Saturday, October 27, 2012

Make A Difference Day

 Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead
 As a committed volunteer, and a long-time volunteer coordinator, I have often used the above quote.  It is very relevant today on Make a Difference Day, a day of service and volunteering.  Millions of people participate in volunteer efforts in communities around the world.  Volunteers contribute their skills in projects large and small and they use their time, talent and energy to make a difference. 

Get out today and join the movement to make a difference.  Find a project in your area or create one of your own.   Pick up garbage.  Help build a home or a school.  Visit someone who is lonely.  Advocate for change.  Collect funds. 

Volunteer year round by sharing your skills.  Build. Recycle. Fundraise. Teach. Read. Join a board.  Manage a website. Write a Letter.  There is something for everyone regardless of experience, interest or available time.

Things to do:
  • Visit your local volunteer recruitment center or website.  
  • Contact an organization that interests you and offer to sit on a board or committee.
  • Plan a volunteer vacation.  Get some tips in this article from Frommer's.
  • Visit your university or college student center to ask about opportunities in your area of study.
  • Look for volunteer opportunities in other areas with an organization like Get Involved or GetVolunteering.

Do you volunteer?  How long have you been volunteering? Where? Why?  What got you started as a volunteer?

Volunteer.  Make a difference today and every day.

Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren’t any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person.
Richard Buckminster Fuller

Thursday, October 25, 2012


I'm going to be moving this blog sometime next month and in the meantime will probably be writing less frequently.  I am in the process of restructuring my business and reorganizing my office and, truth be told, my life in general.  That is going to involve some home / office renovation and is going to have my workspace in a bit of disarray.  it is an exciting but nerve-racking time.

While I'm in transition, I do not anticipate being inspired or inclined to blog every day but I'll be developing ideas, creating a new site and looking for new ways to tell stories.  I will pop in when I can and hope that you will join me when I relaunch, likely in early December.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I might have slight indications to perfectionist tendencies. Ok, we're beyond that.  It might be more than slight.  If you'd like, you can read my Case for Imperfection and let me know where you stand on the whole perfectionist thing.   I have become increasingly aware that I am often guilty of letting perfection become procrastination,  partly because it takes me too long to do everything so that I just run out of time.  I'm working on it.  Really.  I've stopped thinking and planning what I'm going to do about it and started taking steps.  Thus some of the motivation for the whole reorganizing thing. 

One of my ongoing struggles with letting go of perfection is not trying to do everything in order and being stuck moving forward because I didn't finish everything that I think should be done first.  Like journaling or blogging every day and having to go back and fill missed days.  I have managed to become quite good at taking that approach with scrapbook projects.  I now do single pages or albums and the spirit moves me and not having to do things in some designated order.  I'm getting many more stories down.  The next thing will be to stop taking so long on each page. Although I do enjoy the process, I am starting to try for more speed scraps.  That being speedy for me, I expect, rather than in a truly fast way in the scheme of things.  Anyway, I'm now looking to apply that approach to other things as well.

All of this is a rather wordy description of why my taking days off from blogging could actually be a kind of test - a challenge to keep things moving forward with missed days and inconsistent posting schedule.   So, I'll see you around in the next while.  Sometime.  Who knows?  I'm a free spirit so I will write when the spirit moves but maybe not too far apart.  Hmm, maybe I should just make a schedule with less frequent postings... no, no.  Definitely going to get better at this.  Time to listen to the wisdom of Yoda  "...there is no try".

What will you do today to better tell your stories - or to create new stories? 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fallen Heros - changing stories

oct 22

It's a sad day for cycling fans. Today, the International Cycling Union ended the Lance Armstrong saga.  There will be no more appeals.  The ICU has found sufficient evidence to prove that Armstrong doped during his record-breaking 7 consecutive wins of the Tour de France.  As a result, he has been issued a lifetime ban from competitive cycling for life and has been stripped of his Tour de France titles.

I don't know what to think.  I'm a cycling fan in the original sense of the word - a fanatic following the progress of the grand tours and the daily classics. But the Tour is my first and favorite. Come July, you'll find me glued to the TV for every hour of coverage. I started watching the year after Lance had his first win and became hooked, in part, because of his dominance of the event.  For those years, the Tour was Armstong's event. His training regime was legendary, his knowledge of the sport's strategy undisputed, and his control of the field complete. And, of course, there was the inspirational story of his comeback from cancer especially with all the assertions of riding clean.

