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Week 19-Letters, Day 7-G

The very last day of this alphabetically themed week is brought to you by G.  Yes the same G that gives us grits, granola, gorillas, ganache, girlfriends, gumbo, giraffes, and Georgia.  G is also essential for all of those wording ending with -ing, which, let’s face, is a whole lot.  The grits in our dinner of shrimp and grits were the inspiration for my thankfulness for all the glorious Gs floating around.  Grits are so awesome because you can eat them for breakfast (like Scott does every weekday morning) or for dinner, and they’re pretty healthy.  Well they were before I put all that cheese and bacon in them tonight.  That’s ok, that’s what made them another G word.  Good.

The letter G abounds in the word of charity as well.  One of the most recognizable non-profits beginning with G is the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLADD for short.  GLADD works to help lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender individuals share their stories and make sure the media is held accountable for the words and images they print about the LBGT community.  Their work helps promote acceptance, increase acceptance, and increase equality for everyone and help people see past any labels the world has placed on them.  GLADD hosted their 25th annual Media Awards in Los Angeles over the weekend to honor the media for their fair, accurate, and inclusive representation of the LGBT community.  Big hitters like Kristin Chenoweth, Ricky Martin, and Russel Simmons are just a few of the celebrities who were award winners this year.  You may have also heard of this guy named Bill Gates.  Yea, he’s a pretty big deal, and so is the charity he co-founded with his wife, the Gates Foundation.  Founded in 1994 the GF is focused on supporting global health, global development, and education in the United States.  They are founded on the belief that every person deserves to the chance to live a healthy, productive life.  Bill and Melinda are my kinda people!  To give you an idea of how much money this foundation is working with, Warren Buffet gave GF $37 billion to the already impressive $29 billion in the bank.  The reach that the GF has around the world and in different facets here in the US is as astronomical as the monetary figure they put up.  Goodness gracious, great ball of fire Gates Foundation!

GLADD Donation

Gates Foundation Donation…Let’s be serious, they have got the money thing covered, but like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and read their blog to see how you can help in other ways!

So here’s to you G!  G gives us giggles, gremlins, Garage Band, Guiliana & Bill, graham crackers, and Google.  I mean, who can live without Google?  I also happen to be a fan of some great G musicians like the Goo Goo Dolls, Gwen Stefani, George Straight, and Green Day.  I feel like there’s one more big thing that I’ve forgotten that starts with G.  It’s right on the tip of my tongue, and I think it might be a recurring theme for this blog.  Now I remember, give, giving, gave.  Those are definitely the most important G words I can think of.

Giving grows change

Week 19-Letters, Day 6-M

M is for Monday, or as I like to call it, Mexican Monday.  Everyone dreads Monday but I’ve decided to embrace it and make it saucy.  Sure it still comes too fast every week and seems to last for-ev-er, but add a margarita and some yummy Mexican treats and you’ve got a fiesta!  Let’s not forget all the other great things that start with M like mothers, merry-go-rounds, machines, mascara, mustard, mayo, and marriage.  So instead of cursing Mondays, let’s make them a party and be thankful for them!

Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks Mondays have a lot more potential then we give them credit for.  The Every Monday Matters Foundation came after the book of the same name written by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza.  EMMF believes that you can make a difference, no matter how small, every single Monday.  They even give you a week by week list of how you can make a difference 52 Mondays a year.  Making a difference can range from eating healthy to not speeding to giving someone a hug.  We owe it to ourselves, our future, and our world to leave it a better place than we found it.  What we do really adds up no matter how big or small, and makes a real difference.  Remember that movie Pay It Forward, yea they had it right.  Monday is also a great day to play six degrees of separation on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, so forth and so on.  Well now you can play on the social network with a social conscience, Six Degrees.  Kevin Bacon should be popping up in your mind right about now.  He partnered with Network For Good to start SD in 2007.  You can donate to your favorite causes, see what causes celebrities support, and buy Good Cards for your friends and families.  Good Cards are like gift cards for charity.  Your brother doesn’t need a new sweater for his birthday.  Plus buying a Good Card makes you one degree closer to good ‘ole Kevin Bacon.  SD can also help you find somewhere to volunteer, which is perfect timing because this week is National Volunteer Week!  If you volunteer any more like Kevin Bacon, you might turn into Kevin Bacon!  Here’s hoping!

