Monthly Archives: February 2010

Let Them Know They Are Not Forgotten

Just a little more attention for the plight in Haiti. With the Olympics starting I suppose many of us have moved on. But help is still needed. And this video is an interesting re-make of the original We Are The World, written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. It has some interesting footage of Haiti. And interesting footage of all of the egos  vocal artists involved. I like the rap element to this updated version, as well.

I just want the people of Haiti to know I haven’t forgotten them.

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Filed under Be-Causes

Just Your Two Cents, Please!

Saturday marked my 6 Month Anniversary in Blog World! Happy Blogaversary to me! I took a peek at my very first real blog post (as opposed to my first fake post found here) and I realized how much I’ve grown in just a short 1/2 year.

My writing has improved. I’m more aware of how a post looks best, disregarding many rules from my middle school English teachers. Looking back on that first post I realize there were no archives in the right hand column. Nor were there snazzy little “feel good about yourself” links to click. Or a blogroll, for that matter. I don’t even think I knew what a blogroll was at that time.

So much has changed and I have you all to thank. For your encouragement, your support, your advice. Just the opportunity to read YOUR blogs has helped me to grow as a writer, blogger and person. I am so grateful. Thank you.

Robin, at Passions and Soapboxes, was a very early reader and she took the time to send me detailed instruction on how to post my very first award (given by her, :). Thanks, Robin!) I remember being so stunned that someone would take the time to help ‘lil ol’ me out. And then it just snowballed from there – encouraging letters, comments, even phone conversations.

I have surrounded myself with some very supportive bloggers out there. They are relationships I hope continue to grow and flourish.

I know many of you stop by and choose NOT to comment – for whatever reason. I really don’t mind. But today I’m asking everyone who stops by to share a little piece of advice – for all of us – about something you’ve learned about blogging. It could be something you figured out for yourself or the best/worst advice you received from someone else. Or a quick pointer. How about a been-there-done-that-and-never-gonna-do-it-again? Your two cents. Any helpful information will do.

It’s share your best/worst tips at Jane’s today. And we all get to benefit from your wisdom and learn from each other.

Thanks to all of you out there for an amazing ride these past 6 months. Here’s to many, many more!

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Filed under Lessons Learned

To Are Or Not To Are – THAT Is The Question

I have a blast writing about the search engine results that bring people to my blog. See here and here and here and here (where we all shared). Now that I can see just how many times I’ve written about search engine results in my short career as a blog writer, I think I need to broaden my horizons, or at least create its own category.

Today, this search engine term found my blog:

Glad you be my neighbor

After a fit of giggles, I just want to say, I’m so glad you found my blog with that search.

1. Because that’s going to make me laugh for days

2. It’s an opportunity for me to send you here (Lesson Tutor – “because everyone needs a little help now and then”) and here (Grammar Guide) and here (Quiz School – Verb Usage) and here (Hamlet’s Soliloquy – just for fun).

Now, quit wasting your time reading these blogs and go get ed-u-ma-cated!

Word!

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Filed under Words

The Harder I Work The Luckier I Get

Not that I expected there to be a part 2 to yesterday’s post but some of your comments got me thinking (a dangerous thing, for sure!)

As TKW pointed out, even though we were now living the big life, frugality was still ingrained in my parents minds. We went from a tiny bungalow in a working class neighborhood to a large 5 bedroom ranch house on an acre lot. Our new subdivision had homes with circular driveways, large ponds, and impeccable landscaping. It was quite a leap for us. I remember thinking we lived in the country (we didn’t) because our mailbox was on fancy post down at street level. The mail truck drove to each home. No more walking mailman sticking our mail in a tiny box to the right of the doorbell.

Maybe it’s genetic (I’m Scot-Irish, like Mel!) or maybe the early example my parents provided made an impression but my shame about the imitation Sir Jac jacket didn’t last long. I let the twitters at school die down, started wearing my beloved jacket again and guessed that all was forgotten. We were now known as “new money.” It was as if  ‘all was well with the world’ now that we had been rightfully labeled.

