I slept and dreamed that life was joy,
I awoke and saw that life was duty,
I acted and behold: duty was joy.
-Rabindranath Tagore

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I work hard to earn my money

One reason not to give money: we work hard for the stuff!

An important part of this issue is to understand "Social Capital" which is, that by virtue of being born in a place that has good institutions and infrastructure, we are able to make a lot more money. (possibly accounting for at least 90% of our earnings).

So if you live in a third world country, it doesn't really matter if you are smart and hard working. It is pretty much impossible to get ahead if your whole day is spent walking to clean water, or if there is no electricity in your community, or if the government and court system is corrupt, if there are no banks to provide loans, no good schools etc. etc.

Warren Buffet said: If you stick me down in the middle of Bangladesh or Peru, you'll find out how much this talent is going to produce in the wrong kind of soil.

-The Life you can save by Peter Singer

The reason we make the money we do, has less to do with how smart or hard we work and more to do with where we were born.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

How much does America give in foreign aid?

Let's get to the nitty gritty and talk about mon-nay! (I am such a nerd, I can't help it). I am not going to make this a big drawn out report because that would be arduous for me and boring for others so let me just say that people in the US have been found to have really skewed ideas of how much money individuals and the government give as foreign aid and not in the good way (This means we think we give loads more than we really do).
So starting with private philanthropy only 7 cents is given for foreign aid out of every $100 income earned.
The United States Government gives 18 cents of every $100 earned for foreign aid. It is also important to note that that money isn't going to those necessarily in greatest need but mostly to places in which we are politically motivated.
So this blog left A LOT unsaid, contributions for education, funding for research to help improve the lives of third world citizens, the complications of foreign goverments and such but it is a starting point of knowing how much we give as a nation of people and as taxpayers to our government.
This information was from the book "The Life You Can Save" by Peter Singer.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Generated by Love- the experiment

Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. -Martin Luther King Jr.
I love the term "generated by love." It reminds me of the energizer bunny and then I am imagining myself with a little battery in my back labeled love. (let me stop there). What I am trying to convey is how happy we would be if everything we did was motivated by love. (Be sure to throw in some thoughtfulness and respect for others and then we would be living a life with a lot less regrets). So I am thinking about doing an experiment tomorrow and live that day motivated by love. I think I will invite a friend to do the same and then report back. Honestly it sounds a little mentally exhausting but we shall see.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Finding balance

Something I have been struggling with is finding the balance. There is so much need out there and my personal resources of time and money are very small. How does one find the balance between how much to give and how much to keep. I don't know the answer to this one. I don't think it is wrong to be able to enjoy eating out with my family or spending money on a girl's night out but at the same time it feels wrong to know that there are so many many people suffering because of poverty while I have so much. I have finally decided that something I am comfortable with is to give a little more money than is comfortable and to spend a little more time than is convenient. Since I truly believe that serving others IS a joyful duty, I think the joy we feel from sacrificing for some one else will ease the burden of the sacrifice until it just becomes a way of life for us. Then it will be time to readjust and find again what creates a little discomfort and inconvenience. So I guess I am hoping that it will continue to cycle with: sacrifice-joy-contentment-sacrifice-joy-contentment
until I find that just right spot. Still thinking on this one. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The yard sale!!!

Whew, that ended up being loads more work than I anticipated and required sooo much more help from others than I had thought it would. In the end it went off great! Friends, family, and neighbors were so kind and helpful. The money earned was $368.66 (I found some odd change in boxes of donations) and with a couple of items that didn't sell, I hope to break the $400 dollar mark!!! I will be taking the unsold kitchen items to the women's shelter for battered women and children, the unsold toys were given to a man who stopped by (he does a toy drive in November and is starting to grow out his beard to be Santa when he gives them out), and the rest was picked up by His House Ministries that helps alcoholic and homeless men.