Fingers crossed!

Every Monday Matters Foundation Donation

Six Degrees Donation

So here’s to you M!  We would miss the moon, M&Ms, macaroons, macaroni and cheese, monkeys, meringue, and marshmallows if you weren’t around.  Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and millions of Disney fans, would be really disappointed if the absence of a single letter kept them from being around.  Go ahead, man up and be thankful for all of the great things that wouldn’t be possible without M.  The feeling that you’ll get when you do…magical.

Week 19-Letters, Day 5-B

B seems so appropriate for today because it was the most beautiful day we’ve had here in West Virginia two weeks or more.  We had a fabulous at home brunch followed by a brisk walk around the university farm.  Oh and the best part, little precious baby lambs!  A set of brand-new triplets were just getting up and walking around when we stopped by to check on the sheep.  We continued the fun by grocery shopping, doing laundry, watching Love and Other Drugs (highly recommend it), and grilling out as well as dining on our porch.  Blissful?  I do believe so.

Seeing all the trees budding and flowers blooming reminds me how important it is for us all to do our part to make sure the beauty never fades.  Keeping America Beautiful was founded in 1953 to help educate and

Yep, the Crying Indian

empower individuals to take charge of improving their community environments.  KAB has been urging people to “go green” long before any celebrity or Al Gore made it the new black.  KAB has educated millions of people through public service announcements, yea you remember Iron Eyes Cody, and sent them out into the world to volunteer and make our communities cleaner, greener, safer, and overall more livable.  If you want an instant pick-me-up, try picking up a piece of litter on the ground (that’s not yours) and throw it away.  Even something so small can help improve our planet and make you feel like you’ve done your good deed for the day.  Books are at the top of my list of “things starting with B” that I could definitely not live without.  This week is National Library Week so go pick up a book, and be thankful for great libraries like the New York Public Library.  I have been there a couple of times while we lived in the NY/NJ area, and loved the history and grandeur this place exudes.  It was also in the Sex and the City movie so I was already a fan.  Founded in 1895 it has served as the great storehouse of knowledge for the 8 million plus people who live in NYC.  NYPL also offers much more than books.  Patrons can use the internet, apply for jobs, or escape from the hustle and bustle and simply relax in one of the few remaining free quiet retreats in the city.  Books bring people in, but the power of knowledge keeps them coming back.

Keep America Beautiful Donation

New York Public Library Donation

So here’s to you B!  You are a part of my initials and many other people who are very close to me.  Basketball, baseball, badminton, boche ball, and the backstroke would certainly be missed from the world of sports if you didn’t exist.  Butter.  I’m pretty sure that needs no explanation.  Beer.  Another one that really needs no explanation.  Bigger is better, and that goes double for giving back.

Whitney is stocked up on the B's, butter, bubbly, and Bud

Week 19-Letters, Day 4-S

Oh sweet, sweet Saturday I am so happy to see you!  You seem to show up just when I need you the most.  You help us remember how to relax, do something fun, and forget about the worries of the work week.  You give us an excuse to watch a Sex and the City marathon, Star Wars VI-Return of the Jedi, or the first season of Sons of Anarchy.  Saturdays are also great for getting around to all of those other household chores the weekdays never let you finish, or volunteering for you favorite charity.  Saturdays are just splendid, no matter how you spend them.

