Sunday, May 07, 2017

Bringing about the end (of extreme poverty)

It's been a couple months since I've posted anything on this blog.  I hope I haven't lost you, my readers.  However, I suppose if I'm writing about intentionality, it would be good if I had something to be intentional about.  Thus, this week (on Facebook, starting with this post) will be all about something I'm intentionally trying to get the word out about: bringing an end to extreme poverty.

In an effort to read 3 books this year that I already own (one of my year's goals), I decided to begin that journey by reading (and honestly re-reading part of) "Hope Rising: How Christians Can End Extreme Poverty In This Generation" by Scott Todd.  I started a few weeks ago when we traveled to St. Louis by train, and finished a week ago today on the plane back from Memphis.

Scott Todd was formerly a professor at K-State and was actually the person that inspired me to first become a child sponsor through Compassion back in 2003, I think.  I got to help clean his house when he and his family left Manhattan, KS to move to Washington state and begin working with Compassion International.  He's quite an amazing individual and has helped people all over the world in person, through Compassion and other ministries he's been involved with, and oh yes, by helping cure Hepatitis C (for which he holds a patent for treatment).

All this to say, his book is a good one for shedding light on the fact that we can end extreme poverty worldwide in our lifetime - and not just within our lifetime, but hopefully by the time I'm 50 years old.  To quote Scott's book (these facts are a couple of years old now), "Today there are about 1.2 billion people living in poverty.  And that's good news.  In 1981 [the year, I, Shalinn was born], 52 percent of the developing world's population lived in extreme poverty.  Today that number is 21 percent.  If we were still at 52 percent, then an additional two billion people would still be suffering in extreme poverty.  We have already cut the percentage of people living in extreme poverty in half! And we did it in one generation."  Scott's not the only one recognizing the potential here. Government leaders, NGOs, philanthropists, and even the United Nations are all in on this goal.  But are you?  Have you ever even considered the idea that children across the world would not have to die from preventable or treatable diseases?  Have you considered that people worldwide could gain access to clean water sources and no longer have to drink water that makes them sick?  Access to education for all?  Gender equality?  Do you even have the mindset to believe that such a thing is possible?  And soon?

It's easy to think that giving money or supporting organizations doing this kind of work is lofty, that the money's not going to be spent wisely, or that it will never really have an affect on the people you want it to help, but that's simply not true.  No one organization or effort is perfect, but government, along with private business, and the church have a role to play and have been playing it for years.  We still have a role and we're needed.  Would you like to join in the effort?  Would you like to at least learn more?

I've been a sponsor with Compassion for 14 years now, and I started sponsoring in college, before I had any notable disposable income.  It's not about how much money you have and just like with most things in life, if you wait until you have "enough," you'll never get there.  You're never too young to give, and my young friends in KidsCOR at Resurrection Downtown have shown that recently.  A couple of months ago, I presented to them about Compassion's Water for Life program, and showed them the UN approved water filters that Compassion provides to families to give them clean water for life (when community wells aren't an appropriate or an available option).  The kids willingly gave their offering in the month of March to providing clean water for a family.  Together, they collected $152, enough (with a little extra help) to provide clean water through Compassion for two families for the rest of their lives.  Kids in Kansas City, MO are helping the effort to end extreme poverty in the world.  Will you?

I know that I have many friends who are passionate about their support of other various causes and I know I have friends that are just doing their best to get through life on a day to day basis, but are you someone that would like to join me in spreading the word and becoming active with me in ending extreme poverty?  If it's not your passion or you're not interested, that's fine, but I'm hoping that some of you are.  You don't have to be a Christian, you don't have to have a lot of money, you don't have to have any degree or amount of knowledge to help.  Just let me know that you're "in" this with me, and let's work together!  Leave a comment here or on my Facebook page.  Check out the resources below and let's help actually improve lives around the world!

https://www.compassion.com/
http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/
https://live58.org/
https://www.usaid.gov/ending-extreme-poverty

p.s. I'd like to thank my friends like Emily Selby who has spoken all of this previous week about her passion - foster care, and my friend Mat Thornton who's raising funds for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.  Thanks for speaking up and acting, friends!

