Ok, it’s April and I’m a late in getting this up, but wanted to share the conferences and major events I’ll be at throughout this year.
I love conferences! I always say that I could never go back to school, but I could always go to another conference.
In fact, I love learning so much that I usually plan my year around the conferences I’ll be attending. Even when I had a job with regular vacation days and limited time off, I’d fill those times with learning opportunities.
It’s the beginning of the year, so you may feel a little financially stretched after the holidays. Or, you may be like a lot of people who would like to give more to charity, but feel you lack the ability or resources. Well, I’m here to tell you that there are plenty of ways to give with very little or no money involved. All you need is the desire to do so.
One of my heroes, Sheryl WuDunn states in moving her TedTalk, “Research showsthat once you haveall of your material needs taken care of, there are very few things in lifethat can actually elevate your level of happiness.One of those thingsis contributing to a cause larger than yourself.”
So here are 10 easy ways that I’ve come up with to add a little more happiness to your life. I challenge you to pick one and get started this month. What have you got to lose? Probably something you won’t miss anyway.
Use Charity Miles to earn money for charity when you walk, run or bike.
Donate your hair. I’m actually in the process of growing my hair out in order to donate it, and have had a few friends do the same. I’m still doing research on which charity to give it to, so I’ll keep you posted. But this is a great way to support cancer patients, by providing hair that will be turned into a wig.
Through Fit for Food, Fitbit and Feeding America have teamed up, along with Joel McHale, to donate meals to those in need. You burn calories via Fitbit, they give.
Donate things like airline miles to a charity who can use the travel bonus for their staff or beneficiaries.
Spring clean. Like me, you probably have way more stuff than you need. But chances are, someone else may want or need it. Clean out your home and donate your excess to Goodwill or another local charity. I recommend giving to places where you can actually meet the recipients. This will motivate you to de-clutter on a regular basis knowing that there is a real need, and a real face, that needs your clothes and household items. And if you need any motivation in this area, I suggest you read 7: A Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker.
Have extra…anything? If you’re like me, you’ve stayed in a hotel at least a few times. And what’s your most popular and consistent souvenir? Probably the toiletries. I had a gallon+ Ziploc bag of unused toiletries. Then I found out that the organization I volunteer for can use those items in their weekly outreach. The same goes for blankets, suitcases and things like that for people who may not have a permanent home. Realistically, you can probably find a charity for anything you have. You just have to look, and ask.
Don’t use your smartphone. The UNICEF Tap Project will help give clean water to children in need when you open their app or page on your smartphone and leave it alone. Each minute without you using your phone results in a larger donation. (It will drain your batter, though, so keep it plugged in while running.)
Give consistent time. This is probably the idea that first came to mind. But, besides money, it’s probably the item you feel you have the least to give. And that’s ok. As we’ve pointed out, there are other ways to be a solution. But, before you dismiss it, let me say two things. First, we prioritize what matters to us. If you really want to volunteer your time, you can likely carve some out during your week or month. It just has to matter enough to you. Second, you might want to check with your favorite charity to see if there is an option that fits your current lifestyle. You don’t know until you ask. For example, through Out of Darkness, I write letters monthly to a woman in a long-term recovery program. It’s something that doesn’t take a lot of time given my schedule and other conflicts, but it provides her with a source of comfort and encouragement consistently each month.
Give inconsistent time. Maybe you have a skill that can be utilized infrequently, that would still be a huge help to an organization. Like to clean or organize? Are you a business professional that can consult? Do you have first-hand industry knowledge that could benefit others? Can you teach a seminar? Have a couple extra hours one month to run errands? I’ve had friends do all of these things. And I personally consult on public relations, advertising and social media for my friend’s organization. I probably only do it a couple of times each year for a few hours, but it’s beneficial to them.
Buy well. There is no shortage of this topic on this blog. I’m a HUGE proponent of utilizing the money you’re already going to spend on something that has a bigger (and better) impact. Luckily, we see this form of social enterprise everywhere now. This can be anything from clothes to dinner out to eyeglasses to comforters to chocolate to sports gear to flowers to . . . really almost anything these days. You get the point. It’s easy to do. It may take some habit changes in the beginning, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll become a pro in no time. And you’ll feel better about where your money goes each month, which is priceless. Here are some resources to get you started. And, I’m an avid Amazon shopper, so when I use that site, I use Amazon Smile to donate to my local charity.
One to Grow On: Give your life event. Charity Water can probably be credited with starting this movement, but many others have done similar things. If you’re reading this post, it’s likely you have a birthday. You may even have an anniversary, or something else you celebrate regularly like a holiday. Those are super easy ways to let others in on your desire to give and tell them about your favorite organizations. Charity Water asks people to donate their birthdays by setting up pages on their company website in order to help build a well from small donations in lieu of birthday presents. I’ve seen similar things for Christmas presents, and even read about a couple who asked their wedding guests to make small financial donations to their favorite org instead of bringing gifts. Last year, I had my friends donate $10 Chick-Fil-A gift cards to Out of Darkness for my birthday. This way the women could be taken out of the house for a treat without it being a financial strain on the house moms, staff or budget. As discussed above, I can imagine that you, like me, have enough. So, why not use these events as opportunities for others to have enough as well.
Well, that’s my list. What else did you come up with, or have you done? And if you do any of these, or anything else, let me know how it goes!
About a month ago, I and the other Out of Darkness volunteers had our first training of 2014. Heather Hayes taught on addiction, as the title suggests, and it was really fascinating. Sadly, my notes won’t do it justice, but they’ll give you a good idea of what we talked about.