I’d like to think growing up where I did didn’t change me for the worse. I took some amazing things from my childhood to make me who I am today but there are some attitudes I held I’m not proud of. I remember once in college, talking on the phone to my sister at length. She had a few scholarship offers to some major universities and she needed advice. After I hung up the phone my roommate (who grew up in inner-city Detroit and was the first to attend college in her family) said, “Oh! Your sister is going to college?” with a genuine smile and excitement in her voice. I snootily replied, “Is she going to college? No – WHERE is she going to college.”

And by now, my parents attitudes had changed. It was now important to them that we date only the boys from “good” (financially well off) families. When I told them my plans of majoring in education they scoffed, “Well, you better marry well. You’ll never make any money in THAT profession.” My father (who I adored) actually said, “Why in the world would you want to teach? You’re so bright. You know what they say, Those who can – do. Those who can’t – teach.” It was the first time I had ever heard that horrid phrase. I was crushed.

It took moving away from my home state and traveling 1500 miles across the country to cause a major shift in my attitude. 

Driving through West Virginia I saw a shack that looked like it could blow over with the right puff of wind. I wistfully began imagining what it would have looked like when someone lived there. Flowers outside the front stoop, fresh paint on the shutters, no trash littering the yard. Then, to my surprise, a man appeared at the doorway. Shirtless, holding a beer, scratching his belly. A TV was on inside. I was stunned that someone could be living there. That it could possibly have running water and electricity.

In Savannah, while on my way to work one day, I drove past a row of townhouses downtown. Every other one was boarded up. Gang graffiti decorated some of the boards holding it together. I was stuck at a light when out of the corner of my eye I saw a woman emerge from one of the buildings, clutching her handbag, dressed beautifully in a pale pink suit, ivory silk blouse, well-worn but tasteful leather pumps. She raced to catch the bus that was stopped just ahead of me.

People actually live this way? Their dwellings could hardly be called homes. I realized even in my family’s poorest of times, when all of us crammed into one bedroom – we were rich.

I ended up teaching at a small private high school. I loved it. I made a modest salary. And that was OK with me. But the way I was treated by some of the parents was horrible. Less than. Below. It was like an amazing social experiment to me – observing these people who lived the way I was raised, but they didn’t know. I felt like a spy on a covert operation. I was just a teacher, aspiring to be just like them, they imagined. I attended a charity fundraiser and happened to be standing next to a parent from our school. We were looking over some of the silent auction items and I made an observation about the quality of a beautiful sweater set, complete with jeweled collar. She turned to me, stunned, and said, “That’s quite observant for someone on a teacher’s salary!”

My daughter went to the same school. One day, she came home and said, “Mommy? Are we poor?” Of course not, I told her. Why do you say that? She said, “Because we only have one TV.” I explained to her that we chose to only have one TV. We chose to live where we did. We loved what we did for a living – excess money is not important. What is important is doing what you love, having good health and a safe, warm place to lay your head at night. It was in that moment that I made sure we started volunteering at the local soup kitchen more regularly so my daughter could see what “poor” truly was.

I’m not sure a 6-yr-old cared about my explanation and soup kitchen example. She was more impressed with the nannies, TV in every room, and gorgeous homes that her friends lived in.

My husband works in health care. He practices Chinese Medicine (yes, I know, voodoo to some of you). I giggle when I hear some of your impressions out there, “He’s not a real doctor.” No, not in the Western sense. And we’ll certainly never live the lifestyle of a Western trained surgeon. But we live a very comfortable life. And I can afford to stay home with my children, which I love being able to do. And my kids can have music lessons and play on sports teams and attend private school.

I’ve ridden the financial roller coaster at various times in my life. And I used to feel guilty whenever I noticed that I was among “the haves.” I used to call myself blessed or lucky. But I am no more blessed or lucky than the man scratching his gut on the porch of that shack. Even being lucky is relative. My parents worked hard to provide the best they could for us. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am. My husband works very hard to afford the things we can afford. 

Samuel Goldwyn once said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” We’ve worked hard to get where we are today. And hopefully, our example will encourage our children to do the same.

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Filed under How We Roll, Observations

Walking The Fine Line Between Need And Want

I had a “Hey! That reminds me…” moment today. WackyMummy shared an experience with her child that got me thinking about my own up-bringing….

