Friday, August 29, 2014

How a Mom lets her girl go off to college

Post by Carolyn Roche for the Love for Love series.

image courtesy of CandTCustomLures on

Driving through the streets of South Philly, my heart is pounding with excitement and dread. The buildings are searching the sky to be noticed among the hovering clouds and thin line of smog. The car is packed to maximum capacity. More than a pay checks worth of Pop Tarts, shower gel and printer ink, obscure the tops of boxes and bags near the rear hatch. If the door was to open here on Broad Street, Oodles of Noodles and a large tub of Gold Fish would smash to the ground, trailing behind us a yellow brick road. Home has never felt so far away. As my daughter sets off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of college.

I imagine my Dorothy, standing in her mismatched pajamas before the Great and Powerful Oz. (Who is in fact the Dean) “AND WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE LITTLE GIRL?” His voice is loud and deep and she shutters a little. “I would like a degree in something, please?” She is 18 years old and holds before him a huge sack of cash, around $19,000. She walks to him, shaking and scared. She hands him the bag and steps politely back into place. He smiles, like the Grinch and points to a door and says, “GO! Find yourself! Come back in a few months with more cash and in four years I will give you a degree, in something.” Then “POOF”! She is in a little, blue checkered dress and ruby shoes. She goes skipping off into the Emerald City. Never looking back, never thinking even once… “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”

At 1:30 a.m. my phone vibrates on the dresser beside my bed. I hear it, but it doesn’t register. Then in an instant, anxiety and fear wake me up. “Hey,” my voice is groggy. I know it is Dorothy; caller ID. I hear muffled sobs and sniffles and I can tell she is crying. I snap WIDE awake, “Are you O.K?” That question snaps my husband WIDE awake, “What’s wrong?” His voice alarmed. “I’m scared. I don’t know if I can do this?” Panic and worry cross the miles between us and I want nothing more than for her to be in her bedroom, just across the hall, so I can hug her. My little girl is in the big, creepy city, alone. My heart just wants to go back in time, about 15 years, to when she would crawl in my bed scared of the dark. Although I am just as afraid as she is, I pretend everything fine. It takes some coaxing but soon she calms down and feels better. I tell her she can do it. This is so exciting! She will make many friends. On her new path she will find classmates like the Tin Man; who are kind and the lion; who are nervous. But most of all, she will discover other Scarecrows’ like herself. The bright students, with big brain, that are driven to succeed. We whisper on the phone for a long time in the darkness. Dad falls back to sleep and we are all close together in heart and mind. When we hang up she sounds more relaxed. I however, lie awake knowing while she is away, I will never really sleep soundly again. How can I ever let her go, she still needs me so much? How do I live without a person I have seen and cared for every day, for the past 18 years?

I began by staying busy. I volunteered for everything. Though I thought of her constantly and worried day and night, staying occupied was an outstanding distraction.

I did random acts of kindness. Everyone recognizes helping others and doing kind deeds makes you feel good. So I gave blood. I baked her cookies and sent some to her boyfriend and also to a friends’ son, stationed in the military.

I joined the Sunshine Club at work. They make the work place fun and enjoyable.

I found a women’s club and set off to go to meetings once a month.

I went to my religious group and prayed for peace in the world. We also did charity drives and events for the community.

I started loving and taking better care of my pets. I spent more time with my parents. I invited them to dinner once a month and called them every day.

I went to the library and got books on things I always wanted to learn about, such as Mount Everest and cooking with Tofu.

I began to perceive my future differently. Instead of existing tied up in the role of Mom, with football games, car-pooling and proms, I focused on life outside of being Mom. More centered on living as a woman and finding balance between family and the world around me.

Six months following everyone has adjusted beautifully to Dorothy’s new life. We Face-Time often and it is the perfect fix when I really miss her. When she does come home it’s a tornado of happiness and laundry. She shares accounts of her accomplishments and letdowns, at the Emerald City. I listen in awe, as the pint-sized girl, who handed over the big bag of money, is now a fearless young woman. She has unearthed her way, changed her major and formed many friendships.

