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Week 49-Knowvember, Day 5-Speak up

Yea, what he said

I feel like all I’ve done all day long is put the finishing touches on my seminar presentation for my class tomorrow.  I guess I did take a break to call my wonderful father and wish him a very happy birthday!  I always hate when I can’t be there to help celebrate with my family or friends on their special day, but thus is life.  Today is also the day that I lost my Grandma fourteen years ago.  She was a huge influence on my life, and her confidence and leadership still motivates me to be who I am today.  I might not have liked it, but I know she is proud of my hard work and dedication I’ve poured into my presentation.  Today has been a day of mixed emotions, but I’m thankful to have this blog so I can speak up about whats on my mind.

The National Partnership for Women and Families believes the best way to speak up is to act.  Anyone who has ever been a mother and a professional, or had one for that matter, knows how much work goes into balancing the demands of a job and a family.  NPWF has worked since 1971 to promote fairness in the workplace, reproductive health and rights, and any other policies that make life a little easier on families.  NPWF knows that when women do better, families do better, and our nation prospers.  NPWF also helps us remember that our voice does matter, and that a single action coming from an individual does matter.  NPWF has had some major accomplishments over the past 40 years.  They have helped to pass the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Civil Rights Act, Family & Medical Leave Act, and the California Family Leave Act.  NPWF is an advocate for millions of women and their families through the educational outreach and legislative action they provide.  Voice Ability wants to be sure that everyone’s voice, views and hopes are heard loud and clear.  Formed form two organizations with extremely similar missions, Advocacy Partners and Speaking Up officially merged in April of 2010 and changed their named in December.  So now, twice as wise and strong, their new mission is to strengthening voice, championing rights, and changing lives.  VA is passionate, resourceful, and dedicated which makes them the best at what they do and has resulted in the collection of several accolades.  Those with mental health problems, learning disabilities, and autism should be able to speak up for what they want.  Sometimes we all need a little help figuring out what is we really want out of life.

National Partnership for Women and Families Donation

Voice Ability Donation

So here’s to speaking up!  We all need to find our voice to be happy in life.  I’ve had such great examples in my life of how and when to speak my mind.  Obviously I have a lot to say, otherwise this blog would have been a flop within the first week.  I’m just thankful that the words keep coming when I dangle my fingers over my computer’s keyboard.  Thank you to everyone out there for listening, and for my greatest influences who nurtured my voice.

Week 43-Fall Favorites, Day 2-TV is back!

It's baaacckkk!

I love TV.  So sue me.  I love the fact that all of the good television shows have returned from their summer hiatus.  I also love that their seems to be a plethora of really good new shows this fall as well.  After being in school all day and putting my brain through the ringer, there are just some days when I want to veg out in front of the TV.  I am watching the new 2-hour season premiere of Grey’s Anatomy as I type this.  Yea, I know I can’t believe I still watch it sometimes either, but I think this is going to be their redemption season.  Anyway, even though it may be shallow and thoughtless and a guilty pleasure, today I am thankful for new and old sitcoms, dramas, and even reality shows.

As much as I love a handsome man on my television screen, I love a strong women in a drama even more.  The Women’s Image Network produces the WIN Awards which honors girls and women by celebrating their roles in both film and television.  It doesn’t make any sense that women only early 10% of when men earn even though we make 85% of the purchasing decisions in families.  Most people think that in today’s day and age that sexism and gender inequality are a thing of the past, but they would be wrong.  There is no place that this is more evident than the film industry.  There are more than 86% of films with zero female writers, and 77% of film critics are men.  You don’t have to be a mathematician to see how imbalanced those numbers are.  The WIN awards honor both men and women who promote gender equality through their creativity, innovation, and leadership.  On a much more superficial level, I love to Keep Up with the Kardashians and see where Kendra and Hank are living now.  All of this is thanks to Mr. Ryan Seacrest, who also turns out to have his very own charitable organization.  The Ryan Seacrest Foundation is focused on making life for seriously ill and injured children a little bit easier through multimedia and interactive platforms that educate the public.  Something Seacrest knows just a little bit about.  Another reason to love RSF, it’s a family run non-profit.  The family that runs a charity together, stays together.  The Voice is the first initiative of RSF that puts broadcast media within pediatric hospitals so children can explore the world of radio, television, and new media.  RSF wants to aid in the healing process of these patients, and bring an overall uplifting spirit to the hospital.  Seacrest out!