The Alex who stared it all (

I remember being a little kid setting up a lemonade stand in front our house on a Saturday trying to make a few extra bucks.  Our road really wasn’t prime time lemonade stand property, but it was always fun and got us out of the house.  Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation was started in 2000 by a brave four year old little girl, named Alex, who was suffering from neuroblastoma.  Her first lemonade stand raised over $2,000 to help fund cancer research so doctors could “help other kids, like they helped her”.  Even as she was battling her own cancer, she continued to her lemonade stand in her front yard every year and the new spread about this brave little girl.  Lemonade stands were set up across the country and people donated their proceeds to Alex and her cause.  ALSF has raised over $40 million to help fund research for childhood cancers, and helped fund over 150 cutting-edge projects.  Even though Alex passed away in 2004 at the age of eight, her family and her supporters have made sure her legacy continues to live on today, tomorrow, and beyond.  Another thing that I really, really, really love to participate in that starts with S is shopping.  Most people, and especially women, can totally relate to this.  Endorse For a Cause lets you shop and give back to your favorite charity at the same time.  In case you haven’t picked up on it I’m a big fan of charities that let me shop and be philanthropic simultaneously.  EFAC knows that we all want to make a difference with our lives, and supporting great causes like Feeding America or the American Cancer Society is now as easy as buying a new pair of stilettos.  Become a member of EFAC and share your favorite retailers and products with your friends by tweeting or updating your status and a part of the money you (and your friends) spend goes to the charity of your choice.  There’s only one word for how great that is. Sweet!

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation

Endorse For a Cause Donation (Sign up today and share!) And check our Marie Claire for more gifts to benefit charities

So here’s to you S!  Sundaes, soccer, salmon, Scrabble, Saturday and Sunday also really appreciate you starting them off.  Wheel of Fortune thinks you’re pretty special too because you’ll always a freebie in the last puzzle.  Spring and summer couldn’t start off on the right foot without you, and a game of chess needs you to end.  Be sure you think about the ‘ole important crooked letter as you enjoy your Saturday evening and your Sunday morning.  See ya tomorrow!

Week 19-Letters, Day 3-W

ork, watermelon, workouts, wishes, water, and wildflowers are all great things, that obviously, start with W.  I started my day this morning with a snazzy little leg workout from Cosmo.  It may not be P90X but it’s been a while since I worked out and it felt good.  Hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day.  I also worked a couple extra hours at my new job today.  Everyday I go to work I think about how lucky I am to have a job, and how doubly lucky I am that I like the people I work with.  I’ve heard that Americans live to work, and that European work to live.  I strive to stay somewhere in the middle of those two and enjoy my time on and off the clock.

In my opinion, nobody works harder than the brave men and women of our country who protect our freedom.  That is one job I am positive I could never do, and can’t even imagine the things they go through for their work.  Carolina Patriot Rover is a non-profit that is enhancing the lives of servicemen and women who have been diagnosed with PTSD by giving them a trained golden retriever.  CPR is committed to giving veterans a life-long companion who provides tons of love and therapy free of charge.  CPR also has a long-term goal of growing their organization so they are able to help employ veterans returning home and re-entering the workforce again.  Working with adorable golden retrievers and great people who have sacrificed for our freedom sounds like a job I’d like to have!  The HOPE Program in New York helps give those living in poverty “a way to work” and “a way to grow”.  THP was founded in 1984 in a time when homeless New Yorkers were being given hand-outs and THP was doling out hand-ups that help them find, keep, and advance in their jobs.  1 in 5 people who live in New York city are living in poverty, and over 300,000 New Yorkers are dependent on soup kitchens and food pantries in order to feed their families.  There may not be W in hope but they are giving some down and out New Yorkers a big W.

Carolina Patriot Rovers Donation

The Hope Program Donation

So here’s to you W!  Where would we be without you?  Let’s see, that last sentence wouldn’t exist, there would be no waterfalls, wigwams, or Washington Redskins.  No kids would be plagued by wet willies or enjoy Willie Wonka candies after school.  The world would not be the same without all the Williams, Walters, or Wandas.  So remember to be thankful the next time you see a weeping willow or take a juicy bite out of a watermelon.

I feel the same way buddy

Week 19-Letters, Day 2-P

P is for pancakes, Prague, and photographs of the beautiful city thanks to a fellow WordPress blogger, Rudolf.  I spent about three months in the birthplace of Kafka and to this day I feel like there are literally pieces of my heart all over the city.  Being there at that time was such a pivotal point in my life and I have no doubt I wouldn’t be where I am today without living there.  The whole reason I went there was to travel, explore, get away, and in the end all I wanted was to come home to the people I loved.  Now almost four years later I cling to the photos to remember how alive I felt there.  Prague also made me thankful for another P word, perspective.  Pancakes are just yummy and always delicious, especially when Scott makes them for me.

