Marie Curie and the Power of Persistence

It has been forever since I’ve written! I have so many things to say and share, but when I sit down to write a blog post, I get so easily sidetracked. You too?

Something I want more of here in this space is the sharing of some really awesome things that I find. Whether it’s music, products, books, projects, apps or anything in between, I love collecting and curating and learning about amazing people doing really wonderful things.

I am always on the lookout for unique ways to teach children about legends, heroes, those who we can learn from. The Marie Curie Alumni Association has created a super great book series called My Super Science Heroes and first up, is Marie Curie! Read on to learn more about this cool crowdfunding campaign that starts TODAY! Spread the word and help bring this project to life!

Marie Curie and the Power of Persistence

Helping Kids Discover Their Persistence: A New Children’s Book About Marie Curie

My Super Science Heroes is a new illustrated book series for kids between the ages of 5-9 by the Marie Curie Alumni Association

 

The first book in the series, Marie Curie and the Power of Persistence, uses a novel storytelling approach—written and illustrated as a dynamic superhero story—this book introduces children to important scientists and their key accomplishments in a fun and engaging way.

Unlike any other children’s book about historical figures as it focuses not on the achievements of the two-time Nobel Laureate but instead on her personality traits that are inherent in all young children—persistence.

In Marie’s life story, she relies on her superpower during her ongoing battle with her arch nemesis, Mr. Opposition. In the late 1800s, women were seen as not capable of complex scientific thought and forbidden from attending university in Poland. Throughout her life, society and institutional limitations threatened to block her progress and achievements. However, Marie was determined to become educated and successful at any cost, and she persisted.

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Marie Curie represents a strong-willed role model for both girls and boys as the first person to ever win two Nobel Prizes and the only person to win Nobel Prizes in two different sciences. This book demystifies her complex discoveries using language that early readers can understand, and parents and teachers alike will find it a joy to read aloud.
 
Children love epic adventures complete with heroes, villains, and incredible superpowers and this book delivers all of that with dynamic and infectious energy.
Marie Curie and the Power of Persistence
 
The Marie Curie Alumni Association is dedicated to inspiring and empowering the next generation of scientific thinkers through the power of storytelling.
 
 
Help bring science to life for our youngest heroes by supporting the book.

Tuesday Triangle Tunes : Ingrid Michaelson, Home

Even in the harshest of winter I feel so warm
Even when the marks climb up the wall I still feel small

This is my home
This is my home
Where I go when I’ve got nowhere else to go
This is my home
This is my home
Where I go when I don’t know where else to go

I know everything about this place, it wears your face
Even when my body blows away, my soul will stay

This is my home
This is my home
Where I go when I’ve got nowhere else to go
This is my home
This is my home
Where I go when I don’t know where else to go

Do you feel safe?
Do you feel safe?
Do you feel safe?
Do you feel safe?

This is my home
This is my home
Where I go when I’ve got nowhere else to go
This is my home
This is my home
Where I go when I don’t know where else to go

 

Danielle Laporte : Wisdom is Paradoxical

Danielle LaPorte Wisdom

I’ve been a long time fan of Danielle LaPorte. When I first started listening to her and reading her work, I thought “eh, this is a bit too foo-foo and woo-woo for this practical and reasoning mind of mine.” However, the longer I listened, and read, the more I started to learn that a big part of being wise, is being able to absorb tracks of truth from all sorts of sources. Danielle is someone that if you don’t already follow, I think you should.

I’ve been a part of her launch team for her new White Hot Truth book, and she is sharing this ‘guest post’ today in an effort to talk about paradoxes and wisdom … and I wanted to in turn share it with you. I bring you, Danielle LaPorte Wisdom is Paradoxical.


WISDOM IS PARADOXICAL: True wisdom usually holds and transcends opposing points of view. Wisdom knows that there is always an exception to the rule, that there is a time and place, and that a case-by-case approach is divine protocol.

If you can comfortably hold your paradoxes, you’re going to be just fine.

Because I’m suggesting that you:

1. Love yourself first and foremost and… Include the world in your loving (and then get off your ass and be more selflessly engaged).

2. Raise your standards and… Be more flexible and accommodating.

3. Forgive and… Don’t forget.

4. Honour spiritual traditions and… Be your own guru.

5. Be open-hearted and… Have clear, strong boundaries.

6. Be understanding and… Don’t take any shit.

7. Have a vision and… Go with the flow.

8. Trust and… Do the work.

9. Get real and… Be idealistic.

10. Be steadfast in your Truth and… Make all kinds of exceptions.

11. Have strong preferences and… Be easy to please.

12. Lead with your heart and… Your head.

13. Own your extraordinariness and… Your ordinariness.

Because it’s up to you and… we’re all in this together. And hey, we have all the time in the world, but… this is urgent.

This is a peek-a-boo from Danielle LaPorte’s new book love #WhiteHotTruth, Chapter 3: TRUTHFULLY SEEKING.

G E T M O R E: Read or listen to the entire chapter free HERE.

Which of this list would be the most difficult for you to subscribe to? Are there several paradoxes that speak to you?

All strength is not loud (or wearing red)

The news isn’t officially banned in our household, but it might as well be. There are very few sources that offer bipartisan information, so I choose to leave it turned off.

I only visit my Twitter account these days to share something impactful I’ve heard or read lately (via a book, song lyrics or on a podcast) to give the author / artist a shout out that the art they have painstakingly put out into the world has found its way to a soul that appreciates the work.