Here is where I would like to add a special thanks to Johnson's mini storage for providing a free unit for us to use, Lexington High School for letting us use their parking lot, my parents for all the babysitting, My dad, my husband, and my brother-in-law for all their muscles (and Brian, thanks for the use of your truck), Nat, for making gobs of cookies to sell, designing the handouts, being my sound board, listening to me obsess, and providing helpful advice. Thank you Heather for staying in the wee hours of the morning to help label prices and keep me awake while I bit off more than I could chew (two days in a row) , and for hanging out at the tail end of the sale when I was just about to poop out. Thanks Kenneth (Heather's hubby) for giving up time with your wife. Katy and Aaron, thanks for helping with set up when you also had little Reuben with you and for making me laugh (always very helpful). Thank you Carol for your support, your comments made me feel encouraged. Thanks mom for being proud of me. Thank you everyone who donated items and bought items. And Jeff, thank you, thank you, thank you for not even blinking an eye as the house began to fill up with donations, and undone housework, for being patient as I had to keep leaving to do so many things to pull this off, for all you did as you were sick!!! And especially for your encouraging words.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


This post is about choosing not to be offended/ choosing not to judge others. I was thinking about this in two parts.

The first for the recipient: what a wonderful way to serve each other than to not judge and to give each other the benefit of the doubt. It would feel so wonderful if you knew that when you did something really stupid, people would just smile and think, "must be a bad day", or "that was really messed up but I bet that wasn't her intent." ( And not tell others about it)! We all make mistakes, or even deliberately do something that is dumb but I think most of the time, most people are trying to do the best they can, or at least somewhere in the vicinity of good.

The second half is for ourselves. I have a friend who said : you can get into a lot of trouble trying to help good people. As we try to do good and then someone reacts in an unkind way, it is easy to feel offended and hurt or angry. I love this quote by Elder David A. Bednar:

When we believe or say we have been offended, we usually mean we feel insulted, mistreated, snubbed, or disrespected. And certainly clumsy, embarrassing, unprincipled, and mean-spirited things do occur in our interactions with other people that would allow us to take offense. However, it ultimately is impossible for another person to offend you or to offend me. Indeed, believing that another person offended us is fundamentally false. To be offended is a choice we make; it is not a condition inflicted or imposed upon us by someone or something else.

I know this is true. When I worked as a nurse (pediatric ICU), there were the rare times when parents could be rather ugly to me. Even though I had done nothing wrong, and was in fact, doing my best to help them and their child, I wasn't offended. Why? I knew that they were stressed, and scared, and a myriad of other horrible emotions parents feel when their kids are really sick or hurt so I didn't take it personally.

So now, when someone is offensive, I am going to try my darnedest to give them a break by thinking: I just don't know the whole situation, I don't know what they are going through right now, or they are just ignorant (not in a condescending way) about the issue. (Seriously, that was the one I had to go to other day. I never thought I would find someone with beef against helping orphans). This most likely does nothing for them, but it makes a world of difference for me. I don't have to carry the burden of feeling unhappy about how I was treated. Very freeing.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

"Everyone was born to smile"

I will be mentioning different charities in this blog (naturally) because I believe that when we find something that is close to our hearts it is not a burden to sacrifice money to help. I will strive to post good charities that use the funds wisely, and promote self-sufficiency in those it serves (Except in the case of natural disasters or similar circumstances where food and shelter are needed immediately). I think that is one of the most important aspects of a charity: to empower, rather than create dependancy. So don't feel guilty about all the charities that you don't help, rather find the one that you will love to help. This brings me to Dr. W. Geoff Williams and the International Children's Surgical Foundation. http://icsfoundation.org/
Dr. Williams and his team perform cleft palate surgeries in developing countries. What makes this foundation extra special is that he not only spends more time in an area (this enables them to spend more time on surgeries, treat more people, and provide better follow-up care), he also trains local doctors to do the cleft-palate repair in their country. (Three doctors trained by him have opened clinics and now treat others for free). The foundation has also hired specialists to treat other deformities in poor children (orthopaedics, ear-nose-throat, maxillofacial, burns and neurosurgery). There are more differences listed at their web page so check it out!