Archive for September, 2009


The End

For me to say that I’m sad that My Challenge is coming to an end would TOTALLY be a LIE! 

This was probably the hardest thing I’ve voluntarily committed to in the past six months.  I would say it’s the hardest thing I’ve voluntarily committed to in my life, but I almost forgot doing the P.F. Chang’s Half Marathon.  Honestly, what was I thinking when I committed to that one as well.  But what’s life if you don’t challenge yourself, right??

My Challenge was definitely a CHALLENGE.  When I first started, I thought this would be easy.  Yes, the first week wasn’t too bad, but then as I was following the stats that WordPress so graciously provided I started to become obsessed.  What are topics people will read about? 

As I started to put pressure on myself to come up with interesting or thought provoking posts, I found it difficult to write my blogs.  Well, that mindset only last a few days.  Because…I DO WHAT I WANT!

My committment at that time rested on the idea that I finish My Challenge.  So I went back to writing what I felt like that day.  What I found through writing on a variety of topics is that there were certain things people like to read or comment on.  I found those topics to be the most fulfilling and ones I know I can write more about in the future.

So in Day 1 of My Challenge I committed to this…

I’m excited to see what I come up with and can look back upon after the 30 days.  I also hope that with this challenge, I make blogging a habit.

I’m excited at the fact that I finished My Challenge.  Did I make it a habit?  We will have to see.  My Challenge has provided me with insight on topics I can focus on writing about in the future.  Maybe I can write about the Day in the Life of a Thirty-something Non-Married, Non-Cohabitating Social Worker Turned Fundraiser Who Loves the WWE, Bowling and Can’t Decorate…0r maybe not 😛

Anyway…despite the challenges, I had fun at doing My Challenge.  But it will not end there.  I will continue to blog, but I will blog on a more focused topic.  I’m taking a mini-vacation from blogging to gather my thoughts.  If you guys have any insights to what I should blog about in the future I want to hear those as well.  Please leave a comment.

Thank you to my boyfriend for letting me write about our relationship and for reading my blog (especially when I demanded he read it).  Thank you to Tony Arranaga and J Seth Anderson for doing My Challenge with me.  I appreciate your support.  Check out their blogs as well http://lightrailblogger.com and http://jsethanderson.com. And last by not least, thank you to those who read my blog and commented.  I enjoyed reading your feedback.

There’s more to come.  SO STAY TUNED…

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At the end of the day my supervisor likes to come into my office and chit chat.  I don’t mind it at all.  She is probably one of the most entertaining people I know.  I think we get along well because I remind her of herself when she was my age.  She is turning 60 this year and doesn’t look it one bit.  Like me, she has her Masters in Social Work and works in development (fundraising). 

We are both hard workers and don’t like to hear “we can’t do that” or “we’ve never it done it that way (so why change).”  We firmly believe that if it’s not working…FIX IT!  However, where we differ is that she knows her limits and I pretty much will work myself into the ground to get it all done. 

A few months ago she asked me if I ever just sit around and do nothing.  I inquired, “What do you mean…do nothing?”  She asked, “do you just sit and watch tv or read a book?” 

You know, I haven’t thought about doing those things in a long while.  I do watch tv, but I “watch it” while working on an article or emails when I work from home.  Lately, the only things I’ve been reading are articles associated with work.  I’m in the middle of reading “Middlsex,” but haven’t picked it back up in about a month.

While my supervisor likes my work ethic and appreciates my hard work, she knows that taking a break or a mini-vacation is important as well.  She knows I love my work and have a passion for what I do in making my community a better and safer place for all of us to live.  She also knows that I need to take breaks.  For awhile there she ordered me to take days off.  “You are off Friday, don’t come to work.” 

I think it’s pretty funny she made me take days off.  However, I think she realizes that I need to step up and say “I need a vacation.”  So instead of demanding I take a day off, she now suggests it.  She told me that  “I am the type of person that’s always on the go; however, I won’t learn to slow down until I hit that brick wall.”  And you know and I know she’s freakin’ right.  And I really hate that!

What good am to my work or community if I am out sick or dead of a heart attack?  Bottomline, I need to take better care of myself.  And honestly, I don’t want to give her the satisfaction of being right.    So  I’m sorry to those people if I leave work on time and have to get answers to you the next day or after the weekend.  You guys can wait.  I took today off to do some chores and get things done so I can spend the rest of my weekend relaxing.  Soooo…Happy Four-Day (labor-free) Labor Day Weekend to me!!