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

#goals

In my effort to "not" do some things, I realized that I have to keep in mind what I do want in life and make sure I'm staying focused.  I realized I was losing focus when I found myself becoming jealous of someone that received something that I had purposefully turned down months earlier.  It's not what I wanted, and yet, I still got jealous?  I have a long ways to go in life.

Especially when it comes to my job, I have to remember that I made a choice back in graduate school to not be my job.  I had some really great professors, but I also saw how many of them seemed to have no life beyond the profession.  Some of them had wise life lessons to share, but some of them seemed so focused on the job that it made it hard for us as students, as if we were expected to be just like them.  I want to be the best I can be at my job, I still intellectually really like my field, and I love the kids and families I get to work with.  However, that will never be what defines me.  I'm glad that people that don't know me from work assume I do something completely different for a living.  The services I provide to others at work are a blessing, but that is not the extent of the service I want to provide to the world.  I have much to learn from others in other realms of life, and I want to experience more than my "job" ambition can allow.  I say "no" to focus on my ultimate goals, but I have to remind myself of that.

Just to revisit my "goals" for this year of intentionality (in case you didn't read my comeback blog post), here they are, in addition to some others that I had, but didn't originally post.

1. Read at least 3 books that I already own/have but have never read.  What kind of person owns books they've never read?  Me.
2. Co-write some songs.  Everything I've written in the last few years has been solo.  I'm grateful that I've built up a body of work, but I want to learn how to write with different voices.  Who wants to join me?!
3. Try or do something new every day.
4. Listen to and if possible, begin audio recording people's stories.  All kinds.
5. Have lunch/tea with someone fun at least once a month.
6.  Give something to someone(s) at least once a week.  Tangible items, time, service, money, whatever.
7.  Pray for others more than myself.
8.  Be a consultant for 4 Norwex parties this year.  I sell Norwex?  Technically yes.  I do love and use the products and would be happy to tell you about them.  I don't know how to sell anything or to promote a business, really.
9.  Plan out my continuing education for work and learn about things beyond my current/past experiences.

I'm not doing too bad with most of these things.  I'm on my way at least!  The lenten season is helping my prayer life intentionality and I got to hear a short snippet of a new person's story the other night, though I didn't get to record it.  We happened to go to the Brick and heard a band the other night that happened to be really inspiring.  A girl by the name of Kalyn leads a band called Wheelchair Sports Camp.  It was just her, her drummer (who was stellar), and a trumpet player (with various pedals).  They rocked.  She rapped.  I bought one of her albums.  I talked with her briefly afterwards and asked her how she got started.  She said she had been rapping since she was a kid with a friend of hers, and then after a while she broke out on her own with what is now her current band.  They collaborate with a bunch of other people and had a more "major" tour in 2012.  She remembered just a few hours out of Kansas City that she left her computer with her programmed beats back in Denver, so she had to just roll with it live.  They were really good.  Just to warn you, her music is not kid friendly and may not be your cup of tea, but her raps are both whimsical and self-aware, innocent and explicit.  I want to find out more about her story.

On a completely unrelated note, I scored some solid black LuLaRoe leggings this month.  Seriously, I did!  I'm also now more regularly flossing my teeth.  That may gross some of you out, but my childhood dentist didn't emphasize flossing and I never got in the habit of it as a kid.  Dental/gum health, y'all.  I've also been really blessed and surprised by the encouragement and generosity of some not-so-well known people at my church recently who've spoken encouraging words to me and donated to Compassion's Water of Life program after hearing me share some information with kids at church.  Pretty awesome.  Don't take water and being able to drink out of the faucet for granted, y'all.  World Water Day is March 22nd. #awareness

#saynotosayyes  #goals


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Trying to "not"...