Women Image Network Donation

Ryan Seacrest Foundation Donation

So here’s to TV being back!  We have spent our summer frolicking in the sun and soaking up all the outdoors had to offer, but now we’re ready to settle back into our couches and be entertained.  Thank you for coming back into our homes and into our hearts.  Ok maybe not into our hearts, but that sounded a lot better than “and into the empty cavities in our brains that we’ll never use again”.

Week 40-All I needed to know, Day 4-I learned from my Dad

Did anybody else just realize that I have blogged for 40 weeks?!?  40!  I always knew I would see this project through to the finish, but it still amazes me that I’ve found the strength, and the material, to make it this far.  Also, when did it become September already?  I guess two days ago is the answer to that, but I feel like this year has FLOWN by!  I guess time flies when you start a blog, pack up your life, move to a new state, get a job, buy a car, make fabulous new friends, try to stay connected with old friends, travel, start grad school, and realize your life is really over.  But like my Dad always say, “If it was easy, everybody would do it.”

My wise, and goofy, Dad

That advice has gotten me through many a difficult time when I wanted to throw in the towel, and take the easy way out.  This has especially come in handy as I’ve started back to school…again.  I spent 8 straight hours in the lab today, but I know it was worth it.  I’m sure there are plenty of employees at the National Institute of Health, better known as NIH, who have spent more than one of their Saturdays in a lab.  The Foundation for NIH uses scientific discovery and translational research to improve public health, and make the world a better place.  FNIH just celebrated its 15th anniversary this summer, and they have proven that they lead the nation in high-impact medical research and collaborations.  As a budding scientist, they are also the place to go for training that will propel your career into and even beyond the future of world health issues.  And trust me, not everybody has that opportunity.  That little saying my Dad has also taught me how importance confidence is, especially as a women in the sciences.  The Honey Shine Mentoring Program is a part of the Alonzo Mourning charities, that encourages a balance of mind, body and soul for girls and women.  Balance is something I have to work towards on a daily basis over the past couple of weeks.  HS hold workshops twice a month, field trips, and four weeks of summer camp every year to help empower girls to shine as women.  Women love things that shine like diamonds and sparkles so why wouldn’t we want to shine like our accessories?

Foundation for the National Institute of Health Donation

Honey Shine Donation

So here’s to the wise words of my father!  Really he’s got lots of them, but this one makes my top of the list for me.  He never ceases to amaze me with all the useful and useless knowledge he continues to accumulate, and share with me.  It’s amazing what the Discovery and History channels can do for a person.  Thanks for showing me that taking the easy way out doesn’t pay, and it’s not as much fun either.

Keep your button, I'll take the good stuff.

Week 38-Back to school, Day 2-Lipstick Jungle

One of my all time favorite things to buy before school starts every year is new makeup!  It’s a well-known rule that if you look good, you feel good, and you gotta feel good when you start back to school.  Clearly makeup is more of a priority for girls than boys, but boys still get to reap the benefits of how dang awesome we look.  I don’t think everyone needs to wear buckets of makeup on a daily basis, but a smoky eye or a flirty lip can brighten your entire day.  Real beauty radiates from the inside out, but putting a shiny new light bulb in the socket helps too.