Next year she is even moving off campus! Naturally, when I first heard this it felt like someone dropped a house on me. But Dorothy, with the Tin Man (Crystal) the Lion (Nilam) and the Scarecrow, (Megan) took my hand, walked me down Broad Street, and showed me it would be fine. They found a new place to call home-sweet-home, just over the rainbow.

Carolyn was features editor for her college paper and has a journalism degree. She is a full-time school bus driver. Being on the bus allows her witness kindness in the hearts of children, everyday. 
Writing is her hobby, along with yoga, Reiki Healing and health & wellness of the body & mind. 
Carolyn thinks life is for learning and loving - all you possibly can.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Conscious, Compassionate Consumption

Post by Allie Sheetz for the Love for Love series.

image courtesy of Stéphanie Ruchaud on

I was raised by a woman whom I considered to be the hippiest, dippiest, loon of a mother, who was, on all counts, without a doubt, of course, embarrassing. And, of course, she never missed a chance to peacock her eccentricities in public.

Case in point: any and all trips to the drug store, Target, back to school shopping (!!), were made with (and only with) a very special little card in hand. No, I’m not talking about an AmEx card, or a Target card, although that was probably there too. I’m talking about a laminated list of all the companies who do animal testing (FRONT AND BACK!). And you bet your bippy all purchases were checked to said list.

Trips to Target would consist of me sneaking off to gather my bounty, meeting at the checkout and surreptitiously sliding my bottle of Pink Grapefruit Volumizing Shine Herbal Essences shampoo into the shopping cart right at the last minute… only for it to be intercepted in broad view of the sales clerk (totally embarrassing). “What is this doing here? No. Absolutely not. It’s animal testing! Put it back.” Done and done.

But it smelled so juicy sweet, and look how silky and bouncy her hair looks! It’s my only hope of taming this chia pet sprouting from my head. What’s one bottle gonna hurt?

To poor, awkward, pubescent me, the only thing I knew about the laws of Supply and Demand were that, by law (as mandated by the parentals), if I demanded anything, I sure as hell would be supplied with a grounding sentence. Of course I squeemed at the thought of bunnies having shampoo injected in their eyes to see how painful it might be for humans, but what difference is it going to make if I buy this ONE bottle? The damage has already been done, it’s on the market.

But of course – of course – it matters. It all matters. And it wasn’t until years later, when (ironically), I had the freedom to drive and buy whatever products I wanted with my own dollar that I realized just how much it all mattered. Buying that one tube of toothpaste, or that ballpoint pen, or those disinfecting wipes, it all says to those companies “Yes! More of this please!” and more animals end up paying the ultimate price. But if I – even little, tiny, insignificant me, in a world of 7 billion – choose the alternative, the cruelty-free product, that sends a message too.

Now, I’m not here to harangue you with gruesome PETA videos – anyone with a live Facebook feed has undoubtedly caught glimpses of those. Plus, I refuse to watch them myself, so why would I ask you to? No, no. None of that here. But I do think it’s important we realize the repercussions of our choices as consumers. It’s a cliché because it’s true: Every Dollar Counts!

I’m not sure when the switch flipped for me exactly, but nowadays all my shopping is done with that tiny check being made before anything else. And that little laminated list? It was etched in my memory years ago.

But for those of you just starting on this journey, this transition to more conscious consumerhood, there’s all kinds of help out there. For starters, here is a complete list of all companies who DO still test. But if that seems overwhelming for you, check out the flipside of companies who DO NOT.

I’m not asking you to print out either list, laminate it and carry it with you everywhere you go (but kudos if you do!!). And of course all of this takes some training and rewiring. Flip the package over, scan the back for the tiny scrawled print “DOES NOT TEST ON ANIMALS”…. but sometimes that’s not enough. You see, a lot of companies will cheat and say that they didn’t test the product on animals, but their parent company may have. So you have to look for the “owned by _______” as well – maybe THEY do animal testing. It might sound complicated, but they’ve made it easy to remember who does and who doesn’t because pretty much all the big guys DO. Proctor & Gamble? Johnson & Johnson? Pfizer? All currently do testing. Now, this obviously narrows your choices a bit, but thankfully, more and more companies are opting to be cruelty-free and usually display it with some kind of logo. Here are two common ones to look out for:


To me, animal testing is animal testing, whether it’s on a rat, a bunny or a beagle (bred and used specifically because of their friendly and forgiving demeanor), but more and more truths are being revealed about the horrors of testing all the time. On the bright side, as these atrocities are coming to light, so are organizations devoted to stopping them (see The Beagle Freedom Project). And you can help too! Every day and with every dollar. Vote with your dollar. Vote for the voiceless.

