my life. I’m not giving myself the title of princess. No one will suddenly care about what I’m wearing or give me priceless jewels. But hopefully people will be excited to see me, my presence will bring comfort and joy to people who need it, my head will look like it was made to hold priceless jewels from the way I carry myself.

I’m not perfect. I don’t have a lot of resources. I have a bias to certain causes. This is my personal journey that I want to share with you. I hope that I can inspire others to ask themselves the same questions, follow the same challenge and become more philanthropic in their own lives. I hope we can conquer this challenge together.