Monday, January 28, 2013

This I know to be true... of myself

I read somewhere (don’t ask me where; I read so much I can’t remember sources anymore. This is normal, right?)

Anyway, I recently read an article in which the author asked, “What do you know about yourself?”

I’m sure it was a question posed to someone famous, or at least someone whose biggest accomplishment of the day was NOT completing 5 loads of laundry.

Back to topic: I started thinking about what I’ve learned about myself over the past 40-something years, and came up with the following list, in no particular order:

1. I love being home.
2. I am comfortable being by myself.
3. I love the quiet.
4. I work better by myself or in smaller groups.
5. I don’t handle deadlines well.
6. I need my surroundings to be in order. (For me, a chaotic environment leads to a chaotic mind.)
7. My house is neat, not necessarily clean – and that’s okay with me.
8. I can say “No” and understand it is an acceptable and complete sentence.
9. A little guilt is good for me.
10. I can’t please everyone.
11. Not everyone is going to like me, and that’s okay. (Still working on this – I know this in my head, but my heart often has a hard time accepting it.)
12. I can’t do everything, and I won’t feel guilty about that.
13. When people say to me, “You do such a good job, I just had to ask if you would…” they really mean, “You’re a sucker and never say no to anyone, so would you please organize…” In this case, it is perfectly okay to say “No.” (See #8.)
14. I don’t do drama and I don’t play games. If you want something from me, ask.
15. I don’t like people who aren’t nice.
16. I can’t worry about what others think of me.
17. I can’t control everything. (I can’t, right?)
18. Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.
19. I am not perfect, and never will be. (But unfortunately, I am still trying.)
20. I have to put myself first sometimes, in order to better serve others. And that’s okay!
21. I like myself… I really do!

It’s an incomplete list, as I’m sure there are other things I know of myself, but it’s a start.

What do you know about yourself?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Century-Old Tradition Continues

Long before Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream speech” and the idea of a “Day of Service” became popular, eight women in Philadelphia had an idea. In October, 1914, surrounded by a depressed economy, high unemployment, and a war erupting in Europe, these women decided they needed to help alleviate the suffering here and abroad.

Thus began The Emergency Aid of Pennsylvania, an organization that, while tweaked throughout its history, has lasted close to 100 years.

The Emergency Aid of Pennsylvania (EA) began in a tiny house on Walnut Street in Philadelphia. Those eight women enlisted the help of family and friends to raise money, clothes and supplies and ship them overseas, to European countries in need.

Then, when the United Stated entered the War, they set up a Home Relief Division, a pre-cursor to the Red Cross, to help with emergencies closer to home, including outbreaks of flu and polio.

They sold over $68 million in war bonds.

EA established the first girls’ trade school in Philadelphia to teach unemployed women the skills they needed to obtain jobs.

And they continued their work overseas, opening service clubs for local servicemen and serving in the war zone in any way they were able.

During World Ward II, The Emergency Aid of PA had over 3,000 members, with women serving as hospital volunteers, raising funds for programs in the area, and researching projects they felt needed their attention and help. It became one of the largest women’s organizations in the Philadelphia area.

Throughout the years, EA has met each crisis that arose with speed and efficiency. Their policy was to render service until another agency was able to take over.

By the early 1980s, many of the programs started by EA had been taken over by professional organizations, as Philadelphia had more than doubled in size.

With decreasing membership, and fewer volunteers, EA decided to become a foundation in 1984. However, its members were determined to keep the spirit and tradition of its past alive.

With this in mind, The Emergency Aid Foundation of Pennsylvania was formed, with a mission to “improve the lives of women and children by providing grants to effective non-profit organizations and to encourage education, leadership and community service in young women through mentoring and by awarding scholarships.”

The Foundation has awarded over $1.7 million in grants since it was set up in 1984, with emphasis on those organizations that aid women and children.

It continues to encourage young girls with its Founders Award, which is given each year to approximately 20 9th grade girls in high schools in Southeastern Pennsylvania who have been nominated by their principals or school counselors and display high levels of service and leadership in their school and community.

The girls spend the next three years participating in seminars sponsored by EA on such relevant topics as self-esteem and time management, as well as continuing their service hours with trips to local Senior Centers and the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia.

Since its inception, over 500 girls have received this award and benefitted from the generosity, knowledge and tradition of this century-old organization.

EA has also awarded over $425,000 in scholarship over the years to 140 Founder Award recipients to help pay for college.

A Mentoring Program was set up in which scholarship winners are paired with an EA member to help guide and mentor them throughout their college years and beyond, forging friendships that will last a lifetime.

The Emergency Aid of PA tradition, started almost 100 years ago by those eight women, continues to aid those in need in the Philadelphia area, and beyond.

To find out more about this inspiring organization, please check out its website:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Just do it already

Have you ever put off doing something? And put it off! And put it off!

Oh, you have a myriad of reasons – too busy, little interest, too overwhelming, too scary. And the more you put it off, the “bigger” this thing becomes in your mind. It’s like a snowball rolling down a hill, becoming larger and gaining momentum, and you fear it like nothing else.

Then, when you can put it off no longer; when you can no longer come up with a good excuse; when the deadline has passed and the time has come; you tackle this huge thing… and you accomplish it in short order with no issues.

I cannot tell you how many times I have done this. Whether it is making a phone call I dread or cleaning out a closet or finishing a project, for some reason I will delay and delay, and the issue will become bigger and more intimidating in my mind than it really is. It doesn’t matter what it is, or how big or small it may seem to the outside world, there are just some projects that stymie me.

Yet once I finally tackle it, I often realize it really wasn’t that bad, and I wonder why I was so worried about it in the first place.

This is what happened to me recently with my writing. A few months ago, I started researching other blogs to see if I could pick up tips. And the more I read, the more insecure I became about my own writing. Instead of helping me, it hurt me. I started to doubt myself. I stopped writing. And the longer this went on, the larger this doubt became. This snowball was really picking up speed, and growing in size.

I made up excuses: kids need help, house has to be cleaned, volunteer work taking up too much of my time – anything to avoid writing.

And then a friend asked me to write something for an organization I am involved with. I respect this person, and truly believe in this group, so I knew I was going to have to step up to the plate (or sit down at the computer, as the case was) and focus.

And, after a few anxious moments and false starts, it all came back to me. Words starting flowing and sentences started forming. In a few short hours, I had a solid story I was proud to send to my friend.

That snowball melted and I was back at the computer. And here I am again… writing and enjoying it.

Lesson learned: tackle the projects that worry you first, before they become a bigger issue than they really are.

Don’t delay. Even if it’s just a small step, start. Most times, it’s all in your head.

And stop that snowball at the top of the hill, when it is still manageable! We can do it!