Lately my go to source for fresh new makeup looks is none other than Mary Kay.  When we moved to WV in February I was reintroduced to the great products (and awesome consultants!) that MK offers, and I’ve never looked back.  I also love purchasing MK products because they are dedicated to ending domestic violence in women through The Mary Kay Foundation.  MKF just recently donated almost $4 million to help women and children from the sales of their Beauty That Counts creme lipsticks during 2008, 2009, and 2010.  MKF also observes National Domestic Violence Awareness Month every October by awarding grants to women’s domestic violence shelters across the United States.  Over 150 shelters in all 50 states received a total of $3 million last year alone.  Over the past three years as the economy has suffered, there has also been an increase in domestic violence and a decrease in the governmental funding for the shelters that help these victims.  I know, it doesn’t make any sense.  AIDS doesn’t make any sense to me either.  I mean, I understand that it’s a retrovirus and all that sciencey stuff, but the devastation it creates on a daily basis astounds me.  The MAC AIDS Fund supports those men, women, and children who are affected by HIV/AIDS.  Founded in 1994, every red cent of the Viva Glam lipstick and lipglass products are donated to the fund.  One little tube of lipstick translates into 1 rapid oral HIV test, or 233 male condoms, or 14 blood glucose monitoring ships, or a pair of shoes for a child orphaned by AIDS.  MAF helps celebrate how precious life is, and connects them to their passion of helping people of all ages, races, and gender affected by this life altering disease.  MAC has also used the faces of RuPaul, Pamela Anderson, and recently Lady Gaga to spread the word about their Viva Glam campaign.  They constantly prove that beauty changes lives.

The Mary Kay Foundation Donation

MAC AIDS Fund Donation

So here’s to you lipstick!  You’re just one little piece of the beauty puzzle that us women put on every morning.  You come in shades of fiery reds, natural nudes, and beachy corals.  You may come in a small package but you pack a big punch.  Thank you for making us look and feel good in more ways than we even realize.

Week 37-What’s for dinner? Day 4-Sub

Yes it’s Saturday night, and yes we’re officially old because we’d rather get a sandwich artist to make us dinner than go out to a nice restaurant.  It’s quicker, cheaper, and it allows me to eat my dinner in the comfort on my home and I may or may not already be in my pajamas.  And seriously who doesn’t who doesn’t love to eat with their hands?  There is something so nostalgic and rejuvenating about reverting back to the days when we only used the utensils God gave us to get food from our plates to our mouths.  If you say you don’t like sandwiches, I’m gonna have to call your bluff.

Yum, yum, yum

It turns out that somebody liked sandwiches so much that they named a city in Massachusetts after the lunch-time favorite.  The Sandwich Women’s Club is dedicated to charitable, educational, and civic organizations and causes.  They have their hands in projects that range from serving monthly meals to the elderly to maintaining a community traffic island with seasonal flowers and plants.  SWC also puts on an annual Touch-A-Truck event where over 1,000 kids come out to get up close and personal with trucks, front loaders, and buses.  There is also an Annual Harvest Craft Fair in October that the entire community of Sandwich looks forward to, and a fabulous cookbook with over 400 recipes from SWC members and their families.  It only seems right that a place that is named after a meal churns out a book full tasty treats.

One happy Touch-A-Truck event participant

Subway, where we picked up our delicious spicy Italian sub, has partnered with Heart Research UK in order to help people across the United Kingdom and Ireland eat better and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.  All those fish and chips and shepherd’s pie tends to catch up with ya after a while.  Founded back in 1967, Mr. Watson, a working heart surgeon, HRUK supports the old adage that the best offense is a good defense.  They lead the way in groundbreaking research that helps those who suffer from heart disease, but they are also proponents of exploring novel way to prevent heart disease and help people live longer, happier lives.  A little sub can go a long way for your heart health.

Sandwich Women’s Club Donation

Heart Research UK Donation

So here’s to you delicious sub!  Thanks for being the quick and easy fix to our Saturday night dinner dilemma.  There’s nothing like a little lettuce and some black olives to end the day.  You’re the great equalizer across the ages.  You can be filled to the brim with all veggies or all meat, but you still fill us up when we’re got that rumbly in our tumbly.  I’m not sure if you can be in love with a sandwich, but I think I’m on my way there.