The International Center of Photography is both a school and museum that is dedicated to gaining people’s understanding and appreciation for photography.  Located in the big apple, ICP was founded in 1947 by the legendary photojournalist Cornell Capa, and expanded in 1985 to a satellite facility in midtown NYC.  Over the years ICP has presented over 500 exhibitions from 3,000 different artists to the public, and taught countless classes and workshops to students from all walks of life.  Pictures help us document our histories, track social change, are essential for visual communication, and allow us to express ourselves in a truly unique way.  Photography reminds us to be thankful for the good times and move forward to the next.  Photography can also help children find their voice.  Children Mending Hearts unites children at-risk in the United States and children living in conflict zones through the exchange of their art.  Children are supposed to be innocent and free of the all the weights of the world that they will have to deal with as they grow up.  Those who are homeless or constantly surrounded by war don’t have the chance to experience all the joys of childhood.  CMH conducts workshops in the arts such as photography, painting, music, and dance to give them the chance to experience that joy and to just be a kid.  CMH helps the children become better global citizens and work out their intellectual muscles through creative endeavors.  A little creative juice can water a lot of growing minds.

CMH artwork

International Center for Photography Donation

Children Mending Hearts Donation

So here’s to you P!  You give us yummy breakfast foods like pancakes, potatoes, pumpkin bread, and pancetta.  You start off words like police, pirates, princes, pyramids, paradigm, parchment, and periwinkle.  I also happen to be fond of an adorable little animal called a penguin, that also begins with P.  It’s my dream to have one as a pet and name him Chilly, like the Chilly Willy ice-pops.  Thank goodness we have P to help make our food cravings and wildest dreams all come true.

Week 19-Letters, Day 1-L

Today is brought to you by the letter L.  Ok so I’m obviously ripping off Sesame Street this week, but it makes for good fun and lots of new charities.  My name does start with an L so I’m pretty thankful for that.  We went and saw Bradley Cooper’s new movie, Limitless, tonight which was awesome.  I wish I could unlock the unbridled potential that lies beneath my grey matter.  There are other pretty things that start with L like ladybugs, Loretta Lynn, lilies, lavender, lilacs, and lace.  Being thankful for letters may seem a little juvenile or simple, but it just helps us remember how many things we truly have to be grateful for.

One of my very favorite things that stuff with L is the adorable red and black spotted ladybugs.  They are in a tight race with butterflies for my all-time favorite insect, and they are said to bring you good luck.  The charity Project Ladybug is a specific fund at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital that provides specific assistance to children and families who rarely receive it.  Volunteers with PL also work on a case-by-case basis with the patients to support them emotionally as well as financially.  Some of you reality TV fans out there will recognize the founder of PL, Dina Manzo, who was one of the stars of The Real Housewives of New Jersey.  It’s nice to see Jersey represent for something other than first pumping and GTLing.  The lovely Lady Gaga is also on the top of my list of things that start with L.  Her smash hit “Born This Way” inspires everyone to be who they really are, and giving back by donating proceeds from the sale of the country version to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.  Founded in 1990 GLSEN is the leading national education organization that is focused on making schools safe for everyone.  GLSEN works hard to create school environments where differences are valued and celebrated everyday.  You don’t have to like Lady Gaga’s music to appreciate the positive message “Born This Way” is sending to kids and adults alike.  So don’t be a drag, just be a queen and be thankful for your riches.

Project Ladybug Donation

Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network Donation

So here’s to you L!  You are the first letter for millions of great words, and you end a lot of great words too.  There would be no Lisa, Luke, Leslie, Lawrence, or Leah without you.  Thanks for giving you us cute little bugs, outrageously talented singers, beautiful flowers, and literature.  There may not be a L in thanks, but I wouldn’t be who I am today with you.