Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Possibilities Hoarder

**Note – after I wrote this, I realized it was more of a self-talk moment than a moment to encourage you…consider yourself warned about the on goings between my 2 perfectly shaped ears!**

Have you ever thought about what makes us hold on to things?

What are the emotional drivers that make us think something is valuable? Emotional investment of time, or mind space.  A specific memory that is triggered whether fond or fragile? A relationship failed or gained.

This weekend I saw the movie Inside Out.  They talk about things called “core memories”.  They are the drivers that everything else inspires and expires from.

I wonder how many of the things we hold on to are driven by these core memories.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve spent much of the last week cleaning out my garage.  Cleaning out tubs of craft items and frankly there were enough that Hobby Lobby should be running a distribution center out of my garage.  There were tubs of Christmas decorations and I’m pretty sure that of the last 5 years, I’ve only put up a tree once.  There were files that I had moved here from my previous jobs and loads of things I’m pretty sure I’m holding on to for decorations if I ever get married.

Possibilities.
Some days.
Lots of ifs and coulds and might bes.

I wanted them for some reason.  Do they make me feel safe? Do the feel my need from dream space? Do they mask and cover what hasn’t been from what I wanted to be?

So, I did what I’ve put off for almost 3 years. …I purged my stuff.  I’ve realized that I was stuffing an unsafe place in my mind with things.  And, I’ve begin to hold on to those things as things that will fill voids.  Voids caused by real relationships (or the lack there of).  Voids caused by negative self-talk.  Voids caused by thinking and holding on to the past.  Voids caused by being scared to step into the future. 

Possibilities.
Some days.
Lots of ifs and coulds and maybes.

I found treasures, lots of treasures.  It’s not that I was just holding on to junk.  There were good
things; a seriously nice set of Stampin’ Up stamp sets, antique handkerchiefs most likely hand embroidered by my grandmother and nice collection of spools of thread circa 1964 (Walmart of you want them for the museum, I’ll drive them over!).  My baby blankets, lots of purple Relay for Life decorations, nearly every certificate I received in elementary school, a Ziploc bag of hair bows from my childhood and a nice collection of spider webs and blood worms and decor for a fantastic Halloween party. 

All good things, but maybe not things I need now.  One of the nice things about growing older is that you begin to know yourself.  You learn your decorating style, your gift giving style, how you will decorate for the holidays and more importantly, how you won’t! You begin to learn what matters most and what doesn’t.  You begin to be proud of where you’ve come from and realize the impression each of those steps have placed on your heart. 

I mean its nice to know that your second grade teacher thought you were helpful in her class and that you really did get an athletic award once in your life, even if it was participation in field day….and every kid got one (trophies were too expensive!). Its fun to see some of the early art pieces you did in 7th grade as you were honing your artistic skills.  The loads of lesson plans when you wrote curriculum for an after school program in college were really impressive….but stop!

Possibilities.
Some days.
Lots of didn’ts, shouldn’ts and couldn’ts.

And yet, you are here.  A contributing member of society.  A giver.  A dreamer.  A creative.  A doer.  And holding up quite nicely I might add.  You don’t know what the days ahead will bring.  But, there are 25 boxes of hoarding dead weight that will not be holding you back!

My name is Keisha.  I’m the person behind the @bigpittstop brand.  I dream. I create. I emote. I believe in possibilities, but I will not be held back, stuffed out or driven by some days!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Recollections

July marks the 50th anniversary of the United States involvement with the Vietnam War.

Recollections Collage: Vietnam War Anniversary | Thanks | @bigpittstop
This past week, I've been cleaning out my garage.  The lovely task of purging random things that for some reason you've been emotionally attached to.  I had put off cleaning out a section of 5 boxes of "memories" that I had moved from my parent's house.  There was the box of sewing notions that were my grandmother's.  There was the tub of childhood classics that I'm sure I'm thinking my children will want to read someday (I'm going to try to share those with friends who already have kids and are already loving to read).  And, there was the paper box full of documents and papers from high school and college.  Intellectual property that I had birthed upon assignment.  But things I was none the less still proud of.
Knowing that this year Independence Day will hold a special meaning for many, I was particularly interested when I found a project I did in 10th grade.  I weirdly remember so much about it.  I had to interview a Vietnam Veteran, create a creative visual depiction of my research and write a creative narrative based on what I learned.  Lucky for me, there was a well know veteran in my church and while I knew from every Salute to the Armed Forces we had ever done, that he was a veteran, I had no idea what the real story was from his days fighting for our freedom.

