On Prejudices and Infertility

Day 27:  Today, I am thinking prejudice and discrimination after reading “My Life as a White Hispanic:  Prejudice Comes From All Sides.” Written by Kimberly Helminski Keller on her blog, Roadkill Goldfish, it is an incredibly thoughtful account of her life as a multiracial individual.  She is both Polish and Puerto Rican and has never fit neatly into either culture, yet both are important to her identity.  I will not attempt to tell her story – she tells it eloquently and I would only butcher it.  But I will ask you to go read it yourself.  As for me, I am white.  My husband is white.  My kids are white.  I have never known how it feels for myself or a family member to be a target of discrimination based on race or ethnicity.   And yet, I know how frequently individuals experience discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and age.   I believe, like Martin Luther King, Jr, that people should be judged, not on the color of their skin (or ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation), but “by the content of their character.” I try to live my life by this creed and I hope that I am teaching my children to do the same.  I wrote recently about a time that my oldest daughter pointed at a girl on the playground and said, “Hey Mom!  Look!  Her skin is brown.”  It was really uncomfortable for a second, but then I realized that this represented an opportunity for me as mom.  This was a teachable moment.  I seized the moment and responded, “Yes Josie.  That’s what is beautiful about people.  We come in all different skin colors.  Isn’t that wonderful?  The world would be a really boring place if we all looked the same and spoke the same language and dressed the same, don’t you think?”  And she responded with a simple, “Yep,” and then ran off to play with the little girl.  How we respond as parents in the moments when race or ethnicity or any other “difference” is raised will help shape our children’s perspectives for years to come.   I’ll leave you with a quote from the song Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, “I might not be the same but that’s not important; No freedom til we’re equal; Damn right I support it.”  It’s a powerful song, with a powerful anti-discrimination message.  And, for the record, yes, I support marriage equality too.

 

 

Belly of a woman in her 34th week of pregnancy.

Belly of a woman in her 34th week of pregnancy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Day 28: I am one of those women who really enjoyed being pregnant.  I embraced the changes in my body and focused on the miracle that was happening inside my belly.  It still astounds me that I grew 2 little human beings inside of me and that they are thriving, healthy children today.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again:  The human body is remarkable.  As I think about my pregnancies, I am so thankful that I was able to experience this miracle without incredible difficulty.  We were fortunate enough to get pregnant quickly once we set our minds to it and engaged the help of an ovulation detector.  Sure, we’d been trying for our first for some time, but we were just having fun trying.  When it came to the point that we were really trying,  it happened in the first month and actually caught us by surprise.  The second time around, it was a bit harder, which, again, caught us by surprise.  I incorrectly assumed since it happened so quickly the first time, it would be easy the second time too.  It took 9 months of trying to conceive our 2nd daughter.  After 3 months, I started charting my fertility which entailed taking my temperature with a special thermometer every morning before I moved out of bed and using ovulation prediction kits, among other things.  By 6 months I had visited my doctor and shared my charts which showed there might be an issue.  Then I had a chemical pregnancy.  Pregnant one day and bleeding the next.  After that, I started on a progesterone supplement after I ovulated and, finally, Lily was conceived.  It felt like forever to get to that day, but that is just a drop in the bucket compared to the experience of millions of other women.  According to the CDC, 10.9%, or 6.7 million women ages 15-44 have an impaired ability to get pregnant or carry a baby to term.  That’s why, when I read IVF Made Me a Better Person at Teacher to Mum, I felt compelled to share it.  The infertility journey is a mystery to many of us, and an intense and often isolating journey for mother and father to be.  This post, written years after a successful IVF cycle, provides insight into the journey and hope for those in the midst of struggling with infertility.  To some, infertility is stigmatized.  It is not something to talk about.  It is a secretive process.  But I think the women and men who do anything within their power to have a child are courageous, inspiring and should be celebrated.   Let’s talk about this openly.  Let’s make it easier and more affordable for couples who desperately want to be parents to achieve pregnancy.  Let’s give these couples a chance to love a child.  Visit Resolve, The National Infertility Association to learn more about how to support the Family Act.  Introduced in May, The Family Act of 2013, (S 881/HR 1851) will help thousands of people access medical treatment for infertility that otherwise would be out of reach for them due to lack of insurance coverage. RESOLVE supports this bill and needs your help getting this bill passed and made into a law.  You can quickly send a message to your Senators and Congressmen from this page.