I remember a time when all four of us slept in the same room. All girls, ages 4, 2 and 1-year-old twins. My parents slept in the living room on a pull-out couch. Then we moved to a big house. It had 3 bedrooms. My sister and I shared one. The twins shared the other. And my parents slept on the same pull-out couch in the den. They couldn’t afford a nice bed. My mother made most of our clothes. We only received gifts (and not many) on Christmas and birthdays. Our meals rotated between pork and beans, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and spanish rice with a little ground beef thrown in. I remember I loved going to my grandparents houses where there were salads and fresh fruit, juice and soda.

My parents were struggling financially. They were young and Dad was trying to make a name for himself at his company. My mother desperately wanted to be a nurse so she was going back to school. With one income, four kids and college tuition, it was a stretch for them.

But I didn’t feel poor. We lived in a Detroit suburb. A blue-collar neighborhood. Everyone else was in the same boat. Television commercials were mostly about laundry detergent and breakfast cereals. The fancy cars lived in the fancy neighborhoods. Only the rich and famous could afford designer clothes. Designer anything didn’t exist for the common folk.

Then my dad received a huge promotion. My parents moved us to a very wealthy area. They bought the biggest house they could afford in one of the nicest areas and best public school districts in the state. Suddenly, we were all too aware what kind of cars our neighbors were driving. And our neighbors didn’t work on assembly lines – they owned the assembly lines. Or they were doctors and lawyers. And the kids in the neighborhood were expected to achieve. Ninety-two percent of my graduating class went on to college. In my old district, less than 10%. We were in the big leagues now.

Our lifestyle had changed and so had the times.

My defining moment was when I was in the 7th grade. My sister and I each wanted a Sir Jac jacket. You remember (that is, if you’ve over 35 you might)….they came in all colors with the red plaid lining? Angela, the coolest girl in the 8th grade, had the pale yellow one. She was at my bus stop and she barely knew I existed, even though we were the only two at the stop. I wanted a jacket just like hers.

We begged my dad and he found a store that carried them.  Even though it wasn’t Christmas or our birthdays he said we could each have one. We walked into a discount store, Meijers. But we didn’t care. We were getting our jackets! New clothes. Not hand-made or hand-me-downs. Not anymore. They weren’t “Sir Jac” but they looked just like them. I took the classic khaki and my sister wanted powder blue. We were thrilled. We tried them on right there in the store. Suddenly we heard giggling. We turned to see who was there. No one. We told our dad how much we loved them. We heard noises again. This time they were high-pitched voices ooohhh-ing and ahhh-ing over the jackets. And then we saw them. Two boys, from my sister’s 5th grade class.

My faced turned beet red. My sister was angry. My dad? The look in his eyes. It was the first time I have ever seen shame in my father’s eyes. He looked quickly down and asked if we wanted to leave.

 “No,” my sister said defiantly, “We love these jackets. Can we still have them?”

My dad smiled and walked proudly to the front of the store. Those horrible boys followed us, chanting about the poor kids buying poor imitations. I’m ashamed to say I would have loved to dump the coats right there and never come back.

But we weren’t poor kids. We lived in a huge house with five bedrooms and four bathrooms. My parents had nice cars. We ate out at restaurants a few nights a week. We bought our clothes at Jacobson’s and Pappagallo. We had a “kid’s phone line” in our home. We belonged to a swim and tennis club. Why were they calling us poor?

Because the boys ridiculing us in front of our father lived in even bigger houses with elevators and a cleaning woman. Their moms weren’t nurses who worked 12 hour shifts to be able to afford nice clothes. Their moms played tennis and bridge. Had their nails done. The ladies who lunched. They took trips out of the country for holidays. They were given a car at age 16.

I went to school that Monday and, even though my sister was in grade school, word had traveled to the middle school that I was wearing an imposter. I’d forgotten that one of the boys teasing us at Meijer had a big brother in my grade. I was teased and ridiculed. I hid the jacket in my locker and wadded it up in a ball for the bus ride home.

Suddenly, I was thrust into the world of want. Wanting the best. Needing designer clothes. Knowing the brand names. The cost. I learned the rules of never buying on sale, only shopping certain stores and that no one who is anyone buys imitation.

The times had changed on television, too. Commercials pushed more than soap and soup. And television shows were getting into the act. They pushed a lifestyle to maintain. Clothes, hairstyles, vacations, jewelry. The difference was clear between the haves and the have-nots. And I wanted to be a have.