I appreciate his candor with me.  His transparency the 10th grade version of myself to stop and listen and learn.  Much to grasp about those days and that conflict.  I honor his life and the life of those who fought by sharing my "recollection" from my interview with him and the paper I turned in 17 years ago.

Recollections

Looking back I wonder why I was there.
The President got us into a state that we were unable to drag ourselves out of.
Was Johnson out of his mind when he sent us over there?
We were there fighting the power struggle of the United States and they did nothing but turn us away when we returned home.
The only thing I can say is that we were there to accomplish was masterminding the world.
Once again we had to let them know that we wanted to be in charge.
We could have won it, but that is not what we were there to do.
POWER, that is all we wanted.

The whole time I was there I was ready to return home.
My feet hurt, my clothes were wet, and it had been a long time since I had a home-cooked meal.
Was it my fault that I fit into the age of drafting and had to be put in this situation?
We should not have been there anyway.
This little thing called a "conflict" caused more problems that any confrontation I had ever encountered.

The ground fighting was hard and I was not equipped to do that.
Their fighting techniques were so different than ours were; nothing could have equipped us for that.
The people hid and therefore our air was not successful.
It gives me chills to thing of the Ho Chi Minh trail and all of the things that traveled that path.
What were we thinking?

When I came home no one cared.
Yeah, mom was glad to have her little boy back, but that's all.
I had just spent time in a foreign country defending the United States and when I got home her inhabitants were ungrateful.
I was expected to come home and continue life totally ignoring what had happened to me.
Whatever.
How is a person who sees blood, his buddies shot, and children with bombs on their backs supposed to just forget it all?
These people just don't make sense to me.

Thank goodness I didn't get involved with the drugs and women, because that would have made it worse.
Jane Fonda was a flake and did nothing but destruction for people like us.
I hope you didn't get involved with marijuana like the rest.
I am sorry if you did.

Standing here just really made me think about those days.
The things we had to go through.
The people we had to see and meet.
I still don't get it.

It is kinda special that this place is here.

I wish you could be here with me as I look at this wall.

I leave you these words thanking you for the days gone by and the experience that I had in my life.
I don't know who you are.
Heck, I don't know who I am, but thanks for what you did.
I don't know if you ever got to hear that, but thanks.
THANKS.



Sunday, May 17, 2015

30 years of beauty

Today marks a beautiful celebration.  30 years ago, a doctor in Tacoma Washington ran around a track at a local high school for 12 hours.  He ran to honor his patients who were battling cancer.  He asked people to donate as he ran. He asked people to join him and run in shifts throughout the night.

People were moved.

They came and ran with him.  They lined the track and cheered for him.  And, they gave. 

That night birthed the largest global movement in the fight against cancer....Relay For Life.  I'm always moved as we get to the week of Relay.  Next Friday night, my local community will gather and we will celebrate.  We will walk and we will remember.  And we will together fight back against the disease that has taken some, made others struggle and yet in the beauty of the redemption a moment...given life.

That's the way I see it.  Cancer in so many ways changed my life and gave it back to me.  It shifted my perspective on life.  It shifted my perspective of personal relationships.  It taught me how to love myself and value life.  Its drew me closer to my Savior.  And, it pushed me forward to look at the days ahead will full HOPE, magnificence and possibility.

But, 1985 also brought another blessing.  It was in 1985 that a group of researchers were funded for a micro level project they were working on.  Yes, that's what happens.  Researchers have to start somewhere.  They have dreams.  They have ideas.  They have possibility.  But, someone has to find the opportunity.  And, that year, one such team was given the catalyst funding that began the research that developed the standard protocol to treat and cure Hodgkin's Lymphoma. 