Allie is the heart & creator behind Allie’s Grandola, specializing in the fine art of oats & nuts. She sells her handmade, gluten-free and vegan granola at
In her free time, she blogs over at her tumblr, Detached and Connected, where she shares her journey of dreaming big and letting go… along with a tasty recipe or two. Her deep love and compassion for animals are evident in her cruelty-free recipes and vegan lifestyle.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

You’re a Solopreneur. But Are You a Good Boss?

Post by Heather Rees for the Kindness in Business series.

Good Boss Bad Boss mugs available from BehindTheHiddenDoor on Etsy

Entrepreneurs and business owners are notoriously atrocious at taking care of themselves. As we grind toward our ever elusive goal of “success” we put aside our present well-being in favor of a future promise of something greater. 

We sit at our desks tip-tapping away at the keys for long hours or running frantically from one activity to the next – or ping ponging between the two all week long. We do this from sun up to sun down and after a while, we just can’t go on. We must stop. And so, like race car drivers on a track, we pull into a pit stop to make adjustments, fill the tank and go. We give ourselves the needed refueling all for the purpose of gunning the engine at the next opportunity and keep going – fast.

Instead of tire rotators, engine inspectors and gas refuelers we hire massage therapists, acupuncturists, head shrinks and a bevy of ladies at the nail salon to do the job for us. Once the paint is dried (sometimes even before!) and we feel just this side of rejuvenated, we’re back to work and at it again.

Now imagine that instead of working for yourself, you work for an employer. And imagine that the employer treated you like this race car driver – pushing you to your breaking point only to provide last minute relief just long enough to get you ready to go again. On and on this went: Racing forward, pushing hard, stopping only for temporary checks and adjustments.

Would you last long there? Probably not. Why? Because this is not kind. This is not humane.

You would rebel against it. Resent it. Complain about it to your friends as you guzzled wine to round the edges. And you would be planning your escape.

So why is it ok for entrepreneurs and business owners to treat ourselves this way?

Plainly, it’s not.

Let’s decide right now – right now – to stop being unkind. The future is not guaranteed and it is important to treat yourself well today.

There is no need to swing into dramatics to begin the practice of kindness to ourselves. No need to move to a village in Tahiti to make grass baskets. The most profound kindness is often found in the small gestures.

So, in like form, think small. Think in manageable chunks.

Below are a few ways you can adjust your environment, your attitude and your workflow to shift yourself toward kindness:


1. Lighting
Good lighting is incredibly important for regulating your mood. Bad lighting can cause fatigue, eyestrain, headaches and general irritability. Why do that to yourself? Open the windows. Buy a lamp. Change the overhead fixture so it diffuses light in a way that pleases you.

2. Room temperature
Studies have shown that while most office environments keep the room temperature between 65-68 degrees Fahrenheit, we are actually more at ease and more productive when it’s between 70-73 degrees. So, warm it up, love! In the warmer months, open the doors and windows to let fresh air in, too.

3. Aromatherapy
Scents have long been known to illicit immediate reaction and mood changes. You can use this to your advantage by keeping essential oils, scented candles or incense in your office. If you work around other people, carry a handkerchief or cotton balls to dab essential oil onto and smell throughout the day.

Lavender – helps to relax and distress
Peppermint – used as an energizer general mood booster
Citrus (any) – makes you more alert and lifts the mood


1. See Beauty
Look up right now and find 3 beautiful things in front of you. Even if you’re in a cloth-covered cubicle beneath fluorescent lights, there are magnificent things before you: the color of your nail polish, the face of a loved one pinned to your wall, the highlights in your colleague’s hair.

See them, and really see them. Take several moments to appreciate. This practice shifts the brain from feeling retracted and tense to soft and more appreciative.

2. Stand Up and Stretch
If you start to feel stressed or tense, just stand up. Move your limbs. Stretch from side to side. Roll your neck. Movement moves the blood and sends new oxygen to previously stagnant areas of your body. What moves the body moves your mind.