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On Golf, Homelessness and Forever Homes

I am quite behind on my Do Good Summer Reading Challenge posts.  I could offer up an excuse about my kids being sick or my computer crashing, but in reality, I was simply enjoying my time with my family.   On Wednesday, my mom and I saw Once on Broadway.  Seeing a live performance is always fun, but this was made much more special because we know the little girl who played Ivanka. Thursday, we relaxed and played as a family.  Friday we jumped waves and floated on a lazy river at a water park.  The long holiday weekend culminated with fireworks on the Delaware River tonight.  It has been busy and this blog has been neglected, but I am going to make up for it in the next couple days.  Here’s a start:

 

Day 8: You may not know that I enjoy golfing.  My husband trained me to be his golf partner and it is one of our favorite things to do together.  I was out on the golf course when I was 5 1/2 months pregnant with Josie and I am pretty sure it was the best golf I ever played.  We don’t get to play nearly enough, but I envision us getting back to it now that we are done making babies.   So, today, when I encountered Now On The First Tee via the WordPress Reader, I was intrigued.  And then I read the post 5 months… which led me to the very first post This is Why.  What I found was a young man, passionate about the sport of golf who is dealing with the loss of his father.  This young man is following his dream of playing on the professional circuit and doing it not only for himself, but also for his father.  I am rooting for him.

Day 9:  Wow!  Talk about an inspiration!  The blogger I discovered today actually found me in two ways.  He followed my blog and he was also nominated for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award by Miss Happy Spirits.  To be honest, I am not really sure what took me so long to make my way over there.  Dennis Cardiff’s blog, Gotta Find A Home, is a tremendous example of how one person can make a difference.  By connecting with those who live on the street and sharing their stories via his blog, he humanizes them and calls attention to the plight of homeless individuals everywhere.   Through his blog, I am inspired to seek out ways to address homelessness in my region.  Project HOME is a well-known agency that provides an array of services to the Philadelphia homeless population.  According to their website, on any given day, it is estimated that there are 4,000 homeless people in the city.   Further, in 2005, the City’s Office of Emergency Shelter and Services served 14,986 homeless people through its emergency shelter system. Of this number, 9,468 were adults without children, 2,011 were heads of households, and 3,507 were children.  It is mind boggling to me that 3,500 children experienced homelessness in one year.   Project HOME is on my list of charities that need my help, be it financial or a gift of my time by volunteering.  If you are in the Philadelphia area and are interested in volunteering, Project HOME has an extensive list of opportunities.  At the very least, next time you encounter a homeless individual, be kind.  In the words of Lucius Annaeus Seneca, “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.”

English: A homeless man in New York with the A...

English: A homeless man in New York with the American flag in the background. Français : Un homme sans domicile fixe à New York. Un drapeau des États-Unis est visible en arrière plan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Day 10:  Today,  I walked down memory lane with Tric at My thoughts on a page. She wrote a beautiful post, The tales a house could tell, about revisiting her childhood home, the home in which her parents still live.  It is at once emotional, humorous and thought-provoking and I immediately felt a connection to it.   You see, my family (The Hubs and The Girls) moved in with my mom in August 2012, into the home in which I was raised from birth.  My husband and I are sleeping in the bedroom I inhabited from birth through high school graduation.  It no longer has the orange shag carpets of my nursery decor, or the mauve walls and pink carpet of my tween and teen years, thankfully.  But it does hold loads of memories, though many of them have faded and I am somewhat surprised by how many details I cannot remember.  I suppose that happens with time, but now I wish I had been better at keeping a journal or scrapbook of those years.  Now, I am making new memories in this “forever home” with my family by my side.  Where I used to see my brother’s room, I now see the girls’ room, the room in which Lily first climbed out of her crib and earned her toddler bed.   When I look outside, I see the driveway where Josie learned to ride her bike and the sidewalk where Lily got her first scraped knee.    Our time here is special.  It is full of memories and milestones and I know how lucky I am to be able to return to this home of my youth.  I hope someday to settle in a house that my children will be proud to visit as adults with their families, a home that will always be their “forever home.”

