Welcome to the World, Dominick. Take Notes.

On May 25th, 2014, one of my best friends, Kristen, gave birth to her first child! She is not the first of my friends to have a baby, but she is the first of my best friends to have a baby and be living in the same city as me, so this is a big deal. Kristen, her husband Trai, and both their parents labored for an entire weekend before Baby D burst into this world with plans to do some fiercely amazing things.

Kristen and Trai

Kristen is an only child, so she views her close girlfriends as sisters. This means I’m an aunt! I plan on being a major part of Dominick’s life and I can’t wait to experience life with him.

In honor of Dom being born on May 25th, I have written a list of 25 things I hope to teach him in his life.

    1. I swear to the Good Lord, your mom was super cool once. Don’t ask me to prove it. She’d kill me if I told you half of the things that make her so cool. OR at least wait until I’m 3 vodka sodas in to ask me.
    2. The great game of flip cup. Your mom and I were and still are champion players. It’s like riding a bike.
    3. Be nice to your teachers and do as they say, even if it doesn’t make sense to you. Confession: I grade the “good” kids way easier than the pain in my ass kids. And trust me, your mother will kill you if you don’t get good grades.
    4. Reading is sexy. I mean, sure…video games are cool, but a girl is going to be way more likely to talk to you if you’re a reader.
    5. Gay? Fine by me! Seriously. I’d actually prefer it if you’re gay. By the time you’re able to read and comprehend this, I pray that who people decide to love and marry isn’t even worth a discussion anymore. Plus, I’ll probably be married to a slew of gay men, so I’m sure you’re already in tune with the gay community.
    6. It’s okay to make giant mistakes. Believe me…your mom and I have made some DOOZIES in our day! But when you need help, go to your parents. There isn’t anything you can do to make them love you less. They might be frustrated with you, but I can guarantee that they will do anything in their power to help you out.
    7. Exercise is AWESOME! Getting your heart rate up for just 30 minutes each day boosts your endorphins by like a gadzillion percent. And endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t. Ugh. In this moment, I’m really hoping you’re gay so that you can appreciate that Elle Woods quote.
    8. Hold onto your faith. Your friends will let you down. Your family will let you down. God will never let you down. He may frustrate and confuse you, but He will ALWAYS be at your side with your best interest in mind. God has a wonderful, beautiful plan for your life. When life sucks, just trust that God is working in everything for a reason.
    9. Be good to your friends. Apologize when you’ve wronged them and forgive them when they screw up. We’re human, it happens. But life truly is not worth living without some badass friends at your side. Look at all your aunts and uncles; very few of us are genetically related to you, but consider ourselves family. We couldn’t have made this family work without a little bit of forgiveness, understanding and A LOT of love.
    10. Do whatever it takes to get along with your parents and introduce them to your friends. Yes, they’re super annoying, but they are your #1 fans! They are going to be way more likely to let you borrow the car and stay out past curfew if they know and trust who you are with.
    11. Be nice to girls. They are fragile creatures that need to be treated with respect and care.
    12. Is Facebook still at thing in 2029? God, I hope so! I can only imagine all the cool foods I will be eating and fantastic things I will be doing in 15 years! I will want to make sure all my friends know about it! I digress… Don’t friend your parents on Facebook! Sure, you should be open and honest with them about your life, but your friends are idiots and are going to post stupid things that you would much rather your parents didn’t know about. And the truth is, they probably don’t need to know. Don’t worry… I’ll talk to them about this.
    13. Call your grandparents! Once again, you come from a very loving and supportive family. Would it kill you to tell your grandparents what is going on in your life? Plus, they’ll be more likely to slip a 20 in your Christmas card!
    14. YOU’RE a badass kid, but don’t let that go to YOUR head. Let’s go THERE so we can drink THEIR beer THEY’RE dumb enough to be giving away. If you learn nothing else from me, know the difference between these five words!
    15. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. Embrace EVERY day you are blessed with by finding some small bit of happiness in it.
    16. Surround yourself with people that make you a better man. Shake the haters off and latch onto the friends that tell you when you’re being an idiot, but encourage you to be better than you were before.
    17. You are going to fail at things in life. What will impress people is when you get up and try again EVERY time. You’ll probably even impress yourself.
    18. NEVER drink straight Everclear. You’ll go blind and your man bits will never work right again! Okay…maybe not, but seriously. Not worth the risk.
    19. Be silly and laugh at yourself! People will laugh with you and life is more fun when you’re not worried what other people are thinking.
    20. A few days after you were born, Maya Angelou passed away. She was a brilliant poet and author. She was also an actress, screenwriter, director, civil rights activist, and educator. One of her most famous quotes is “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” In my 29 years in this world, I have learned this to be absolutely true. I can’t remember what one of my ex-boyfriends said to make me angry, but I remember being so angry I threw a hairbrush at his foot. I can’t remember every kind act your mom has ever done for me, but I know she has made me feel loved. The point is, don’t overthink saying the right thing or doing everything right; focus on how your words and actions will affect people later.
    21. Don’t let your significant other be the focus of your life 100% of the time. You still need to put effort into your friendships because who else is going to listen while you ramble on about how perfectly fantastic they are?? And trust me – it can be very hard to earn back friendships you pushed aside for a relationship that lasted half as long.
    22. Learn to cook. There is nothing sexier than a man offering to make dinner.
    23. Something my mom taught me: Never rely on anyone to take care of you financially past the age of 22(ish). Not even your parents. You could and should rely on Mom and Dad to help you when you need it, but learn to be self-sufficient. And never, EVER, expect your significant other to support you 100%. Life happens and you need to know how to take care of yourself.
    24. Something my dad taught me: Always have more than one toolbox to work from. Be good at more than one thing. Your first career choice might cease to interest you someday, or for reasons outside of your control, you are unable to maintain your dream job. Be able to make money doing something else and be willing to learn new skills.
    25. “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) When we love people, it is more difficult to wrong each other, but when we do (we’re human, so it’s going to happen!), they will see the love in our hearts and be better able to forgive us. Plus, you want to be remembered as the nice guy and not the bully. Loving people should come naturally to you because your parents are two of the most loving people I have ever met. It has never quite made sense to me how two people can be so short in stature and yet have hearts so big. You are truly blessed, Dominick.