Week 36-Birthday Week, Day 4-Lucille Ball

Happy 100th Birthday to Lucille Ball!  This funny lady is best known for her role as the hilarious Lucy Ricardo in the I Love Lucy show, but she was also a big movie and Broadway star as well.  I mean who could forget her infamous Vitametavegamin commercial or her and Ethel stuffing candy in their mouth because they can’t keep up in their new jobs as chocolate factory workers.  Her famous flaming hair and quirky expressions are the reason that there are so many people still adore her to this day.  Lucy shows us all what good old-fashioned fun looks like, and who doesn’t love that?

Even though she was into funny business, Lucille was a serious influence on women’s role in television.  She was even inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame back in 2001.  She was actually the first woman who visibly seen as pregnant on television.  So all you 16 and Pregnant stars and fans out there, myself included, you’ve got Lucy to thank for opening up the door to showing baby bumps on the tube.  And speaking of firsts, she was also the very first female studio head in Hollywood.  I told you she was more than just a funny lady.  She was also nominated for a whopping 13 Emmy award nominations and 4 wins during her long and productive career.  It’s no wonder the NWHF wanted to induct Ball when their mission is to showcase great women, and inspire all.  She is one of the most recognized television stars of all time, and influences actors and actresses even years after her passing.  That’s a women I’d like to be like.  Ball did take some time out of her busy and funny schedule to support the March of Dimes charity.  MOD works to make sure that moms out there have full-term pregnancies, and research problems that threaten the health of babies.  Franklin Delanor Roosevelt was inspired to create MOD back in 1938 after his own personal battle with polio.  Thanks to the funding and research given to MOD there were three vaccines that were created which effectively eradicated the polio epidemic in the United States.  After they had accomplished their first mission, MOD shifted their focus to premature birth and birth defects.  They have helped to save thousands of children, and they are committed to helping all children be born healthy.

National Women’s Hall of Fame Donation

March of Dimes Donation

So here’s to you Lucille Ball, or as you’re more lovingly called, Lucy!  You always had some ‘splaining to do but we loved watching you do it.  Thank you for giving the gift that keeps on giving, and I don’t mean all the awesome episode reruns of I Love Lucy.  You gave us all the gift of laughter and you said it best, “I’m happy that I have brought laughter because I have been shown by many the value of it in so many lives, in so many ways.” 

Week 27-Get Bikini Ready, Day 7-Strut your stuff!

Over the past week we have covered how to get your body ready for bikini week, but today is all about getting your mind ready!  The best accessory that you can take with you to the beach is confidence.  Seriously, ask any guy who you know and they will tell you that there is nothing sexier than a woman who embraces her body and is confident in herself.  No matter your age or size if you hold you head up high and strut your stuff people will notice you, and in a good way.  There is this unreal expectation that society (and airbrushing) puts on us, especially women, to have the perfect bikini body.  I’m so thankful that I’m comfortable enough in my own skin that I don’t need to subscribe to that BS, and I hope reading this empowers you to do that same.

There are over 8 million people who live in the little island of Manhattan, which is only part of the huge metropolis we know and love as New York City.  The Lower Eastside Girls Club has focused on helping girls 8-23 years old in this under served area since 1996.  LEGC has given girls a place to grown, learn, build that confidence I was talking about earlier, and just have a good ‘ole time as they discover they can really make a difference in the world.  LEGC doesn’t just give these young women the tools to build their future, they also give them the ability to dream and envision a better life.  LEGC also has a diverse set of programs so girls can dabble in the arts, science, health, and leadership to truly discover where their passions lie.  In case you’re not already sold on this seriously awesome charity, they were on Late Night with Jimmy Falon last fall.  Yea, they’re a pretty big deal.  Another charity that is all about boosting women’s confidence is the YWCA.  It only seems appropriate to bookend this week with the YMCA and its female counterpart the YWCA, because they are such household charity names.  What you may not know is that empowering women is only part of the YWCA’s mission.  They also work to eliminate racism and promote peace, justice, dignity, and freedom for everyone-not just women.  The YWCA was also a huge part of the women’s suffrage movement in the early 20th century which was the first step in us being able to wear these itsy-bitsy bikinis today.  Even though women have obviously come a very long way in their rights and how we’re treated, the YWCA knows that living happily ever after is a continual process.  Thanks for sticking with us!

