Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Goals, Gratitude and Shared Wisdom

I finally took the leap! Friday I obtained approval from the state of Indiana for We GET To's Articles of Incorporation to be a nonprofit entity, and have received the EIN and DUNN #'s required for the other applications I now GET TO submit. First and foremost is the 501c3 application for tax exempt status. I'm on it and think I've located the assistance necessary to file everything the right way. I'll know after a phone call tomorrow morning. It's soooo not easy as everyone wants to believe or advise. Only the people who have personally filed a 501c3 form know just how sticky the whole process is. And it's imperative to do everything exactly right. 'Big Brother' is hardly as understanding as our Heavenly Father. That being said, it's imperative to have an attorney who's familiar with the process look the entire application over. My goal is to have had an attorney do just that and have the form in the mail on the way to the IRS with payment by July 12 (I GET TO go to the lake for the family's annual 'girl's weekend' and want to enjoy it completely with the relief that will come with this step being behind me)

After submitting the Articles and getting the letter back from the State saying We GET To had been approved, my commitment and focus increased tremendously. There's no turning back. Now that I've done it, I feel like a child who was extremely too hesitant at the top of a slide or high dive. Why did it take me so long to make the decision? I guess it's irrelevant at this point, it did. I finally held my breath, closed my eyes and just decided to go for it. 

Today's Wacky Wednesday has me even more determined to shift this journey into a different direction. I read a quote last week that said, 'If you don't change the direction you're going, you're gonna end up where your headed."  I don't Wacky Wednesday to end up as a small local volunteer program. I don't want to end up as a speaker whose message went unspoken to the masses. I don't want to end up as the woman, mother, wife, who wasn't able to contribute to her family's/community's financial needs. I GET TO find the solutions to the issues that have been holding me back and eliminate the distractions that have kept me from moving forward. I GET To do it now!

Another direction I GET TO change is that of my physical health. Since Jonnae's "Heavenly Birth' I've slowly put on 20+ pounds. The weight was slow to creep on and my focus, strength, and energy has slowly leaked away. After Jonnae's passing, my weight fluctuated up and down the first year, 5-10 pounds. As I let go of healthier food choices on a consistent basis, I managed to no longer fluctuate, but keep the first 10 pounds on. Paid speaking opportunities did not increase, I sold plenty of books, but with no business plan or structured budget in place, I poured out more to grow my business then I had coming in. It became necessary for me to let go of my gym membership. I gained, and kept, another 10lbs. I thought I'd at least maintain my weight with the equipment we have in the basement, but my heart just hasn't been in my physical fitness anymore. Fitness somehow, as it often does, lost it's place in my 'wheel of balance' The reality is, whether I have a heart for it or not, whether I am on fire with focus or not, it's impossible to live my best life if I'm not taking the best care of the health and body I've been given. I've returned to the point where I do indeed want to change (for the better) more than I want to stay the same. (in a mediocre, I'll settle for this because it could be worse, mentality or body)

That being said (and because I GET TO go offline and back to writing bylaws and staying on course for the goals I've set for We GET To) here are some other goals I'll have accomplished by the first weekend of October, a special weekend with some special people who are also looking to live their best life:

I'll be back to the 145ish weight that best suits me, not only looking my best, but FEELING my best across the board, so that I'm better able to contribute to my family, my community, and our world. I'm at 166.8 now. Painful to type, but there you have it. No shame, simply keeping it real so I can get out of the rut and back to the 'race' :D  I'm not respecting or honoring in the best way, what God's given me with my physical body and health. 

The energy that comes with that body will fuel me to have completed whatever the next steps necessary are for We GET To. I'll work with knowledgable, trustworthy professionals to get a financial budget in place, as well as 1,3,5 year business goals for We GET To as a nonprofit with Wacky Wednesday as it's premier project. Boardmeetings will be happening consistently and a strong action team will have formed. Wacky Wednesday will not only be a volunteer program, it will be a hospital endorsed, staff supported program being looked at by additional hospitals for staff morale building, turnover decrease, and added value for all, staff, patients and their families. 

As a part of this plan, it is most necessary to find a workspace for me outside my home. I've recently added a new diagnosis to my previous ones of AD (no second "D" - Attention Deficiency is not a disorder, it's merely a challenge some of us GET TO overcome; a character trait that builds us into who we are if you will Wink I'm also SA(no "D" or disorder there either) Seasonally Affected is again, simply a challenge, or better opportunity to succeed regardless of hurdles..those hurdles when cleared make the victories that much more sweet Smiley No medication necessary, simply a new perspective and a strong will. Back to the new diagnosis...I'm a special needs child. God knows I'm not trying to be His difficult daughter, I simply have surroundings that are necessary for energy to flow that allows me to produce. It may be appealing for some to stay in their pajamas, working infront of a computer all day, but that's not the best atmosphere for me. I've given it go after go. So if I've not acquired a work space in 12 weeks, I'll certainly have strong leads and a plan in place to acquire it sooner than I'm set to now Grin

And my love of all loves, inspirational speaking...I'll have atleast one nicely paid annual conference keynote on the calendar for 2012 and the momentum will be building for increased opportunities there as well. While I've been serving my community with Wacky Wednesday and pro bono We GET To talks, I've not been serving my family and our financial needs. Poor hubby needs help with the kids ever growing financial requirements. One of the many blessings that will be born of We GET To as a nonprofit, will be me meeting more decision makers who will embrace the value of what I offer their organizations in the way of speaking and training on perspective and perseverance.