The moments that my resolve cracks momentarily and I find myself scrolling through the 160 character spew fests, I immediately feel my heart beat faster and I know my blood pressure is rising. I can tell, because of my physical reaction, but yet I hold my phone, and continue to scroll, with my left hand thumb flicking upwards.

Attacking. Spewing. Anger flying. Hurting feelings. Speaking too quickly. 

No fact checking. No regard for the other’s opinions.

Maybe they aren’t opinions at all, but simply words they heard someone else say?

Name calling. Hashtagging.

Judging because they marched. Judging because they didn’t march.

Changing their minds. Wavering between stated positions. Retreating, then lashing.

How dare you? Who are you? Why are you even here? Did you even vote? 

Go back where you came from. You don’t deserve a passport. You disgust me.

Keyboard warriors. Laptop Activists. Movement obsessed.

I’ve removed the Facebook app from my phone, and have long utilized the Newsfeed Eradicator Chrome Extension (which literally means I cannot see my news feed when I log onto Facebook from my laptop). I didn’t want to unfriend those who view life differently than me, but I needed to slow down the speed at which their opinions entered my psyche.

When someone near me is talking about politics, I set my jaw hard on the left side. I tap my tongue against the inside of my mouth … on the smooth part of my teeth and listen. I listen to whether they have something new for me to learn. I want to use every opportunity to add value to the time we are given together. It isn’t easy. My blood sometimes boils and my the hair on the back of my neck stands up often … but we must first listen.

Our staunch beliefs are rooted in so many things. Our opinions are the culmination of how you were raised and how you were not raised. Whether you spoke openly at the dinner table about the White House or barely knew what a voting precinct meant. What we think about the climate of our world is colored by where we’ve lived and how you view government’s control over a place. It is determined by whether you were bullied or supported, loved or abandoned. We even allow our experiences with religion, cultural events and education eek into the way we feel about those running our countries.

I have maintained a “head down” and “stay in my lane” mantra since well before the election. I grew increasingly saddened by the campaigns from both parties as we went into the election — and that feeling hasn’t changed since. Not because he won and she lost, but because the behavior I am witnessing amongst my fellow human race is defeating and disheartening.

It’s a weird place to be, this in the middle lane that I find myself in. It’s a location I sit squarely in on matters of race, and on matters of feminism and religion as well. I bite my tongue more than I speak, which is slightly ironic because otherwise, my mouth rants and rages on most topics.

What happens when the silent majority of those in the middle isn’t loud enough? I recently watched the remake of Beaches with our 10 year old daughter and one of the recurring themes, said by CC to Hillary, is:

Not all strength is loud.


I have given myself permission to live in a “not all strength is loud” way of being.

By checking out of social media, you are not irresponsible

By refusing to watch the news, you are not ignorant

By choosing to get a pedicure and watch The Voice recordings in the afternoons, you are not anti-feminist

By marching or by NOT marching, you are likely still not doing enough

By reading personal or business development books instead of the latest op-ed or Medium article on the most recent EO, you are not turning a blind eye

By asking someone a question on why they believe the way they do, you are dropping a small ripple of goodness on its way towards change

By listening to that person while they answer your question, you are furthering the cause of progression

By insisting that kindness and hopefulness still reign supreme, you are not being ridiculous

By reminding each other that we can impact our local climate, we are supporting each other in healthy ways.


I wrote all of those words a few weeks ago, but was reminded today, on International Women’s Day, as I’m being asked from my friends – the world over – if I’m participating in the #ADayWithoutAWoman movement, that I never hit submit.

I could easily get blasted for speaking “from a place of privilege”.  I’ll be honest that the fear of speaking my mind (on topics of racism, feminism, equality, etc.) and then being subjected to that “place of privilege” being thrown in my face has kept me from saying much on the topics until now. I’ve never been one to shy away from sharing my opinion and my truth, so I’m not sure why I’ve let it hush me for so long. I do speak from a place of privilege – I will say that out loud, and acknowledge it. Whether it’s white privilege (even though I’m biracial), socio-economic privilege, religious, sexual preference, citizenship, you name it — I have it.  I have cringed when reading one article (from a “privileged” author) be lambasted and challenged by someone without the same privilege in a “how dare you” tone of voice. I have winced when listening to someone who feels oppressed share their stories, and have felt sad, helpless and hurt for them, only to then hear that someone (“privileged”) supported their plight, but was shunned for pretending to know what it felt like.

We cannot continue to — in a sweeping manner — call people out on their privilege as IF it automatically negates their activism, waters down their voice, their power or their truth.

 
Whether you are oppressed or have every privilege afforded to you, no matter who you voted for, why you voted for them, or what you’re now doing about the world you live in, I am so happy to see SO many rising up, showing up and speaking up. I honestly have been encouraged by the increased discussions taking place around what is happening in our world.

International Women’s Day was designed to:
… reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.” – United Nations website
Then there is the #DayWithoutAWoman, designed to encourage these actions:
Do not engage in paid and unpaid work. Wear red in solidarity. Avoid spending money (unless it’s at an establishment owned by women or minorities).
If we are celebrating those acts of courage and determination by ordinary women, it seems like the DWAW only takes us a step back. Let’s all “stay home” and for some, risk losing our jobs. Let’s not spend the money WE worked hard to earn. I still haven’t figured out why we are encouraged to only spend money at establishments owned by women OR minorities. Confused, but whatever.
So … in answer to the questions I have fielded today:

I am not wearing red today.

I am showing up and getting work done.

I am spending money that I earned today.

