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

 

Smiles to Africa

A remarkable thing happens when two heads come together with their ideas, passions and thoughts. I dare say an even MORE remarkable thing happens when those two heads are young minds.

Meet Mia and Cassia.

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Cassia Price is a spunky five year old full of sparkle and ideas. She loves to perform, tell stories, do art projects and search for the perfect rock. One day, she decided that she needed to have a purpose for her growing rock collection. As she was painting, she said, “I have an idea! What if we paint them with hearts and leave them around town as a surprise for people? It would spread love and make people smile.” And so Cassia’s Rocks began. She has been leaving rocks all around Loudoun County and other cities in Virginia for over a year.

Mia Hattaway is 10 years old and has always had a heart for service and giving back. She created “Mia’s Mission” when she was 7 years old with an intention to make rainbow loom bracelets and then sell them, to raise money for various projects (donating to a high kill shelter, to an organization that provides heart transplants for young children in developing countries, and to raise money to send a young girl in Kenya named Robai to school).

Mia and Cassia met in 2014 and became fast friends due to my commitment to the Lucketts Elementary School PTA board, where Cassia’s mama also serves. Together, they soon joined forces and created a very special project they named Smiles to Africa.

These two young Loudoun County residents – both on their OWN mission to make the world a better place – realized that by combining their ideas, their reach and effectiveness would be greater!

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Mia’s grandmother lives in Kenya and does service based work with young children and single parent families, and our family already sponsors a teenager in Kenya. Mia and Cassia both have an intense love for learning, reading and had a soft spot in their hearts for girls who otherwise might not be able to go to school.

They knew that there is power when girls help girls, and Mia’s grandmother identified one particular girl, named Deb (who happens to have been named after Mia’s grandmother!) and the rest is history!

Smiles to Africa Mia Hattaway Cassia's Rocks

Many young girls attend only a few years of primary school while they are young, but due to various circumstances, many of them do not continue to attend school. Whether their family needs them at home to help with younger children, chores or just daily life, the percentage of girls who continue in school past Class 8 (what we would call middle school) is very small.

As the only daughter to Nathan and Alice, Deb’s five brothers have priority — according to Kenya’s culture — to the right to attend school because of the fees associated with school. Because of this cultural tradition, it was highly possible that Deb wouldn’t be able to continue attending primary school.

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The girls’ original plan was to paint rocks, and “sell them” for a suggested donation of $5 per rock. They wanted to raise $120 so that the remainder of Deb’s school year for 2016 could be paid for. However, their goal was quickly smashed and they raised their sights to include the school year of 2017. However, big dreams often come with bigger responsibility and soon the girls realized they had raised enough to pay for the entire REMAINDER of Deb’s primary schooling! $1,200 in total!

“I knew that it was a great idea because it is helping people and I like to hear about helping and I want to do whatever I can to help people around the world. I like smiles.” ~Cassia Price, 5 years old

“I didn’t think the idea would help in such a big way. I didn’t realize it could impact Deb so much in her daily life for a long time because our original goal was to raise $120 to pay for the rest of THIS school year. Instead, Cassia and I – with the help of many others – raised almost $1,200!” ~Mia Hattaway, 10 years old

(Side note – the money raised will pay for all of Deb’s elementary (“primary”) schooling expenses (including books, school fees, uniforms, sundries, etc) at her boarding school through the end of primary school (until she enters Form 1, which is equivalent to our high school Freshmen year.

In July of this year, I traveled with my two youngest children, Mia and Antonio, along with my niece Aaliyah TO Kenya for a month long trip. What an amazing trip it was! We carried ALL of those purchased Smiles to Africa rocks with us to leave in various places in Kenya, and with children we met along the way!

While we were visiting many locations in Kenya, we were able to travel “upcountry” to meet Deb’s family, and they invited us to come for lunch.

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Alice and Nathan graciously fixed a feast of chicken, rice, chapati and soup, complete with glass bottled orange Fanta! Typically, in rural areas of Kenya, they eat ugali (maize flour (corn) that is boiled to a dough like consistency) and sukuma wiki (boiled greens – and the name means “to stretch the week”) so the meal they prepared for us was very special.

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After lunch and visiting with the neighbor children (none of which attend school), we traveled to Deb’s school, some of us by boda-boda (on the back of a motorbike). Meeting Deb was so wonderful! Her smiles were ear to ear! She has grown so much because of being able to attend school and her future is bright because of it!

Smiles to Africa Mia Hattaway Cassia's Rocks

What’s next?

Since Cassia’s Rocks was initially never about selling the rocks to raise money, and was simply a “smile based project” for Loudoun County, Cassia will continue leaving her rocks around town. Mia has already started brainstorming about her next Project Mia’s Mission plans, but we are pretty sure Cassia and Mia will find another project to work on together in the future!! The girls each have facebook pages: Mia’s Mission // Cassia’s Rocks.

However …. their work with Smiles to Africa isn’t done yet!

We have collected money so that we can send Deb to school for lots of years. We only hoped for one year but we got lots more. It will change her life! ~Cassia

Deb deserves to be able to go to school, just like I do! ~Mia

The girls have decided they will see if their Smiles to Africa project can continue on, and they are excited to see if they can now raise additional funds to ensure Deb’s high school years (called Form 1-4) are also covered and funded.