3. Self Massage
If standing up and stretching or moving is out of the question, give yourself a 1-minute shoulder and neck massage. Massage your hands, calves and lower back. As you do it breath deeply and let the oxygen move the toxins out and fresh air and blood in.


1. Tidy Up
Keeping your work space clean and clutter-free isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when many people think of kindness, but know this: Tidiness is kind to your brain. When things aren’t lying about they aren’t distracting us. Being kind is also removing distraction and obstacles from a free and easy flow.

2. Work Intervals
Our brains aren’t designed to stay focused for 8+ hours a day. In fact, lots of people suggest working in 25 minute intervals. The Pomodoro Technique is one of the most popular methods to enhancing concentration by giving breaks after every interval. Those 5 minutes might be the kindest, most important, thing you do for yourself all day.

3. Chunked Time
When you plan your day, plan how long you’ll spend on each task and chunk it together. If you’re juggling multiple projects or priorities, give each task at least an hour of uninterrupted time. It’s less stressful and more likely to aid you in completing the task quickly and with minimal drama. Now that’s kind.

So whether it is through your environment, your attitude, or your workflow (or all three!) lean into kindness. Because in the end, we all like working for nice bosses.

Heather Rees is a career coach and creative startup strategist. Drawing on a varied career and experience with dozens of startups, Heather helps clients craft the career that they want most by finding the common thread that ties your career together and/or start a side gig. Download Top 10 Career Fears or join her career group on Facebook.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

spin your story: Life's lessons

Guest post by Laurainne Marshall

Life's lessons

Last time I wrote a piece here it was about "My Journey of Music"

Well today .........the story continues but a different spin

Over the last 2 years I have learnt so many of life's lessons and it is only really now that I can look back and say that all the "stuff" I was in the middle of - was just that "Life's Lessons".

When we are right in the middle of catastrophes and what I like to call "The yuk" a strong smokey haze just covers and hides any hint of positive and you feel like you are never going to sift through the garbage.

So I am going to share with you the life's lessons I learnt - Some harder than others and most taken like a bad cough syrup - With that sour face :)

First life lesson - Friendship takes many forms
Over my time and as I get older I have come to value those friends that are good for me. A couple of years ago I met someone who I thought was going to be a lifelong friend, and during the early stages of this friendship it seemed perfect. They shared the same interests, they shared the same issues I was having, they even assimilated into my immediate and extended families with them befriending many of my close friends and family along the way.

But as time went on I started to see them for who they were, they were friends with me to suck the life out of me and manipulate and control. A friendship parasite or predator. Suffice to say when the friendship ended I blamed myself.....But the truth is it wasn't about that.

So here is the first life lesson, look after and be grateful for those friendships that nurture you and never take them for granted. Pick the phone up, send a text, but let them know they mean the world to you.

Interestingly enough I have now had others come into my life - And they are much better for my soul :):)

Second Life Lesson - Perfection is right under your nose
I have been with my husband since I was 17. And for many years people would take bets on how quickly it would end. You see, we are yin and yang. He is the stability to my craziness, the rationality to my illogical nature and most of all the left brain to my right. I am sad to say - I took my partner for granted. You see he is always quietly walking beside me, always ready to pick up the pieces when I hit a brick wall. I will never take him for granted again and more importantly never compare myself and us to anyone else.

Third Life Lesson - Life is short
2 years ago I lost a friend to cancer. I threw myself and my little family in the thick of it, supporting where I could. And we wore that many many months after. My son who has a severe anxiety disorder took a very long time to come to terms with the fact that I was going to be around for as long as I could. Death is never easy for anyone to come to terms with - particularly a little person.

So my life lesson here is "Grab life and run", live in the moment don't look back.  You can't change the past and the future can always change. A very good friend of mine told me - Live your life like you would like your eulogy said.

Fourth Life Lesson - My Little of family of four.
I am blessed to have a 15 year old and 10 year old. 4 miscarriages throughout and a Dr that said I would never have kids (Don't tell me I cant do something) and so many years later we have the complete little family.

