All I want for Christmas and $25 for my 25th

I rarely ever ask for gifts for Christmas or my birthday. Not because I don't want things, I usually do, but what I want is never anything of value beyond myself; books, CDs, things that I can get myself. Really, what do I need with more stuff? I don't.

But this year I'm asking for something. Something really big. I'm asking for you to help me raise $5,000 to fund a well through charity:water in order to get clean water to 250 people in a village. 250 people! A whole village! An entire well!

Please help me do it.

I turn 25 on 2/18/2010 so I charge you to donate $25. If I can get 200 of the people I know to donate $25 for my birthday or for Christmas I can build this well.

Here is the link for where to go to do it: http://mycharitywater.org/gigen

Please think on it, pray on it, whatever you need to do to find it in your heart and your wallet to help me achieve this goal.


Here We Go Brownies, Here We Go!

I'm sure it is no secret by now that I am a HUGE Browns fan. I LOVE the Cleveland Browns. Have since I was a kid. Even after the [F]Art Modell debacle, I still loved them. (The team, not necessarily the management...Al Lerner was classy. Randy...well...he's got a bit of work to do.) Nevertheless, I think that Cleveland Rocks, the Browns are great (even when they lose) and I will always be a fan, even if I do not live here anymore. (I was when I lived in the UK and Puerto Rico, so why not?!) As I like to say, quite often recently, I am no fair weather fan. My good friend the Colts Fan commented that it is hard to be a fair weather fan in Cleveland when fair weather is few and far between, but, that is a different story. I am no meteorologist. :)

Nevertheless, one of the biggest reasons why I love the Browns is because they are a group of classy guys. Recently, Josh Cribbs walked on the field with his late coach's son, Michael Drake, whose father (Cribbs' former coach Mike Drake) died in 2005 of lymphoma. It was senior night, Michael assumed he would be accompanied on the field by his sister and mother, instead, he was surprised to find Josh Cribbs there to walk with him and give him some last minute advice. Not only was Cribbs overly excited at the opportunity to give something back to the family that took him in when he was at Kent State and the coach who gave him the fundamentals he still plays with today, he wanted to be sure he downplayed his presence there. He was there for the family, not for himself. Not many celebrities are like that. What humility! I think we can all learn a lesson from that: it is not about how many people know the good that you do, it is about the fact that you do it for the sake of doing good.

Aside from Cribbs, many of the other players on the team do incredible things in the local community. They take part in United Way campaigns, they visit children at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, MetroHealth, Cleveland Clinic, etc., they take part in their own foundations to raise money for both our communities and the greater community of our nation, they bring to light important issues that we face in society, and they are determined to make a difference in Cleveland (and its surrounding cities) while they are here. Abe Elam, Joe Thomas, Josh Cribbs, Brett Ratliff, to name a few, have foundations to assist local families and children afford things like school supplies, food, housing, etc., in order to allow them to survive.

The Browns hold a camp for kids each summer where the players get together with kids in the local community and teach them about football and some tough lessons in life. They also did a family day scrimmage this year that allowed some families to see the Browns play (and get autographs - stayed for over an hour past the game!) for free admission.

So, while these guys may not be bringing home the Superbowl rings, I will always be a fan because of their integrity, honesty and dedication to the community and making a difference.

So, to my Browns tonight: go out there and play hard against our former team (the Ravens - boo!), but even more, keep making a difference in my community and the lives of those around you. That example is one that more need to present and I am so very proud that I am a Browns fan because of you. Thank you for making me proud to say that Cleveland Rocks and I love the Browns!


Stranger Living in a Foreign Land

On the eve of my good friend Diana's vacation to visit me in Ohio (from California - she must really like me!), I decided I would take a moment to write about how we met.

On a cold, dusty night, many many years ago....JUST KIDDING! We actually met at Paddock Field Flats in Falmer, Brighton, on campus of the University of Brighton in the UK. I was taking a nap after arriving from my long flight from Cleveland, via Charlotte and London, followed by a train ride, taxi ride, and hike up a hill with my luggage. I found myself alone, scared, unable to connect to either my parents or the outside world, and I was exhausted. So, I did what any young girl would do: I cried myself to sleep. I woke up to voices in my flat, two girls, Diana and Debra. They arrived at the same time and were playing cards in the kitchen. I immediately decided that Diana would be longtime friends: she was wearing a winter coat with the hood up, much like I always do, and had a way about her that told me she was good people I would cherish forever.

I was so very right. From that day on I forged a friendship with one of the most amazing women I have ever met. One of the kindest, sweetest, and most intelligent people I could ever know. Ms. Diana is such a blessing in my life in more ways than one. Just 2 weeks after I met her, my grandmother died. I was heartbroken. Lost. All I wanted to do was go home, but that was not an option. Through my grief I forged relationships with the people I was with that I cannot ever replace.

