Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Gifts That Mean The Most: #GivingTuesday #BGCCares2013

Just in case you were not aware, today is the second annual #GivingTuesday, a movement that was created to encourage folks to give during the holidays. After first giving thanks for our own blessings, then spending time and money searching for great deals, now is the time to think about all of the men, women, boys and girls who could use a helping hand.

Naturally, several non-profit organizations are using this day to encourage more financial donations (some are even offering matching funds to spark immediate action), but I want you to think outside of the box and find a different way to serve someone else during this time of giving. Here are just a few examples:

  • Volunteer to serve at a soup kitchen or prepare food for Meals on Wheels.
  • Visit the Children's floor at the local hospital and read a holiday-themed book to a child or make up a few care packages and hand-deliver them.
  • Spend some quality time with a person who lost a loved one this year. The holidays can be very challenging for people who are grieving.
  • Bake some cookies and drop them off at your local women's or men's shelter.
  • Adopt-a-Family from your local social services agency or church and fulfill their Wish List.
  • Forgo the Secret Santa exchange at your job and gift a week's worth of lunches to a co-worker who eats Ramen Noodles every day. 
  • Pay a gas or electric bill for a Senior Citizen on a fixed income.
  • Provide food items to a child or two who won't have access to school meals during the winter break.
  • Donate a coat, or a blanket or snow boots to someone who needs them.
  • Offer your babysitting services to a single parent who needs some time to do her shopping and chip in a gift card to her favorite store so that she can pick up something nice for herself.
  • Visit a nursing home with a group of friends and sing your best version of The Temptations' "Silent Night."
  • Give that person who holds down two or three jobs some time off, by paying his or her salary for a day.
If you have children, it's a good idea to come up with something that you can do as a family so that they can begin to understand the importance of giving to and serving others. After all, it is more blessed to give than it is to receive! 

In conjunction with today's event, I am launching #BGCCares2013 as a way for the Brown Girl Collective Family and Brown Girl Diaries readers to share their giving stories/photos, information about local nonprofit or community programs, or additional ideas for ways to help others during this holiday season. Please use the hashtag #BGCCares2013 on Facebook or Twitter and let the world know just how much we care! Or you can join me here: BGCCares2013.

VERY IMPORTANT: Please list established/legitimate organizations ONLY. Organizations will be reviewed daily and removed, if necessary. Personal requests for assistance will be deleted as well, as I cannot verify their legitimacy. If you are in need of assistance during this season, please contact local area churches or social service agencies for help within your community. My prayer is for everyone to end 2013 and begin 2014 on a positive note!

Monday, December 2, 2013

An Open Letter to My Sisters


First of all, I want to begin this message by offering my sincerest apologies to any woman that I have ever willingly or accidentally harmed in any way, whether in thought, word or deed. It is sometimes too easy to criticize or disrespect another person without acknowledging the root cause of your actions, which, more often than not, are based upon your own issues and not those of the other person.

As Iyanla Vanzant regularly shares on OWN and author/TV correspondent Sophia A. Nelson reinforces daily on social media (and in her upcoming book, "The Woman Code"), supportive relationships between and among women are critically important. No matter how wonderful the man or men in your life may be, there is something extra special about the bonds of sisterhood, whether the "sister" is a family member, a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker or the woman that you see in the grocery store or on the big screen.

Because I live in the real world, I realize that we will not always agree with the actions or point of view of every woman that we encounter, but that does not give us the right to attack her as a human being by talking about her behind her back or calling her out of her name or criticizing her appearance or wishing ill-will upon her or members of her family. While there are many of you who would never dream of doing such things, that type of behavior is the standard for others and has indeed made many "reality" TV stars rich.

It's My Story and I Am Sticking To It!

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."
 -- Maya Angelou

I am so glad to see the beginning of December, primarily because November was a month full of ups and downs, highs and lows. I started out the month on a quest to blog daily, but quickly lost traction with changes at work, changes at home, and changes within the family. On the positive side of things, I embarked on new ventures with outstanding people and began laying the groundwork for even greater things to happen in 2014. 

On Thanksgiving Day, after an emotionally gut-wrenching talk with my mother, I arrived back home to have the most open and honest conversation with my Maker that I have had in a very long time. During those moments of crying out to God, I saw my life flash before my eyes and began to understand myself and my journey in ways that I hadn't understood it in the past.

You see, I am a 47-year-old, childless, never-married, multiple degree-having sister who has spent most of my adult life searching: for the right career, the right man, the right friends, the right lifestyle and the right place to call home. Like the quote at the top of the page suggests, my story has often felt like a combination war story/horror story/comedy of errors, so I just had to ask, "Why?"