Dominick

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The 7 Life Miracles: Life Coaching, Session #1

My dear friend Julie Wilkes has written a book, The 7 Life Miracles! I will be working through her book and journaling my experiences as I go. For more information on the book and what I intend to do here, please check out THIS POST!

7 Life Miracles

Life Coaching, Session #1

After reading and completing the exercises for Miracle 3, Create, my “So What?” was to contact Julie and set up a Life Coaching Session. One of the purposes of the Miracle 3 exercises is to look at your life as is vs. what you dream it could be and then take steps towards creating your dream life. As I completed the exercises, I quickly began to realize that I had never really stopped to think about what my dream life is! I’ve always just taken life as it comes and crossed bridges as I came to them. I have never had one lofty goal that I have worked towards.

Another thing that compelled me to meet with Julie was the idea that I am not working in my dream career. Yes, I love teaching and I’m good at it, but if money weren’t an issue, is that what I would be doing? No, probably not. So what would I be doing? I’ve always had a couple ideas, but this is where Julie’s assistance would come in. I really wanted to talk to her, begin to define my dream life/career and work towards it.

How’d It Go?!

I had my Kickoff Session with Julie yesterday! This whole thing will be an ongoing process, involving meeting every other week and checking in on Sundays. Our first session was mostly spent on beginning to define what my dream job would be and some steps to work towards that. Julie and I have known each other for about a year now, but this was actually our first chance to sit down and talk intimately. At first, the session felt a little bit like one of my therapy sessions, which is actually a great thing! I’ve had a ton of success with my therapist and I think what they can do to help people is amazing.

Julie began by asking me to really try to think about what my dream life would look like. If I could live anywhere, where would that be? Who would my friends be? After a moment or 2 of thinking, I replied that I’ve always wanted to be somewhere warm; Florida or somewhere Southern, but what keeps me here right now is my people. My home has to be on the beach. I see myself with the same best friends I have now.  My perfect day would include waking up without an alarm clock, having my coffee, spending time with the dog and writing, and most importantly, being outside in the warmth.

This is when I was finally able to admit to myself that if I could make writing a full-time job, that would make me the happiest. But I have never tried to define or create my dream job out of fear. My mom was a teacher, so she knew how to make that happen and once I was a teacher, it became a solid paycheck with 3 months off in the summer. I have been very fortunate in my life that I have never really had to struggle financially. My parents were able (and wanting!) to support my college career and all the other things a person needs in life. Yes, I have had months where my bank account neared $0, resulting in serious budgeting, but then entire time, I knew another paycheck would be on the way in a week or 2. So the idea of having a new career and having to possibly worry about money has caused me to stay in the safety and comfort of my teaching career.

Next, Julie asked me to define a few of my strengths. I listed my ability to make friends with people, the fact that I am a super planner (but also noted that this can be a weakness), and that I am forever optimistic/happy. After reviewing what we had talked about a few moments earlier, Julie found it interesting that I cited not wanting to leave my friends as my reason for still being in Columbus, yet I also listed being able to make new friends quite easily!

Huh…

Now that I think about it, I can attribute that to another one of my strengths: loyalty. Once I am friends with a person, we are friends FOREVER (so buyer beware! 😉 ). I take my friendships very seriously and work very hard to nurture and grow them into lifelong investments. I am always wanting and willing to let new people into my heart, but I want to take special care of the ones that are already there. And I know what happens to friendships when someone moves away. We keep in touch, but obviously it’s just not the same as being able to see someone whenever I want, especially if I were to move down south, which is more than a few hours drive. Because of this, moving might not be something I focus on so much as a possible career change.

Julie then asked me to list my support system (my family and closest friends) and describe a time in the last year that I had been successful. It took me a minute to come up with an answer, but when I did it was completing the half marathon last year. I had to actually train and work for it – I couldn’t just decide to run 13.1 miles a week ahead of time and then actually do it. I especially felt successful because it was my body and no one else could do it for me. The greatest strength that helped me to be successful was my determination and commitment. I said I was going to do it, so I did. Plus, I paid $70, so there was a financial value.

After Julie and I had chatted and gotten to know one another, we defined my goal as working towards becoming a full-time writer. And here was one of the most important parts of this session – I CANNOT FAIL. Not “will not” or “refuse to,” but Julie’s coaching doesn’t allow for failure. Let me explain. My 1-year goal is to take steps to becoming a full-time writer, not to actually become a full-time writer. All of my goals that Julie and I set are goals that I would like to achieve even if I weren’t working towards a career change, so none of them will be hindering to my current wellbeing. To put it another way, in the words of Brad, one of my funniest friends, “It’s not, ‘Step 1 – Quit your job.'”

I know have goals for 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and a year. These are all very pliable and will probably change as time goes on.

1 Month Goals:

  • Research 1 other way to get published/or write
  • Learn about video blogging
  • Meet with 1 person who is a full-time writer and ask questions
  • Research writing classes I could take this summer

3 Month Goals:

  • Research 1-2 ways to get published
  • Try video blogging
  • Meet with 2 people who are writers to ask questions
  • Sign up for writing class
  • Research a place I would like to visit as a potential place to move to

SO WHAT?!

I am actually very excited about this whole thing! Just the idea of having a dream job and actually being able to work towards it in exhilarating! And who knows, maybe I’ll start doing all this and decide that blogging/writing isn’t my dream job at all, but something else is! I feel as thoughI am about to discover quite a bit about myself this year.

Also, I’m gonna throw this out there to help me accomplish a few goals: If you know anything about vlogging (video blogging), writing classes in Columbus, Ohio or are/know a full-time blogger I could meet with, let me know!!

Amanda & I know the 7 Life Miracles...do you??

Amanda & I know the 7 Life Miracles…do you??

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ALL THE LINKS!!!

  • My thoughts on
    • Miracle 1: Embrace HERE!
    • Miracle 2: Connect HERE!
    • Miracle 3: Create HERE!
  • Check out everything Julie Wilkes HERE!
  • The 7 Life Miracles on Facebook!
  • Seven Studios on Facebook!
  • Learn about The 7 Life Miracles book HERE!
  • Order The 7 Life Miracles  on Amazon HERE!
  • Check availability at your local Barnes & Noble Bookstore and get it now HERE!