Chrystal was right by my side after I screamed (well, more like wailed), and just sat there with her hand on my shoulder until I could get the words out to tell her what happened. Megan, Megan and Jared decided I could not sleep alone that night and contrived a way to sleep in my room with me so I would not be alone. They're still with me in my heart every time I close my eyes and remember that night. Day after day, Diana was there with me to remind me that there were things I needed to do. I needed to visit Paris, Scotland, Ireland, Bath, and so many more places. She reminded me that I needed to keep moving not only for my sake, but for my grandmother's memory. This love and friendship I will cherish forever.

Diana and I did almost everything together when we lived in Brighton. We did laundry together, ate at the same pub every Sunday for the roast (what I miss most!), travelled together, read the same books, drank the same Strongbow, and so many other things. She was my ally, my rock, my friend and I cannot ever thank her enough for that.

Once we came home, it was the internet that kept us together. Facebook, Twitter, and email. These were the ways we kept in touch. Occasional phone calls/texts were special treats (3 hour time difference makes random phone calls difficult to arrange). When I went to visit my brother a couple summers ago, she came down to see me. Now, she's coming out for a vacation in beautiful, scenic, chilly Ohio! :)

Had I not gone to England to further my education, I would not have these wonderful people (and others who were not mentioned in this short story) in my life. Whenever I talk to students bound for college, I always tell them "MAKE SURE YOU STUDY ABROAD!!" I tell them to take every opportunity to experience the world as they possibly can. I want them to go everywhere, do everything that they can while they're young so that when they get done with college, they have those experiences and those relationships to go forward into life with.

When I count my blessings, I count the people I shared this portion of my life with. I am so lucky that I have Sam and Stu and their new adventures with baby Reid. I am so lucky that I have Theresa and her new husband Scott. I am blessed to have Diana and her trips to visit (that someday I will be able to go on myself to see her). I am so lucky to have Shelby, Jared, Megan, Megan, Misha, Julie, Alina, Constance (bless her), Kirsten, Kaylin (Diana's BFF who visited us while we were there), Matt, Joel, Jackie (from studying in PR), Debbie (from PR too), B. Sue (PR), Josefina (PR), and so many others from my adventures abroad.

So what I hope you draw from this quip is that when you get the chance, go for it. Don't think twice. Take every opportunity. Live for it! I did, and I am ever so grateful that I did.


What propels you?

I'm sure you've all noticed that a number of banners have appeared on this blog. These banners are helpful for the word to get out about a number of issues in the world, a number of issues which I take personal interest. These are: lack of water in the world (charity: water), capital punishment (Amnesty International), the shoeless (TOMS Shoes), and poverty and injustice in the world (Oxfam International).

It's important for me to remember that there are things in this world bigger than me. It keeps me grounded. Reminds me that there are things to do, people to help, problems to solve, and to stay humble. I am ever so grateful for the luxuries I access in my daily life. As tough as it can be to struggle with debt and wanting to make life better for myself, I have to remember that there are people out there who live on less than $.25 a day. Who don't drink water that is safe. Who don't know what it's like to eat in a restaurant (let alone eat that AMAZING salmon my brother and new sister had at their wedding reception!). This is what propels me. I only hope that it does the same for you.

Please remember that as difficult as it is here to live without health coverage or with minimal coverage (trust me, I know, I pay out the wazoo for limited coverage each month and still don't get what I need), there are people in this world who don't know what it is like to see a doctor at all. Yes, our country is struggling in many ways, but we also have a strong tie that binds us together: our patriotism. Our common heritage brings us together when we are at our worst and best. Not everyone in the globe has that luxury.

charity: water
Amnesty International
Oxfam International
TOMS Shoes


My Apologies

My apologies, all, for not being very good about updating. Things in life around here have been just plain NUTS!

I've been working crazy hours trying to pay the bills, been working hard to try and get a raise to earn more bucks to pay the bills, and we've been having some serious life-changing events happen in our family.

Lots of good, some not so good. All of it is bringing us insight into ourselves and others.

I hope you are all well and I promise I'll do my best to be better about updating. :) I KNOW you miss reading my little quips about the state of the world.

Much love...

A Solid Part of the Surface of the Earth

Land. A simple word yet it holds so much emphasis. Defined as, “a solid part of the surface of the earth.” When I think of land, though, I think of home. I think of that place where the water runs cold out of the tap until the pipe clears. I think of that place where no matter how sick you are, it is always the best place to be. I think of that place where it does not matter who you are, because when you are there, you are perfect, loved, flawless, and happy. I think of that place that I cannot wait to get to every day when I am tired from working. Home. Land. I love the sound of these words. My land is borrowed from my parents; it has a house, a garage, a deck, a porch and a clothesline where I have hung clothes to dry for over 20 years. I was raised on this land, in this home, and even though I live there alone now, I still hear the echoes of their voices in the walls. I realize the great blessing I have because some people do not have land or a home; I have both. However, every time I trim my rosebush or dig in the dirt with my niece, I am reminded of how grateful I am to have this land and that home. I only wish that I could give my kind of land to the rest of the world.