I wonder what it would look like if we encouraged:
  • Wear a color that is any hue you choose, but be sure it’s BOLD (and then when someone sees that boldness, own it and say “thank you!” with the same fervor our male counterpart would).
  • Go to work and teach someone else a new skill or talent that will empower their future paid and recognized work.
  • Spend your hard earned money in a way that empowers the true progress of women in this world, whether philanthropically, buying to support local makers, etc. or in any other manner of empowering and lifting up.

 

Worth a ponder, don’t you think?

On another similar, but separate topic. I have a question (a real question, that I’m looking for the answers to): What IS the feminist movement, as it’s currently being used in 2017?

 

Danielle Laporte says:
In terms of leadership, I’m not that interested in someone’s gender. I’m interested in their wholeness. Just because someone identifies as a female doesn’t mean they’re working on behalf of the “Divine Feminine.” If more females move into positions of so-called power, but they’re operating on the patriarchal mindset, then it’s hardly progress. It’s only adding to the illusions and confusion around what power and equality really mean. (Side Note: used on its own, the term patriarchy can trigger brushstroke judgments that anyone with a penis is a patriarchal asshole. The patriarchal mindset is not gender-specific, it’s a paradigm that can corrupt anyone, at any age, from almost any culture. There are MANY men out there who are “heart-led, with spines of direction and ambition, and with profoundly tender attentiveness, who embody wholeness.”
What does feminism mean to you? What does it mean for the way you go about your every day?

I am getting up on this Wednesday, March 8th and I am going to work. As a very dear friend said to me, “I am going to work today to lead. I am going to work today to learn. I am going to work today because my family depends on my income, and because it makes me a better woman than I was yesterday.”  I have been on a long journey to get to where I am with “my work” and not showing up for it today feels … not right for me.

I am going to spend my money today and do something that makes a difference in the lives of those around me (my “do something good” scale heavily  leans towards things like Ripple Effect Images or my continuing Kiva contribution or by simply adding some of my hard earned money to my Ellevest investment account.)

It is not enough to wear pink pussy hats or red tshirts with a raised fist in the air. It is not enough to watch important documentaries, but fail to discuss them after you leave the theater. It’s also not enough to open your checkbook and give $200 to the refugees. It’s not enough to pen thought provoking blog posts or share the most recent Upworthy video all over your social.

Perhaps you’ll want to say I’m not “feminist enough”, or am naive to today’s world, but but I simply support the fight to — every single day —  be a better person than you were when you went to sleep last night. Show up for people who are creating opportunities for themselves and their families. Stand behind those who see their leadership quotient and raise the bar for those they were called to lead. Share and elevate of the stories and goals of those who strive to learn and expand their consciousness and awareness.

I will however, bolster my strong spine, clear my throat, work my ass off today to be better than I was yesterday, give some of my hard earned money to impact someone else’s life, and will do my part to raise children who are empowered to do the same.

The Divine Feminine sure ain’t about being the first female president, dean or CEO of anything. Ranking high in a broken system doesn’t necessarily make you a heroine of feminism – tho’ it very well could, and women’s history is abundant with those true pioneers. The Divine Feminine is the warrior and the healer … it is justice and mercy, carried out with grace. It’s economics and the arts … that nurture the entire community. Being direct and loving the hunt of opportunities – these are characteristically masculine qualities. I am deeply intuitive and nurturing — innately feminine qualities. When I’m at my best, I express all of these qualities in my ALL-WOMAN ways. My delivery is compassionate and often softly spoken; my business operates on a triple bottom line, so that we can ALL be well fed, even if it means I share my own food. I am BEING the Divine Feminine.  – Danielle LaPorte
 (P.S. / Side Note / This is where you come in —–> What you’ve just read is a LOT of unedited free-flowing thoughts from my brain. It’s rambling and quite possibly messy in how well it reads BUT I welcome a conversation around this. I want to learn more from each of you, and understand more than I did when I hit submit.)

Let's Go To Work Chris Brogan

 

 

 

Gold in the Dirt, Danae

I love music. I don’t really dig heavy metal or rap, but otherwise, bring me ALL of the music. It uplifts, it lets me connect with my soul, it quiets, it ramps up, it whispers, it screams, it speaks. It motivates, it encourages and it empowers.

Recently, I bought myself an Echo and have not looked back. I simply say “Echo?” and my little friend plays anything I ask it to. LOVE. You should get one. Seriously!

Every year, I choose a word that will help guide and support the year ahead  — both personally and in business. This year, it’s disrupt. I’ll share more on that soon, but I’ve come to realize that my word gains more traction when I assign a song to it. A personal anthem, a power song, a musical mantra.

This year, the song that found its way to me is Gold in the Dirt, by Danae. I don’t remember how I found Danae, but I am so thankful. The lyrics are meaningful and fit my intentions for the Year of Disrupt!

I’m done living my life
Just to get out alive
Yellow flickering light
Got it in my sights

Doesn’t really what it costs us
Gonna carry this shovel till the sun comes up
I’m gonna break up the dust in the earth

Cause there’s gold in the dirt, gold in the dirt
Dig a little deeper, there’s gold in the dirt
~
Black, blue, blood runs through
Every inch is proof
Shine, shine, deepen the mind
Leave the past  behind
~
Doesn’t really what the ending is

I got one shot, I’m gonna take it
I’m gonna shake up the dust in the earth

Doesn’t really what it costs us
Gonna carry this shovel till the sun comes up
Doesn’t really what the ending is
I got one shot, I’m gonna take it
I’m gonna break up the dust in the earth

Because connection is important to me, I wanted to reach out to Danae and learn a bit more about her, and I also REALLY, really wanted to know about the gold triangle necklace she always wears, because, you know, I’m all about all things Triangle!! Graciously, she answered my email right away, and the result of our connection and dialogue resulted in this Q&A. Let me introduce you to …
danae logo

Danae, share a brief introduction of you, your background and your journey to where you are today:

My creative journey has been one of personal discovery and joy. As a little girl, I loved to sing, but I don’t have memories of thinking I would be a “star” or a “singer” when I grew up. I also loved to write poetry, which eventually led me to start songwriting. I simply created to create; out of a deep love for it. Perhaps this also came from the fact that my older brothers were always in bands and shooting for the stars. I simply loved the music making experience!