The 7 Life Miracles: Create

My dear friend Julie Wilkes has written a book, The 7 Life Miracles! I will be working through her book and journaling my experiences as I go. For more information on the book and what I intend to do here, please check out THIS POST!

7 Life Miracles

Miracle 3

Create

Create your own canvas — Create the life you want to live.

Phew! This was one heck of a Miracle! I actually read the chapter a little over a week ago, but was so overwhelmed that I knew I needed to take some time to really deal with this Miracle.  It wasn’t going to be processed in one Sunday afternoon! In Create, Julie asks us to look at our life as an art canvas and start all over! We are to leave our past experiences behind, learn from them and breathe in a fresh start. SEE??? Now you know why this took a little time!

This section has a few activities to help us work through creating out own canvas.

Exercise 1: Viewing Your Current Canvas

This first activity asks us to take a snapshot of our current life, figuring out who we are and where we are in our lives today.

Choose a few key questions & answer honestly. I Have included my answers!

  • How do you feel today?
    • Relaxed, accomplished, motivated
  • What makes you happy?
    • Spending time with friends and family, exercising, cuddling with my dog
  • How do you feel about yourself/your choices in life?
    • Good! I know not all of my choices have been the best, but I’ve learned from them. I feel mostly good about myself. Some negative thoughts creep in sometimes, but I am usually able to shake them off quickly.
  • What are your passions?
    • Doing good things for my friends. Writing. Reading.
  • Do you have hobbies?
    • Working out, writing, reading
  • Do you volunteer?
    • Not as much as I’d like to.

Exercise 2: Uncoloring Your Canvas

This exercise encourages us to “…strip away negative colors that lurk on our canvas by thinking about any roadblocks, obstacles, and unnecessary anxiety or worry in our lives.” Because this can be an intensely personal ordeal, I have provided some quote from Julie’s book to help inspire you, rather than my canvas’ gross colors.

“Just a few negative feelings, toxic people or stressful situations can change how we interpret our life.”

“…choose to perceive these things differently as you move forward. Instead of letting someone break you down, allow yourself to create distance from that person or at least know that whatever he or she says or does is not truth – not YOUR truth!”

Let them go. Let them go. LET THEM GO!!!!

Exercise 3: Determine Your Colors!

Now we get to start with our perfectly white (okay, mine would be pink) canvas. “Let go of the past and imagine your fabulous future…be honest about what you want. I am not encouraging you to dream unrealistically — dream about what excites your passions and fuels your soul.”

Woah. Here we go!

“Picture the life you would like to live 10 years from now. What year will that be? How old will you be?”

2024: I will be 39!!

  • How will people describe you?
    • Happy, healthy, fun, reliable, kind, loving, smart
  • What is important to you?
    • The people in my life- my friends and family
  • Where do you live?
    • A house in Columbus. Maybe not the same house, but a house. If not the same house, perhaps in Clintonville or closer to downtown.
  • What do you do?
    • Teach, maybe write.
  • What is your home like?
    • Clean! Stylish, organized.
  • Are you happy?
    • YES! Well, most of the time!
  • With whom do you spend you time?
    • Most of my time will be spend with my future husband J and friends.
  • Can you see yourself laughing?
    • Quite frequently.
  • What time do you wake up each morning?
    • 5:30am
  • What’s the first thing you do?
    • Kiss my hubby!
  • Can you picture a place where you spend your time?
    • Some sort of “book nook.” A place with a big comfy chair I can read and write in.
  • Can you see the path you walk for exercise each morning?
    • If I don’t live in the same house, hopefully I will live in a house within walking distance to work, the gym, social gatherings, etc. I don’t know about walking each morning, but there will be some sort of exercise in my daily life.
  • When you go to sleep, how do you feel?
    • Tired, but accomplished for the day.
  • Are you living with passion?
    • YES!

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There are two more exercises that I did not document here. #4 involves creating a vision, timeline and goals to help you accomplish your vision. #5 asks us to decide how we will track our goals (okay, it’s much more involved than just that! You’ll have to read the book!). I have decided to be a journaler (obvi).

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Gosh, this Miracle has been especially trying for me. The main point here is to find a life goal and make a plan to work towards it. That’s great and I really want to do that, but here’s my problem: I’ve never really had life goals! I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s true! Graduating high school and college were never really “goals;” they were more things that were expected of me, so I did them. There wasn’t a question of whether or not it was going to happen. As for my career, Plan A was to be a successful photographer! I’m now a high school English teacher. My college degree is in Commercial Photography. It wasn’t until my junior year that I decided that photography wasn’t something I wanted to do as a career. But I had to work, and teaching was something I saw myself doing down the road. Little did I know that “down the road” was only like…half a mile! Anyways, my point is that my career goals have been a little wobbly over the years. When I think about where I’ll be in my career 10 years from now, I don’t really know!

Here’s the honest-to-God truth about my career plans:

I’m currently a teacher. And I really love it. I do. But is it something I want to do for 35+ years?? Hell no! When I think about being 49 (20 years from now), I honestly don’t know if I see myself as a teacher. Yes, I enjoy what I do, but is it my passion? I don’t think so. I’ve seen passionate teachers. My mother was one. She was over-the-top amazing as an educator. She daily worked to improve herself in her career, the buildings she worked in and the people around her. I’ve been fortunate enough to be educated by passionate teachers. Look, I love what I do and I work really hard to be good at it. I don’t take my job lightly. I’m preparing kids for the world, for goodness’ sake! My students’ ability to be functional adults in the world lies partially in my hands, so please don’t misread me when I say I am not “passionate” about my career. When I envision someone who is passionate about their job, I see someone who lives, eats, and breathes their work; someone working 24/7 to be better at their craft. And that just isn’t teaching and me. Quite honestly, when I leave my school building, I leave my work. Very rarely do I work at home after school. Sure, I’ll stay late at work to lesson plan, grade, etc., but as soon as I physically leave, I mentally leave as well. The only things I take home with me are thoughts of my students. They are on my mind much of the time. I wonder what they’re doing and if they’re safe.

