Avoiding Destructive Creativity

I had the privilege of speaking to a group of young professional women and their mentors recently. I have been mentoring with the Young Women’s Alliance YWA Connect Program for a few years now, and I addressed mentoring through emotions and pointed out some concepts from Social and Emotional Learning (Taught in our local Austin ISD classrooms!) that can be used when dealing with strong emotions in the workplace.

In addition to these “tips from the playground,” I shared some wisdom that was both personal and hard-won.

I asked the room full of women if they considered themselves to be creative. The nods and smiles indicated to me that most of them did.

I said, “Creative people need an outlet in their lives. Whether it is creating, performing, or appreciating, the creative person who does not allow time and energy to practice, produce and perform their talents will see that need for expression come out through their relationships with other people. It may be constructive, but more often, when the drama in your soul is not being let out in positive ways, it manifests itself in negative ways.”

I will never know how many of my audience took this to heart and whether it will be on their minds until they see how it might affect them.

Have you ever had a craving to bring some drama into your life? Maybe you have picked a fight…maybe you have shunned someone as part of a group or as an individual…maybe you have found yourself nagging and nitpicking your closest friend or your partner…the list is endless when it comes to creating drama. What can you do about this urge that may have grown slowly over time and seems so irresistible or inevitable? Continue reading

Aging in a Great Way

I have been fortunate to learn about aging through reading, and also through friends who are involved with AGE of Central Texas. AGE is a nonprofit that believes in the vision of “a society where aging is a shared journey marked by connection, strength, and vitality, and the role of caregiving is supported through the community, collaboration, and guidance.” This plays out concretely in programs that provide social and wellness centers, education for caregivers, memory work, computer labs for seniors, and even a health equipment lending program.

My husband and I learned of AGE while his mother was declining and experiencing so many of these issues and although we were not the on-site caregivers for his mom, we were able to share some practical tips we learned and eventually we got my mother (who lives locally) interested in volunteering with the nonprofit. Her participation is intermittent, depending on how she is feeling, but when she goes she is energized by the experience. She spends time in the Thrive Social & Wellness Center talking with participants and answering the phone and she loves it. Continue reading

What is Your Passion? Finding Your Philanthropy

What do I consider philanthropy?

For me, it is the budgeting of a percentage of my family’s financial resources, donated yearly to nonprofits that are pursuing missions we agree are important and are being done well. My personal time and volunteer efforts may come along with this financial support (statistically, many people do give more to nonprofits where they volunteer), but it is not guaranteed. My husband jokes that I work more hours than he does in his full-time job, but mine are much more variable!

You have limited resources and only you can decide what is the best way to use them!

I started thinking of myself as a philanthropist through my work with Impact Austin. This is a collective giving group that gathers 500 or more women together who donate $1250 ($1000 to grants and $250 to overhead) and cumulatively give out half a million dollars or so a year in high-impact, targeted grants to nonprofits in the Central Texas area. Sounds kind of magical, doesn’t it? Few of us are wealthy, some are budgeting each month to make their yearly commitment, but most of us are in the middle. We can write that check but it definitely takes away from other charitable things we could do.

Why do women choose Impact Austin? Continue reading

Talking is Natural – Reading is Not

I recently heard a fascinating piece on the differences in the human brain between learning to talk (natural and happens for most children fairly effortlessly) and learning to read (not natural, has only been around for a relatively short time in human history, and is rarely effortless for any child).

I must admit I was dismayed to hear that news and to learn that the science has been around for decades but I fear that primary education has opted for a method of “whole language” that is more entertaining (to children and to teachers) over the less delightful but far more effective method of phonics and phonemes in most of our schools throughout the nation. The results have been dismal test scores made even more dismal for the socio-economic levels of our populace who cannot afford extra tutoring, etc., that may turn this around.

The article points out, however, that when test scores on reading are examined closely, the upper-income levels/higher educated parents group of children have also lost ground in reading proficiency since the advent of “whole language” or “balanced literacy.” Continue reading

Mentoring and Entering LC’s World

LC-KaliI met LC, my latest Seedling Mentee, last year when she was a kindergarten student at a school not too far from where I live. Her kindergarten teacher was kind, sweet, and a redhead like me, and I think that may have eased my way in starting this new mentoring relationship.

Seedling Mentoring is for children who deal with the trauma of having an incarcerated parent, and although the parent may come out of prison, Seedling does not end the mentoring relationship.

You see, they know that the trauma has already occurred and that a parent’s reentry into the child’s life can often be one more change they must deal with, emotionally and academically.

When I met LC, we immediately talked about my father and I disclosed that he went to prison. Seedling requires that Mentees are aware that their Mentors know about their situation and that there is no need to hide or be ashamed.

She was not able to express much about her experience and feelings yet but she could draw them. In the beginning, she drew many pictures, even a few that were a bit disturbing, but I schooled my reactions and encouraged her to keep drawing how she felt so that those things were no longer just in her head. Continue reading