We strive as parents to provide our children with the best. My parents wanted the best for us. They wanted us to live comfortably. Enjoy new things. Receive a good education. It’s the same I want for my children. But at what cost? How do you balance having with appreciating? Satisfaction with envy?

It’s difficult when we live in a culture that looks to their neighbor to see how they live. When television and print ads bombard us with what we need. How do we teach our children, despite all the distractions, that what we need is safety, comfort, integrity, love and support? We need to pursue professions we love, in spite of the salary. We need to surround ourselves with people who love us and accept us for who we are, not what we wear.

After all, designer labels and trends change with each decade. The need for each of us to be valued and loved for who we are remains constant.

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Filed under That Reminds Me!, Uncategorized

My Life In A Nutshell

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Filed under How We Roll

So Hard On Ourselves, Why Are We So Hard On Each Other?

Yesterday’s post from Kristen’s at Motherese had me thinking all day. A few days ago there was Aiden at Ivy League Insecurities exploring thoughts in this post. Just before the weekend there was this post from Sandy at Momisodes. And like a good movie, if you’re still thinking about it the next day, you know it was good. All of the posts dealt with the degree of guilt we take on as mothers, second guessing ourselves and our decisions.

Kristen’s post tackled the struggle between working moms and SAHmoms. More specifically, how we, fellow mothers, crucify each other if the choice of another mother doesn’t match our own. It got me thinking about one of my favorite songs by Tori Amos, aptly named, Crucify.

This song is off the first album I ever purchased by Tori. It’s considered her debut album. I know every song on this album so well I have no idea which ones were played on the radio, which ones were most popular. I identified with so many of the songs  – and Crucify is one of my favorites.

Thinking this would be a great song for a Tunes for Tuesday post, I sat back and listened. I almost didn’t go with it. I wanted something current. This isn’t. I was hoping I’d choose a lighter, happier song – like a love song. This isn’t.

But a song that still resonates in me now – as it did almost 20 years ago? This is. And that’s a bit scary to me.

I just had to dive in.

“Every finger in the room
is pointing at me
I wanna spit in their faces
Then I get afraid of what that could bring” – I’m the type that thinks of the absolute perfect comeback. Fifteen minutes later. In the moment? My insides are jelly.

“I got a bowling ball in my stomach
I got a desert in my mouth
Figures that my courage would choose to sell out now” – I’ve been challenged about my own choices as a mother. Am I calm, decisive and direct? Nope. I’m defensive, insecure and shaken.

“Why do we
Crucify ourselves
Every day
I crucify myself
Nothing I do is good enough for you
Crucify myself
Every day
And my heart is sick of being in chains” – I was a young adult when I first found this song. Trying desperately to break away from a very dysfunctional mother. What scares me now is that I can still apply this song to my life, with other people, almost 20 years later. Have I not grown? Have I not learned? Why am I repeating patterns?

“I’ve been looking for a savior in these dirty streets
looking for a savior beneath these dirty sheets
I’ve been raising up my hands
Drive another nail in” – As mothers, we are so hard on ourselves. What I don’t understand is why we have to be so hard on each other.

“Got enough guilt to start
my own religion” – I love this line. I was raised Catholic. I know a lot about guilt. And then I became a mother. I didn’t need the Catholic Church anymore. I had the Church of Motherhood, showering guilt down every day. Do I work? Do I stay at home? Do I let her have processed cheese? Candy? Soda? How many activities are too much? Are they socialized well enough? Too much TV? Why isn’t he potty trained yet? Why have we been sick once a month for the past year? Flu shots? Vaccines? Down time? Bed times? Are they getting enough sleep? Green vegetables? Too much juice? Not enough water? A never-ending list.

“Please be
Save me
I cry” – A cacophony of screaming voices in my head. Second guessing. Judging. Evaluating. Disregarding. Embracing. When all I want is peace of mind, support, calm.

It’s been a never-ending cycle for me. I moved on from my mother to other people, other things.  I look to other mothers for support and understanding. I crucify myself every day. I don’t need to be crucified all over again by someone else.

