Posted in My life in pictures

080/365 Let’s Eat!

What are you grateful for?

Food!

Today’s menu:

Today I am thankful for:

  • Every dish came out great
  • My Mom’s mad chopping skillz, for her cleaning behind me as I cooked AND for the awesome crochet Turkey decoration.
  • Natalie making the Deviled Eggs (almost) all by herself, with Mom guiding and teaching her.
  • Gil reading the virtual newspaper out loud to me while I prepared our little Cuban feast.
  • Daniel for being so enthusiastic about the Oreo Pie.
  • Friends who understand.
  • Afternoon naps.
  • Michael’s Pre-Black Friday sale and the fact that I got new art supplies for super cheap. (Stay tuned…I’m going to try some Watercolor Pencil artsy stuff)
  • Gil and I in complete agreement on the absolute crapiness of the move Bridesmaids.

What about you? What are you grateful for today? Why don’t you upload a picture to Epic Thanks and spread your joy and love with others. Can’t we all use a little extra joy in our lives? I can almost guarantee a smile or two if you take a minute and scroll through the gratitude photo bombs.

Posted in My life in pictures

079/365 Dance Like … the World is Watching

What are you grateful for?

Tonight I’m most grateful for being so inspired that I let go of any inhibitions or fears and just be silly. It’s it amazing what can happen if you just let love, hope and gratitude take over your world.

I give yooooou….

Our Gratitude Dance

Come join us as we celebrate a not so secret week of gratitude.

Posted in My life in pictures

077/365 Florida Sunsets

What are you grateful for?

This was the view in my rearview mirror for most of my commute tonight. The sky was on fire! I think it was God’s way of saying, “Let’s get this gratitude party started!” These sunsets are one of the many reasons it does not suck to live in Florida. I am thankful for this gift from God.

Come join us as we celebrate a not so secret week of gratitude.

Posted in Random Writers

Hero of Hope

Random Writers Week 8 Topic: Write about someone you consider to be a hero.

My original plan for this topic was to write about a woman who has been a huge inspiration to me for over a year now. That woman is Stacey Monk, and I’m pretty sure I would follow her to the ends of the earth if she asked me to. The goodness and beauty and love in her heart is surpassed only by the light that she radiates to those around her. She is a bright, shining soul that I’m honored to call friend.

When I first met Stacey and her now fiancé, Sanjay, in early 2010, I was taken aback a little. I’m not a person who sees auras and I’m not even sure I fully believe in the idea of auras, but for that day, I did. I’m not sure what it was but I came home that night and told Gil I thought our lives might be different because of this woman I just met. That night I learned a little of the story of Stacey and how she and Sanjay started the non-profit Epic Change a few years earlier. I had no idea that night just how impacted my life would be.

Over the next 18-20 months, I would work with Stacey and support her dream to build a school in Tanzania. I would devote time and money and crazy amounts of love into a project that meant nothing more to me than the fact that it meant something to Stacey. It was also during this time that I began to understand just why this school was so important to her. For Stacey, she had found hope after a devastating tragedy, all because of one woman and her dream. While in Africa, Stacey had found Mama Lucy, and in doing so, found hope in her life and her world.

Mama Lucy Kamptoni is a mom who had to take her children to neighboring Kenya in order for them to get an education. After leaving three children in the care of strangers, she knew something needed to change so that other mothers and fathers did not have to do this for their children. In 2003, Mama Lucy told her husband she was going to take the money from her small chicken business to rent the house next door, and that she was going to start a school. And that’s exactly what she did. After hiring a teacher, she posted notes throughout her town and in churches that she was starting a school; and the children came. Six showed up on the first day. By the end of the week, there were 10. The children came and came and came.

Mama Lucy continued to educate as many children as she could in that rented house until one day she was told the house and land would be sold and she would need to find a different place to teach the children. This news came shortly after Stacey and Sanjay had visited and volunteered at Shepherds Junior School. When Stacey and Sanjay heard this news, they knew they had to help. Oh, and help they did. Through some of the most successful social media fundraising campaigns ever, Mama Lucy got her new land and a new classroom. Soon, more new classrooms were built. When the need for a dormitory to house some of the children was announced, more funding was found.

Mama Lucy had a dream of educating the children of her country, and what began with six children is now 503. What was a small rented house is now a Pre and Primary school with multiple classrooms, a computer lab, a dormitory and a staff of 47 educators and administrative support.

I asked Mama Lucy if she found that people told her she couldn’t do this? She responded with an emphatic “Ohhhhh YES. How did you know?” I knew because it’s often our first reaction when someone throws some farfetched idea out there. I can only imagine people’s reactions to her dream. “Who is this chicken farmer to think she can build a school?” I never got a chance to elaborate with her, but in my next face to face conversation with Mama Lucy, I firmly intend to find out what her responses have been to those people. She obviously didn’t let any of those Negative Nellie’s slow her down in pursuing her dream. Throughout all of this, Mama Lucy has never given up. She’s had her struggles and each time, she has found a way, either through her own hard work or through the sharing of love from around the globe or from some ginormous combination of both.