How has your journey with music changed your perspective on life and the world:

Being a performing musician has taken me into situations and moments that I could have never imagined. On a tour to Germany in 2015, I found myself taking a bus to a small town on the outskirts of Bremen. The local pawn shop owner said that I would find the venue if I just kept walking. So I walked a mile with my backpack guitar and finally came across a beautiful retreat center. As the clock struck 7 pm, the show started and the room was filled with 50 Germans there to hear my music! This story is less about me and more about the power of the unknown. Music creation and performance has taught me to never underestimate people but to always be confident in myself as I share the gifts I’ve been given.

Danae

What was the biggest catalyst to the creation of Gold in the Dirt?

Gold in the Dirt started simply as a title and the first lyric: “I’m done living my life just to get out alive.” I can’t remember when I first wrote that down, but I took it into a co-write with AG, a producer in LA, and she loved it! We ended up writing the song in like an hour, which for my pop songs is lightning fast.

What does “home” mean to you?

Home is where you are loved for who you are. Home is where people know your quirks and your history and still dig deeper. Because I travel a lot and grew up in a number of different places, home really has become a place where family and friends are.

What does “community” mean to you, both personally and with your music?

Community is the place you feel safe to create and a group of people who send you out into the world. Nashville, where I lived for 2.5 years, has an incredible community. If you have an idea and passion, people will rally around you to help bring it to life. Community is also the place I often find the most authentic acceptance.

So this triangle necklace! Tell me a bit about the story behind Direction and … how were you connected originally to Sarah, the artist who created the necklace?

Danae

Sarah and I met over 9 years ago when I first moved to Washington D.C. We were in a book club together, and she was one of those people I just connected with instantly. I had only known her a few months when she asked me to sing in her wedding. And once you sing in someone’s wedding you are friends for life. It’s kind of the deal. The idea for the Direction Necklace was a natural outgrowth of our friendship and previous collaborations. I wanted something signature and special, a reminder of potential, change and hope. The Direction Necklace has been that for me and I hope it is that for others as well.

Note from Sarah Bayot: Each purchase of a Direction Necklace provides a scholarship for under resourced children to attend school. Currently, Kicheko is partnered with Mango Tree School, a primary school based in Uvira that educates over 200 primary-level students in the South Kivu province who are underresourced and cannot afford school fees and the other costs associated with attending school. Kicheko is an attempt to combat this cycle by identifying students who are most in need and working with families to ensure that their children stay in school year round.

Note from Naomi: If you purchase a Direction Necklace, please let me know in the comments!

How have you found your place in the “giving back” space and what is most often on your heart in terms of how you can serve others?

When it comes to giving back, I love to partner with people who share a common “why” with me and a drive to overcome obstacles along the way. I’m always open to fresh collaborations that will create positive change in the word.

What do you do to feed the desire for local and global connection

I think that desire is simply in my blood stream. Having lived overseas in Russia as a child and traveling to over 20 countries, I am constantly looking for connections to the world beyond myself. On a practical level, I try to read the news regularly and to stay connected with friends in industries different than my own.

Who influences you? Who do you read / listen to … or look to for inspiration and motivation?

I have a unique and solid community of girlfriends who I have known for over 5 years, and my conversations with them are a significant influence on me. They ask the deep, cutting questions I need to grow and give me a safe place to say my rough draft thoughts out-loud. Musically, I try to keep a pretty steady stream of the newest pop. I like to hear what’s happening in the market. Books wise, recently I’ve been reading a lot of articles about the mind and how it works. The way connections are made and the power of positive thinking. I also glean a lot of inspiration from my personal Faith. Ultimately, I believe that each of us were created to create.

What do you think about vulnerability and authenticity … and what do those two words look like when they show up in the work you do?

I aim to be authentic in everything I do. Whether at work, at the café, writing a song, loving my mom, listening to a friend, authenticity is the act of being present, of giving your real mind and heart to the moment to engage. To me, vulnerability is the next level deep past authenticity. You can be authentic but not vulnerable. I want my music and life to ring with the honesty of an authentic voice while also communicating the truth of a vulnerable heart.

Danae

 

What is next for you?

I’m currently working on a remix of Direction that will come out in Q1 of this year, which I am super excited about. It’s from a favorite Nashville producer of mine – Nilo G. He’s creative and I think fans will love the reimagined version of last year’s hit! Also, I new songs that are in pre-production. So keep an eye out cause the best music is yet to come for sure!

Where can we find you online?

The best place to connect online is Instagram. I think it’s my favorite social media platform. In addition to that, my website danae.co always had the latest stuff brewing. If you are on Facebook, don’t miss out on that too!

~

Danae, thank you for popping by and sharing you and your music!

Naomi Signature - small

2016 Year End Giving

It’s not too late to do a mad dash of year end giving! If you’re anything like me, I’ve put off some opportunities to give financially this year, so I wanted to put together a quick post of the three ways our family regularly gives with our checkbook.