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Filed under Motherhood, Music

Saints = 1, Commercials = 0 (But That Doesn’t Mean I Didn’t Enjoy The Show)

It’s a happy Monday here at Jane’s! Ahhhh, Super Bowl Sunday. One of America’s favorite pastimes. And we partook (seriously, it’s a word) in the festivities last night. Great food, even better friends (Hi there! I see you peeking in!) and no kids after the first half since we live just a few doors down and our amazing daughter came by to pick the boys up and put them to bed. (Thanks, amazing daughter!)

When I care about the teams, I actually watch the football. When I don’t? I watch the commercials. This year I focused on the commercials. Saints? Colts? I really didn’t care who won. But in case you’re wondering, the Saints won. I just saw this headline on Yahoo: Go Nuts, New Orleans: The Saints Are Your World Champions. World Champions? As far as I know, only football teams in America qualified to play. Is your arrogance showing, America? But I blogress……(blogress is a word stolen from LLCoolJoe – just want to give him credit for a great word! Oops. I’m doing it again. Sorry. Back to the post.)

The commercials. Lame this year. Agree or disagree? There were very few laugh out loud funny ones. Or even touching, well-made ones. I’ll be curious to see what others thought. In past years, I remember talking about the commercials for days after. I have a feeling as soon as I post this I’ll have forgotten even the couple I enjoyed. And yes, I agree. This topic is a pretty lame blog post. But I had alcohol last night – not too much, but enough. And I was late writing this. And I think I might be suffering from writers block. But if you’re suffering from SAD  (Seasonal Affective Disorder) or you just hate Mondays, my highlighted commercials are sure to bring a smile.

Below are two of my favorites. And then there’s one I stumbled upon (from a few years back) that had me laughing so hard I was crying. Why is it the best commercials are from beer companies? (Essays answering any and all of the questions presented in this post must be no more than 2 pages typed double-spaced, in a readable font and is due in 30 minutes. Ready? Set? Go!)

Great for beer AND book club lovers! Too funny!

From my favorite soft drink company, Coca Cola. And I had to watch wistfully at this one because I gave up my beloved beverage 7 days ago. Yes, I’m trying to beat my coke habit. So far, so good. But I can still enjoy the commercials.

Warning! Before watching this commercial you need to take that potty break, put aside all beverages, chew and swallow all food. I will not be held responsible for messed up computer screens and keyboards or cushioned computer chairs (am I getting to personal here? sorry!) You have been warned.

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Filed under funny

Wrinkled Boobs, Lucky Charms Cakes And Helping You To Spell Flummoxed – Guess I’m Just A Wealth Of Information

This probably only interests me. So I apologize in advance if I’m boring you. And there is so much great stuff out there, you could go somewhere else. I’m just sayin’.

I receive the most amusing search terms to find my blog. I really, really do. They make me laugh. And they make for nice, light material after two really depressing posts.

spell “flummoxed” – I guess once a teacher, always a teacher. I’m just glad someone was able to come here, read a little something fun and get ed-u-ma-cated all in one shot. (Now, the insecure me is racing back to said post, making sure I didn’t misspell flummoxed.)

husband online all day – I have no idea which post this would have generated and I want to assure all of you out there my husband is NOT addicted to the internet. End of story. Now stop asking.

jane is sleeping – Again, no idea how my blog popped up for that search. ‘Cause I have little kids. And a night owl teenager. Sleep is a luxury in this house. I wish Jane were sleeping.

wrinkled hanging boobs – Enough already!

chipped my front tooth on a staple – Ok. That really happened. And I wrote about it here. But I had it fixed so I’m cleverly disguised. You might not even recognized me if you saw me out and about in Blog World. I’m just relieved that I’m not the only one who’s done it.

hornyteens – Typed just like that. No space. All together now! And a-one-and-a-two-and-a three….Whaaaaaa? Searching for horny teens and you found me? First of all that was a long, long time ago. Second, if you’re talking about my teaching years – yes, I taught many the horny teen but I’m sure I didn’t blog about them. That’s just gross. Third, ewwwwwwww.

my favorite babysitter 10, blue – ? That’s all I got – ?

alleluia bon jovi – Now, I hate to break it to you Bon Jovi fans out there – because I know you all hang on my every music recommendation – but I’m not a huge fan of Bon Jovi. So I’m sure I’ve never written about them here. Or anywhere, for that matter. Especially with alleluia immediately preceding the name. How did that happen?