Two arguments in addiction: choice or disease. Heather believes disease. It’s a question of causality.
Addiction is a brain disorder.
Addicts look like everyone. Recovering people look like everyone.
A majority of the people in prison are dealing with at least one addiction.
Drugs work in the midbrain, which only deals with what happens right now. It is unconscious, and can override the sensible part of your brain (frontal cortex). Fight or flight, life or death, eat or sleep, sex for procreation/survival — trauma is store here, and it is unstable because it doesn’t deal with rational thought.
Drugs trump all other coping mechanisms, to the point of death.
Abusers can stop or corral it in, addicts can’t.
STRESS is the causal agent in addiction. Stress factors: severity, pattern, coping mechanisms, different brains
Addictive people are often very sensitive, softhearted people.
Dopamine relieves stress through pleasure. Chronic stress breaks the receptor. Then people can’t discern normal pleasure. It isn’t as great as it once was. Drugs give a surge that’s discernable.
Too much natural dopamine is schizophrenic; too little is Parkinson’s.
Stress = Craving (can be wild or extreme)
Cravings keep the cycle going.
Frontal Cortex goes dark during addiction cycles. Rational thought is out the window.
People can still function in routines, but it becomes evident once out of a routine.
There will never be pills to cure addiction. You can treat symptoms only. You have to re-teach non-chemical coping skills for stress. It takes the brain about a year to get back to base level.
There is a heroine epidemic in ATL.
About 60% of addicts who are women have eating disorders. Also usual victims of trauma.
Usually a lot of crossover between substance abuse and performance abuse. (Ex: sex, food, cults, co-dependence, workaholic, gambling, porn, etc.)
Addition is a disregulation of the mid-brain pleasure (dopamine) systems due to unmanaged stress resulting in symptom of decrease functioning, specifically loss of control, craving and persistent use despite negative consequences.
93% of addicts are functional
Cutting: a response to emotional pain that is focused. It can have addictive qualities. Trauma recovery must be done. Dissociative personalities are prone to self-mutilation.
Signs of addiction: denial, minimizing problems, blaming others, justifications/excuses, defensiveness, mood swings, changes in personality, manipulation, legal problems, financial problems, irritability, loss of pleasure, breaking promises, withdrawn or overly talkative, emotionally unstable, escalating use of chemicals
These notes are from a seminar I attended last summer on trauma. It is part of the on-going education I receive because I volunteer at Solomon House, a short-term recovery center for women who have been trafficked or prostituted. Bethany Blanco of Manna Treatment was the presenter. Just thought I’d share in case anyone else finds it helpful.
Emotional and mental strategies make the most sense because they can’t be seen.
Exploitation of a victim’s vulnerabilities: take them out of their environment, isolation, fear law enforcement, insult, question them/raise questions, lies, hone in and emphasize vulnerabilities
Threats: violence, threat of harm is just as strong as harm, threats of harm to family or things/people they love, surrounding them with other scared women
Reward/punishment: showing some kindness to keep them coming back, the possibility of better, relationships form, fear keeps a dutiful slave, occasional violence
Praying on commitment: contract, commitment to family (as in they are providing for the victim), providing or caring for the victim’s children
Acceptance or dependence
Believe they aren’t good enough for anything else, undeserving
A lot of eating disorder victims have sexual abuse history
The chains are mental.
Reactive stance (How can I minimize the pain best, knowing this will be my situation?)
Identify with perpetrators and sympathize (gives them a weird sense of responsibility and control), genuine feelings of guilt, responsibility makes them feel like they could’ve prevented it, integrates into sense of self (Guilt is I did something wrong. Shame says I am wrong.)
Semblance of honor by fulfilling commitment
Destroys sense of self
Am I worth loving? Are people safe? – These two questions give people a working model for relationships, starting when they are young. Mothers provide first model for this idea. Can be altered based on healthy or unhealthy relationships. This all forms how we relate to others. Social and biological components. Failure to thrive.
The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog—book
Parts of the brain: reptilian (flight/flight, survival, instinct), mammalian (emotional center), human (logic, last to develop) — Trauma makes you live in reptilian center. It’s only based on response.
Be careful with touch until you have a trusting relationship because touch has not been positive for victims.
Be safe and consistent.
Logic is not very useful in the beginning because they can’t process it.
The person of the therapist brings the most success.
Being a safe person: know yourself, evaluate motives, examine your own story and find acceptance, learn to be nonreactive, allow them to be who they are without judging, understand that everything makes sense given the circumstance/history/experience/etc, trust the process and give it the time needed
After someone shares trauma, ask them how they’re feeling about it. Stay calm to keep them calm.
Be careful asking questions before they’re ready to share, and don’t let them share too much too fast.
“Grounding” helps people with severe flashbacks focus on the present.
Give them a vision for the future. Give them small tasks to build their self worth. Help them see new options. Add life skills.
Men have often been perceived as the problem to modern-day slavery. And while that’s true in some cases, it’s certainly not true in all of them.
We’d like to introduce you to a few men who are on the front lines of fighting this issue locally. They are a part of the solution.
Join us as we explore how men, in particular, can confront and challenge modern slavery in big and small ways. We’ll talk candidly about pornography and strip clubs, and how those play a role in the larger issue. And we’ll address how women can support and fight alongside them as they take up this cause. We’ll even answer your questions, and provide you with resources to take the next step.
THIS EVENT IS OPEN TO BOTH MEN AND WOMEN. Please bring your friends, especially the men in your life and those new to the issue. Let’s empower men to be a bigger part of the solution to slavery.