 

Ministry 2 Kenya Deb Smith

Ministry 2 Kenya

My mother, Deb Smith, is a missionary in Kenya! She has been there for 15 years and steps alongside those who are often otherwise forgotten — mostly children in need of an education — both in the urban slums and the rural villages. Through long-lasting, meaningful, one-on-one relationships she brings hope and encouragement to the lonely and the discouraged. Kenya’s academic year starts the first week of January and mom has started her fundraising campaign to raise the money needed for SEVEN students to have their fees paid for the 2017 academic year. The total needed is $2,880 and as of this post, $955 has already come in!!

In addition to the tuition, other expenses include:

  • textbooks, notebooks, pens, pencils, and other supplies
  • personal items for those who attend boarding school
  • fare to go home for the breaks between terms.

Deb, a/k/a Mom, has a need to raise the remaining funds by Christmas so that she can make arrangements to pay all school fees before she comes back to the US for a home leave trip. If you’d like to participate in sending a child to school and would like to help pay school fees, please click the Donate button just below this sentence. 100% of all funds raised go straight to the tuition and expenses … together, you can help impact the life of a child and their entire family!

DONATE TO THE SCHOOL FUND


 

Ripple Effect Images

 

I am honored to have been asked to serve on the advisory board for Ripple Effect Images, an amazing organization, doing amazing things in this world. A note from the Founder, Annie Griffiths that I wanted to share with you:
 
As we head into the holiday season, I have some truly lovely news to share. Ripple’s aid partners have reported raising more than 7 million dollars this year using the images and films we created for them. That is a return on our investment of 1429%. (I just love this number!) This is huge!
 
Every dollar invested became 14+ dollars of additional aid in a single year… a breath-taking Ripple Effect. Most importantly, behind every dollar are real women and children with so much potential. Thanks to Ripple supporters:
 
-7000 families in Guatemala will now receive clean cookstoves
-Teenage girls in northern Uganda will have safe shelters to go to when they flee early marriage
-Thousands of villagers in Ethiopia will learn how to prevent and cure a devastating foot disease caused by farming in volcanic soil
-7000 children in Bangladesh, Tanzania and Uganda will receive funding for early childhood education
-The effort to eradicate pediatric AIDS in Africa will accelerate
 
So THANK YOU! Ripple’s year-end goal is to raise $100,000 that, at our current rate of impact, could turn into nearly 1.5 million dollars of additional support for women and children in the developing world! This year, more than ever, we need to work together to move the world forward. We simply can’t do it without you.
 
 
Kiva

When a Kiva loan enables someone to grow a business and create opportunity for themselves, it creates opportunities for others as well. That ripple effect can shape the future for a family or an entire community.

Regardless of where you choose to spend your charitable giving dollars this year, and for years future, one really SMART thing to do is always check out the health of the organizations you are giving to.  Charity Navigator, your “guide for intelligent giving”, is an amazing tool to check out the transparency and ratings of large charitable and philanthropic organizations. Worth noting, in order to be analyzed and receive a Charity Navigator rating, the organization must have filed specific IRS forms for at least 7 years, so you won’t find all of your favorite 501(c)(3)s there.
Let me know in the comments what YOUR favorite charitable organization is!
N.

Lessons from Gpa

gpa-1

Each time our family finds ourselves in a new location, we take notice of the driving habits of the residents of our new city or town. In Singapore, the kiasu syndrome was laughable, driving in India was a little nuts (I didn’t personally drive in Delhi) and Northern Virginia – well, everyone has somewhere to go and fast!

Here in Columbus, I am finding that folks stay at stop signs longer, and wave their free hand to indicate a willingness to let someone else go first. I am noticing that my natural tendency to drive just over the speed limit (with a bit of aggressiveness) is starting to dwindle and I’m more relaxed when I drive.

(Interstate driving in Ohio however, is a different situation. Watch your six, keep both hands on the wheel and mind your blind spot are all important things to remember!)

Each and every time I get behind the wheel of my vehicle, which currently happens to be a bright red Jeep, I think of my grandfather. We called him grandpa (Gpa) and he was, and still is, everything to me.

From an early age, I remember him allowing us to sit on his lap and get behind the wheel of his car. We would be in a big, open (and empty) parking lot early in the morning. He would show us where to put our hands on the steering wheel. He would explain what each pedal did, and how much pressure to put on the gas pedal in order to slowly ease forward (we were young enough that we couldn’t reach the pedals, so he would do that work, but he wanted us to learn).

He would always ask “are you focusing?” and we would excitedly nod our head up and down, repeatedly with a wild smile on our faces. Let’s go, I would always think to myself, I can do this! Let’s go!

Inevitably, he would slow us down and repeat earlier instructions: make sure your hands are in the right place, and your stocking cap is out of your eyes, and you’re sitting straight.

Ok, ok, Gpa. Can we go?

He would withhold forward motion, by not depressing that gas pedal, and would teach us how to use the rearview mirror. Check it regularly and make it a habit to know what’s going on behind you, at the same time you’re staying eyes forward. Use your side view mirrors for what they were intended, to check on the situation alongside you and … keep those hands in the right place.

Ok, ok, Gpa. I got it. Time to go!

 

Now listen, he would say. This is important. Do you see how the seatbelt works? We would then get a short tutorial on how seatbelts function against the force of an anticipated impact. Let’s also talk about the dashboard. Do you see this button? It lets you reset the trip odometer. When you fill up your gas tank, it’s good to know how your vehicle is using the fuel you’re putting in it. While filling up, he would pull out his small notepad where he kept track of each and every trip to the gas station. Mileage noted, number of gallons noted. Then, quick calculations would be made to discover his current miles per gallon numbers. Each and every trip.