my husband sucks the joy out of life – There we go again with the husband bashing. I don’t bash my husband here! That’s for this blog. (Incidentally, a funny blog for when a particular someone is driving you crazy.) And my husband never sucks the joy out of life. (fingers and toes crossed, biting back a big guffaw)

lucky charms cake – Sounds interesting. I’m intrigued. But you landed here? Sounds more like something my good friend TKW would cook up!

what does a woman 120 pounds 5 ‘5 look like – Come a little closer, honey, and I’ll show you. (wink, wink) But seriously, Buddy. Every woman in those crazy chat rooms you hang out in says she’s 5’5″ and 120 lbs. You need to turn off the computer, quit sucking the joy out of life and get out there and meet REAL people. Seriously, dude.

do boobs get wrinkled – Apparently, YES. But I can only answer in the affirmative based on the number of times other people search about wrinkled boobs and ended up here. I’m just left wondering how it is so many of you out there have seen me naked?

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Filed under funny, Observations

Help Me Keep Oil In The Lamp

I’m still struggling with my post from yesterday. About female suicide bombers. I can’t get it out of my head. And I want to apologize for it’s length, or more precisely the lack of depth to my inquiry. It was a mere 394 words. Typically, when I am charged about something I have to be careful not to create a short novel. I’m constantly editing myself, narrowing my focus to keep it a readable length.

But yesterday, I sat there, in shock, in front of the computer screen, still trying to wrap my head around the information I found on the internet. And I found myself typing my thoughts and then stopping short. It was hard to plow through. It’s a difficult subject to understand emotionally. I’m well aware that I was lost in a stereotype. Desperately wanting to believe in that stereotype.  I wanted to tell myself this can’t be real.

And in my search for information there was a short little blurb that struck me:

“Five days after the death of Jabbar, the Awakening leader, his wife gave birth to a daughter. Last month, Baidaa Muhammed, 30, sat in their living room, in front of a gold-framed photo of her husband. The baby was named Hibatullah, or “gift from God.”

As Hibatullah rested in her lap wrapped in a white blanket, Muhammed, her face streaked with tears, declared: “I hate women.””

I hate women.

Why would she say that? Did she feel abandoned? Worthless? Angry? Possibly. Her husband was Naeem Jabbar. He was the leader of a U.S. security group, Awakening, trying to improve conditions in Iraq. For about four months Jabbar had given food and money to a 19 year old woman begging in the streets. Because of their relationship, albeit limited, security never considered her a threat. But on an evening in July 2008, as he approached her as he had many times, she detonated a bomb that killed him, herself and four others.

Now, Baidaa Muhammed is a widow. In a country that does not cherish women. Her husband died trying to rebuild a broken country. And a woman is at the root of her loss. A fellow woman left her a widow and her child fatherless.

Jennifer, from My Wildlife’s Words, asked an important question yesterday: “What else has changed for women in the last 20 or so years?” I don’t know. But I wondered that, too, as I was writing and researching yesterday. I’m going to sit on that and someday I might have an answer.

But until then I feel the need to do something.

I don’t want Baidaa to feel abandoned. I don’t want her to feel alone. Most of all, I don’t want her to hate women or hate being a woman. I want Baidaa to feel loved, cherished, valued and empowered in a positive way. Empowerment shouldn’t mean strapping on a bomb to get revenge or to join your brothers with Allah or atone for your sins.

I did a search for best non-profits for women and tried to find some of the best ones. I realize, sadly, that not all organizations are legit. But I’ve done the best I can to provide a short list here that look promising. Please give, but not without educating yourself first. And if you know of other good organizations, please mention them in the comment section of this post.

We need to band together and try to stop this madness. We can make these past 25 years merely a blip on radar. One simple step can make a difference.

“If you want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.” ~Mother Teresa

Women For Women International – Helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives.

Care – Defending dignity. Fighting poverty. A humanitarian organization that focuses on poverty, especially poor women.

Americares – They deliver medical supplies and medical care here in the U.S. or around the world in times of disaster, civil unrest or daily struggle.

VDay – A global movement to end violence against women and girls.

Polaris Project – An organization committed to combating human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

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Filed under Be-Causes