Sunday, December 7, 2014

Encourage ASL

Yesterday I ran out to grab a few last minute ingredients for some appetizers I needed to make for a get-together.  As I walked around the store with my oldest daughter, I figured while we were out we could also grab the things we needed for a child we had adopted for the Christmas holiday.  I wanted her to get to pick out what our little boy would receive. 

The store was packed, and so many items were moved around, I went up to ask an employee where we could find the boys gloves.  So I said "Excuse me".....maybe three times...until he looked up and motioned toward his ear.  So I signed, "Are you deaf?".  He nodded.  

I signed, "Do you use sign?".  His face lit up and signed, "Yes", he did.

So I put my coffee down in the cart, and we had a great conversation, in ASL (American Sign Language). He was able to tell me where to find what I needed.  He had such a look of pride on his face from being to help me in his own language, it made me have tears in my eyes.  As we walked away to go find those gloves, I turned to my daughter, who is in 6th grade, and said, "THAT is why you take Sign Language as your language at school as soon as you can".  

She is lucky that schools in our district offer American Sign Language as a language choice, and she can take it next semester.  Of course, I'm biased, I think it's a beautiful language after studying it myself for a couple years, and immersing myself in Deaf Culture.  It's a completely different world, hidden in plain sight.  I have seen that employee before, but I had no idea he was deaf.

I wrote about a similar experience HERE.

I thought the teachable moment of that shopping trip was going to be having Taylor pick out the gifts for the child we adopted....but turns out there was a lot more to learn from that employee.  He told me he usually works in the back, stocking items, since he is deaf.  He doesn't have to be around people who can't communicate with him that way.  Another reason why I was so glad we met him~ not like I did him a favor my chatting with him, but our conversation made him feel valued.  He was able to direct me to what I needed without writing a note or trying to force his voice to talk to make me feel comfortable.  He could just be himself, and said he was so happy to help us, and I believe he really meant it.  When we gathered up the winter coat/hat/gloves we needed, he popped up making sure we found what we were looking for, and we chatted some more.

If your child has the opportunity to learn Sign Language, encourage them to do it!  
So many more schools are offering it as a language choice, and if you're worried that it won't serve them in life, think again.  I can't tell you how many times I have been able to use it in different situations, and it's a life skill that's worth it.  Imagine going through life, even just your workday, where maybe 90% of your co-workers are chatting and interacting, and you are on the outside looking in.   I can't imagine how polarizing that could be.  Even if learning the basics just teaches empathy when they encounter a deaf person, it would be worth it.   

He told me stories of people being rude when they couldn't understand him~ giving him a mean face, throwing their hands up and walking away.  A little understanding can go a long way, and they might just be able to make someone's day.

Have a great day :)


Friday, June 27, 2014

Daniel's Big Night

If you've seen my posts about the girls teaming up with our friends at Preston's March for Energy, you know we have been busy.

In May the girls were able to participate in giving away a bike to a boy named Sam.  They raised the money for by selling lemonade and making loom bracelets.  The best part was that the bike ended up costing less than was expected, and with just a few hundred more dollars, they'd be able to purchase a second bike for another child in need.  They got to work right away and raised another $315.00 to make the full cost of the second bike!  The generosity of family, friends and neighbors who want to help has been both overwhelming and heartwarming.

The other night the second bike was gifted to Daniel, before the Wilmington Blue Rocks took the field in a baseball game.  It was a great night.  The girls were excited to be on the field, and it turns out that Daniel had no idea he would be receiving a bike of his very own.  There were smiles and happy tears all around!
Here is a link to local news coverage of the event

Have a great day~ and find a way to Pay It Forward!

Sam's Big Day!

Thanks to countless donations, my daughters efforts to raise enough funds to purchase an adaptive bike for a child in need came to fruition.  At one point, we thought they would only have enough to pay for "a tire" or something.  Maybe give some money towards the cost of a bike?  We knew the cost of the bike would be $2200.00 at least.  The daunting challenge (to me) was when I knew the girls were only selling bracelets for one dollar or less.  To the girls, though, it would be just fine.  No big deal.  They had no doubt they could raise the money.

And they were right.

The day came where Sam would get his bike.  He had no idea he was getting one.  He thought he was just going to watch a 5K race.  The look on his face was priceless when he realized the bike was for him.  Pure joy.

Stephen Buenaga, Preston's dad, told the girls to remember this day.  Even when you're a grown up, you will remember the day you gave Sam a gift that changed the rest of his life, he said.  And I know he is right.

There weren't many dry eyes during the presentation of the bike...  And the girls were able to surprise Deb Buenaga, Preston's mom, with the final amount they raised, $2349.00 for that special bike!  They couldn't have done it without the generous support of so many people who wanted to help out.  For that we are forever grateful!  