I've had a couple of discussions with co-workers lately about why the word "not" is one of the "core vocabulary" words on some of the speech generating device programs we utilize.  I was given an answer today about the research that indicates that "not" is a word that is among the most frequently used in the English language.  I think it's hard to teach kids with low-level communication skills what "not" means (as opposed to "no," for instance), but I will say that I as an adult need to get better about some "not"s.

I am doing better about "not" being on my phone first thing in the mornings and once I get in bed.  Ever since I pledged that on my blog a few weeks ago, I've almost always stuck with it, and I think it's made me sleep more soundly, and helped me get the dishes done in the morning :)

I need to "not" try to take on the agenda for the day/week without praying about it first.  I became really overwhelmed today with work and things I need to get done, and I essentially had to "not" do anything else until I took some deep breaths and prayed, for those that I felt led to pray for and for myself.  I carry burdens that I don't have to bear but I tend to only really say things to God once I'm worn and not when I start my day.  That needs to change.

I am "not" good at saying "no" to things.  Part of my personality type is that I tend to feel an intense sense of personal responsibility for things and often think no one else can handle things, so I say "yes" when I shouldn't.  I am self aware about this and am better in a lot of ways than I used to be, but similar to the above scenario, I need to "not" take on what I could let go or not see as my responsibility alone.

I did "not" blog for the last couple of weeks, number one because I didn't have a lot to say, but also because I didn't want my blogging "goal" to dictate my life.  I didn't want to say "yes" to something for the sake of saying yes or allowing "obligation" to drive my actions.

As I write this, I feel the need to "not" write much more, so I will cut this off.  What things do you "not" need to do?  Feel free to go ahead and "not" do them :)

Do, however, love people well, write/play music, hang out with friends/family, read books, watch movies, and be present in your life.  I'll do my best to do the same.  Also, embrace this because it's kind of awesome, though I always preferred Jon over Joey.


Thursday, February 02, 2017

Groundhog Day

Bill Murray.  This guy.  Groundhog Day is on repeat on AMC since it's well, Groundhog Day.  I like this movie and am glad that I'm watching it on the day of the actual event.  We may not get to live every day over and over again to get it "right" or make it "better," but we can become better every day as individuals and as a community as we learn (assuming we want to do such a thing).  I have to remind myself that it's not about perfection - just about learning and doing the best with what I've learned.  If someone payed me a thousand dollars for a piano lesson though, I'd have to admit, I'd too kick out whatever kiddo I was teaching at the time and teach Bill Murray instead :)  I'd teach him to bend his fingers properly, though (that whole perfection thing).  

I decided today that I'm going to write a few notes to some people in my life that I think have good work/life boundaries and balance.  I've noticed some people that seem to do well about not engaging in the drama that often ensues in life, and I need to be better about letting those people know that I recognize that and appreciate that in them.  Even though today was relatively small in the drama department, I felt the little things made me want to go home and go to bed rather than press on (I pressed on by the way).  My attitude wasn't always the best.  I needed to check myself before I wrecked myself.  I'm hoping showing appreciation and gratitude towards people will help.

On a plus side, yesterday at work, I got to be The Flash.  I decided that I couldn't smile in my superhero selfie, hence the weird look on my face.  I got to fight storm troopers, some sort of sand man from a Lego video game, and other villains with "Captain America" (not pictured for privacy reasons).  Some days you're a superhero, and other days you need to get over your bad attitude and just be grateful instead of trying to save everything.

The friend I got to meet with this week and I now have a short-term plan in place for international missions at our church.  I'll keep you posted as to what happens!  Until then, feel free to check out Compassion (the organization I'm involved with) and Zoe (what she's involved with).  We hope to help kids out of poverty into a new trajectory of life starting with teaching the children in our own community.