Okay, so I’m not passionate about my job. What job could I be passionate about? And there is the problem – I don’t know. I could see myself becoming passionate about my job if I could teach book club versus English. One of the best parts of my jobs is watching fall in love with reading. Seeing a kid laugh at a character, empathize with a character’s suffering or question “Why the hell did the author write the book like that??” gives me the chills and makes the early mornings and career questions worthwhile. I could also work with students on writing about what they read, but in a less formal situation- just write! It doesn’t have to be this format, or this prompt…just write your reaction. So anyways. Book club. I could teach Book Club. But there doesn’t seem to be a need or opening for that position. Maybe there is somewhere outside of my building or district or city or state! I’d just have to move to be passionate about my job! Yeah….no. I’m not leaving my friends and family; people I’ve worked really hard to build relationships with. It seems as though I choose my people over a passionate career, and that’s fine with me.

Back to what a passionate job would be. Writing? Yes, I love writing and seem to be fairly good at it and would actually like to learn to be better! But as a career?? What would I write about that people would pay to read? I have no desire to write novels. Some sort of self-help book like Julie wrote? Honey…I have all the questions and zero answers. A blog? Lots of people make lots of money writing blogs! Sure!!! But I’m not so sure that enough people want to read what I write about – my life and my thoughts. Some people read it and I am thankful for each and every one of you! But I don’t have a big enough following that equals career; especially when I have a wonderful, good paying job!

So maybe I focus on another aspect of my life for my goal setting. I really hope to be happily married by 39, but is that a goal I can work towards? It really depends on another person and so many things have to work together to make it happen, so I don’t really think I can make that a “goal” per se. Also, I’m much more focused on being HAPPY at 39 rather than married! Yes, I hope to be, but being happy is much more important to me.

SO WHAT??? How will I work to create my own canvas?

My goal for this Miracle will be to make an appointment with Julie for a Life Coaching session. I have so many thoughts and emotions running through my head about where I see myself 10 years from now that I need someone to help me process it all!! For me, having a 10-year goal is very important. I don’t want to just float through life and take everything as it comes. I like having goals and I think having a more solidified plan would help give my life more purpose. Plus, the idea that my career and my passions don’t exactly match is something that has bothered me for a while, but I’ve never come to a resolution about it. Julie is a professional and has helped so many people – I would love to be a part of that!

And yes. I just made it my goal to make a goal. It’s my blog – I can do that!

“Positive habits can help you work in the most efficient manner, stay organized and calm, be your best, and make confident decisions that support your goals and aspirations.” – Julie Wilkes

My creation space this afternoon!

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ALL THE LINKS!!!

  • My thoughts on
    • Miracle 1: Embrace HERE!
    • Miracle 2: Connect HERE!
  • Check out everything Julie Wilkes HERE!
  • The 7 Life Miracles on Facebook!
  • Seven Studios on Facebook!
  • Learn about The 7 Life Miracles book HERE!
  • Order The 7 Life Miracles  on Amazon HERE!
  • Check availability at your local Barnes & Noble Bookstore and get it now HERE!

Ending Up Helping :: January 22nd :: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

I know, I know…so much for blogging every day! As it turns out, trying to blog every day during your birthday month is extremely hard! I’ve been super busy and not able to dedicate the proper amount of time to my blog that each post deserves. Even so, I have learned so much about charities, what they do, how they work and why we need to support them.

GUESS WHAT!!

Yesterday was my birthday, and in honor of that, I am highlighting a charity that DIRECTLY affects the family of one of my bestest friends in the entire world, Kristen.

Picture a typical teenage girl, right around the age of 14. She loves boys, puppies, and sunny days. It’s the day of her favorite cousin’s wedding – a New Year’s Eve wedding! It’s mere hours away from being 2012! She is a junior bridesmaid and gets to get her hair and makeup done along with the rest of the girls! But instead of gabbing and drinking (virgin!) mimosas with her fellow bridesmaids, Kate is sitting, listening to her iPod while an electric vest vibrates her entire torso, shaking her lungs free of thick mucous that could severely inhibit her breathing. She insists that the daily 90 minutes of various treatments really aren’t so bad.

Cystic Fibrosis is an inherited disease that affective the lungs and digestive system. It is a “life-threatening genetic disease that causes mucus to build up and clog some of the organs in the body, particularly the lungs and pancreas. When mucus clogs the lungs, it can make breathing very difficult. The thick mucus also causes bacteria (or germs) to get stuck in the airways, which causes inflammation (or swelling) and infections that lead to lung damage.

Mucus also can block the digestive tract and pancreas. The mucus stops digestive enzymes from getting to the intestines. The body needs these enzymes to break down food, which provides important nutrients to help people grow and stay healthy. People with cystic fibrosis often need to replace these enzymes with medicine they take with their meals and snacks, which helps them digest food and get proper nutrition.

When it comes to “getting” CF, it is all in your genes. When I asked Kristen about this, she said “It’s a basic Punnett Square!” My verbal response was “Oh yeah! I remember that from high school biology! Totally. Got it.” My inner response was, “Uhhh….I know I remember learning that, buuutttt….what?” So, if you’re like me and don’t exactly remember 10th grade biology, here ya go:

A Basic Punnett Square for CF:

How this can be interpreted (blonde version):

C- normal allele

c- allele with CF mutation

In this example, each child would have:

25% chance of being unaffected with Cystic Fibrosis (CC)

50% chance of being a carrier of Cystic Fibrosis (Cc)

25% chance of being affected with Cystic Fibrosis (cc)

Because of the thick mucous, Kate has to work harder than her field hockey teammates just to be able to breathe, let alone breathe deeply while exercising. But does that stop her? Hell no.

“It’s definitely harder running. My lung capacity is smaller, so running is harder and I cough more when I’m running,” said Kate, who played varsity as a freshman and has started the last two seasons. “It’s harder to breathe, but I don’t notice it unless I am sick or have a lung infection.”

