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Bigger Than Yourself

What’s Your (TRUE) Journey


I am so proud of my husband, Gary, as he continues to serve his country. I love that he feels compelled to serve, despite how hard it is when away. He is brave, and strong and all who know him admire his dedication, sense of humor, love of family and friends, and of course how he always brightens a room.

My desire to help create caring communities, to empower people to take action and serve the communities they reside, is similar to my husband’s commitment to his country. We are all given opportunities to make change, to make a difference, to do things much bigger than ourselves.

By aligning your efforts with something bigger than yourself or your own achievements, you infuse your efforts with passion and great purpose. One organization I admire is Rotary, and most importantly their motto ~ service above self.

Have you ever asked yourself these life-changing questions?

How do you define success? What short and long-term goals do you have in place? What do you wish for yourself to achieve and also experience?

How does your family inspire you? What do they depend on you to do or be? What goals do you have for your family? What can help you realize these goals?

What are your hopes for your community? How do you define community? As a circle of family/friends or maybe you think in terms of country (like my husband), or maybe even as large as humanity in general? What sort of change or progress do you wish for this group? Is there a problem this community faces that you are inspired to fix? How can you make your world a better place?

What are the core principals you want to live by? How can you make these more present in your everyday actions?

Identifying these purposes requires a lot of deep thought. The power that real purpose brings to any effort makes it all very worthwhile. Take this time to truly identify how you connect with those things greater than yourself, and prepare for the power when you find your true intention.

Please share ‘Think About It’ with your friends, colleagues and anyone who wants to simply live in a more caring community.

The Joys of Serving

The Joys of Serving on a Board


The past six months has taught me many things, one of which is the importance of a board of directors. For instance why do people serve to begin with, what motivates them and why do so many sign-up to serve and then become uninvolved? As this does happen more than most realize.

I have run non-profits and have always asked (annually as well as upon coming aboard), “Why do you serve on this board and what are your personal goals as a board member?” This exercise is done verbally and written, as to share with the entire team (board and staff) and as a take-home to post in an office as a reminder. Because you always need to keep in mind when at the level of serving on a board (being asked for that matter), normally you are extremely busy with your own career, and things can get overlooked.

Often times board members actually want to be given very specific tasks, not left to figure out how their assistance can best serve the organization.

Deciding to serve on a board can be a daunting task, not to mention taking an oath that you will protect and serve the organization. A dear friend recently summed up serving on a board perfectly when he said, “It’s the law of three’s.”

  1. Is the organization one of the top three places you give your OWN money too?
  2. Do you freely open your personal Rolodex and set-up at least three meetings with the CEO/Executive Director per year. For possible support?
  3. You need to attend at least three events per year, or at least host one. Can be a dinner/cocktail party, etc.

Here is a responsibility write-up I drafted for a non-profit client. I hope it’s helpful if you not only serve on a board, but also run an organization. Of course for-profit boards are run differently, however, similar in many ways.

Board of Directors Responsibilities

Purpose:

To act as a voting member of the board with full authority and responsibility to develop policies for the operation of the organization; to monitor the organization’s financial health, programs, and overall performance; and to provide the chief executive officer with the resources to meet the needs of those persons the organization serves.

The Full Board’s Responsibilities:

  • Establish policy
  • Hire and evaluate the executive director
  • Secure adequate funding for the organization
  • Monitor finances
  • Create and update a long‑range plan for the organization
  • Select and support the organization’s board officers
  • Adopt key operating policies; approve contracts as appropriate

Individual Board Member’s Duties:

  • Attend board meetings regularly
  • Become knowledgeable about the organization
  • Come to board meetings well prepared and informed about all issues on the agenda
  • Contribute to meetings by expressing your point of view
  • Consider other points of view, make constructive suggestions, and help the board make decisions that benefit those the organization serves
  • Serve on at least one committee
  • Represent the organization to individuals, the public, and other organizations in a positive and professional manner
  • Support the organization through attendance at special events and through meaningful financial contributions; commit to making _________one of your top charitable priorities
  • Assume board leadership roles when asked
  • Keep the executive director/CEO informed about concerns the community may have
  • Maintain confidentiality of board discussion

 

Rationale:

Board members set corporate policies and goals and delegate authority to the executive director to implement them in the day‑to‑day management of the organization. Individual members of the board, however, have no authority to act independently of the full board. When they do, it can seriously damage the organization’s ability to carry out its mission, board team spirit, and the organization’s image in the community. Board members who abuse their position this way may be disciplined or censured.

Board members are also “trustees” of their organization who approve an annual budget that ensures it can meet its financial needs. In addition, Board members monitor the overall financial health of their organization by reviewing annual reports of an auditor recommended by the executive director. The executive director retains responsibility for the day‑to‑day operational expenditures.

Individual board members should attend all board meetings and actively participate in them and serve on committees or as board officers. Finally, board members have the responsibility to know and fulfill their proper role as board members and to act in the best interest of those persons the organization serves.