What I learnt here is how important they are to me. I often throw myself and us into all kids of things - Mainly to help others. But there are times I need to stop and look after them and me. I need to protect, nurture and encourage these 3 beautiful souls.......I am so blessed to have them in my life and learn so many things from them.

Fifth life lesson - My evolution
Well the last 2 years have made me evolve in so many ways.

When I was in the middle of all of this I read so many great works. Maya Angelou, Women Who Run with Wolves - but although I was reading it, I wasn't listening. I was filled with so much negativity and I guess "victim-itis".

I am now a stronger woman. I see what all of this was meant to be - Life lessons to be learnt. The friend I lost, I don't hate him, in fact, I am grateful for his presence in my life because I now realise what I have.

So many things to be grateful for - and life lessons are one of those.

I am still singing and belting out my tunes, getting in touch with the inner rock goddess. Loving my Size 20 and the big vocals it brings. But loving the fact I can do something I love.....and finally realising it's all about the music nothing else.

I can do anything I put my mind to.....more than that.........I am blessed with a beautiful life filled with so many riches.

Namaste friends.


Laurainne Marshall is a 43 year old Mum, Teacher and Muso who lives in Sydney, Australia. 
She is constantly in search of spiritual awareness and happiness and her motto.....grab life and run.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Use what talents you possess

photo by Jenny Ingalls Nelson

I simply had to choose this quote for this week since it's so relevant to an upcoming event in my life! First, a little background.

Hubbs and I had a very small wedding (47 people). It was lovely and intimate and exactly what we wanted. About a year into our marriage, we were talking about maybe having a party over Labor Day Weekend. This was something I'd done at various homes I'd lived in pre-cohabitation, so I wanted to see if we would continue it together. That year, the Saturday of Labor Day weekend also happened to be our 1st wedding anniversary, and so a tradition was born!

This Saturday (8/30/14) will be the 6th year of our party in our current home. Our friends come, our families come, our neighbors come....and I sing. Am I one of the most talented birds in the forest? Most certainly not, but everyone seems to enjoy the show!

Now, before you start thinking I just stand up in the middle of my back yard and belt out some songs, let me reassure you that my closest friends are very musical, and we've become a bit of a once-a-year, backyard-party sensation! We call ourselves The Dive.

I give you all of this background to illustrate my point. Singing is a talent I've always possessed - from elementary school chorus to a college choir that earned me a trip to England. I've always done it, despite not being professionally trained or on the path to American Idol (before I was too old!). I do it because I love it. I enjoy it. I basically get on stage with a bunch of my closest friends and we make a cover band. It's SO MUCH FUN! I would be sad if I didn't use this talent simply because I'm not the best singer in the group. I still get nervous and microphones make me uncomfortable, but I use the talent I possess.

My bet is that you have a talent you'e not using. Maybe out of fear, maybe it's been too long, maybe you just don't have time. I'd like to challenge you to use that talent this week. Dig it up. Put it out into the world, even if just for a minute. You don't have to be the most talented bird in the forest.

Thank you for being on this journey with me.
❤, Lara

CLICK TO TWEET today's Monday Motivator: Use what talents you possess.  

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Disconnected Apology

The letter never made it
Carvings from the pencil
Deep rites of desperation
Written by a steady hand
With firm grip
But no control over emotions
It was an apology
After years of disconnection from
Being a human
Years of trying to create an animal
Out of his wife,
An obedient one
The apology was written
But never made it there
Years of living in the pressence of a beast
Had made her wear her skin on the inside,
it was better not to have a face to share her fear with
Disconnection from herself
To stay “safe”
But she never made it
One step was enough
Angel wings already
Water surface was calm
As she dissapeared further down
Into the darkness Above her head
A piece of paper floated
With carvings from a pencil
Steady hands
The apology floated
Inscribed into the water surface
Above her head
But they never made it there

Espen Stenersrød is a Norwegian writer and poet from Oslo. With two poetry collections behind him (Diary of poet,2012 and Lifecycle in Nihighnigma, 2013) he is now working on a novel and a new poetry collection. His poetry has been described as unique, attention grabbing and memorable. Espen enjoys writing deep, insightful poetry that examines the human condition from both a modern and universal perspective, balancing between hope and beauty and darkness and mystery.
Check out his website and buy his poetry collections on Amazon 
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