Years ago, the life expectancy for people with CF was only elementary school age. A person with CF can expect to live “into their 30s, 40s and beyond” today, thanks to research funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

The CF Foundation has funded more “research than any other organization, and nearly every CF drug available today was made possible because of Foundation support.” Their “focus is to support the development of new drugs to fight the disease, improve the quality of life for those with CF, and ultimately to find a cure.”

Not only does the CF Foundation fund research, but they also advocate for people living with CF. They work to keep CF funding at the forefront of the government’s mind.

Kristen’s 21-year-old cousin Matthew (older brother to Kate) is currently participating in a 2-year clinical trial, Vertex 809 with Kalydeco, funded by the foundation that is changing the face of this disease. It is the first drug to treat the underlying cause of CF. Matthew’s health improves daily because of the medication.

Wanna contribute to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation??

Donors can feel good about their contribution because of trials like the one Matthew is participating in. Money goes towards the trials that are are directly lengthening and saving people’s lives, NOT into the administrative pockets. Click HERE to donate and HERE to see exactly where each dollar goes.

Every year in Columbus, the local CF Foundation chapter hosts a bevy of fundraising events. One of these events is hosted by Matthew and Kate’s parents, Tom & Marie – the Hennessey Family Fore-Love Golf Outing. Played at Brookside Country Club, “a shotgun start begins a day of great golf, food and entertainment. Raffles, live and silent auction and a fabulous dinner round out the event.” Kristen and her family volunteer at the event in support of Matthew and Kate.

Kristen & Kate "Play today for more Tomorrows"

Kristen & Kate
“Play today for more Tomorrows”

Andrew, Kristen, Kate & Matthew at the Fore Love Dinner

Andrew, Kristen, Kate & Matthew at the Fore Love Dinner

The Fore Love event is just one of many fundraising opportunities available. If you are in or near the Columbus area, you can check out the event calendar HERE!

Not in CBus?? BUMMER! 😉 Click HERE to find your local CF Foundation chapter!

Matthew and Kate refuse to allow their cystic fibrosis hold them back. Matthew is studying Political Science at Ohio State University and has had internships in Washington, DC and Columbus. Kate is finishing her junior year of high school and hopes to play field hockey at Georgetown, following in her mother’s footsteps.

“I have never been held back. I’m definitely a doer, never a quitter…I think (having cystic fibrosis) helps me. It pushes me to persevere a lot more. It’s how I overcome things. I can do this and nothing’s going to hold me back.”

You go, girl!

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All information was obtained from www.cff.org and The Upper Arlington News

Find CFF: Columbus Chapter on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CFFCentralOH

Ending Up Helping :: January 15th :: Save a Limb Fund

Starting at the young age of 3, I wore glasses. My parents noticed my bad vision when my right eye started crossing over towards my nose. Apparently I was so far-sighted that my eye would cross over to fix my vision. When I was in 8th grade, I had eye surgery to make my vision a little better. I was still far-sighted, but now I could wear contacts. I wasn’t stuck in my bifocal glasses.

Pro Tip: Even with my contacts in, my eye still crosses over after a couple beers…it’s “my tell.”

Some kids have difficulties with math (me). Some kids are born with bad vision (also me). Some have trouble making friends (not me! The other dork kids were my people!). And some kids are born with more noticeable differences, such as missing or ill-proportionate limb.

I was able to have a procedure that made my vision easier to endure, and thanks to the Save a Limb Fund, children and adults with limb deficiencies all over the country have easier lives too.

Save a Limb Fund

“The Save-A-Limb Fund was established in 2001 and supports in the fight to save limbs from amputation and provide hip and knee replacements to patients in need both domestically and abroad. The fund also works to advance patient care through the research and the work of the physicians and staff of the Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics (RIAO) at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.”

Each year, Save a Limb hosts the Save-A-Limb Ride, Walk and Festival fundraiser. Participants ride to “honor the courage and determination of adults and children who are waiting for treatment because they cannot afford it, and who live with daily pain and have difficulty walking because they are unable to afford hip or knee replacement. We also ride to honor the compassion of our physicians and staff.”

Check out this video from the 2013 ride and walk:

The Save-A-Limb Funds are used in the following ways:

  • To financially assist patients who cannot afford housing, transportation, physical therapy or adaptive equipment (wheelchairs, crutches, specialized car seats for children in casts)
  • To offer free initial consultations to patients who qualify for financial aid
  • To support RIAO international outreach missions to the developing world (India, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Haiti)
  • To fully implement a digital x-ray system to decrease our patients’ exposure to radiation
  • To support research projects at the Center for Joint Preservation and Replacement and the International Center for Limb Lengthening
  • To host an annual holiday party for children undergoing treatment during the holidays

If you would like to make a donation, please click HERE!

“We have volunteer opportunities for children and adults, so grab your friends and family and join us for a fun day at the park!  All volunteers will receive a volunteer t-shirt and free admission to our post-ride picnic and festival. Bring your group and man one of our water stops as you cheer along the riders. You could also assist us with registration, set up, marking the courses, the family walk, the picnic or the kids’ festival.

For more information or to sign up, please e-mail Beth Markowitz at BMarkowi@lifebridgehealth.org.”

A dear friend of mine has a nephew who was born missing a tibia and one of his legs is 25% shorter than the other. Almost every year, his dad rides in the Save a Limb race. Because of donations and people volunteering their time, that little boy has been able to have surgeries to help him experience as typical a childhood as possible.

My ability to do the things I do on a daily basis is definitely something I take for granted. What if I couldn’t drive my car to work in the morning because I didn’t have a foot to push the pedals? What if I couldn’t teach my lessons because I couldn’t write on the board due to a lack of hands? These situations may seem drastic, but for many people, these situations are their lives. Because of the work done by The Save a Limb Fund, someone’s life does not have to be drastically different just because they are just a little bit different.

…and aren’t we all just a little bit different?

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All information was obtained from www.savealimbride.org

Find Save a Limb Fund on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SaveALimbFund

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And please, DON’T FORGET!!! If there is a worthwhile cause on your radar, I would LOVE to hear about it! Perhaps it will make it onto this month’s Ending Up Helping series!

Ending Up Helping :: January 13th :: Amethyst, Inc.