Ok, ok, Gpa. I wish we could just GO.

Then, quite suddenly, we would start to inch forward. Oh, the excitement surging. Go, go, go! Turn the wheel too fast, then self-correct in the opposite direction, but with too much force. His hands would envelop mine and stop the chaos. Naomi, he would say with a bit of sternness in his voice: keep your hands in the right place and slow down.

Ok, ok, Gpa. I’m listening. Now, can we go?

Dodge Park was my favorite place to practice driving. When Gpa took us driving, there was never anyone else around. It was just time for us. Time for us to be together, to have someone paying attention to JUST us. I don’t remember the frequency of how often we went individually vs. with all of us siblings together, but it never mattered with Gpa. His patience and willingness to always teach made us feel like we were the only thing on his agenda for the day.

~

After we mastered slow turns on the steering wheel, and how to shift from park to drive and into reverse, we graduated to learning about the other people on the road and heading in the same direction as us. Always remember that you are in charge of 3,000 lbs of metal. That’s a big deal, he would say. If you can’t make sure to focus, slow down and always keep your hands in the right place, you shouldn’t be driving.

When you take that 3,000 lbs onto the road, other people are making the same decision. They might not be focusing, or willing to slow down, or keeping their hands in the right place. Always be aware of what the other vehicles are doing, and if you pay close enough attention, he would drill into us, you can predict what those drivers plan to do.

Soon after our lesson, he would scootch us onto our side of the seat, refasten the seatbelt and we’d head back to Gma and Gpa’s house. While we drove, he would continue teaching by nodding his chin towards the road and say things like, “See that car? He’s probably going to turn left soon” or explain why it is important to always use your blinkers.

~

This week marks the ten year anniversary of the Gpa’s passing and I think about him every day. He was an amazing pillar of strength and a role model for what the life of a balanced man, father and husband looks like. He was a brilliant mind who turned every experience into a teaching lesson, and every moment spent with us into a forever lasting memory. He wasn’t perfect, but he was as close as anyone I’ve ever known (well, besides Gma, whose response to the quip “It’s not easy to be perfect” has always been “YES it is!”).

My oldest had a wonderful relationship with Gpa and was given some really great years with Gpa as his number one fan and his sidekick. Spending time with Gpa was always the highlight of Terran’s week, and I am so grateful for that. While Gpa’s literal heart failed his body before any of us were ready, the big-ness of the life he lived and the massive “heart” he instilled in all of us lives on. Even though the youngest of his great grand-children didn’t have the opportunity to sit in his lap, and learn from his wisdom directly from his mouth, the beauty of living a life worth remembering is that we have the opportunity every day to teach our children (and remind myself) of the lessons from Gpa.

Gpa, wishing you didn’t go.

Lessons from Gpa:

Slow down. Slow down. Slow down.

Look behind you, but only briefly. Keep your main focus on your life ahead.

Keep your hands in the right place. Mind your own business. Do what you know you need to do, on repeat.

Know how everything works and why. Always be learning. Share your knowledge with those you love.

Be aware of your blind spots. Know what foods, triggers, sleep patterns, personality types will trip you up, and keep your eyes open for those moments so you can more easily proactively react.

Reset your trip. Find something that refuels you. Enjoy your life.

Keep track of what you’re grateful for and write it down, keep a log.

You’re in charge of this big, heavy, beautiful life. When you take it out for a spin, treat it with respect.

lessons-from-gpa

I don’t want to settle

“Buzz me after you get settled.”

“I hope you get to stay at the next place longer.”

“I don’t know how you do this all of the time!”

All of these sentiments make reference to comments received during the Summer of 2014 when we moved from Florida (after only one year) to Northern Virginia. I found a draft blog post today … and the comments mirror what I recently heard as we prepared for yet another move in 2016. This time, just two years later, from Northern Virginia to Columbus, Ohio.

Here’s the thing.

When you shift and move often, you do one of two things. You either dive deep in a place … or you stay on the surface and bob until your next posting. Neither is right and neither is wrong.

When You Plant Naomi Hattaway I Am A Triangle

  • What if it’s not a bad thing to never stay long … what if it’s ok to never be settled?
  • What if it’s an ok thing TO leave often and leave well.
  • What if it’s not abnormal to be in a place for the course of 24 odd months or the better part of a season in your life.

I’m convinced that the answer to whether one should stay or go, lies in the deeper meaning of whether your relationships — while you were in a place — were meaningful, impactful and truthful.

set·tle1
ˈsedl/
verb
past tense: settled; past participle: settled
  1. 1.
    resolve or reach an agreement about a thing.
    synonyms: resolve, sort out, solve, clear up, end, fix, work out, iron out, straighten out, set right, rectify, remedy, reconcile;
  2. 2.
    adopt a more steady or secure style of life, especially in a permanent job and home.

Per that definition, it would appear that “settle” is a positive state. That anything BUT settled would be deemed negative. Is it truly bad though, to say “I don’t want to settle”?

If you think through those synonyms, it’s downright depressing to think of the opposite, when you are not settled:

  • unresolved
  • not sorted
  • unclear
  • at the beginning
  • not fixed
  • needing to be worked out
  • disheveled
  • unreconciled

I’m choosing to be in the camp where I opt to NOT be settled. I’d like to think that our definition of the word is simply meant to be interpreted as a family who is willing to make the most of a stay, during the time they inhabit a zip or postal code.

And if that means we are a bit messy, “full on”, disheveled and passionate about the communities that we live in — while we have the opportunity to reside there — I can be ok with that.