The Lower Eastside Girls Club Donation and 11 Years to Donate!

YWCA Donation

So here’s to strutting your stuff!  Make up an alter ego like Beyoncé and pretend you’re a rock star.  Know that you’re beautiful from the inside out and make that beach your runway.  Let your hair down, take off that coverup, and enjoy this bikini season!  Take a lesson from this little girl and build yourself up before you suit up!

Week 25-Celebrity Apprentice, Day 7-Ivanka Trump

The female heir to the tremendous Trump throne is also a key player in the hit show we’ve been talking about all week, Celebrity Apprentice.  Sure she’s business savvy, but this blonde bombshell has also made a name for herself in the modeling industry.  She’s walked down the runway for Versace, posed for Tommy Hilfiger ads, and even graced that very coveted cover of Harper’s Bazaar.  She also recently became a wife, one day after my own wedding I might add, and is due to become a mother this summer.  Oh, and in her “spare time” she is trying to save the world one charity at a time.  I’m thankful that I keep finding these great female role models to write about, be inspired by, and strive to be like.

A few years back Ivanka served as the Honorary Chair for Miracle on Madison Avenue that benefits The Children’s Aid Society in New York City.  In this annual holiday season event over 75 retailers along the swanky Madison Ave. donate 20% of their revenue for the day to CAS.  CAS has simple mission: help children in poverty succeed and thrive.  The success that they have had over the past 150 years in reaching this goal is what makes them a vital part of the New York city community today, tomorrow, and essentially forever.  CAS works with children before their even born with their prenatal care programs and sticks with them through their high school years as they decide where their future lies.  Any Trump baby is clearly going to be born with a silver spoon in his or her mouth, but Ivanka is making sure more and more kids are getting the love and support they need.  Ms. Trump was also a presenter at the 10th Annual Women Who Care Luncheon, which benefits United Cerebral Palsy of New York, just last month.  The sold out event which attracted 600 attendees honored Lauren Bush from the FEED Foundation and Petra Nemcova from the Happy Hearts Foundation just to name a few.  UCP NY is the leading non-profit agency in the city providing of services for children and adults with cerebral palsy and other disabilities.  All of their programs work towards their mission of creating opportunities for people with disabilities to live independent and fulfilling lives for the past 65 years.  I know I take my independence for granted pretty much daily, so I’m thankful for this jarring reminder that not everyone has that luxury.

Ivanka performing miracles on Madison Avenue

The Children’s Aid Society Donation

United Cerebral Palsy New York Donation

So here’s to you Ivanka Trump!  You are sassy, beautiful, intelligent, and a true role “model” for young and not-so-young women alike.  You have proven to us out here in the real world that is possible to have it all if you work hard and keep your priorities in line.  You make sure you play your trump card when it really counts, especially when it’s for a charity.

Week 25-Celebrity Apprentice, Day 3-Donald Trump

The Donald

Let’s face it, there would be no Celebrity Apprentice without The Donald.  He falls into the category with Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Steve Case who all have more money than they could ever spend in a lifetime.  What I like about all these gentlemen is that they have taken their fortune and turned it into a future for others.  They could have bought a gazillion Ferraris or hid money all around their houses but instead they decided other there were other people around the world that needed it more than them.  Sure Mr. Trump is controversial in more ways than I really feel like typing but no one could ever say he isn’t a charitable man.  Thank goodness for small favors.