Here is a link to the article written about the kids, and what Preston's March is up to these days!

Sam's great surprise is in pictures below....!  CLICK HERE for a video link to the presentation.

Have a great day~and find a way to PAY IT FORWARD :) 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Small Acts for a BIG Reason

So I just saw this shared by Shawn Achor on his Facebook page (I wrote about seeing him in person for a presentation here).  I had to share it.  Grab a tissue. 

It quickly reminded me why my daughters are raising money to purchase a bike for a child they have never met. A small act, but a big reason WHY teaching kindness is so important.  You don't need to know someone to put yourself in their shoes.   

This video shows people who gave of themselves to help one person at a time.  Reminded me of Deb, and how Preston's March is making so many kids happy.  One kid at a time.

I have been chatting with Deb (from Preston's March for Energy), and she asked if the girls could present the bike to Sam, the recipient, at their upcoming  5K race here in Delaware.  The little boy doesn't know he is getting the bike~which makes it even more fun!

We are quite a bit away from our goal of being able to fund the bike totally ourselves, so I am going to make a few final pushes here to secure as much as possible to donate at the time of the bike unveiling.  

If you are able to donate at all, ANY amount is really appreciated!!!!  I would love to be able to hand over the full amount :)  

Here is our GO FUND ME page, where you can make an easy donation online.

As of now, Preston's March is fronting the money, as they had to order the bike parts from overseas.  It will be put together here in Delaware, meeting the needs of Sam, and making it perfect, just for him (I hear his favorite color is orange...).

THANK YOU in advance if you can contribute at all, and come out to see Sam get his bike if you can!  We are also accepting off-line donations as well.

Enjoy a scenic 5K run/walk with your friends and family on the beautiful Delaware Greenway! Afterwards vendors who focus on Family Fun/Health will be available for exhibition and information. Food/Fun/Music for all! 


CLICK HERE to register for the 5K and Family Fun Day!

Have a great day!


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Teaching our girls how to GIVE

Back in October, I took the girls to a garden fair, and we met this amazing super mom Deb Buenaga and her sweetheart son Preston.  We learned all about their foundation called Preston's March for Energy, which raises money to gift adaptive bikes to children with special needs.  I wrote about it here.
 {Sisters are forever friends} ...a Christmas gift

Not long after, the girls wanted to start doing something to help raise money to donate to Deb's foundation.  It was confusing to them why it costs so much for a special bike.  It's hard to explain things like this to kids...we all take so much for granted...I had to really break it down for them.  But I said if the three of them together put their minds to it, they could figure out a way to help.

So, like every kid under the age of 12, they immediately started making rainbow loom bracelets, and asking for donations, with a suggested price of $2.00/bracelet.  Lucky for the girls, most of the bracelet donations have been a little more generous.

If you're related to me, you've already been practically assaulted by my lovely girls who have taken a slightly aggressive...assertive stance on selling their bracelets ~like putting bracelets in every glass at the dinner table during the holidays and offering to give the person a drink when they paid up.  

There are only so many bracelets they can make until their little fingers fall off, or I get cited for running a sweatshop in my home, so I decided to take it to the Internet and try out a page on "Go Fund Me".  

We are appreciative of any donations, and truly no amount is too small.  Our goal is to raise enough money to fully fund a bike for a child who is in need.   

Since we started raising money, every drop of spare change has been put into the "Preston" mason jar, adding to our goal.  Of course if we just rely on pennies in our pockets, this might take awhile..... 

On a recent trip to NYC, my middle daughter shoved about 20 bracelets in her winter hat.  When I saw one hanging out, I asked her WHAT she was thinking, and she said she thought she'd sell them on the street.  THAT was another conversation all together on why we don't talk to people we don't know, in a city we don't know......good lord, the kids mean well, but you see why I'm starting to help out a bit, right?

Click Here for our Go Fund Me page, or click below!  

All we know right now is the child who will receive the bike is named Sam.  

We really want to make Sam's dream come true!

Please help us make it happen!  Even a $5.00 donation will help us reach our goal :) 

Have a great day~ and thank you in advance!


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Get in the Groove

So I really do have wonderful intentions, and when I said I would be doing the daily happiness exercises, I really meant it.  

Then I had some days of forgetting....and I was raised Catholic, so I felt guilty about it.  

Soon after,  I had a bomb drop on me.  And I wanted to go into a dark room, and disappear for a bit, just so I could take it all in.  I was really overwhelmed.  But I couldn't do that, because I have a life, a job, and kids who need stuff... so I had to go to Walmart {sigh}.  It honestly took mental effort, I really wanted to just press a pause button somewhere.