 


I hope this inspires you to think carefully before serving on a board. It can be extremely rewarding and active board members are needed regardless of where you reside. Please share ‘Think About It’ with your friends, colleagues and anyone who wants to simply live in a caring community and stay better informed. Happy serving!

Love Letters for the Lost

Love Letters


As I read this beautiful letter written by singer, Fiona Apple, I thought back on my beloved dog, Loulabella, who I lost last year at age 17. It was a numbing death to experience, however, I was honored to have known this type of unconditional love and was even happier she got me through so much during those 17 years – the death of two family members, breakups, marriage, moving several times, etc. Recently, I lost another beloved dog, Rocket, who died suddenly at age 10. Her death was different, because we experienced different things together, however, her gentle and sweet nature, and the fact that she always wanted to please our family made it as unbearable. I have heard folks say after losing a pet they would never have another one. I agree each pet experience will be different, based on what you are going through in your life, however, this type of companionship and love is a gift, one we should never shy away from. Especially if you are rescuing a pet from a shelter, maybe an older pet who just may die alone with no real family otherwise.

This letter by Fiona struck a nerve – if we only chose love more often, wouldn’t this world be a happier place. Enjoy and please grab a tissue, especially if you know what it means to love a pet…

Fiona

Fiona Apple and her sweet Janet.

Rocket

My beloved Loulabella and Rocket

“It’s 6pm on Friday, and I’m writing to a few thousand friends I have not met yet. I’m writing to ask them to change our plans and meet a little while later.

Here’s the thing. I have a dog, Janet, and she’s been ill for 2 years, as a tumor has been idling in her chest, growing ever so slowly.

She’s almost 14 years old now. I got her when she was 4 months old. I was 21 then — an adult, officially — and she was my kid.

She is a pitbull, and was found in Echo Park, with a rope around her neck, and bites all over her ears and face. She was the one the dogfighters use to puff up the confidence of the contenders.

She’s almost 14 and I’ve never seen her start a fight, or bite, or even growl, so I can understand why they chose her for that awful role. She’s a pacifist.

Janet has been the most consistent relationship of my adult life, and that is just a fact. We’ve lived in numerous houses, and joined a few makeshift families, but it’s always really been just the two of us.

She slept in bed with me, her head on the pillow, and she accepted my hysterical, tearful face into her chest, with her paws around me, every time I was heartbroken, or spirit-broken, or just lost, and as years went by, she let me take the role of her child, as I fell asleep, with her chin resting above my head.

She was under the piano when I wrote songs, barked any time I tried to record anything, and she was in the studio with me, all the time we recorded the last album.

The last time I came back from tour, she was spry as ever, and she’s used to me being gone for a few weeks, every 6 or 7 years.

She has Addison’s Disease, which makes it more dangerous for her to travel, since she needs regular injections of Cortisol, because she reacts to stress and excitement without the physiological tools which keep most of us from literally panicking to death.

Despite all this, she’s effortlessly joyful & playful, and only stopped acting like a puppy about 3 years ago. She is my best friend, and my mother, and my daughter, my benefactor, and she’s the one who taught me what love is.

I can’t come to South America. Not now. When I got back from the last leg of the US tour, there was a big, big difference.

She doesn’t even want to go for walks anymore. I know that she’s not sad about aging or dying. Animals have a survival instinct, but a sense of mortality and vanity, they do not. That’s why they are so much more present than people.

But I know she is coming close to the time where she will stop being a dog, and start instead to be part of everything. She’ll be in the wind, and in the soil, and the snow, and in me, wherever I go.

I just can’t leave her now, please understand. If I go away again, I’m afraid she’ll die and I won’t have the honor of singing her to sleep, of escorting her out.

Sometimes it takes me 20 minutes just to decide what socks to wear to bed.

But this decision is instant.

These are the choices we make, which define us. I will not be the woman who puts her career ahead of love & friendship.

I am the woman who stays home, baking Tilapia for my dearest, oldest friend. And helps her be comfortable & comforted & safe & important.

Many of us these days, we dread the death of a loved one. It is the ugly truth of Life that keeps us feeling terrified & alone. I wish we could also appreciate the time that lies right beside the end of time. I know that I will feel the most overwhelming knowledge of her, and of her life and of my love for her, in the last moments.

I need to do my damnedest, to be there for that.

Because it will be the most beautiful, the most intense, the most enriching experience of life I’ve ever known.

When she dies.

So I am staying home, and I am listening to her snore and wheeze, and I am revelling in the swampiest, most awful breath that ever emanated from an angel. And I’m asking for your blessing.

I’ll be seeing you.

Love,

Fiona”

 

 

The Journey Has Officially Begun

The Journey Has Officially Begun


A very special thanks for supporting this journey for not only myself, but also my entire team, whose goal it is to help YOU create a more caring community. I welcome feedback and special stories, in which you or someone you know has helped to create a caring community. Let’s share and learn from one another.