That being said, how I look back at the past 3 years is not as a period in which I 'fell' but as one that was necessary for my own personal development. One that gives me the opportunity to pick myself up and show others what is possible. One of my alltime favorite quotes is "Learning is a gift even if pain is the teacher." I've learned much in the 3 years since Jonnae's passing. For that I am grateful. I now GET TO take the wisdom born of the good, as well as the difficult, use it and share it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Gifts of a Storm

For the second morning in a row, the Kentuckiana area has awakened to some pretty severe thunderstorms. This morning's storms are a bit more violent.

Yesterday, as the rest of my family slept in, I sat in the quietness of a mild storm and reflected. I, as many do, like the 'perks' that come with a rainy day. Sleeping in, diversion from every day living; a forced vacation day if you will. Even tasks that have fallen to the bottom of the priority list, for far too long, can be completed as the direct result of a rainy day. Maybe not a vacation day, but the sense of accomplishment stemming from that kind of productivity is quite nice also.

I've always had a fascination and intrigue with thunderstorms and as I once again compare the literal to the figurative, I'm blessed with a sense of gratitude for reawakened awareness. If not for rainy days, mundane cycles may never be broken.

Sometimes rainy days act as a sedative and help us catch up on much needed sleep. More violent storms, jolt us from our slumber and result in a necessary 'wake up' call. That's how I perceive the violent storm of Jonnae's leukemia...a necessary wake up call. I'm thankful for the jolt that resulted in a new list of priorities. I was sleep walking through life, hypnotized by a mundane rat race. I'm grateful for the litany of awarenesses that came from our hurricane named 'Leuk'. Because of the severity of damage 'Leuk' would eventually wreak, my Creator rebuilt me into someone incapable of being destroyed by a natural disaster. I'll never again return to the mundane. Life may temporarily challenge me with a distraction, but thankfully I'm now programmed to default back to a consciousness that's much more enlightened.

I may create a plan and forget for a while that ultimately there is a plan greater than mine. Eventually I get a wake up call that reminds me. It may come in the form of a violent storm. So yes, I'm grateful for them. I may fall into the old habit of hosting a pity party and speaking like a victim, but a mild storm comes and with a clap of thunder I'm reminded of the power that comes from above. With awe and wonder, I allow Him to give me strength and rise again to being a victor. Storms are one of God's tools to keep us awake, open to and mindful of Him.

If the sun shone brightly every day, if the sky were always blue, we'd fall into the mundane and not have a heightened sense of gratitude for them. As the rest of my family is beginning to stir and we're set to celebrate Father's day, I'm grateful for much this morning. Mindful and present to many more gifts than I would have been had I not been jolted from my sleep, by a violent storm.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Come Home!

For the past 2 months, I've been pouring my heart and energy into a special celebration/benefit created to celebrate Jonnae's 3rd Heavenly Birthday. It's a day long event to celebrate her life and help raise funds to grow We GET To as a nonprofit that will implement Wacky Wednesday into children's hospitals across the country. It all started with a friend's want to help me raise the funds necessary to take Dr Patch Adams up on his invitation to join Wacky Wednesday with his mission trip to Russia in November. She suggested a telethon with 25 callers, each with a goal to raise 500.00. Broken down that way, the fundraising didn't seem so daunting and I'd have the necessary funds to stock the current Wacky Wednesday cart at Kosair for a year, cover the state/federal/membership fees to apply for 501c3 status to grow We GET To as a nonprofit and be able to join Patch in Russia.

A new energy and enthusiasm fueled my spirit as ideas continued to sprout forth from the seed my friend had planted. When we first discussed a day/date to hold this telethon, Sunday night was thrown out as the best possible time to make calls asking for financial support. It would likely be the best time to reach supporters by phone. However, since Wacky Wednesday is what this vision is all about, it felt better to me to have the telethon on a Wednesday. Then it occured to me that Jonnae's 3rd Heavenly Birthday was coming up. A Wacky Wednesday FUNdraising party would be a great way to celebrate her, her life, and "Heavenly Birth"

My youngest son came up with "Wack Attack" as the name for the event. It has indeed turned out to be a plan where Southern Indiana and Louisville will be attacked with 'wack'iness all day this Wednesday, June 8. So many across the for that matter...have been impacted by Jonnae's courage, faith, and want to replace sorrow with joy. Based on the Celebration of Life we had for her one week before Jonnae's birth into Heaven, it was easy for me to imagine that as many who helped and participated then, would for the Wack Attack now. Through the promotion, planning and preparations, it doesn't apprear that will be the case.  Not many tshirts were bought, 25 callers haven't been secured, I've 'heard crickets' when I've put out calls of action. But the Wack Attack isn't until Wednesday. Donations will be made at, people will show up to celebrate her at the Creative Workshop in Louisville, Cluckers is behind this mission 100% and many of our friends will go eat there to support them  in supporting us. I GET TO wait and see. I'll probably be pleasantly surprised.