I met Mama Lucy on Tuesday. I also met two of her amazing students, Leah Albert and Gideon Gidori. Earlier in the day I had posted a blog about how I felt a darkness creeping into my life. It was just one of those bad mood feelings that I couldn’t shake.  Within moments of meeting these three people, the bright light shining from their souls left me blinded. I was no longer consumed with my own feelings of hopelessness. I had been filled to the brim with two four letter words: HOPE and LOVE. You can see both so clearly in Mama Lucy and in these kids. I have no doubt the hope Leah and Gideon have is a direct result of Mama Lucy’s perseverance and unwavering dedication to love these children and provide an  education so that they can grow up to be pediatricians, astronauts, or anything their beautiful hearts hope to be.

Mama Lucy is my hero. She had a dream and she made it come true. Now, because of that, 503 children can also hope for their dreams to come true as well. The thing with Mama Lucy is, not only does she channel the ability to hope into these children’s lives, she also showers them with unconditional love. By doing that, she has also flooded my world with love. For this reason, I can’t help but put that love right back out into this majestic universe we live in. How amazing is it to be filled with so much love that you HAVE to share it with others?

If you haven’t already, please take a moment to read my fellow Random Writers bloggers, Gil, Jeff and Lindsey‘s posts on the changes they wish to see in the world.

Posted in My life in pictures

063/365 Why I Forgot to Post Yesterday

 November is stacking up to be a month filled with gratitude….literally. It’s going to be a month filled with love, friends, family, food, fun, music, and charity. The day after tomorrow I’ll be rocking my face off at the Needtobreathe show in Gainesville. The next day we travel a little farther north for our dear friend Lindsey’s wedding on 11/11/11 at 11AM.  We’re attending a party for two of the Twitter Kids of Tanzania in town next Tuesday, then Rock by the Sea/Lyrics for Life on th 18th. My sister will be here the 17th thru the 20th, as well as our awesome friends, Jeff and Lindsey (a different Lindsey), and then Epic Thanks kicks off Monday, Nov. 21. That will last 5 glorious days and I can’t wait to see the outpouring of gratitude that week. Oh, and then there’s that little holiday known as Thanksgiving on the 24th. And to finish off the month, I’ll be packing up and leaving for Alabama again on the 27th so I can be with my family for the rescheduled trial date.  And we can’t forget we have basketball and soccer sprinkled all in there, including a game down in Cape Coral, 2 hours away,  on the 19th. Oh, and full-time jobs. Can’t ignore those since they are what allows us to live this life. Whew….anyone else exhausted yet? What’s that saying…..”Idle hands are the devil’s workship?’ Yeah, there’s no room for the devil here.

I was half way to work this morning when I realized I forgot to post my Project365 picture yesterday. I really hate when I forget but I’ve come to realize it’s going to happen and I just need to get over it.  I decided to do this make-up post, not with photographs, but with the two images that always bring a smile to my face. Plus, these two images represent the reasons I didn’t post last night. I was helping out with a project for Rock by the Sea when I had to pause long enough to take a call from our friend Cate, who is organizing a little welcome party next week for some very special guests (see above Twitter Kids reference). She was asking for a little administrative help and we were happy to jump right in. Well….Gil was happy to jump right in. We were tag teaming our two favorite charities last night. While I finished up my project, Gil completed Cate’s request. Can you imagine a more wonderful night? Sitting side by side with the person you love most in the world, using your time and talents to ultimately make someone else’s life better. Our part may be small but that does not mean it doesn’t matter to someone. And that’s why we do this.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Power to Enable Dreams

This is a repost of my husband, Gil Gonzalez’s blog post from yesterday, The Power to Enable Dreams. Only a few hours left to reach the goal of $5,000. No amount is too small to help make this dream a reality.

I don’t normally do my blog posts on the fly. I usually have some semblance of a plan, then I open up MS Word and I start typing. This post I am writing directly into the text field of my blog site because that’s how quickly I want to get it published.

We all have our individual definitions of what power is. Some people seek physical power. Others seek political power. Yet, inside us all we possess the power of giving. Be it a smile, be it a gesture, be it a dollar; giving of yourself to or for someone else can be the most powerful thing in the world.

My friends Stacey Monk and Sanjay Patel, founders of Epic Change and two of the most giving and selfless people I know, are requesting the help of the power that lies in you. In summary, we’re looking to provide a special graduation gift to one boy and one girl from the first ever graduation class of Shephard’s Junior Primary School in Tanzania.

Mind you, this is not just any school. Shephard’s started as the dream of Mama Lucy and was built out of the love and generosity of so many people from all over the world. Now we’re asking for you to help enable the dreams of two young students who aspire for so much in life.

Please follow this link to read Stacey’s personal appeal for this effort, and you can make a quick and easy donation using the PayPal widget on her page.  The power to make someone’s dream come true is something you possess, and no amount it too small. Thank you.