How You Can Help A Little Girl Make A BIG Difference

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My daughter Journey had so much fun helping others on her birthday last year that she decided to host another Give BIG Birthday Party!  To celebrate her 8th birthday, Journey is asking family, friends and you to celebrate with her virtually by making a donation to Water.orgWater.org is a non-profit organization that has transformed hundreds of communities in Africa, South Asia, and Central America by providing access to safe water and sanitation.  Since we recently relocated, Journey and I thought hosting a virtual party would be a creative way to include her friends in her birthday celebration.  Then we thought— since the party is virtual, why not invite everyone?

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How To Throw A Philanthroparty That’s Fun & Fulfilling

give big bday j

Last year, my daughter agreed to do something really special for her birthday.  Rather than have a party that focused solely on her, she hosted a philanthroparty.  Wondering what a philanthroparty is?  Simply put, it’s a party with a purpose.

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3 Ways Your Child Can “Give” This Holiday Season

Journey Xmas Giving 2012

We often ask children what they want for Christmas, but seldom ask them the question, “What are you giving?”  As they eagerly anticipate opening their Christmas gifts, it’s important to remind them that everyone isn’t lucky enough to have gifts under their trees—or even have a tree for that matter.  But with a bit of help, there is so much that our little ones can do to help those in need during the holiday season. Continue reading

5 Things You Need To Know About The Flu Shot

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Flu season is among us!  And with it comes the decision of whether or not to get a flu shot.   Most health professionals recommend that you and your children get vaccinated as a preventative measure.  But can you really get the flu from a flu shot?  Does your baby need to get vaccinated?   How do you know if have the flu or just a bad cold?  To get answers to these questions and more, I’m separating flu fact from fiction with Dr. Danny Avula, Deputy Director of the Richmond Health District. Continue reading

Does My Kid Still Need A Booster Seat?

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A few weeks ago, I took my daughter and a few of her friends out for the afternoon.  When they got in the car, one of them started to tease Journey a bit because she still has a booster seat.  Apparently, her friend—who is smaller than J, I might add—doesn’t use a booster seat anymore.  And she’s not the only one. Continue reading

7 Things That Should Outrage Parents More Than Miley Cyrus

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photo credit: entertainmentwise.com

A feeling of outrage over Miley Cyrus’ provocative performance at the MTV Video Music Awards has swept the nation!  All week I’ve been reading open letters to Miley, letters to daughters about her behavior as well as commentary from critics and supporters.  Over the last few years, Miley has done everything from drugs salvia to posing naked to  partying like a rock star—anything to prove that she is no longer Hannah Montana.  So when she hit the stage on Sunday half-naked, twerking (or attempting to anyway) and gyrating with a foam finger, was it really a big surprise? Continue reading

Between Us: Does Your Pocketbook Outweigh Your Principles

your virtues are priceless treasures

The message I found in a fortune cookie the day after I started writing this post.

I have boycotted Wal-Mart…about 3 times…unsuccessfully.  The first time was because they were not providing adequate security in their parking lots and didn’t seem to care that their customers were getting robbed.  The second time, I think it was about unfair treatment of their workers.  I can’t even remember what the third time was for…oh wait, it was for bullying squeezing suppliers over costs.  But no matter how hard I try to get out, the low prices always pull me back in.  When it comes to my budget, I believe that every penny counts.  But at whose expense? Continue reading

Between Us: An Open Letter to the Disney Channel

No More Disney Channel copy

Dear Disney Channel Executives,

My daughter Journey has recently become a fan of the Disney Channel.  She just turned 7, she has officially outgrown Nick Jr. and since Nick seems to show SpongeBob all day, she has moved over to the Disney channel.  At first, she was pretty much only watching Phineas and Ferb.  Eventually, she started watching the rest of the line up including Good Luck Charlie, Austin and Ally, Shake It Up and Jessie. Continue reading

I Found A Lump…Again

I noticed a small knot under my arm while taking a shower.  When it was still there a month later, I decided it was time to have it checked out.  Since it was time for my annual physical anyway, I figured I’d kill two birds since my doctor was probably going to send me for a mammogram anyway.  Which is exactly what he did.

I promptly called to make an appointment the next day, only to be told that they needed to receive an order from my doctor before they could schedule the mammogram.  After the order is received, it takes 48 hours for the order to be entered into the system and then I could make the appointment.  Needless to say, this process took almost a week of back and forth before they finally received the order.  Only this time when I try to make the appointment, the nurse says “you are not due for a mammogram until February.”  I had to explain that I had an abnormal exam and the doctor requested it be done now.  “Oh,” she said, “then they have to send over a diagnostic order, you need to tell them to send another order.”  Upon hearing this I exploded!  I was able to speak to a manager and get them to call and get the order straightened out and finally made the appointment.