As I checked out with my groceries,  the man working the register so nicely said, "Have a nice day today", with a look in his eyes like he really meant it.  And I thought, wow, I needed that.  Then someone else looked at me and smiled a true genuine smile, and I almost felt like they both were placed there on purpose for me, so I would snap out of it.  As I walked out the doors, what seemed like a recording in my brain said, "Be grateful you have your children and husband, they have their health, and you have yours."  

I swear to God, I didn't consciously think those thoughts.  It kind of startled me.  I think what Shawn Achor talked about was real.  If we practice gratitude, it becomes ingrained in us.  

So do it.  If you forget here or there, it's OK, you're creating grooves in your brain that will remember for you, and when autopilot kicks in, you'll be happy it did. 

PS- I'm good now...

Have a great day!


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Science of your Smile

If you like TED talks, then this post will be right up your alley.

I just got back from Nashville, Tennessee for my skincare business.  Rodan+Fields offered an amazing weekend of training workshops, information sharing, and encouraged connections with other consultants from all over the country.  To say that the experience was empowering as a business owner would be an understatement.

But the most amazing presentation had nothing to do with the fine details of being in business.  It had to do with each of us, as a person.  How to manage the journey to achieve something without "success" attached to it, or looking for it on the other side of that achievement.


To be honest, I was {pleasantly} surprised that the topic was on how to develop ourselves as an individual, and {maybe because I had never attended an event like this before} I didn't expect it.

Shawn Achor is a former researcher from Harvard who studied happiness.  You can find his website HERE.  He spoke to us for quite awhile about his fascinating research, conducted all over the world, about what it really means, deep down, to be happy.  If you're already a fan of TED talks, you might already know a little about him, but if you'd like a peek into what we were a part of, watch the video for a smidge of what we heard.

Since my teacher/perpetual student background has me trained quite well, I sat with my laptop on my lap, taking notes.  Here is a little of what I want to scream from the rooftops and share with whomever reads this blog post...kind of how I felt after reading this.

Remember that common sense ideas aren't commonly practiced ones....these points might seem like common knowledge, but let them sink in and do them.  Practice them.  That's what I'm committing to.

Here is the part that directly related to our business...when our top leaders were asked about what makes them successful in the business, three main points emerged.  

1. Optimism-the belief that our behavior matters 
2. Strong social connection-meaningful connections to others
3. Perceive stress as a challenge-take stress and work through it 

So what's the ACTION PLAN he recommends for true joy and happiness, based on his countless hours of research?  From the minute I sat down for my first family dinner at home, we were already practicing them...

Three gratitudes
Share, out loud, three things you are grateful for.  No, it can't be "my family" or "my job".  Be specific.  "I'm grateful for how you girls helped Daddy so much while I was away by cleaning your rooms, and being kind to each other".  You might be surprised at how those words take on an emotional meaning when you say them out loud.  Go around the table, and yes, it must be three things.  It takes approximately 45 seconds to say those three things, but after 6 months, research has proven that those 45 seconds, practiced daily, can reverse YEARS of a negative mindset, and also increase your attractiveness to your mate {we cracked up at this one, but his research proved it...}.  Our "mirror neurons" will kick into high gear when we model this for our children. BE the people we are teaching them to be.

The Doubler
Journal for 2 minutes about an excellent experience, every single detail.  When you record it, you deepen your memory of the experience and subconsciously you will seek to duplicate that experience again from it being ingrained in your mind.
Think of your hand, and close your eyes.  You can still picture your hand, right? But sit and write about your hand, the lines on your palm, the rings on your close your eyes.  The picture in your minds eye is much stronger now.  Same goes for our experiences.  It's only 2 minutes.  Give it a go.

The Fun 15
Take 15 minutes each day and engage in some physical activity.  Either run, walk the dog, or in my case yesterday, go sledding with your kids and husband...that 15 minutes will give your brain the same dosage of an antidepressant.  Do it for yourself, and reap the rewards.

I was happy this was on the list.  Take just a few minutes each day, take your hands off an electronic device, and close your eyes, only focusing on your breath.  That's it.  Sean spoke of how he works with GOOGLE employees by having them physically take their hands off of their keyboards to focus on their breath during their work time.  It matters.  Our poor brains are inundated with so much information, kind of because of GOOGLE, so we deserve to give ourselves a break too.

Conscious Acts of Kindness
Whether it's in person, or in an email, fb message, or letter in the mail, tell someone how and why you appreciate them, directly praising someone.  It takes about 2 minutes to do this, yet the effects for both people are long lasting, from giving and receiving praise.

Overall...amazing people, amazing weekend, and I'm eternally grateful I have this business as part of my life.  It has changed me for the better, and I can't wait for what's to come.

And if all else fails?  Smile.  Nana said so.  
And she was always right.

Have a great day!