 

If YOU would like to participate, you can donate here:



My rocks mean so much to me. Happiness, love, cheerful spirits. They make my heart happy because when people find them, they smile. Smiles make the world better! ~Cassia

We feel accomplished because not many girls have the opportunity to go to school (not as much as boys do). It was a really good opportunity, as well as a fun way to spread joy around Africa. ~Mia

 

One smile has the power to…
Calm fears.
Soften stone walls.
Warm a cold heart.
Invite a new friend.
Mimic a loving hug.
Beautify the bearer.
Lighten heavy loads.
Promote good deeds.
Brighten a gloomy day.
Comfort a grieving spirit.
Offer hope to the forlorn.
Send a message of caring.
Lift the downtrodden soul.
Patch up invisible wounds.
Weaken the hold of misery.
Act as medicine for suffering.
Attract the companionship of angels.
Fulfill the human need for recognition.
Who knew changing the world would prove so simple?
― Richelle E. Goodrich

Live On. Give On. giving back with the Bakken Invitation

During our time overseas, living in New Delhi, India and Singapore, it meant a lot to me to be able to give back with my time. Living abroad as an expat wife who wasn’t employed meant I had plenty of time to dedicate hours in every day to different organizations.

Giving Back in India Naomi Hattaway

 

Now that I’m back in the United States, I have had to step away from gala planning and teaching English as a Second Language to kiddos from an Indian slum. These days, I find myself looking for simple ways to give back. I’m constantly on the lookout for volunteer opportunities that allow me to give back to my community and those who serve our community. Giving back doesn’t always have to be a huge, massive event or something that everyone is talking about. I’ve settled into a routine of honoring those who serve our country/communities in many different ways, including by offering a percentage of my commission from my real estate business to military, teachers, police personnel, firefighters and those in the health care industry. I also spend time volunteering at Boulder Crest Retreat in Bluemont, Virginia, offering overnight and weekend stays/retreats for wounded military personnel and their family.

Here in the United States, we’ve just finished the celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday and we are moving rapidly into the sometimes over-commercialized holiday season of December. 

I’d love to introduce you to the Bakken Invitation.

The Bakken Invitation, by Medtronic, has chosen ten honorees from around the world in a Live On. Give On. campaign. Each of these honorees has been given a second chance at life. Due to a variety of medical issues and challenges, these honorees have faced incredible battles and truly understand the short nature of the life we are all given. They have all chosen to do spectacular things with their second chance and that inspires me. I’d like to introduce you to the honoree whose story most spoke to me.

Meet Raj.

Rajnikant Reshamwala Bakken

Nearing the age of 80, Raj started experiencing pain in his chest when exerting the slightest of energy. My own grandfather passed away after a long struggle with cardiac issues and those that suffer from problems related to cardiac issues and coronary artery disease have a special place in MY heart.

“I have been a lifelong volunteer and public service worker through various groups like the Progressive Group, the Jaycees and the Rotary Club. But it is my work with Sleeping Children Around the World that is most important to me. Their premise is simple. If you have a good night’s sleep on a decent mattress and something to cover yourself with, you will be able to get the most out of your day in school and at home. Since 1987, I’ve been locating needy children, purchasing essential items that they need such as pillows, sheets and blankets, and then coordinating distribution events to successfully reach the children. Over the years, I estimate that I have been able to help more than 75,000 young people. Then, I started having pain in my chest when walking, or when climbing the stairs. I was getting easily exhausted, and did not feel like going to the office or doing any other work involving even a little physical activity. My doctor advised that two stents should be inserted to remove blockages in my arteries.”

Read the rest of Raj’s story.

 

Rajnikant Reshamwala Bakken Medtronic

 

You may not be sure what offering you have or what talents you could lend to your community, and that’s ok! Take a look at this infograph and let the ten points really sink in with you.

What inspiration can you take away from these ten lessons? Which lesson speaks the most to you?

Medtronic Bakken Infograph

 

What inspires YOU to give back? How do you give of yourself in your community? What would YOU do with $100 to make a difference in your community?

Share your comment for a chance to win a $100 prepaid Visa® gift card to be used to further your volunteer efforts!

 NOTE: CONGRATS TO MY WINNER: KELLY D. !!!

Note: Thanks to Medtronic for sponsoring today’s post and the giveaway. Gift Cards should be used to further an effort inside of your community or in some way give back. I would be honored if the winner would come back to report, and would love to do a follow up post on the topic! Gift cards will be mailed to winners the week of January 5. Participants must be 18 years or older and with a US address.

 

Questions from Alex Franzen, I of V

Alex Franzen is one of my favorite people – in the category of awesome people who I haven’t yet met. She recently proposed a set of questions and I decided to answer them in pieces over the coming weeks. I would love if you would take the same questions and share your answers — either in the comments or on your favorite social media platform.

ϟ What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?

That I am capable of changing someone’s life.

ϟ If a mysterious benefactor wrote you a check for $5,000 and said, “Help me solve a problem — any problem!” … what would you do with him or her?

I would snap up that check! We would invest a portion, and use the remaining amount to create a boutique relocation company that truly works for the CLIENT, not the company moving the family.

ϟ What’s going to be carved on your (hypothetical) tombstone?

She was kind, she showed up and she was always reaching for the unexpected.

ϟ What are you FREAKISHLY good at?

Connecting people and anticipating needs.

ϟ What’s one dream that you’ve tucked away, for the moment? How come?

Having a global relocation company that truly helps families settle and thrive. It’s only tucked away now — for the moment. It will happen!

ϟ What are you STARVING for?

Kindness. More sensitivity to people who are different than you are. Connection.

ϟ If you could have tea with one fictional character, who would it be?

Alice in Wonderland

ϟ Do you have a morning ritual?

Alarm at 5:10am, on a good day, I do my Piyo workout, have a coffee, have my Shakeology, have 10 minutes of professional or business development reading. Wake up Mia at 6am, breakfast and chatting with her until her bus arrives at almost 7am. Antonio wakes at 7am .. his bus comes at almost 8am. Then off to work!

What are your answers to these questions?