Deciding to start your own business can be a daunting task, not to mention taking a great leap of faith. I have spent the past 25 years; listening, learning and watching countless ‘employees’ go through the motions in the workforce.

SunriseThose I have had the pleasure of managing know first hand how important listening to their voice is to me, as everyone has a unique perspective. Do you know who works for you, or whom you work with, truly? Tomorrow ask a co-worker not just how they are doing, ask them what inspires them, what truly makes them happy.

My happy place is early in the morning, as I grab my two rescue dogs, and head out to view the sunrise. I know whatever happens today from this point on, I will tackle it with a positive attitude—the only thing we can fully control.

Please share ‘Think About It’ with your friends, colleagues and anyone who wants to simply live in a caring community.

Creating Caring Communities

Creating Caring Communities Fish and AnemoneLet Us Show You the Way

Creating Caring Communities helps organizations empower their workforce and create a stronger sense of community where they live and play. So what’s up with the clownfish?

The relationship between the sea anemone and clownfish allows both organisms to flourish through symbiosis – just like we do every day with our clients at Creating Caring Communities.

The partnership between the clownfish and anemone is mutually beneficial. They both protect each other from predators and provide an exchange of nutrients. In return for a safe and protective home, the clownfish benefits the anemone in several important ways. These include cleaning the anemone, providing nutrients in the form of waste, and scaring away predatory fish such as the butterfly fish.(1)

Think About It Inspiration

Any one person can make a huge difference in the world – just by reaching out a helping hand.


The Creating Caring Communities ‘Think About It’ blog was inspired by Toby -a small dog found abandoned in the woods, alone, severely injured, and emaciated to the point of death. Toby was covered in a mange so terrible, most of his small frail little body had open wounds with pus. Nicole, Coulter and the team at First Coast No More Homeless Pets brought this scared and sickly pup back to full health after several months of medical care, nutrition and love. Toby now lives in south Florida with Doc Tony, an advocate for homeless pets everywhere.

Happiness at Work

Top 10 Reasons Why Happiness at Work Boosts Productivity


(Source)

Happiness at Work Creating Caring Communities1: Happy people work better with others
Happy people are a lot more fun to be around and consequently have better relations at work. This translates into:

  • Better teamwork with your colleagues
  • Better employee relations if you’re a manager
  • More satisfied customers if you’re in a service job
  • Improved sales if you’re a sales person

2: Happy people are more creative
If your productivity depends on being able to come up with new ideas, you need to be happy at work. Check out the research of Teresa Amabile for proof. She says:

If people are in a good mood on a given day, they’re more likely to have creative ideas that day, as well as the next day, even if we take into account their mood that next day.

There seems to be a cognitive process that gets set up when people are feeling good that leads to more flexible, fluent, and original thinking, and there’s actually a carryover, an incubation effect, to the next day.

3: Happy people fix problems instead of complaining about them
When you don’t like your job, every molehill looks like a mountain. It becomes difficult to fix any problem without agonizing over it or complaining about it first. When you’re happy at work and you run into a snafu – you just fix it.

4: Happy people have more energy
Happy people have more energy and are therefore more efficient at everything they do.

5: Happy people are more optimistic
Happy people have a more positive, optimistic outlook, and as research shows (particularly Martin Seligman’s work in positive psychology), optimists are way more successful and productive. It’s the old saying “Whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you’re probably right” all over again.

6: Happy people are way more motivated
Low motivation means low productivity, and the only sustainable, reliable way to be motivated at work is to be happy and like what you do.

7: Happy people get sick less often
Getting sick is a productivity killer and if you don’t like your job you’re more prone to contract a long list of diseases including ulcers, cancer and diabetes. You’re also more prone to workplace stress and burnout.

One study assessed the impact of job strain on the health of 21,290 female nurses in the US and found that the women most at risk of ill health were those who didn’t like their jobs. The impact on their health was a great as that associated with smoking and sedentary lifestyles (source).

8: Happy people learn faster
When you’re happy and relaxed, you’re much more open to learning new things at work and thereby increasing your productivity.

Happiness at Work Through CCC9: Happy people worry less about making mistakes – and consequently make fewer mistakes
When you’re happy at work the occasional mistake doesn’t bother you much. You pick yourself up, learn from it and move on. You also don’t mind admitting to others that you screwed up – you simply take responsibility, apologize and fix it. This relaxed attitude means that less mistakes are made, and that you’re more likely to learn from them.

10: Happy people make better decisions
Unhappy people operate in permanent crisis mode. Their focus narrows, they lose sight of the big picture, their survival instincts kick in and they’re more likely to make short-term, here-and-now choices. Conversely, happy people make better, more informed decisions and are better able to prioritize their work.


Employee happiness at work can lead directly to a more successful business. After all, employees are the driving force for every nonprofit and for profit business. Creating Caring Communities can invigorate your management and staff with innovative strategies and tactics.

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