While I was busy gaining my first title in life, BIG SISTER, there was a team of researchers working on theirs.  LIFE SAVERS is the title I give them.  After all, its the only words that eloquently describe what they mean to me. 

As I prepare for my Relay For Life event next weekend, I ask that you consider support our efforts.

You can donate directly to my participant page or purchase a luminaria in honor or memory of someone you know who has been diagnosed with cancer.

make a donation

Together we can finish the fight!!!

Photobucket

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Maddie's Fridge

I'm so excited to host one of my friends from Samaritan Community Center on the blog today.  I learned about the amazing work of this organization after I moved to Northwest Arkansas.  While I support hunger efforts around the world in multiple ways, I'm continually amazed at the issue right here in my back yard.  Washington and Benton Counties consistently rank in the top 5 "hungriest" counties in our state.  Juxtapose that with the income by county and you will find a significant discrepancy.  Thankfully, the businesses in our area are great supporters and contributors to those making the greatest impact...but I love even more that its a place the everyday person can make an exponential impact!  So excited about the opportunity they are sharing below!!!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
One out of every four children in Northwest Arkansas face the physical, emotional and behavioral challenges
1 in 4 children in NWA face Hunger | Samaritan Community Center is doing soemething about it!
related to hunger and food insecurity. Studies have shown that in addition to anxiety, hunger has long-term consequences on children’s health, education and futures. Hunger directly affects the health and well-being of children including recurring illness, obesity, depression, and other chronic health issues. Children that suffer from food insecurity often experience limited intellectual and social development, higher rates of absenteeism, and higher healthcare costs. As the children age, these issues compound and often carry on into adulthood along with poor financial attainment.

The evidence is overwhelming. But we can’t simply toss this over to the growing mound of depressing news. One in four means in your child’s classroom, there are likely five students unable to concentrate in class because an empty tummy demands their attention. It means the person sitting behind you at church has an empty fridge at home. It means your coworker is sacrificing their lunch so their family can have enough food to stretch until the beginning of the month when they get more food stamps. And it’s not just certain schools or neighborhoods. It is every single school in Benton, Washington, Carroll and Madison Counties. Every day, over 25,000 stories of childhood hunger are happening in our community. How do we honor and redeem these stories?

Samaritan Community Center serves these at-risk children through their Snackpacks for Kids program which provides weekly nutritional support to over 7,500 children ranging from preschool to high school. While this program allows children to arrive at school on Monday morning healthy, attentive and eager to learn, we know that some of their greatest allies are their friends and school community. How do we equip their classmates to join us in the fight? How do we instill compassion in them that will empower them to encourage their friends to hope and dream beyond their circumstances?

It takes a community committed to bringing awareness in a way that children are able to relate and respond. A community similar to the one found in Maddi’s Fridge, a children’s storybook that encourages children to “help friends who have empty refrigerators.” This relevant resource can truly empower a generation to aid in the fight against childhood hunger.

Help us in bringing Maddi's Fridge to every elem school library in NWA | www.purecharity.com/scc-booksWill you join me in supporting Samaritan Community Center’s desire to share this book with children across NWA? Their goal is to have two copies of Maddi’s Fridge in every elementary school library in Benton, Washington, Carroll and Madison Counties (164 books total). You can donate online through May 10 at www.purecharity.com/scc-books. A simple $10 donation will purchase one book while $20 will supply one school library and $250 will empower an entire school district! You can even select your gift to go towards a specific school. Can you imagine the next generation fired up to tackle hunger?!?!

Let’s do this, friends!

ABOUT SAMARITAN COMMUNITY CENTER

Samaritan Community Center has served Northwest Arkansas since 1989, originally as a local church  outreach and since 2002, as an independent, non-profit organization. Our mission as a grace-driven organization is to serve the hurting and hungry through a compassionate community of staff and volunteers. Using a relational approach to operations, we encourage client families to access multiple services to meet immediate physical needs (food, clothing, health care) and to work with our licensed social workers and counselors to make positive change towards financial independence and healthier lives. For more information, visit us at www.samcc.org or on Facebook or call us at 479.636.4198.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

hammies

Let's be honest....you are already trying to figure out what to do with the leftovers from the ham that's sitting on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator.