Shop Small. Buy Local. Do Good.

A few weeks ago I visited Linvilla Orchards, a kind of wonderland in the world of farm markets.  In addition to fresh, homegrown produce, fresh baked goods and locally produced products, they have an array of family activities that keep the children happy while visiting the farm.  My girls loved the train ride, petting zoo and playground and were totally tuckered out by the time we left.  While buying our goodies on our way out, my eyes were drawn to the Buy Fresh, Buy Local signage that was hanging all around the market.

BuyFreshBuyLocal

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Buy Local movement lately and this was just the push I needed to look into it further.  You see, though I have heard a variety of campaigns that push consumers to Buy Local, I never really paid attention to the reasons behind the campaigns.  Instinctively, it just seems “right” to buy from small, local businesses, but how do these campaigns compel you to do so?

The Buy Fresh Buy Local program’s goal is to make it easier for consumers to find, choose, and appreciate great local foods while supporting the farmers and lands that produce them.  If a store, restaurant or market features a Buy Fresh Buy Local® sign or label, the consumer can be certain that the business has committed to feature local foods and support local producers.  This is one of many programs across the nation that encourage consumers to purchase locally grown and produced foods.  Consumers who patronize local farm markets or restaurants that utilize local foods are directly supporting the local agriculture community.  Further, consumers who buy local produce are reducing their carbon footprint because locally grown fruits and vegetables require far less transportation than those shipped in from great distances.  So, get out there and buy some local produce.   I prefer farm markets or CSAs, but you can also shop the “Buy Local” section of your grocery store and support the movement too.

Shop Small

Shop Small (Photo credit: afagen)

The Buy Local movement stretches well beyond agriculture though and encompasses small business in general.  I’m sure you’ve heard of Small Business Saturday. Conceived by American Express in 2010, it is a “shopping holiday” on the equivalent of Black Friday for big box retailers and Cyber Monday for e-commerce retailers.   Small Business Saturday’s purpose is to drive consumers to local business in an effort to help stimulate the local economy.  Small Business Saturday has morphed into a Shop Small movement that encourages local shopping all year round (though I am sure there will still be a push for that Saturday after Thanksgiving.)   This makes sense.  After all, these businesses need to pay their employees and keep the lights on throughout the year, not just during the shopping season.

Still, I wanted some cold hard facts about why this is an important movement to get behind.  Here is what I found on ELocal.

– Throughout the United States, only about 33.6% of the revenue from national chains is reinvested into the community, which is very low compared to the 64.8% return from local businesses. (2009)

– A study in Austin, Texas found that $100 spent at a local bookstore produced $45 worth of local economic activity, and $100 at the chain store Borders brought back only $13.

– National chains often bring loss of employment. The opening of a Wal-Mart reduces retail employment by an average of 150 jobs in the county of its location.

– If the people of an average American city were to shift 10% of their spending from chains to local businesses, it would bring an additional $235 million per year to the community’s economy.

These numbers are pretty compelling.  Small businesses create local jobs.  Small businesses return more money to the local economy than larger chain retailers.  Small businesses are more likely to be active members of the community, supporting local causes and participating in local events.  And, in patronizing small businesses, you are supporting your neighbors who work there or the family that owns it.  Shop Small.  Buy Local. Do Good.   Now that is a campaign I can get behind.