I have watched enough episodes of Intervention and heard enough personal stories to understand that addiction does not only hurt the person with the addiction; it affects their entire family and all of their friends. I have also experienced enough of life to learn that homelessness isn’t always a voluntary outcome. Pair the two, addiction and homelessness, together, and it adds up to what can seem like a hopeless situation.

If someone suffering from drug and/or alcohol addiction is fortunate enough to realize they needs a lifestyle change, making that change on their own truly may not be an option.

Amethyst, Inc.

“Amethyst’s goal is to help women, children, and families achieve lifelong sobriety, healthy relationships, permanent housing, and economic stability through gender-specific programs and services that combine alcohol and drug treatment with supportive housing for homeless women.”

When a woman carries around an addiction while trying to be a mother, wife, or other caregiver, she can often begin to feel a deep failure in the role as caregiver. But because addiction holds such a type grip on its victims, these women may not know how to face it. Amethyst provides gender-specific treatments and therapies to help these women.

Beyond helping only the women fighting addiction, Amethyst serves the families they are trying to preserve. The children living at Amethyst receive babysitting, homework help, tutoring, therapy, and education on how to avoid a life of addiction.

“Addiction, poverty, and violence have the propensity to perpetuate themselves generation after generation. Children raised in families coping with these problems struggle academically and miss more days of school than their counterparts. They’re also likely to display emotional and mental challenges, which can create barriers to academic and social success.

Amethyst’s goal is to break the generational cycle. We provide a healthy environment combined with supportive and therapeutic services designed with children’s needs in mind.”

When a parent suffers from addiction, one result may be family separation. This can permanently damage the family unit, or with special care and hard work, the families can re-bond and learn to forgive and move forward.

“Many families at Amethyst have experienced family disruption caused by the extended parent/child separation that can result from addiction, mental illness, poverty, and criminal involvement. At Amethyst, we believe in reunifying these families. Our family-centered programs promote meaningful family dialogue, increase parent knowledge, and encourage parental involvement in the development and education of their children, giving all family members the support they need to reconnect with each other.”

What Amethyst Does Works

Valerie’s Story

“Thirteen years ago, I would never have imagined that there would be a place that would help me heal from my hurt and teach me how to cope with life’s situation the same situations that, during the height of my addiction, would have triggered me to get high

Today, I am a woman that helps others see their own dreams. I am the woman that lets others know there are people and services that can help them. I will never be able to repay Amethyst for giving me back my life, my children, and my family. I am still learning from the friendships I developed at Amethyst. The women I met there are my sisters. We have shared stories, and we know that it is through Amethyst that we will grow and be strong. When most people have a series of bad life experiences, they say that they are happy to have their old life back. Well, I don’t want my old life back. Amethyst gave me a new life, one that I never thought I could have.”

After women “graduate” from the program and become alumnae, many decide to stay on and help those who come behind them. The alumnae are able to offer success stories, be a person who will listen and truly understand and inspire other women to persevere.

Wanna contribute to Amethyst, Inc.??

Because Amethyst is a home where women and their children live, the list of needed items more likely to grow rather than shrink. If you would like to donate items to the Amethyst House, please click here for an idea of what is needed most.

If a monetary donation speaks to your heart, you can be assured that your money will go towards ensuring the survival of mothers and children recovering from addiction here in Columbus. Please click here to donate.

“Our volunteers are lifesavers. Literally.” If you’re looking to save some lives, please volunteer! Click here for more information.

Unfortunately, it can be very easy to judge a person based on their addiction alone. But if we take a moment to see beyond the addiction, and into who that person really is, not only might they survive, but their family is given another chance at survival as well.

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All information was obtained from www.amethyst-inc.org.

Find Amethyst, Inc. on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Amethystinc.

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And please, DON’T FORGET!!! If there is a worthwhile cause on your radar, I would LOVE to hear about it! Perhaps it will make it onto this month’s Ending Up Helping series!

Ending Up Helping :: January 12th ::Project Zero Ohio

“Imagine you were diagnosed with a lethal virus. Now imagine knowing there were potentially life-saving medications available, but you couldn’t afford them — and any resources set up to assist you had been exhausted. Sadly, for hundreds of Central Ohioans, they don’t have to imagine; this is their reality.”

 Project Zero Ohio (P:ZO)

I am so very fortunate that any time I have suffered from any sort of illness, there has been some medical cure. Whether it was a stomach ailment, ear infection, poison ivy, the flu, bronchitis, pink eye, or some other affliction, a doctor has always been able to prescribe a remedy and either I or my parents could afford it.

For Central Ohioans diagnosed with AIDS, the cure is expensive, if available at all.

“Physician Randy Sharma, entrepreneur Steven Weaver, and gay activist/”Super Drag Queen” Nina West joined forces to help raise funds for local HIV/AIDS charities and resources. The idea is simple: to donate proceeds from customized, locally-crafted products to help assure that zero HIV/AIDS patients in the Greater Columbus Area go without the services they need.

To raise funds for this simple and incredibly important idea, local artists and business donate funds from the sales of their products to P:ZO. The initial product was a Rainbow Candle created by a partnership between Columbus’ Candle Lab and Nina West. Stinkybomb Soaps created a Pride Soap of all the rainbow colors and most recently, artist AmyD created a custom P:ZO coffee mug sleeve for the cause.

pzo

Wanna contribute to the Project Zero Ohio??

Aside from purchase P:ZO affiliated products, you can donate directly to the cause. If you are interested in donating you can do so through PayPal HERE!

There are various opportunities for volunteering through events, product launches and more. To let the P:ZO folks know that you’re interested, please fill out the quick ‘n easy form HERE!

Plans are still in the works for a High Heel Run hosted by the Alternative Fashion Mob. One of the benefiting charities will be P:ZO. This will be another super fun way to support local AIDS patients! Stay Tuned for more info!

AIDS is an unforgiving, awful illness that touches more people than we may realize. By purchasing Project Zero Ohio products, you are helping to calm the fears of someone who may not have much hope for a cure, and doesn’t everyone deserve some hope?

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All information was obtained from www.projectzeroohio.com.