Well, I'm hanging out over at the Arkansas Women Bloggers today sharing my plan for ham leftovers.  And, thanks to Petite Jean Meats I had some extra, so I get your dilemma!  The recipe is delightful, fool-proof and sure to please a crowd!

Last weekend, I tried a little alternative to the recipe I'm sharing for Foodie Friday.  But, you have to go over there to find out the recipe!

Here's a hint...for my alternative, just substitute refrigerated pizza crust for the Hawaiian rolls.  You'll have to make both to decide which ones you like better!

Photobucket

Friday, April 3, 2015

curate crate | april 3

So, I'm giving myself a birthday present.  I'm changing my Sparkles from the Week series to Curate
Curate Crate | Things gathered along the way | April 3
Crate.  I've not always loved the name...it was something I landed on when I needed it.  And, its still the same thing...but as I've been doing research lately, I discovered that what I'm really doing is curating; gathering and dispersing...so here you have it - the first installment of Curate Crate.

I love to give myself a digital birthday present each year and since its my birthday month, I decided today was the day!

  • first a question - do you say grey or gray?
  • When prepping for my last Junior Achievement class, I came across this article about 13 brands that fell off a cliff.  Interesting what made them fail.  The topic came up in our "personal brand" session.  We talked a lot about reputation and consistency.
  • I've got a new book on my "to read" list.  Procrastinate on Purpose....challenging the world to think differently about time.  Can you get more time?  We all have the same 24...BeyoncĂ©, Malcolm Gladwell, you.  How do you get more time.
  • Ever stopped and thought about the lessons you learn from everyday moments.  How about a dad, a tea party and some Plastic Donuts?

Photobucket

Monday, March 23, 2015

whats in a name?

I love a good brand story.  I love a consistent brand.  I love a positive experience.  And, I love when a brand mistake is made and resolved.
what's in a name | when your dreams and every day align | personal brand @bigpittstop 
I volunteer with Junior Achievement and the last session we cover with the students is “personal brand”.  It’s a funny topic to cover with 9th graders who are literally trying to figure themselves out.  But, I love talking to them as 15 year-olds about what they can do to set themselves up for personal brand success.  And, I love using the stories of failed brands to remind them how to protect theirs.  I also know, living in Northwest Arkansas that many of them will be a “brand rep” for one of the bajillion products you see on a Wal-mart shelf.  It’s the world we live in.  It’s the place we live in.  We represent a brand.  

But, more importantly, the brands we represent, represent us.

I read a great article today on the Steve Graves blog by guest blogger, Jason Locy.  It’s one of those pieces that I would usually “mark unread” or snooze throughout my day and finally stop and read before I head home.  I’m so glad I stopped and read it this morning to kick off my week.  I only had ½ a cup of coffee in me before I started thinking…that’s scary!

But, it tells the story of Uber, yes the one that is your new best friend!  (I can’t wait to ask for an ice cream cone this summer and see what I get!) It tells the story of the personal interaction a customer has and then it tells the story of what it’s like to work for Uber.  It’s not my story to share, so I’ll let you read the article.  But, it’s one that gets you thinking.

Right now at work, we are in the middle of our planning time.  We dream for 5 years out, we think for 2 years out and we plan for 1.  It’s a really cool process and I’m enjoying a new way of doing something that I’ve been doing most of my life.  But, what I really love is that the challenge woven throughout is to say "what your personal mission/vision" - "does it align with us"?  

Have you stopped and looked at that?  Whether you run a business, a blog, an online marketplace or are an everyday person…you exude some kind of brand.  What are you about?  What makes you tick?  What makes you thrive?  Dare I ask, what makes you flourish?

I’ve talked a lot recently about #sweetspot.  I think #sweetspot is when your personal mission/vision for life starts aligning with the places you serve every day.  Are you living out your personal mission/vision at work?  Are the relationships in your life moving you closer to the dreams you have set before you?  Are you living our life in the margins because life is aligning and giving your every day some freedom?

It’s Spring!  It might be time to clean up your personal brand.  Might be time to figure out who you are.  Might be time to do a pulse check.  What is your personal mission/vision?  Are you living every day toward the alignment?