How does small business fit into your life?  Do you work for one?  Shop at one?  Tell me about it!

Pick Up a Ghabit

Light switch in the bathroom

Light switch in the bathroom (Photo credit: anotherpioneer)

Pick Up a Ghabit: Ghabit is short for Green Habit and is the creation of Milesh Jain, aka Dr. Ghabit. I love this concept of empowering children to be active participants in preserving the environment. By simply establishing a habit of turning out the lights upon leaving a room or walking to and from school, your children can be proud that they’ve reduced their carbon footprint and are actively helping the environment. So, get your family together and pick up a Ghabit. Carry a bag on your walks to collect litter, turn off the lights, use less water, walk more and drive less, the possibilities are endless and Mother Earth will thank you.

via Do-Gooder Kids Activities.

Reading Challenge Starts Monday!

final sum read chall

Summer Reading Challenge Rules:

  1. Display the Do Good, Read More Summer Reading Challenge Image on your website and link it back to this post.
  2. Read one blog that you have never visited each day from June 24th – August 18th. Explore other blogging platforms, click on suggested posts, ask others for suggestions – the only rule is that the blog must be “new to you.”
  3. Leave a comment for each of the bloggers whom you have discovered. You can offer support and constructive criticism or share knowledge and ideas.
  4. Share the blogs you have discovered in any way you see fit. Blog daily, compile weekly lists, or write a “This is How I Spent My Summer” post sharing all the links.

Follow these rules and by the end of the summer, you will have connected with 56 new bloggers and your exposure will have grown considerably. Better yet, you will be supporting your fellow writers who, like you, take the time and have the courage to share their thoughts and ideas with world using blogging as their medium.

via Do Good, Read More Summer Reading Challenge.

Marketing Campaigns That Do Good Honored at Cannes

I had a leisurely lunch yesterday at my local Chili’s.  I may be obsessed with their Chicken Enchilada soup, but that is a story for another day.  On this particular day, I picked up the complimentary newspaper, which happened to be a USA Today, and spent a quiet, luxurious half hour reading a newspaper.  What a novelty to feel the crisp newsprint between my fingers and allow my eyes to focus on the small black and white print!  During my all to rare lunch date with the newspaper, I encountered an article titled, “Ads That Make a Difference Honored in Cannes.”  I was intrigued and continued to read the article, and snapped a picture of it to remind myself to look into it further.    Last night, after my girls were snuggled warm in their beds, I looked up the article on the USA Today website and it was so much more vibrant and moving online than in print.  The online version featured videos of some incredible marketing campaigns that made positive impacts on the community and increased business and exposure for the company behind the campaigns.  These campaigns are at the intersection of astute business practices and social goodness.  Take a look at these videos and be inspired.

Samsung’s Bridge of Life campaign helped lower the suicide rate on the Mapo Bridge in Seoul by 77%.

Dela empowered individuals to communicate their feelings and gave them a powerful medium to do so.

Sport Club do Recife harnessed the power of their fans and launched a highly successful “Immortal Fan” campaign to register organ donors in Brazil.

What is your favorite marketing or ad campaign that raised awareness about about a cause or made a positive impact in the community?

Random Act of Kindness Weekly Challenge

I’ve written a lot about kindness towards others – thank a teacher, be polite on the road, leave a big tip, donate blood and the list goes on.   Today I am going to keep it simple and encourage you to focus your kindness inward.   Forgive yourself for yelling at your spouse or kids.  Take care of your body – make a doctors appointment you’ve been putting off, go for a walk, or eat something healthy.  Make a Top Ten list titled “Things I LOVE About Me” and keep it with you for days when you need a boost.   Don’t over complicate it, just do it and acknowledge that you are doing it for YOU.

I love this advice from Fashion Thrill:

FashionThrill-Kindsight

The Challenge:  Be Kind to Yourself

What other ideas do you have for turning your kindness inward?