One thing that will not put anyone on the right path of learning and living are culottes.  They're available at Target.  Fashion has taken a downhill trend.  Culottes and shirts that tie in the front did NOT need to resurface.  I also saw a southwestern pancho in a store yesterday.  Not ever okay.

In closing, make a dance video, y'all.  Come on!  I'm obviously not an inspiration to your dancing skills, but I'll leave you with a Groundhog Day quote, "Today is tomorrow.  It happened.  You're here."  Live like you're here.  And dance.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

That one time I got a little political (and danced!)...

I didn't go to the women's march this last weekend.  I had a lot of friends that did (men, women, straight, gay, transgender, black, white, Jewish, Christian) and I have some friends that have expressed why they didn't and wouldn't want to go.  I heard people ask what it was really about in the first place, and I imagine with so many different people there, it meant different things for different people.  Still, I can respect that so many people let their voices be heard and did so peacefully, at least here in KC, and from what I could see from my marching friends in Denver and Washington.  Was everyone kind?  I know they weren't.  But remember all of those different people there? One person's story is not another's and one person's behavior doesn't always reflect a whole group.  This is true for everyone.  Those in favor of the march, those opposed, and those indifferent.

I'm a person that doesn't really subscribe to any one political belief.  I'm somewhere in the middle and can't figure out where or if I really want to belong to a certain category of politics.  I know that I care about people, and also care about freedom.  I think fiscal responsibility is a good thing, but I also think that what is fiscally responsible for individuals or families may not be what's best for a whole group of people, say an entire state or country.  I like peace, those that listen, and those that stand up for what they think is right.  I will not deny that my experiences living abroad have shaped my view on globalization and that I care what my friends and others abroad think and care about.  I don't believe compromise is a dirty word.  Because of what I do for a living, I care about health care, education, and support for those with special needs.  I believe in life and the quality of life: of infants, toddlers, children, teens, adults, mothers, fathers, the elderly, criminals, the sick, the lonely, the poor, the rich, the oppressed, natives, immigrants, the misunderstood, the weak, and the strong.  Everyone is someone worth fighting for (but sometimes I have to remind myself of that), and no one experience is exactly like another.  Just because something hasn't affected me personally doesn't mean it ceases to be a problem for those that it affects, and it doesn't mean that others shouldn't have a choice or a voice when it comes to what is best for them.  I care about facts and science very much, but I know that feelings can be a bigger driving force at times. Clear communication is important, and I care very much about how well systems/organizations work.  I'm conservative when it comes to my own personal choices but liberal when it comes to others.  I hope and pray that I can become more liberal in love, grace, and compassion while being disciplined, self-aware, and seeking wisdom and discernment.

As for what I did do this weekend: on Saturday we served the people of greater KC by participating in Faithwork through our church.  Micah and I packed boxes of needed household goods selected by families that are trying to get a new start in the community.  That afternoon, after going to a celebration lunch for some missions partners, I went to Walgreens to pick up my birth control prescription, which under my current insurance plan, is free.  I got to drive my car some, but also took public transportation.  I got to spend time in a house that we own.  I walked by myself freely all the way through downtown Kansas City, and didn't feel afraid, wasn't accosted, or questioned by anyone.  I have the internet and a computer I can type this on.  As far as I know, this post won't be censored.  I am privileged.  I have opportunities.  Not everyone has the same as I.  Some of these opportunities I worked for, but some of them were given to me through no work of my own.  Hashtag recognize.

On a lighter note, I'm having fun working on a song with my friend David, I have a coffee date with a friend planned for next week, and I have another song-writing friend lined up to work with in February.  Fun stuff :)  My friends David, Justin, and others (aka Smokey James and the Avalanche) also submitted a video/song for the NPR Tiny Desk Contest.  You can find that above or find my idea for a response video here (where the dancing comes in).  Please, please, please, consider making your own #thisismyavalanche dance response video.  I've gotten some likes and laughs on mine but it was meant to inspire others to dance to Love's Curse as well.  DO IT!  You'll be glad you did!