Big House

Big House

Today, college football season kicks off.  What does that mean for me?  That means that every Saturday, my boyfriend will be glued to the tv.  It also means that I will be rooting for the University of Michigan.  I’ve never gone to that school or have even set foot in the state of Michigan. But it’s my boyfriend’s team and I support him, his interests and more importantly his team.  

Now I don’t characterize myself as one of those girls who loves everything my boyfriend loves.  We do have similar interests and have introduced each other to our hobbies.  He introduced me to bowling and I introduced him to hiking.  I tried to get him to watch the WWE and to try out salsa dancing, but he wasn’t interested in either one.  He has tried to turn me into an avid college football fan with little success. 

I can watch maybe one game, but really, I don’t have the attention span for it.  What I can basically do to support my boyfriend’s football addiction is to watch his favorite team.  And that’s about it.  One game a week is good enough for me.

Honestly, I don’t get the fascination with college football.  And from my understanding, it’s a guy thing.  Really! It’s not like their professional football players, but whatever.  

Both my undergrad and graduate colleges did not have football teams.  And that could be where my lack of understanding lies.  Creighton and SLU’s main sports were basketball, soccer and baseball.  Creighton and SLU’s soccer teams are actually huge rivals.  I had no idea what I was missing out on until I went to an ASU game.  It was really exciting and the school spirit was awesome.  You don’t get that same effect with soccer.

At the beginning of our relationship, he warned me about his  love of college football.  I didn’t understand what that meant until he blew me off to watch a game.  At the time, I was livid.  He apologized profusely and told me it won’t happen again.  That was nearly two years ago, and it hasn’t.  He now records all the games he wants to watch and DVR is probably what saved our relationship.   

So I say, bring on college football.  I’m ready.  And if worse comes to worse, my boyfriend can DVR it! :p

Last week I asked my friends on Facebook what I should blog about that day.  My friend, Aaron, commented:

This doesn’t help for tonight, but next week you can blog about the awesome YNPN Phoenix event you will have attended =)
My frame of mind that evening was like, “Sure…whatever you say Aaron.”  Nothing against Aaron or Robert Egger, the speaker scheduled for the “awesome YNPN Phoenix event,” but at that time the topic didn’t interest me.  And it’s partly because I had no idea what Robert was going to talk about.

I am a member of YNPN Phoenix(Young Nonprofit Professional Network–http://www.ynpnphoenix.org), a professional development and social networking organization for young nonprofit professionals in Metro Phoenix.  Every month, I look forward to attending a YNPN event.  Even though I’m older that many of the members, I like the energy of the group.  YNPN is full of eager, young nonprofit professionals from a diversity of backgrounds who serve a variety of nonprofits ranging from human services to the arts.  At times, I would like to think I’m still young, and in the whole scheme of things I am, but sometimes I get a bit sad that I’m not in my 20s anymore.  Oh well!  It’s good to grow old gracefully.

Robert Egger, Founder and President of DC Central Kitchen (courtesy of YNPN)

Robert Egger, Founder and President of DC Central Kitchen (courtesy of YNPN)

Today, YNPN held their event with Robert Egger this morning at 7:30 a.m.  Despite the early start time and the fact that I was still trying to wake up, I was truly moved by Robert’s presentation (thus the blog, thanks Aaron :P).  I am very impressed with the fact that he started his working career in managing nightclubs and then transitioned into nonprofit due to his love of community.  He is the Founder and President of  DC Central Kitchen (http://www.dccentralkitchen.org) and has been there for over 18 years.   I am also impressed that he was listed in Non Profit Times “50 Most Powerful and Influential Nonprofit Leaders” in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.  What I’m most impressed about is that he confessed that Zoolander was one of his favorite movies and he loved Will Ferrell’s character, Mugatu (I had to throw that in).

I admire Robert’s passion for commmunity and the role that nonprofits play in ensuring a thriving community.  I’m equally as excited about his work with the V3 Campaign (http://www.v3campaign.org).  I believe this Campaign is exactly what the nonprofit sector needs…it’s exactly what Arizona needs.  Oddly, his presentation today came after a candid discussion I had with my supervisor just yesterday about nonprofits, specifically social services, having a voice in government. 