A most interesting revelation has come of this experience. Since Jonnae's "Heavenly Birth" I've been busting my tail. First, I poured myself into editing and publishing the blogs I'd written the last nine months of Jonnae's life. (To date nearly 1500 copies of "Heavenly Birth. A Mother's Journey. A Daughter's Legacy." are in circulation.) I've been desperately seeking the person, group, or company that will embrace the book and help get it out to the world in a larger way. In addition to the book, I've exhausted myself in trying to build a career out of inspirational speaking. I can't explain the gift given and received when I GET TO speak to audiences about the lessons and blessings that have come wrapped in this tragedy turned triumph. Through the book, the speaking, the planning of the "Wack Attack" I've continually lost my way.

Most of the time, I wasn't aware I was lost. If I was, I seemed to have no idea the way back. Until...a couple of weeks ago God decided to reign me back in. He began at my niece's dance recital during the final routine. As OneRepublic's song, "Come Home" played, a montage of each dancer saying "Come Home" played on a big screen. I didn't think much about it at the time. Later that evening, I was reading "Inspired Women Succeed" - a book of stories by 40 women (I'm one of them) who share what's inspired them to succeed. (book can be ordered at Typical of my nature, I decided to pluck stories in a random order. Since I've not had much structure in my life of late, Prioritize was the subtitle to jump off the page at me. I read the story where a woman tells of a time she called her husband in distress and he simply said, 'Come home'. After hearing "Come Home" so many times earlier in the day, I did think something of the words this time. Since it just so happened that the day these words were ringing over and over to me was May 21, the day the 'rapture' was all the hype, I lightheartedly said to Our Creator, "If today's the day you tell me to Come Home, I'm ready."

On the way back home from the dance recital earlier, I had stopped and rented the movie "Secretariat"  I decided it was a good time to pop the movie in and watch it. Not far into the story, Diane Lane calls home to update her husband on the happenings of her recently deceased father's business. Her husband pleas with her to "Come home"

What is it your telling me Lord? I don't understand. I'm home all the time. I'm trying to figure out how I get out in the world and support my family while serving you. What does "Come home" mean? 

A couple days later, I awoke with a song in my head. A song we used to sing in church often when I was young..."Come back to me, with all your heart. Don't let fear keep us apart. Trees do bend though straight and tall. So must we to others call.

Long have I waited for your COMING HOME to me and living deeply our new life. 

What I wouldn't give to hear God talking to me this way all the time. I still didn't know what 'come home' meant, but without a shadow of a doubt, He was trying to get through to me. It was in talking to another of my dear friends that I realized God was asking me to return to Him, completely, whole heartedly, without fear. I didn't think I was living in fear. I didnt' think I had ever left home/Him. But truth is...I had. It was fear that had me seeking someone to show me the way to getting my message out there through the book and speaking. I've been scrambling around in desperation to find others to join me in the Wack Attack. I've been far from home...the peace I have in the center of God's grace - His Word, my faith.

When I was 'working my way' through life during Jonnae's illness, I cleared every hurdle with ease simply by keeping my eyes on God. In the eye of the storm, in the hospital stays, in the face of  her death "Heavenly Birth", I never left 'home.' I naturally defaulted to God, letting Him show me the way. I didn't exhaust myself scrambling to find someone else to help/show me. I didn't rely on anyone joining me. It was simply me and God all the way. 

Tonight, once again, I began to get distracted by the amount of people who've not stepped forward to participate and celebrate Jonnae with the Wack Attack. (for those of you who have, you have no idea the depth of gratitude I have for you) A visual popped up in my head to set me straight. I didn't literally see Him ofcourse, but the thought of God taking His two fingers like we do when we point at our own eyes and then to someone elses, as if to say, "You and me. I'm looking at you. Don't take your eyes off me." That's what came to me.

Home is where your heart is. When mine is with God, in faith, there's nothing that can distract me offcourse. There's nothing to interfere with my peace. My exhaustion comes from being 'homesick.' God's calling me back home. Oh how I've missed Him so. As I attend what would have been Jonnae's graduation today and the Wack Attack and Jonnae's Heavenly Birthday this week, it is the perfect time to return 'home' and stay with Him.