Monthly Archives: September 2014

Being swallowed by the essence of life…

Volunteering.

It is considered on of those important things to do to lead a happy life.

I would agree, though if you are one of those who claim it is about (solely) reciprocal altruism… I would disagree. But that might be good for another post. 

I recall conversations with my mother when I was a young girl in her pre-teens. Growing up in a third world country where poverty is very much in your face, and you are most definitely on the “haves” end of things can be distressing. My mother volunteered often and I recall asking her about poverty. She counseled me by telling me that it was our duty to help those who needed our help. That has stuck with me ever since.


On Friday I attended a work related conference and was fortunate to have an organization that I work with represented at their program fair. I shared the organization with people I had met throughout the conference that had mentioned they wanted to work with a good character development program.That organization is called Release The Fear


Saturday, I got to help another organization that I belong t,o a women’s membership organization (JLP), and we do really wonderful things in the community. Squink and I spent yesterday morning helping the committee tasked with training our brand new members what things we have done in our community. Here I am at the Arizona Science Center overlooking the Rosson House Museum (both projects the League has worked with):



We followed that with another volunteering excursion by taking Squink out for his first ever fundraising effort by setting up a popcorn sales table at a local Safeway.


I was/am so proud of him! The other scouts that were supposed to show up, didn’t. Though the city was deluged with a rather amazing rainstorm (floods and downed trees kind of storm). As Squink and I drove tot he location we talked about not going, but we also talked about fulfilling our obligations and we decided that it was best to go and see what the store said.  They obviously told us to go ahead and set up.

Squink had one marvelous experience there. He met Keith. Keith was a retired photographer from the Arizona Highway department. They used to use his photographs of ruins and petroglyphs to create papier-mâché reproductions of them and how they were often featured at the sate fairgrounds. He also told Squink about his years as a door-to-door salesman in Indiana. Keith spent some time giving Squink pointers on how to be a better sales person. Keith did not have cash and we couldn’t take credit cards. So he said he would get cash back after his grocery purchases. Sadly, the rain had caused problems with the credit machines and the cash-back option was not working. When he came back, he told us that he could not do it, but that he had been planning to go out to dinner and had decided that he would now stay home and eat what he had on hand and watch a movie and use the money he was going to use to eat to buy a bag of popcorn. Keith used the scooters that the grocery store has to get around and had walked in using a cane. When Keith parked the scooter as he got ready to leave, Squink went up to him and asked if he could help him to the car. Here is a picture of the two of them walking out the door.




It was such a sweet experience, two friends (thank you Ronnie and Angie) stopped by and purchased some pop-corn too!


CUB SCOUTS

You can help him meet his goal of selling a minimum of $1500 by clicking on this link:
http://www.trails-end.com/All/b/6479672011?ie=UTF8&title=All+Products


If you are prompted to select whom you will support these are the things you need to know to make sure Squink (aka Josef S) gets credit.


Type in the council zip code of 85016

Look for the following once the scouts name field populates:


Josef S – Blair – Pack 0324 – Villa Montessori School

Make sure that you click to support Josef S – Blair – Pack 0324 – Villa Montessori School
 (you might get the option to choose the Grand Canyon Council (but Squink wont get credit)

If that is too complicated, just leave a comment or get a hold of me and let me know what you would want and I can work with you.

Now, this reminds me of a few other things that are coming up.

Biltmore Prep Hermosillo Exchange Program

Squink has decided that he wants to participate in an exchange program with a school in Hermosillo. It will be the second year this occurs and he is so excited about the opportunity. However, as a part of that he has committed to securing $1000 in tax credit donations for the program to help offset the costs related tot he program.

Here is the Facebook page for the program: https://www.facebook.com/BPAExchangeProgram

And you can contact me (again by comment or email) if you have questions or want me to email you the form in another format.


For information from the school about this tax credit go here: http://biltmore.creightonschools.org/apps/cross.jsp?wREC_ID=2676&crossPath=/apps/pages/index.jsp%3FuREC_ID%3D181276%26type%3Dd  There is a link to download it in PDF form or the link to the online donation.