Our discussion centered around Arizona’s current budget deficits and cuts made to social services that affect the most vulnerable members of our community.  Arizona residents really rally around education. I admire the fact that hundreds of people came out to advocate to restore funding to budget cuts made to education.  I believe advocacy around education is important, but at the same time I notice little advocating is being done for human services.  While education is critical to our community, I don’t feel that it is the resolution to all the huge issues that face children and families in Arizona and  is the “be all and end all” solution to developing a thriving state.   Education doesn’t resolve the fact that homelessness, drug addiction, domestic violence, unemployment and untreated mental health are rampant in our community and when it comes to budget cuts these are the items that are cut first and deep.   These are root issues that hinder progress in education and prevent our community from truly thriving.  Yes, education is important to the future success of our society and preventing these fundamental issues from affecting the future lives of our children, but it doesn’t address those people who are going through these very real issues right now. 

Robert’s presentation this morning really brought home the importance of nonprofits having a voice in government.  I believe that Arizona’s “human services” voice is very quiet, but I don’t think it’s something that can’t be changed.  In order for change to happen, we as nonprofits, need to work together.  We can’t afford to continue to sit on the sidelines and wait to see what happens.  We need a voice on behalf of nonprofits in our government and I believe that Robert’s efforts and the V3 Campaign can help us to begin that conversation. 

Despite my complaints about feeling old, I know what it means to be the baby of the group.  A few months ago I asked my supervisor why she hired me.   I started with Crisis Nursery as their grant writer (after 10 months I was promoted to their Communications and Marketing Manager).  I found out that the other candidate they were looking to hire had more grant writing experience than I did.  I asked my supervisor, “why did you choose me?” 

She told me that it really came down to my young, fresh perspective on nonprofit work.  The other candidate was the same age as the four individuals who made up our Senior Management at that time.  They are all over the age of 50 and preparing to retire.  She honestly said that she didn’t want to hire someone just like them.  She added, “little did I know what I was in for.” 

I love the fact that I’m the youngest member in management at Crisis Nursery.  I am also in a position to try new strategies and initiatives.  Some of the ideas I propose require that our organization think outside of the box and step out of their comfort zone. While it can a struggle to push my ideas through and at times they are flat out rejected, I think that our Senior Management and Board of Directors appreciates this new approach to looking at how Crisis Nursery operates.  And honestly, this opportunity, though challenging, has been a great learning experience for me.

I see simiarities between the situation I was in when I first started at Crisis Nursery and YNPN Phoenix’s opportunity to make a difference in Arizona’s nonprofit sector. I am also honored that Robert sought YNPN to help bring his vision into reality.   I believe this is a great opportunity for YNPN Phoenix.  My hope is that this presentation doesn’t end with just today and YNPN Phoenix takes an active role in helping the nonprofit sector find its voice in government.  Yes, YNPN members are young and maybe we don’t have a of experience like our predecessors, but we have ideas, an open mind and initiative.  Let’s capitalize on this opportunity and do something about it.

I’m mesmerized when I watch home design reality shows.  I love to watch HGTV and shows like Design Star, Divine Design or Design on a Dime.   I am amazed at the things decorators can do.  They make it look so easy, but to me, easy it is not.

I think the decorator gene skipped me.  Both my mom and sister can take an empty room and make it look like the room was made up by a professional designer.  My sister was able to turn my parent’s basement room into a cute little studio apartment.  She even worked with the small space to create an adorable nursery for my niece.  Take a look at what she did.

HPIM1009

Nursery 1

My niece's room

Nursery 2

My mom is a bit like Martha Stewart.  She can probably make something totally cool from straws, string and duck tape.  My mom is also a great bargain shopper decorator.  She can find clearance deals at home decor stores, put them together and somehow it all works.  Here are a few pictures of the potted faux plants she arranged. 

Floral Arrangement 1

Floral Arrangement 1

Floral Arrangement 2

Floral Arrangement 2

The pictures don’t do it justice, but time and time again I’ve had people ask me where I got them.  I would also go to stores and similar items would be listed $150 and up.  If my mom ever wanted to get out of nursing, she definitely would have a great second career. 

As for me, I have no such luck in interior design.  When I moved down to Maricopa, I decided to tackle decorating the bathroom.  I thought it was a great small project to start off with.  I discovered Ikea and after looking at the display room, I thought anyone could do it.  Boy was I wrong.  Let me have the pictures speak for itself.

Bathroom 1

Bathroom 1

Home 006

Bathroom 2

Yeah.  I can only imagine what you are thinking.  When my mom saw it she asked me, “What did you do to that room?”  I tried to explain that I thought the room needed some color and that I liked the color red.  The room is so red that when the sun sets and shines through the small window above the tub, it makes the room glow red.  I guess that’s not the right way to decorate.    I’m sure it’s a decorator’s nightmare.

Obviously, I have a lot to learn about home decorating.  I will continue to watch HGTV to gather tips, but I think at this point I’m a lost cause.