There are multiple charities that Donald and his little money-making heirs support but one of my favorites is Girl Up campaign of the United Nations Foundation.  GU is for girls and by girls to help some of the world’s hardest-to-reach-adolescent girls.  GU gives American girls a place to channel their energy and passion and raise awareness and funds for girls their age.  Women is the United States have been empowered and enlightened for year thanks to our bra-burning grandmothers, but girls in developing countries still struggle to go to school, be seen by a doctor, or be a voice in their communities.  You can give a Malawi girl a “high-five” by donating $5, which is enough money to pay for school fees and supplies needed in order for her to finish secondary school.  I may no  longer be an adolescent girl but I remember when I was one, and I would never want another girl’s dreams to be squashed because of where she lives.  Even kids in here in America need a safe haven after school and from the dangers of the world around them.  The Police Athletic Leagueis New York City’s largest independent youth development non-profit that operates a huge list of programs for kids ranging in all from 3 to 19.  Seriously they have almost 20 programs that focus on sports, learning, and giving these urban kids an overall better quality of life.  PAL began way back in 1914 when the NYPD would shut down the streets so unsupervised children could play and be safe, and has evolved into a nation-wide model of how to bring communities and the police together.  I always thought those kids running through the open fire hydrants in the middle of a heat wave in NYC was just fodder for the movies, but I guess not.  Now I’m really jealous.

Is there room for one more big kid?

Girl Up Donation 

Police Athletic League Donation

So here’s to you Donald Trump!  You have an incredibly successful reality TV show, just a couple of towers named after you, a smoking hot wife, and you are pretty much the definition of the American success story.  Your hair, or whatever that is on top of your head, may be your trademark but don’t think your philanthropy is going unnoticed.  Mr. Trump, you’re hired!

Week 23-Emotions, Day 5-Loved

loved past participle, past tense of love (Verb)

1. Feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone): “do you love me?”.

2. Like very much; find pleasure in: “I’d love a cup of tea”; “a fun-loving girl”.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!  Even though I’m not physically spending the day with my Mom she is always in my heart and on my mind.  I could not have dreamed of a better mother.  She taught me so many things that I will never be able to thank her enough for.  She taught me to be responsible, always do my best, and always treats others the way I want to be treated.  In all honestly I have learned a lot from all of the great women in my family.  My grandmothers, aunts, cousins, nieces, and sisters-in-law are all women I look up to in some way.  Even though I’m only a mother to children who have four legs and fur, I still feel so loved today because I know my Mom would do anything she could for me.  Thank you Mommy for being you, and having me.

It's true 🙂

Mothers are often the driving force behind the change that happens in a family.  Mothers4Children is a charity that unites a wide array of women for change, but it’s so much more than that too.  As a mother all you want is a better life for your children.  M4C is a sisterhood of women who are mothers, aunts, godmothers, daughters, and grandmothers that want and believe that ALL children deserve love and the best start in life possible.  M4C also seemed like a perfect charity for today because they were founded on love.  The love a mother has for her child is unconditional and the potential to harness that unwavering love to help transform the lives of children is both powerful and enduring.  Just think about a momma bear with her cubs.  Would you challenge her?  I didn’t think so.  Sometimes mothers have to help other mothers out.  Mothers2Mothers is a charity that helps prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV and support the health of mother and child after both.  HIV can be transmitted during pregnancy, labor, delivery, or breastfeeding, but can be prevented with treatment.  M2M not only treats pregnant women with HIV in Africa, but they also teach them about being a new mother living with HIV.  They provided Mentor Mothers who work with new moms one-on-one and become role models in their community as they earn salaries to support their family.  M2M saves lives and empowers women at the time day.  Happy Mother’s Day indeed!

Mothers4Children Donation

Mothers2Mothers Donation

So here’s to you loved!  You are the feeling that warms our hearts and reassures our minds.  Lots of us feel this way because of our fabulous mothers!  They were the first people to really show us what it means to love without condition or trepidation.  You are the emotion that moves us to create holidays for the invaluable people in our lives.  Thank you for giving us another reason to honor the women who gave us life.

My Mom sent me this today! I feel so loved to know she is always thinking about me!