The link for the on-line donation is:
https://secure.edlio.com/ssl/forms/tax_donation/english_v2/index.jsp?ech=creightonschools.edlioschool.com&cross=1

PLEASE Make sure to enter Biltmore Prep and also to specifically mention the Hermosillo Exchange Program

Amount: * $
Any amount up to the maximum allowable 2014 tuition tax credit as follows:

Single or Head of Household: $200.00
Married Filing Jointly: $400.00
Married Filing Separately: $200.00

School Recipient: *
Biltmore Preparatory Academy

Program Preference:
Biltmore Prep Hermosillo Exchange Program


If you do donate, please (please, please, please)  let us know so I can let the program organizers know that you are donating as a direct result of his efforts so he gets the credit for his efforts. I don’t need to know the amount if you don’t wish to share that information, but please make sure I have the name you put on the donation form (so that they can cross check).


For the above fundraising efforts, please feel free to share this with people whom you feel are inclined to help Squink raise money to go to scouts or his exchange program.

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RELEASE THE FEAR

So, I have mentioned a few of the programs that I work with that if you want to support, I would be grateful.


One of the more exciting is that in addition to the School tax credit above you can also do a Working poor tax credit (yes, I believe that you can do both but check with a tax accountant/specialist!!!!)

Release the Fear qualifies as a provider of services to the working poor. Which means that you can use the following tax table:

Taxpayers filing as “single” and “head of household” status may claim a maximum credit of
$200. Taxpayers filing as “married filing separate” may claim a maximum credit of $200.
Taxpayers that file as “married filing joint” may claim a maximum credit of $400.
Source: http://www.azdor.gov/About/FAQs/CharitableTaxCredit.aspx
DONATE to Release The Fear ON-LINE HERE: http://www.releasethefear.org/donate.asp or get ahold of me for other ways. Make sure you mention in the comments that you want the tax credit and that Blair sent you.

And for that Women’s organization, you can make a charitable donation here:
https://www.jlp.org/?nd=donate_summary or get ahold of me if you would like to donate another way.

What is the essence of life? To serve others and to do good. ~ Aristotle

It is that time again – 40 days of writing to resume again

So, I belong to a writing group on “The Facebook” called 40 Days of writing.

It is set to begin on October 1st and I am facing this challenge with total and complete mixed emotions.

Yes, I need to get back in the habit, I have left off and forced myself to put stuff down that feels exceptionally sub-par and fluffy.

I am faced with another challenge though, this one starts the day after I get to go through surgery.

I am tempted to write about that experience, but it seems so stupid in the age of cyber stalking and such other human on human atrocities. Someone, I am sure, will use it against me.

Being publicly vulnerable sucks.

Of course, I should get back to writing “that book”, but I am still trying to get past someone calling it “too porny”. This happened around the last 40 days of writing thing and it essentially shut me down, except for a sad, feeble attempt at a modern day revisit of one of the Arthurian Legends.

The great thing about 40 Days of Writing is getting to read what others post, I love to read the stories and things they put out, it often inspires and there is something about getting to see into their lives that makes me feel better about the world… so there is that,

The thing is… that I look at these pieces of themselves that they put out and am moved and touched and want to return those gifts with quality stories of my own.

I tend to be lazy, and detail is something that is just so hard to me. Breaking down important descriptions is the last thing on my mind. It makes for weird stories, stories that are not quite worthy of the ones I am reading.

Practice. I suppose it is about practice… and returning the gifts of these stories with my “practicing” just seems so lame. It is, however, the only thing I can do at this point.

OK, that all reads as so negative, but it is more than that… what are the other positives?

I do know what I don’t want to write:

  • How to’s,  (the ones I would write might be too strange; how to shrink a head?)
  • Self-help directives (who am I to tell anyone how to save themselves)
  • Recipes (I don’t follow them, so I should not write them)

I guess I will keep trying to plug away at this writing thing…

A quick trot into gentleness and gratitude

The other night I helped a friend of mine that I volunteer with by facilitating a space for her to hold an informational event for about 50 or so women. My friend entrusted others in her group to run the project as she had to attend an out of town thing for her work.

What struck me about this is the discordance between my experiences in working with her and what happened when I worked with the others.