Another fun note?  This is my 100th blog post on this site.  It's taken years and a lot of time off to get there, but it's happened.  Happy 100th, blog.  And happy day to you, readers.  Get to dancin' (or commenting if you so choose!).

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

one, little, big, giant thing

I'm a Speech-Language Pathologist and I work with kids.  I get to hear some pretty hilarious stuff on a daily basis as a result.  Today, I got to hear about why a girl's sister didn't get proposed to on NYE because she "passed out when she got home" that night.  Huh.  Informative.  I also got to listen to a young girl explain a trip she just took, which included "one, little, big, giant thing" (her words).  As funny as that phrase was, and how accurately it describes that young person, I realized that it was a pretty good description of how I blow things out of proportion.

I first came to understand that I worry excessively about time when I first lived in Thailand.  I went from working full-time to not having a job, being single to being married, and living in the U.S. to living abroad.  I had a lot of newness in my life, but the not-working part may have been the hardest part looking back.  After a while I would find myself panicking mid-day that I didn't have the house all clean or the groceries bought and I was afraid I wasn't going to have it done by the time Micah got home from work.  I honestly spent hours worrying when I either could've just done the work already or at least calmed down and realized that I had plenty of time.  I was trying to live up to imaginary expectations that I had set for myself and I was convinced I wasn't going to live up to them.  To top it all off, I was fine.  Every day.  I had plenty of time.  Every day.  And I would forget that.  Every day.

Fast forward to now, and I still forget.  I may not always have the anxiety I did then, but sometimes that one, little thing becomes and big, giant thing and I panic that I can't get everything done I need to do.  It was days like today that I'm reminded yet again that I will have enough time for what needs to happen today.  And tomorrow, and the next day.  I was worried that I wouldn't have enough time to get my house cleaned and food cooked for a friend to come over tomorrow night.  So, I cooked/prepared some food this morning before I left for work in a hurry.  When I was busy worrying (and working) today though, a commitment I thought I'd have tonight got switched to Thursday.  This gave me a whole night of time.  Plus, I found out I get to leave work a half-hour earlier than typical tomorrow.  Already more time for tomorrow too.

Speaking of tomorrow, I'm getting my hair cut during my break at work, and I get to start trying my hand at co-writing some of those songs I set a goal for (with said friend coming for dinner).  I may be really bad at this, but I've got to start somewhere.  And who knows?  Maybe this song will turn into one, little, big, giant thing.

My flowers from last week have died, but my dreams have not.  Intentionally :)  Of course, I was really bad at caring for those flowers.  Irises suck up water quickly - I had no idea.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

I Bought Myself Flowers feat. Salt 'N' Pepa (feat. En Vogue)

The other morning I looked down to see how many steps I had on my Fitbit, and I had 711.  When 711 doesn't make me think of the numerous 7-Elevens in Bangkok, it makes me think of Salt 'N' Pepa (feat. En Vogue)'s tune Whatta Man.  I'll let you recall the bit about 7-Eleven from the song.

Now.

I'll wait.

Start singing...

 "like 7-Eleven and yes it's me that he's always choosin', with him I'm never losin' and he knows that my name is not Susan."  That song.  You remember it.  No one's ever mistaken my name for Susan, though.  SHAYlin, Shuh-LINN, Shaylene, Shannon, and of course Shao-lin, but not Susan.  It's one thing not to know or remember how to pronounce my name, but Shannon?  I didn't just add extra sounds and letters into my name for fun.  Shannon's a perfectly fine name, but that's not what I said. Good times.