What say you? Are deep roots better than long flung shallow roots? It’s said that some of the strongest trees in the forest have shallow roots that stretch on for miles …

 

2016 Presidential Election

I have been extremely quiet on social media and in person with my friends and family about how I feel about this Presidential election. I have watched much spewing, I have listened to the nasty campaign, and have “hidden” some very forceful opinions and thoughts shared on Facebook about who is most qualified to lead our country for the next four years.

I’ve been quiet partially because I am a business owner. I have been quiet partially because I didn’t feel strong enough to banter or debate with people who had differing opinions. I have been quiet partially because I have no earthly idea how to explain our candidate options to our children.

But here we are, the morning after, and I have some things to say.

This morning, we poured OJ, flipped pancakes and packed lunches just like every other day. Except as I puttered around the kitchen, I struggled with how to talk to my children about what happened during the Presidential Election of 2016. Not just the previous 24 hours, but the entire campaign process.

With our two youngest being 10 and 13 years old, they have been fully exposed to this campaign and to all that has gone along with it. Because they knew both sides of the media story that we were being fed, it was important to talk about it, this morning after. They knew what he said, and they knew what she did.

On one hand, I wrestled with how to explain that someone who has said things, exhibited behaviors and acted in a manner I would never tolerate from the men in my life, is now the President Elect. On the other hand, I was bothered with how I would have explained that someone who lied and should be in prison had won the election, should that have happened.

Our daughter looked at the television when she woke up and after she plodded down the stairs, with her hair in a high ponytail and her favorite leggings on. Her face showed absolute shock. She turned to look at me and sadly said “Well, someone had to win, and half of us would have been mad either way.” Later, the discussion turned to how people could vote for one candidate, when perhaps all they intended to do was NOT vote for the other candidate. We talked about how United States citizens could vote for one candidate when they couldn’t support him, yet wanted his party to be in control. We also talked about why people who admitted to have never voted before, chose this election to show up at the polls. I didn’t have answers for her, but what I do know is this:

I will continue to wake up every day and do something to remind this world why I am here. Each and every day. Some days it might be volunteering at a local soup kitchen. Another day it might be encouraging fellow female entrepreneurs along their journey, to act as a stair step to promote their future success. Perhaps I will jump out of bed and organize an event or otherwise be active in my community.

My husband and I will continue to raise our children to have an extremely strong moral compass. We are raising our children to speak their minds, but to also listen carefully. We are teaching them to respect, honor and support those that are running this country.

Our children will continue to be taught that diversity, true authenticity and kindness matters. They will be taught that it isn’t hard to give of ourselves to others. They will be taught that  we don’t call names and we speak to each other with respect. They have been and still will be told that living a life they aren’t ashamed of is important, and that keeping your nose clean isn’t difficult.

We are going to work harder at educating them about the bigger governmental picture in the United States. From the very bottom in our schools (running for student council) to our Mayors, school board representatives, all the way up to our Presidential nominations. Our republic is important, and I believe it starts from the ground up. I heard too many rumblings from people that they had no idea who to vote for on the local level, so they … guessed as they completed their ballots. Imagine a world where everyone votes (every election!), and knows their candidates when they go to the polling places. We can impact that change, by educating our children – from a young age – about the process.

It is incredibly important to me that we go back to basics in this country. It’s quite simple actually. We are humans. We are tasked with loving others, leading with kindness and doing our part to make this country (and the greater world) a better place. We cannot do that unless we begin with our children.

We are their light and their torch. They follow our lead. We are responsible for our children. I can’t say with any certainty that we are currently doing the best job we can in this arena.

I wonder what we will call the generation of children that I am raising (I’ve got one Millennial and two “to be determined” littles, as they haven’t yet named their generation). In doing some research, apparently MTV ran a poll and the chosen name was Founders, but in a Forbes article, it was suggested they be called The Builders. The article is slanted heavily towards our technology future, but I think it also is appropriate here:

Millennials are … pushing harder for continuing change and disruption across every aspect of their lives. MTV President Sean Atkins said to TIME that “…while millennials have disrupted society, it’s this new generation’s job to rebuild it. They have this self-awareness that systems have been broken, but they can’t be the generation that says we’ll break it even more.”

But this new generation to follow the Millennials cannot be Founders. Founders by definition are the ones who will establish something. But we have plenty of that already. What we need the next generation to be are The Builders; ones who will build on the foundation that the Millennial generation have sought to put in place through disruption.

The best way to predict the future is to build it.

This is a maker generation, a far more pragmatic and practical generation who must architect and build the future we are all trying to imagine living in. The world doesn’t need more foundational layers, it needs a generation to create.

I really like thinking of my two littles as Builders. I’ll call them that from this point forward, this morning after.

Perhaps you do not have children of your own, so, find some littles to inject your energy into. Find some Builders to teach. Locate members of this next generation and help them grow up to be strong citizens of our country who can stand with everyone, even among different belief systems.

There is a lot of diatribe going on this morning about the vote. About who showed up, about who stayed home, about who wrote in their own names for President. Voting is SO important. We have been given the right to do it … but the real “show up” opportunity is this morning after. We all get another chance this morning — as United States citizens — to love our neighbors regardless of what color their skin is or what gender of person they go to sleep with at night. We all get another change this morning to figure out what our talents and offerings will be to this world, and then we get to tie our shoelaces and go DO those things. We all get another chance this morning to look at the children in our lives and make a conscious decision and effort to be more present in their lives.