That is where many of his supporters now feel a sense of betrayal.  We all wanted to believe in the power of hard work and dedication, believe in the possibility of the human spirit to overcome seemingly impossible challenges.  And we wanted to believe in Lance Armstrong riding clean.

When the talk started in recent weeks about another investigation, my first reaction was that they should be leaving it in the past.  Armstrong hasn't won since the 2005 Tour and not ridden since his second retirement in 2010.  He has been tested countless times with no positive results.  Sure, he always had his detractors but supporters pointed to his training routine and single-minded focus on the one major event.  And there were all those spot checks.  Why, I wondered, do they need to go after him again?  Why can't they leave it in the past and focus on cleaning up the sport in the future?

But as it becomes painfully clear that he was involved in some level of drug use, the question becomes more of how it important it is to the future of the sport to ensure the cheaters of the past are punished.

I still don't know what to think.  I wonder whether this news will dampen enthusiasm for the sport of cycling, especially for the Tour de France.  I also wonder if it will damage the work of LiveStrong, an important organization that supports those whose lives are affected by cancer.  I hope neither of those happens in the long term but some immediate negativity is probably inevitable. I have seen and heard many reporters suggest that the fall of Armstrong is different than of many other fallen sport heros because of his status.

Officially, Tour records will now show no winner for 7 years.  But anyone who watched during those years will remember Lance's iconic moments - his first post-cancer win, the time trial on l'Alpe d'Huez, the impromptu field crossing, the strength of his teams, 'the Look', his reigning in of breakaway riders, and so many more.  Regardless of official rulings, he was amazing to watch on the race.  And the power of his achievement coming back from his cancer can not be denied.  But now, all that will be tainted with today's official ruling.

It's a sad day for cycling fans.

What do you think?

Should there be a statute of limitations for past violations or is it important for sports to punish past violations?  Is there a time for leaving the stories of hope and triumph or is it more damaging to leave untested? What will this mean to cycling - and to LiveStrong?  Is Armstong's fall different than other fallen athletes?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A case for imperfection

Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.
Henry van Dyke

I have been accused of being a perfectionist.  I have always fought that characterization because, after all, nothing is ever perfect.  On the other hand, I am frequently aware that I take waaaay too long to do just about everything, usually as a result of redoing or overthinking or restarting or even not starting.... all pretty strong evidence of perfectionist traits.  I know that I am taking too long and tell myself to stop - you know, right after just one more little adjustment.

In the past, I have tried to start journals on multiple occasions but inevitably I miss a day and then feel that I couldn't just skip those days.  Instead, I would feel compelled to go back and try to include notes for every day before moving forward so the gap would build and it would become stressful.  Instead of being relaxation or catalyst, the journal keeping became a burden.  I'm not helping my case here, am I? 

I would try to argue that I am a recovering perfectionist but not even sure that I could sell that since maybe I'm not yet recovering.  Still, I'm better than I used to be.  No really.   In the past year, I have managed to become much less rigid a journal keeper.  I no longer feel compelled to backtrack to missed days.  Well, not very often anyway.  And I'm getting pretty darned lax about organization if I do say so myself.   It is time to...

Embrace imperfection

Perfection stifles creativity AND productivity.  Aim for excellence but be realistic. That includes realistic about the time available.  Set deadlines and keep them, even if they are your own self-imposed time limits. 

Start today

Don't procrastinate or wait for the perfect time.  Start now, today.

If you have stories to tell, don't let perfection be an excuse for getting started. The stories do not depend on getting all the details exactly right or on finding the perfect font and the ideal picture.  Focus on getting it down.   That is what matters.  You can always expand, edit or refine later.

Where do you fit?

How would you characterize yourself on the perfection scale? Are you a perfectionist and proud of it?  A sometimes or situational perfectionist?  A denying or recovering perfectionist?   Or perhaps you are the polar opposite of a perfectionist - would that be an unperfectionist - or maybe anti-perfectionist?