Find P:ZO on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Project-Zero-Ohio/194772307241509

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And please, DON’T FORGET!!! If there is a worthwhile cause on your radar, I would LOVE to hear about it! Perhaps it will make it onto this month’s Ending Up Helping series!

Ending Up Helping :: January 8th :: Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio

No matter how old I get or how many years pass after my mom’s death, the moment I start feeling sick, my mind immediately calls for my mom. I had many stomach illnesses growing up, all of which went undiagnosed. Most of my 5th grade year was spent feeling nauseous, sometimes puking, sometimes not. But guess who was there to hold my hair and wipe my tears EVERY time??

Mom.

I remember one night, I must’ve been about 7 or 8, walking into my parent’s room in the middle of the night because my stomach hurt. Immediately jumping to the call of duty, Mom took my hand and led me to her bathroom. She poured the familiar looking pink medicine and told me to drink it.

“Mom, this smells funny…I don’t want it.”

“It’s medicine! It’s supposed to smell funny! Just drink it!”

So I did. IT was right at that moment that my dear, sweet mother’s eyes adjusted to the light and she realized she had poured me Calamine lotion and NOT Pepto Bismol.

AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Mom immediately called Poison Control. They instructed her to make me drink lots and lots of water and that the wrong medicine would come right back up. They were right! Mom sat up with me all night, making sure I was really okay.

Even with a few bumps in the road, I can’t imagine being sick as a child without my mom there to tell me everything would be okay and hold me until I fell asleep.

See?? It would be an easy mistake to make in the middle of the night!

See?? It would be an easy mistake to make in the middle of the night! Right??

Thanks to the Columbus Ronald McDonald House, kids all across the city, state, and even neighboring states don’t have to be sick without their moms, dads and family nearby.

Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio

RMDH

The Ronald McDonald House (RMHC) started in Philadelphia about 38 years ago when a local man’s daughter was going through cancer treatments. He and the little girl’s mom spent day after day, night after night on benches in the hospital. This man was Fred Hill, a player for the Philadelphia Eagles. Fred turned to his manager and expressed that no one should have to have a long-term hospital experience like they did. They were close friends with Ray Kroc, McDonald’s founder, and he was able to turn Fred’s idea into a place of comfort and support in a family’s greatest time of need.

“The first Ronald McDonald House in Columbus opened on 18th Street in March 1982 when an old apartment building was purchased and renovated. The new facility was met with a great deal of excitement from the local community, and especially the new partner Nationwide Children’s Hospital.”

The RMHC of Central Ohio provides a place close to the hospital where families can stay over night, eat a hot, home-cooked meal, and receive support from other families experiencing the same trials. Families are asked to donate $20 per night, but no one is every turned away because they cannot afford the donation.

Wanna contribute to the The Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio??

“Each year, nearly 3,000 families stay at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House, spending over 20,000 nights at our home-away-from-home.”

Because of this large number and a small operating staff, The Columbus RMCH could not function daily without volunteers. Volunteering opportunities include:

Special Events Volunteer
Volunteer at any of our special fundraising events throughout the year.

and

Housewarming Volunteers:
Work with our guests to provide a home-like environment – greet, assist with family needs, answer phones, give tours, assist with checkin/checkout, prepare guest rooms after checkout, clean facility, laundry, restock supplies and staff the front desk.”

Click HERE to apply!

One of the really neat volunteering opportunities involves preparing, making and serving dinner to the families stay at The House. I think it would be so fun and so rewarding to get a group of friends together and cook a meal at The RMCH and then be able to serve the families as well. If you’re interested in this, please click HERE!

Since staying at the RMHC of Central Ohio is like staying at home, the center needs all kinds of household items. Click HERE for their wishlist! Your donations here help keep the RMCH feeling like home.

Sometimes it’s just as easy and rewarding to know your money is going towards keeping a family together during a child’s serious illness. Please click HERE to donate monetarily.

Now that I no longer have my mom around to comfort me when I am sick, I can pay it forward by helping to support an organization that keeps families together when they need each other the most.

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EVERYONE LOVES A WINNER!!!

The RMHC of Central Ohio has a contest going on through March 16th! They are trying to win $100,000 for the 3rd year in a row by voting for Coach Matta at VoteCoachMatta.com. This contest will allow the RMCH to continue serving families of seriously-ill children!

VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!

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All information was obtained from www.rmhc-centralohio.org

Find the RMHC of Central Ohio on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RMHCofCentralOhio

Check out the the RMHC of Central Ohio blog HERE!

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And please, DON’T FORGET!!! If there is a worthwhile cause on your radar, I would LOVE to hear about it! Perhaps it will make it onto this month’s Ending Up Helping series!

Ending Up Helping :: January 7th :: Kaleidoscope Youth Center

Anyone who knows me at all knows that at all times, I have an entourage of gay men around me, and if not, I can get ahold of one in a moment’s notice. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I’m not sure how or why this close friendship with the gay community intrigues me, but it has and my life is the better for it.

Here’s some of my entourage (with Granny!)

Because so many of my closest friends and family are gay, whenever someone tries to pick on them, say nasty things, or deny them their rights, it hurts me on a very personal level. I have many gay students and I want them to know that people are out there trying to make a brighter future for them.

But until then…

Kaleidoscope Youth Center

“Kaleidoscope Youth Center is the only organization in Ohio solely dedicated to supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and their allies. Founded in 1994, Kaleidoscope is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.  The mission of Kaleidoscope Youth Center is to work in partnership with young people in Central Ohio to create safe and empowering environments for LGBTQ youth through advocacy, education and support.”

In world where being gay is not quite universally accepted, kids and teenagers need a place where they can go for support and friendship. Many times, they do not have friends or family they can turn to in times of struggle. Unfortunately, this can lead to the needless stories of suicide that are spread across the internet each year. This is why Kaleidoscope is so very important.

“Our vision is to promote and support self-confident, healthy, productive lives for LGBTQ youth as they transition from adolescence into adulthood…For the past three years, Kaleidoscope has been able to develop additional programs offering self-esteem, health and wellness programs and assistance with Gay Straight Alliances in Columbus City Schools, and Franklin County schools, along with those in contiguous counties. Kaleidoscope Youth Center utilizes proven “youth development” strategies in its after-school program.”