My friend gets gratitude. She is a wonderful, bright, beautiful, sassy woman, but she gets gratitude.

I was strongly taken aback by how easy it was for the women whom had taken over for her to fail here. In my close proximity they chose to open complain about the location I had offered and complain about another one that I had helped them procure in the past.

They failed to acknowledge that I had given up an evening with my beloved family for them to be able to do this, they chose, instead, to focus on all the problems but not in the way that would be proactive,

I was incredibly insulted hurt.

I was afforded a chance to speak and I hope I gently addressed their behavior by saying that when no other option came through that I offered what I had.

One of women whom I heard complain (making the most gentle of comments, rather than rude and harsh)  sent me a note thanking me later that evening. The irony is that she was a guest speaker for the group that was hosting this event.

Anyway, gentleness.

Is this a lost art?

I think it might be. I went to look for an image to share and if you Google gentleness, you pretty much find pictures of little kids, animals (and fruit?)

But this is a good idea:

“I hope you will grow up gentle and good, and never learn bad ways; do your work with a good will, lift your feet up well when you trot, and never bite or kick even in play.”
~ Anna Sewell, Black Beauty

It is always an overwhelming experience

My parents are the kind of people that have never turned away a chance at adventure… though perhaps in some way it finds them and they are really not given a true choice.

My semi-estranged father (and I say semi-estranged because I just have not figured him out yet and he is like a stranger to me) had arranged another bullfight for himself and his bullfight friends.

This is how I grew up, from when I was born until about 1979. Bullfights. Or something bullfight related. Every. damn. weekend. Especially so when we had the bullfight stock bull ranch.

At some point in those years, my mother stopped going to them and I can’t imagine my dad taking kids with him… but I can’t recall not going having that exposure (maybe it was when we would go to the ranch?).

So, it is hard to get past something that is so in your face, to me bullfighting just was.. I mean, didn’t your dad love it too? Really, I just thought it was something all dad’s liked. Though it was in that way that it was not a surprise that other dad’s didn’t, but I just figured they had a different all consuming passion.

So, we flash forward to my father getting back into it around 2000, I was just married and had actually not been aware that my half-sibling hadn’t grown up the same way. My dad must have been miserable (though he was living in England). but somehow he starts up, and then gets divorced, moves in Spain and ends up in Northern California. Northern California has a huge Portuguese community and many of them have ranches where they raise bulls for their festivals (allowed per the California constitution) and so he starts and to me, it is like he never even stopped. As a matter of fact when he was talking and let us know that he had not bull-fought from 1980 to 2000, I was a little shocked.

In 1998, my dad gave me money for my birthday with the direct instruction to buy an abono for the Bullfight Festival in Ecuador. I did, with the caveat of buying better seats when his favorite bullfighter was there. That was in pre-blog era and I should write about that some day I suppose.

Anyway, I got to see him around 2006 when Squink was just over a year old and we go to a part to practice using the cape.

Then we get to late in 2008 when Squink is about 3, and I see him back in a ring again.

And then, in 2012, I get in to a ring.

So, now we are at 2014 and my (full) brother and I take our kids to see dad fight and to take them to a “professional” fight.

The fact is, this is never easy on me.  I have had to find a way to wrap my head around it. I have rituals that I have developed from my youth (I always look at the bulls eyes as it dies).

It is so hard to write about all the crazy emotions that are involved in an experience like this. I don’t even know where to start when I bring those in to teh equation.

I suppose I should start by just telling folks who have the gumption to read something on this theme what it is that happened. Though I imagine it might become a multi-part series… which is a positive as it keeps me pretending to “write good”.

Friday night – Schatzy and I get home from work, load up the car and in his ever so awesome self he begins the long haul road trip drive to San Diego where we are meeting my dad, my uncle, and my brother and his kids (who are also doing the commute from Phoenix). Most of the planning gets done on our drive out there, what time we need to get together, what time we want to leave, how to check in, that kind of stuff.

Saturday means a 11:00 am departure to head towards Tecate, Mexico.

I have yet to upload the shots from my camera, but here are some from my phone.

Here is where we ended up on Saturday.