“The degree of loving is measured by the degree of giving.”
Edwin Louis Cole
As we close out September, I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on all of the ways we model behavior for others. We rush about our days with lists and calendars but what are we doing on those list that inspires those around us?
I am asked regularly about raising philanthropic children and my best answer is usually to practice what you preach. So as we reflect on this back to school month coming to an end, I ask you….what is on your list that inspires others around you?
My guess is that you have someone who is trying to follow in your footsteps.
“Giving yourself some loving attention is not selfish. It is sensible. If you feel loved and cherished–even if it is only by yourself–then you will have more love to give to others, too.”
This week I wanted to circle back to where we began. Talking about giving back to ourselves and making sure that we are remembering to put the mask on our selves first and then our “passengers” second.
As we get ready for another fun fall weekend, remember to take some time for yourself. Just you!
The other day, I mentioned my friend, who has an adult child that is ill. This recent change of events has put her in a role that millions of us find ourselves in each year, becoming a caregiver. Whether it is an aging parent, a sick family member and or everything in between. The question becomes, who cares for the caregiver?
This was a question asked by two friends, Suzanne Mintz and Cindy Fowler, over twenty years ago. The two were discussing their similar roles with Suzanne caring for her husband with MS and Cindy caring for a mother with Parkinson’s. Their conversation led to the realization that there must be others in the same situation. They were right, it turns out that there were 65 million caregivers in this country.
The two made it their mission to provide support to others who may not know how to reach out for help and who did not even know the phrase “family caregiver.” The result was their founding the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) in 1993. “Our original vision was to get information and resources into people’s hands and to let them know they weren’t alone,” according to Fowler. NCFA focused on providing a voice for caregivers that would enable them to speak up and get the help they need.
As Suzanne Mintz recalled: “We wondered why no one seemed to be focused on the fact that helping a loved one with a deteriorating illness had a very real impact on not only the person with the illness, but also on those of us who were primarily responsible for helping them.”
For the celebration of the National Family Caregivers Association 20th anniversary, they renamed their non-profit to the Caregiver Action Network or CAN. These two women took their challenges and turned them into an awareness, a non-profit and a movement to inform each of us that family caregiving is a lifespan issue, not one restricted to the aging community.
They are an inspiration and their newly named organization CAN, simply says it all.
I recently found myself giving great advice to a friend who is running on empty. She has been caring for her adult son who is ill and needless to say her tank is out of fuel. I write each week about giving. Giving of oneself, giving time, sharing talents but I rarely write about giving to your self.
I find it fascinating that we do not think twice about supporting a cause, giving our energy and resources and yet, time and time again we all put ourselves at the bottom of the list. While I do believe and practice the philosophy of “the more you give, the more you receive.” There is a line, a fine one, but it is there. Each of us needs to start looking at that line and knowing what to do when we see it.
That line is our gas tank and if our fuel is running low, then we need to take the resources we need to fill it up before we can begin to give to another. As they say on the plane, put your oxygen mask on yourself first and then on your child. Our giving is no different, we need to make sure that we are at the top of our list so that we can take care of everyone else below.
You give so much too so many, remember to give to yourself….first.
The other day I had lunch with a girlfriend and we began talking about mean girls. No, not the movie but how cruel girls can be to one another, especially young girls. As the mother of sons, I was saddened by this and came upon an amazing and inspiring campaign….one that makes me proud to be a girl and its called The Kind Campaign.
It all began in 2009 when two college girl friends, Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson, who were both affected by female bullying decided to create a documentary, a non-profit, a school program and a movement towards kindness and away from bullying. Their movement is based upon their powerful belief that kindness brings healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl “crime.” Their mission to stop and change this behavior, was a very personal one to both of them.
Molly was bullied in high school, ostracized by a group of girls and felt an incredible loneliness. The bullying Lauren experienced in 7th and 8th grade lead her to avoiding school, failing grades, depression and an eventually a suicide attempt. When Molly and Lauren met at Pepperdine University and began sharing their experiences they knew they were not alone and decided to start with a documentary on the topic, Finding Kind. That film lead to the national tour, the non-profit and now the movement.