Kaleidoscope is a center where kids can go to hang out with their peers, find information on healthy living, and have a mentor to turn to in times of need. But not only does Kaleidoscope cater to the youth of the city, but they train adults as well. They provide education services to people with a desire to mentor and support gay youths in their lives. The center provides information to questions like:

  • Creating an Inclusive Classroom
  • How Can I Be Supportive of a Transgender Person?
  • Someone Came Out to Me. Now What Do I Do?
  • LGBTQ Books (Non-fiction and Fiction)
  • LGBTQ Films (Documentary and Feature)
  • Inclusive Classroom Activities

Wanna contribute to Kaleidoscope??

Just look for the BIG blue arrow!!

Contributing to the Kaleidoscope Youth Center is easy and absolutely appreciated!

“Our physical space is a safe haven for our youth and we want to make them as comfortable as possible.  We provide games, a free lending library, a fully-stocked kitchen, a cyber center and lots more to make this their “home”.  As anyone with teenagers knows, this can be quite an undertaking!”

Kaleidoscope provides an online “Wishlist” of items needed for the center. I actually prefer the idea of donating a specific item, because then I know exactly how my donation is being used. Click HERE for the Kaleidoscope Wishlist!

Is a monetary donation more what you were thinking?? PERFECT!

“Growing up can be difficult – growing up lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender can be overwhelming. It is important that those of us who have been there, or know people who have been there, support this generation as we want them to grow into healthy adults with strong self-images. Your gifts help Kaleidoscope Youth Center create and manage empowering programs by and for LGBTQ youth and allies. Support from individual donors is critical. We count on donations from individuals for a substantial portion of our annual budget. “

Click HERE to donate!!

And of course, volunteering is always an option at Kaleidoscope! 

“Volunteers are the backbone of this organization. We could not be where we are today without our dedicated and committed volunteers. Kaleidoscope Youth Center requires over 100 hours of volunteer support each month just to keep our doors open to continue to provide our services to LGBTQ youth.”

Volunteer activities range from Youth Center Volunteers, Special Events Volunteers, Fundraising Volunteers, and Office/Administrative Volunteers!  Please click HERE to apply an get involved!

I sometimes feel as though I live in a beautiful, happy and gay little bubble here in Columbus. I forget that in other places, and heck, even in Columbus, there are still gay people feeling oppression and completely different from everyone around them. We need to show the gay youth that there is a place and a purpose for them in our world. Thanks to organizations like Kaleidoscope, it just keeps getting better.

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All information was obtained from www.kycohio.org

Find Kaleidoscope on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KYCOhio

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And please, DON’T FORGET!!! If there is a worthwhile cause on your radar, I would LOVE to hear about it! Perhaps it will make it onto this month’s Ending Up Helping series!

Ending Up Helping :: January 6th :: Happy Anniversary!

Hoooollllly crap. This blog turned a year old today!!! Where has time gone?!? I looked back on my first post on Ending Up Here and sure enough, I am still standing in stilettos. Okay, fine. I’m actually not wearing shoes, but it’s a snow day here in Columbus! Gimme a break!

A year ago today, I was recovering from a year of an on-again, off-again relationship. It felt like things just kept going wrong in my life. I had graduated college with a degree I never intended to use. I worked for 9 months in a job that sent me home crying every night. My mom was sick (again) with cancer. My mom died from cancer. My dad almost died from an infected colon. My best friends were either moving on, moving away, or both.

I just couldn’t understand why God kept throwing challenge after challenge my way. The first few had made me strong enough! I didn’t need anymore strength tests! What was He trying to prove?? I kept asking, why do I keep ending up here – crying, alone in my bed, with an empty box of Merlot?! Why can’t I end up like the happy people? Why can’t I have a strong, reliable man in my life, be smiling because of all of life’s fortunes and drinking celebratory champagne?

Well folks, that’s just not how life works. Perhaps that is one of the lessons God is trying to teach me. Sure, people look happy, and they might really BE happy, but no one’s life is perfect and I certainly shouldn’t expect mine to be either. This past year has been about taking the good with the bad, and not just focusing in on the bad. Yes, I have had some rough times. But I have had a job to pay my bills, a roof over my head, an amazing family that loves and supports me, and a group of badass friends that inspire me daily.

In the past year, I have:

run a half marathon,

Dad & I at the Finish Line!

Dad & I at the Finish Line!

become a calendar girl model,

Amanda & I worked our butts off to win this calendar girl competition!

Amanda & I worked our butts off to win this calendar girl competition!

received my masters in education,

About to click "Submit" for my final assignment!

About to click “Submit” for my final assignment!

experimented (and failed) with burlesque dancing,

{No image necessary!}

seen one of my bestest friends celebrate 5 years of being cancer free,

We've got Goose, Iceman (me!), Maverick, Charlie and...Evel Knievel! It was a Top Gun themed celebration!

We’ve got Goose, Iceman (me!), Maverick, Charlie and…Evel Knievel! It was a Top Gun themed celebration!

become a founding member of Columbus’ Alternative Fashion Mob,

AFM

watched my brother (whom I only met in 2009) marry one of my best friends,

David, Kelli and I

found out I get to be an auntie to yet another best friend’s baby this May,

rediscovered that I am an independent, self-sufficient woman,

photo 1 (1)

and had a kickass time doing it.

Just a FEW of the people that made this past year so memorable!

Had I stayed in bed with my snotty tissues and empty wine glasses, I would not have had the opportunity to experience all of these wonderful moments.

So instead of focusing on one specific charity today, I am focusing on continuing another year of positive thinking. Yes, donating time and money to a charity is an amazing and selfless thing to do, but why do we do it? Because we have hope for a brighter future in some way. Without hope, donating anything is meaningless. So today, I am focusing on contributing another year of hope to those around me. I want to be a reminder, through my words and my actions, that “ending up here” may be the best place to be.

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And please, DON’T FORGET!!! If there is a worthwhile cause on your radar, I would LOVE to hear about it! Perhaps it will make it onto this month’s Ending Up Helping series!