Last night, I said to myself that regardless of whether the country decides to “Make America Great Again” or “Stand With Her”, we are all — I think — blessed to be able to do both. If you think about it, we are given the opportunity to keep doing our part as human beings – to continue making America great (not again) and stand with all of those who are in this together (not just with her).

President Elect Donald J. Trump will be soon in the Oval Office, and he will be my President, regardless of the fact that I didn’t vote for him. That’s how I roll as an American. That’s how I’ll continue to raise my children.

And in the meantime, our family will continue to live by this motto: Do something every day to remind this world why you are here.

(For a really great book that offers a carefully curated reading treasury of the best children’s literature to help introduce your children to each area of the globe, as well as books that offer practical parenting suggestions and inspiration, take a look at Give Your Child the World. We have a copy and it really aims to help parents raise insightful, compassionate kids who fall in love with the world and are prepared to change it for good.)

why-youre-here

 

Ohio Welcome

Our family recently completed our seventh move in 13 years. We moved from Northern Virginia to Columbus, Ohio, after having lived in several places in the United States as well as in New Delhi and Singapore. With so many postal codes and zip codes we’ve called home, you might think that we have mastered the art of fitting in, making new friends and settling into our new digs.

I find though, it’s not necessarily true. Yes, I’m a pro at unpacking the boxes, but the connection with neighbors and finding like-minded people is a challenge. I always worry – with each new move – whether the new neighbors will accept our version of crazy chaos, understand that our background includes a diverse collage of experiences, and welcome us into the fold anyway.

We’ve been in the new house for two weeks now. We have been blessed with great neighbors, a true Ohio welcome: everyone bombarded us with treats, including breakfast one morning, dinner another evening. But as we approached Halloween, I was faced with dread and dismay.

Halloween has always been one of my favorite celebrations. Yes, I dress up. But this year, since we are new, I was freaking out a bit. We don’t really know anyone yet and I’m once again left to keep the cheerleading going for the family as we settle in. For instance, my kids have no one to trick or treat with, we have no idea what time the neighborhood starts trick or treating, and we don’t even know if older kids trick or treat here.

eat-drink-and-be-scary

Last week, as I met some of the neighbors, many of them excitedly said, “We gather in the cul-de-sac for Halloween. Bring wine and some food and your candy bowl.” I was thrilled.

We have five neighbors on this cul-de-sac, the circular street that marks the end of the neighborhood. Two Italian-American households are related to each other, one couple has grandchildren, another house is occupied by a single, older man, and another is occupied by an older Polish woman and her Japanese husband, who both immigrated to the U.S. 30 years ago.

So when we were invited for Halloween, I of course accepted, and then a few days later, when I was talking “over the fence” to the Polish lady with the Japanese husband, I asked if they would also be there. They shrugged. In broken English, they said that maybe they could come.

Fast forward to tonight. In my head, I knew that we’d been invited, I KNEW that we were welcome, but I was anxious and nervous. Did they really want us to join them? What if we were supposed to cook something? Should I make a quick cheese plate?

Suddenly, I saw the kids were starting. Should I take our chairs over to their driveway, or sit in ours? I poured a glass of wine at 5:30 p.m. and hid behind the blinds, as I peered out and tried to discern the rules. I tried to hide my discomfort from the kids as I encouraged them: “Right! Go get your costumes on! Let’s go, let’s go. This will be fun!”

A bit later, it was obvious that the neighbors had indeed gathered in one central driveway. Soon enough, everyone was there around a bonfire. We placed our collective candy contributions on the centralized table for the visiting children and we had chili, and pizza from the Italian families’ restaurant, and s’mores.

We talked and laughed and then I watched as the Polish lady and her Japanese husband met —- for the first time in three years —– the other neighbors in the cul-de-sac.

Flabbergasted, I asked one of the neighbors sitting next to me if they had never met this couple before. She said, “Apparently it takes the newest of neighbors to truly bring us all together.”

When I dug a bit further, I learned that this couple moved in to the neighborhood when everyone else had a lot going on — kids graduating from high school, babies being born, a death in the family. Their move-in was also complicated by a 10-month renovation project, so it was a bit less obvious of a move-in than when WE pulled up with our 40-foot truck, three obnoxious dogs, two cats and a red Jeep.

Tonight I watched them share their stories of life abroad, being expats in the U.S., with our neighbors and new friends. The Italian families then talked about their own parents who immigrated, the couple with grandchildren announced they were soon going to retire and go traveling, with the wife doing “on the road” hospice and other nursing care. Another neighbor’s daughter discussed her plans to combine her psychology degree with a master’s in education so she can have an impact on the lives of students living abroad.

We all found we had more in common than simply the same cul-de-sac address. These new neighbors of ours had never talked about their worlds before.

Lesson learned? Just because you’re the newbie doesn’t mean you don’t have something to offer the neighbors.

Moving is hard. Fitting in sucks. Figuring out where and how you belong is exhausting. But sometimes just showing up — especially when it feels the most awkward and difficult — is where the magic lies. When I said goodnight to everyone, the Polish lady gave me a tight hug and in her beautiful broken English said, “Thank you for inviting me to be a part of this.”

For all those struggling with finding their people, and meeting new friends, I say: Change your perspective ever so slightly. Lead with an intention to serve, volunteer your time somewhere, or invite someone to the table. Asking “how can I help?” can be the best introduction to authentic and meaningful relationships.

I am often asked by my friends from around the world whether I am proud to call America home. With so many nasty things happening in America these days, I am reminded that this truly is the spirit of our country. Our basic nature is to welcome new friends. I am living proof that’s who we are.