If you’ve never had a mammogram, I must warn you, it’s a bit uncomfortable.  I guess I would compare it to having a pap smear or wearing spanx—it’s uncomfortable, it’s not pretty, but it MUST be done!  It’s the equivalent to slapping your boob on a cold table and having someone press a book down on it until they can’t get it any flatter.  Oh but they can!  Now someone steps on the book!  The technician had a knob and she cranks, 1…2…3, takes the pic, it automatically releases your boob from captivity and you’re done.

After finally having the mammogram and ultrasound, I had to go through more runaround to get the results sent to my doctor. The radiologist had the wrong fax number.  Fax number?  All the technology we have and they are still faxing results? Really?  By the time the doctor got back to me, I had already received the results via snail mail.  No sign of cancer, thank God!  I took it upon myself to make a follow-up appointment with a breast specialist to find out what the lump is.  Turns out, women my age have very dense breast tissue (which can also hide tumors—see this article).  I received the same diagnosis the first time I found a lump.  But I don’t believe in self-diagnosis especially with something so critical to my health.  If you find a lump anywhere for any reason, get it checked out…period.

How fitting to experience this episode during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Maybe this lump decided to show up at this particular time for 2 reasons:

1.  So that I could remind my friends of the importance of doing monthly self-exams and to make taking care of YOU a priority.  You can only take care of your family and those that love you if you are still here to do it.  Take a moment to make those appointments that you have been putting off and add staying healthy to your “to-do” list.  And pass this advice along to your friends and family.

2.  So that I could help you encourage those around you to become better advocates for themselves and become an advocate to someone in need.  Perhaps you are the one who needs an advocate.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Most times, it feels like health care providers and insurance companies are more concerned about their processes and procedures than they are about their patients.  Did any of them ever consider what it feels like to be a woman who has found a lump in her breast, or had a child that suddenly fell ill for no reason?  The last thing you want is to wade through a bunch of red tape to get answers.  You may have a family member or a friend who is just not equipped to deal with what it takes to navigate the healthcare system.  Help them by coming up with a list of questions to ask the doctor, going with them to appointments for support, or researching available resources.

And for those that have fought cancer and those that are still fighting, remember:

The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it.  ~C.C. Scott

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Update:  Ok, I’m going to be honest here.   After sharing the story above, you would think that certainly I would be doing a routine breast exam each month.  Unfortunately, that’s still not the case.  It’s more like every two or three months–which is just not good enough.  Since my smartphone manages to help me keep track of everything else on my schedule, I’m going to see if it can help me remember to do my self-exams as well.  So I downloaded the Pink Bra iPhone app.  In addition to sending you a monthly reminder, the app gives directions and illustrations on how to perform the exam.  I’ve already set my reminder for next month. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Do you have any helpful tips on how to remember to do your monthly self-exam?

Please share this post with all of the amazing women in your life!

Follow me on twitter @herlifeinspired.

Encouraging Kids to Dream

About four years ago, I read this amazing book called Goals by Brian Tracy.  The book is all about how the simple act of writing down your goals and reviewing them everyday can change your life.  A part of the book talks about visualizing your dreams can turn them into reality.  Now, I’m sure quite a few of you are rolling your eyes and thinking about how you are going to scream if you hear this “happy thoughts” crap one more time.  And a big part of that is because you have lived life and had some experiences that say otherwise.  To truly submit to this idea of self -fulfilling prophecy, you would have to completely change your thinking.  And let’s face it, the older you get, the less likely that is.  But still, anything is possible.

After I read the book, I believed it was possible.  But I wasn’t thinking about myself and my dreams as much as I was thinking about my daughter Journey.  I thought about how her little mind is like clay and can still be molded to believe anything. I thought about how most of us start out like that and somehow along the way insecurity, fear, doubt and conformity turn the clay into concrete.  Most importantly, I thought about how different I might be today if I had grown up believing that I was good enough, pretty enough, and smart enough when feelings of self-doubt would arise.

I immediately went out and bought Journey a scrapbook and together we created her Dream Book.  She was three at the time, and always asking for everything she would see.  At the time, she was fixated on all things pink and set her sights on a pink house, a pink kitchen, a pink car and two puppies.  She even named them—Kero and Fluffy the Puppy!  We cut out pictures that she chose and pasted them into the book.  I told her if she kept believing and working hard, she would get everything in the pictures and more.  At one point, she got the kitchen and the car, but still no house.  One day she says to me, “I have to work harder, I still need to get my pink house.”   Since then, she has created pages with things she likes to do, places she wants to go and what she wants to be when she grows up.  If you ask her what she wants to be, she will names a few careers but always ends with “I want to be the girl who changes the world.”  And I know she truly believes it.