Anyhow, I mention that because I enjoyed brushing my teeth to that song that morning. Intentionally. I've done a bit better about this intentional thing since my last post, but of course it probably helps that there's been less laundry and road trips since then.  In an effort to try and do something new every day, it's been more about intentionally making every day different.  That's involved (among several other things), trying to plan out my continuing education for the year, creating a new Facebook group (for another work goal I have this year), getting new tires for my car (it appears as if this will be a snowy winter), and today?  buying myself flowers at Trader Joe's.  They make me smile.

One of the coolest things that's happened though is that I prayed for a person who I've been too critical about.  On the same day I prayed, I had several positive interactions with that person and my outlook softened.  Tangible answers.  Pretty cool.

Next week I get to start trying to write music with a friend, I've reiterated my book reading goal to a few other people (which means it's going to happen, right?), and I've gotten to give a coffee-loving friend a Starbucks gift card.  I've also just gotten things done.  A big part of that is my effort to not be on my phone once I've laid down in bed, and not to check my phone at all until after being awake for 30 minutes (and out of bed).  When I'm not preoccupied with emails and Facebook posts that can wait, I get the dishes done.  I floss my teeth.  I make Micah lunch for the day.  I stop worrying and mentally complaining about things as much.  I realize the world still goes on without me immediately knowing what happened during our nighttime hours.  Try it.  I recommend it.

How are you living with purpose/intention?  How can I encourage you?  Do I need to buy you flowers?  What is your favorite Salt 'N' Pepa or En Vogue song?  Who would you "feat." if you were in a band?  Did you notice my "feat." within a "feat." title?  All important questions.  Well, all questions.  You can answer them in a comment :)

Monday, January 02, 2017

Trying this ol' thing again

I used to blog a fair amount, say 10 years ago.  I even had another blog about my adventures in Thailand for a brief minute.  I look back and laugh at it now.  Mostly because I used to be funny.  You can read all of it in my archives there, and here.  It will probably scare those of you that didn't know me when.  This being said, I've at least for now decided to start it up again.  This time, with a purpose.  I'm sure I'll still be hilarious though, right?

A friend asked me a few days ago how she could support me and/or pray for me this year, and after thinking about it, I decided she could support me by asking me how I'm doing at being intentional.  I want to be intentional about doing new things, embracing change, loving people, serving people, creating, and trying to follow Jesus.  Lofty goals, and 2 days into 2017, I'm already failing.  #needsomegrace  I'll explain my shortcomings, but I also thought I'd share my sub-goals for this year.  Not resolutions, but some things I'd like to do under the umbrella of being intentional.

1. Read at least 3 books that I already own/have but have never read.  What kind of person owns books they've never read?  Me.
2. Co-write some songs.  Everything I've written in the last few years has been solo.  I'm grateful that I've built up a body of work, but I want to learn how to write with different voices.  Who wants to join me?!
3. Try or do something new every day.
4. Listen to and if possible, begin audio recording people's stories.  All kinds.
5. Have lunch/tea with someone fun at least once a month.
6.  Give something to someone(s) at least once a week.  Tangible items, time, service, money, whatever.
7.  Pray for others more than myself.

Ways I've succeeded in this?  Yesterday (Jan. 1st), I drank my first cup of Fruity Black Tea with Bergamot Oil from Kim.  It was really good and I look forward to having many more cups!  Today (Jan. 2nd), I wore my new LulaRoe leggings for the first time, listened to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album while I worked out (the combination was new), ate some of a cheeseball my coworker Kara made, and I wrote this post.

Ways I've failed already?  Yesterday, Micah decided we'd drive home from OKC via Tulsa and up through Missouri (instead of through Kansas).  I should've embraced it as something "new."  I, however, had a bad attitude when driving through Joplin, Missouri and it took me a while to get out of my funk (Micah can attest to this).  Today?  Micah did some loads of laundry while I was at work.  Instead of being grateful, I got critical about some technicalities when everything was perfectly fine.  Not so intentionally loving, eh?  Being married is like holding up a mirror, y'all.

This is going to be an interesting year!  Join me!  What do you want to be intentional about?