Today, Lauren and Molly continue their mission. Their Kind Campaign has been implemented in hundreds of schools across the country. They have Kind Clubs, a Kind Magazine that features powerful stories of Kindness and even a place on their site to apologize or spread some Kindness. Two girls who took their pain and turned it into kindness. The result has changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across America, simply being KIND.
Tomorrow markes the 13th anniversary of the fateful day that changed the face of our nation forever, September 11th, now renamed Patriots Day. Each year I wonder will we remember? Should we remember? It is so painful, even more than a decade later we all feel the pain of reminders when we watch the news and see the images. I debated, is it time to stop reflecting on this fateful day?
After some thought, my answer is no. We promised never to forget. We promised to hold those families in our hearts and to come together as a nation. So, if ripping off the band-aid yet another year reminds us of our promise, then that is what needs to be done.
So tonight, tomorrow and every day after, hug your children, tell the people in your life that you love them. Just as the song says, “I believe love will find a way.” Make Pariots Day stand for something, love.
The other day I sat in a meeting for a non-profit I’m involved with and the conversation was on branding. The topic quickly turned to cause marketing or how to use your good deeds to get love for your brand. The organization I’m involved with already does good deeds, it’s a non-profit for goodness sake! But I walked away from the meeting pondering the question, are we truly being authentic or are we taking away from our purpose when we use it for gain?
I do think when you are doing great work in your service towards others, you want the world to know it and you should. This is what non-profits have been doing for decades. Many corporations have built their business on their authentic support of community, such as Wells Fargo. Not for gain but because it is what is right and part of their core corporate culture. It is simply what they do.
The question becomes more perplexing when you are a business. A for profit business. There has been a recent development in the past few years of for profit businesses establishing themselves as B Corporations by earning a B Corp Certificate from the nonprofit group B Lab. These companies are not non-profits but support non-profits. One example is Jessica Alba’s Honest The Honest Company. The Honest Company sells and delivers monthly organic diapers and other non-toxic chemical free products. They give some products and revenue to related causes.
The Honest Company is going public and is raising $150 million dollars. Like any public company’s mission, their goal is to maximize its return to its stake holders. The stake holders are the beneficiary in public companies, not the cause. Honest or not? Is this a win-win or a very gray area? Which brings me back full circle to where we began, is being good simply to gain, really good?
” You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
This week is all about back to school. Teaching is more than what comes from a book. School is a place where children need to learn how to be kind and compassionate. The sooner we teach and model these skills, the better our world becomes. It is just that simple.
It seems that since this month is all about back to school and starting the new year off on the right foot, that it is a good time to talk about ways to incorporate philanthropy into the school year. This is the perfect time of year for goal settings and planning ahead, especially for young students.
A few years ago, it became very clear to me that todays students are incredibly busy. As a result, it is very hard for them to find time to give back and yet they have so much to give. My middle son is a high school football player and has very few hours in the day but wanted to make a difference. I was involved at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and wondered if there was a way to bring busy students and a great cause together? The answer was yes. The hospital had been thinking the same thought and when a few of us got together we helped create something called the Junior Ambassadors for CHLA.
What they do is simply have the kids use their skills, whatever they are, to help another child. My son is a quarterback so he throws touchdowns for sponsorship and has raised thousands of dollars for the hospital. He calls it Scoring for CHLA. Another Junior Ambassador is a gifted photographer who sells her work to help CHLA. Some ambassadors have lemonade stands, others throw parties and everyone pitches in to use their talents for an amazing cause.
September is a perfect time to continue or start the conversation with your children about giving back. You will be amazed and surprised of what they have to offer. Beginning to discover their talents and learning to share them with the world is a beautiful gift for everyone.
“We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we’ve established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile.”
I hope this post finds you rested and enjoying the long holiday weekend.