What strategies do use to make sure that perfection does not become procrastination?

Monday, October 15, 2012

In the garden - year by year

Several years ago, I bought a 10 year gardening diary with the intent of daily recording  changes in the weather, wildlife visitors and outdoor activities.  Shortly after, we moved to a new home and the book  was packed so I didn't follow through with the plan.  I'm disappointed about that... the best of intentions.

I need to start it again.  Then I would know for sure details like when we first started feeding our little feral cat what day he first showed up on the deck - and when he stayed instead of running away.  Or we'd have we'd be able to track when the first snow fell each year or the day that we saw 4 racoons - and when the baby pheasants show up each season.  With regular recording, we would know the last day of snow, the chores we accomplished in the yard,  the output of our garden every season and so much more about the day-to-day details around our little corner of the world.

I definitely need to try again with my garden journal.  As the saying goes, saying you'll start tomorrow is never starting so I'll start today with the round-up of what I've got out of the garden this year:

Digital supplies from the Alluring Autumn Collection at

Garden Bounty 2012

This year, I've so far "put up":
blackberries -  ~ 4 cups frozen + 6 x 250 ml jars of jam
blueberries - ~ 7 cups frozen
green beans - ~ 4kg. frozen + 10 x 250 ml jars of dilled beans
pumpkin - ~ 3 cups of puree (we've eaten two pies and two different loaves)
tomatoes / peppers  - 6 x 500 ml jars of marinara + 5 x 500 jars of garden salsa + 6 bowls of soup
carrots - 3 large containers of soup frozen (several servings already consumed)
squash - 10 x 250 ml jars of squash and onion relish

We ate fresh lettuce almost every day for most of the summer, raspberries and blackberries daily for about 3 weeks and blueberries for about 2 weeks - and beans and carrots that just keep coming.  We also gave away about a dozen squash, probably 4kgof beans, and about 2kg of carrots. 

I still have quite a few pumpkins and squash to process so I've been collecting recipes - and welcome any suggestions.   I've also got about 2 kg more of beans, which I just picked and quite a few more carrots still to use.  I thought that the beans were done because the last batch was not great but they bounced back again, even after frost and despite the fact that their trellis blew down two weeks ago.  Beans are most definitely foolproof - and so tasty.

Do you have garden stories to share?

What are you growing or making from your garden?  What do you recommend growing?  Have you discovered great harvest recipes.  Do tell!!  Share in the comments.

Do you keep a garden journal that shows annual patterns?  Do you have other things that you track through the year?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Written or digital storytelling

How you choose to tell your story can be as individual and unique as you are.  Here are some resources that might help you to write or record stories that keep people reading or listening.

General writing tips

Want to write fiction?  Here is step-by-step process that you could also apply in your own stories.

Writing tips that are helpful whether you want to write biography or fiction.

Quick tips for telling your story - public speaking or otherwise.

Some reasons you should tell all your stories.

Resources and tips for preserving your life story.

Oral history and digital storytelling

A not for profit organization dedicated to preserving oral histories for Americans of all backgrounds.

Helen Bartlett offers plenty of links to sites with digital storytelling resources.

Center for Oral History and Digital StoryTelling

Seven elements of digital storytelling.


Resources for bloggers at all levels of involvement.

Why tell your story?

There are two main reasons to write or record or otherwise represent the stories of your life.

Write for yourself. 

Expressing your stories can help you document your experiences, recall pleasant moments, uncover lost memories, release anxiety, put things into perspective, process learning, [re]discover insights, clear your mind, overcome challenges, inspire creativity, drive action or any of a myriad of other  emotions and benefits.  Whether your story prompts positive or less positive reactions, the process of telling them can help you better understand and appreciate who you are and what makes you one-of-a-kind. 

Write for others.

You are unique and your story might help others to better learn about you but also about themselves.

Your story might:
  • help your children and grandchildren know you better.
  • lead family members to understand more about their personal history and influences.
  • encourage people battling similar challenges or roadblocks that you have met or overcome. 
  • inspire new ideas, new approaches or new appreciation.
  • make someone laugh, smile, cry, scream, rage, dance, run, write, share, think ...

Why do you tell your stories?

What stories do you want to tell and why do you want to tell them?