Do you like free stuff? While most people would answer “yes,” I believe their real answer is “not really.”

Do you like free stuff? Probably not. Click To Tweet

The first thing that comes to mind is a training I attended when I was the director of a non-profit agency. It was hosted by an association of fundraising professionals and was positively brilliant. These folks were warm, hospitable, service-oriented — not what I expected when I set out to learn about raising money.

But, like all good training, many parts of what they taught me carries through to other parts of life. It’s hard to prioritize those lessons but here’s a list.

  • Always provide value. I was about to start my list with the idea of being customer-service oriented but, when I stopped to think about it, isn’t the best customer service always focused on enhancing value? The Starbucks’ baristas don’t ask you for evidence that someone made your drink wrong — they just give you a new one. I’ve attended more than my share of seminars that were more than a little light on content. The fundraisers provided info-packed classes, great snacks, and lots of networking in between.
Most people value money over time. Click To Tweet
  • Most people value money over time. They taught me that, for a board of directors to be effective, each and every one of them must make a “meaningful financial contribution.” For some that might be $25, for others it could be $25,000 but a monetary contribution is critical. For some reason, people feel much freer to waste others’ time than their money. I know lots of non-profit consultants who will no longer work with boards who do not implement this guideline. Prospective board members often argue that they are donating time. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for them to ask potential donors for money. They set themselves up for responses such as, “Why should I invest my money if you don’t?” or, worse, “Why should I fund your hobby?” Ouch.

...the next time someone asks me to underwrite their passion with pieces of my life. Click To Tweet

  • In my human services days, I worked on a project that provided free emergency housing. Clients staying in those apartments were often unreliable and uncooperative. So, I changed the contract and started charging them. While the staff wanted to hang me in effigy, client compliance went way, way up. They were invested in the process because they had “skin” in the game. And, of course, upon discharge, we refunded the client’s money.

Please excuse my whining. I’m blowing off steam. I’ve recently completed a couple of unsatisfying volunteer experiences; I donated a large amount of time to projects in which some of the main beneficiaries were alternately rude, demanding, and unappreciative. It hurts because these donations of time come with a great deal of specialized expertise. It hurts because I have a full and wonderful life. Every time I do something like this, I trade time from my own creative projects, family, and friends. And, while I’d like to say I’m done? I’m probably only done until the next time someone asks me to underwrite their passion with pieces of my life.

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IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed Click To Tweet

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the
establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. Click To Tweet

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; Click To Tweet

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. Click To Tweet

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor. Click To Tweet

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

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July 4, 2018 Posted by Andrea Thinking 5 Responses »

Sitting with a first cup of coffee and some headline news, I’m feeling lazy. Packing after this family visit will be easy — my stepmom’s giant German Shepherd dog decided that an after-swim cuddle would make his day. It made mine, too. After all, an unexpected laundry opportunity is never a bad thing on a trip, right? In a little bit, I’ll get to pack mostly clean clothes before heading to the airport.

I’ve had a great time and, have been invited to stay longer. That’s probably a good time to hit the road, no? I’d much rather that than the “is she ever going to leave?” vibe — even with family. Maybe especially with family.

I’ve spent this week with most of the members of my original family, both in big groups and one-on-one. It has been delightful. And I miss my personal nest. I want to be two places at the same time. Original family. Extended family. Chosen family. I’m grateful for them all.

And, while I’m not sure all of these quotes are intended for our mixed and modern families they fit for me.

“Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.” —Michael J. Fox

“Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.” —David Ogden Stiers

Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten. Click To Tweet

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” ― Marilyn Monroe

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” ― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel

We accept the love we think we deserve. Click To Tweet

“The informality of family life is a blessed condition that allows us all to become our best while looking our worst.” —Marge Kennedy

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” ― William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
― Lao Tzu

What does your family look like? Do you have a favorite love (or other) quote that sums up how you’re feeling about them today? Please share in the comments. After all, reader-writer families are kind of special, too!

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June 27, 2018 Posted by Andrea Happiness, Parenting 12 Responses »

Inspiration comes from the strangest places. This morning, before sitting down to write, I found myself thinking of that crazy scene from that classic TV show The Odd Couple. How many of us remember the Felix Unger character showing us that to “assume makes an ass out of u and me.” I think he even illustrated it. Ass/U/Me

Ass/U/Me But did I get it? Click To Tweet

But did I get it?

Apparently not.

I had been feeling uncharacteristically unsettled and cranky. Nothing was wrong… but nothing really felt right, either. “Out of sorts” is the term that comes to mind. Over the years, I’ve learned that this sort of edginess is part of what happens when I reach certain stages of the projects I’m working on. It feels like I’m stuck in “hurry up and wait.”

I'm stuck in hurry up and wait. Not my best thing. Click To Tweet

I don’t wait well. Some days I don’t hurry well, either.

Talking with some good friends about our mutual frustrations, a realization dawned. Each of us was feeling bogged down by our own expectations and assumptions.

  • When asked to wait for a phone call before making plans, the call will come before it’s too late to make plans. Or at all.
  • When making plans that impact others, the others will be consulted.
  • When someone is hospitalized, unless specifically instructed otherwise, friends show up.
  • When a person’s behavior damages a relationship, it’s up to that person to make it right. An apology is not a bad place to start.
  • When unable to meet a deadline, others will be notified.
  • When inviting a friend to stay, it’s a good idea to come home.

And, while the folks I talked to felt that all of these things seem like basic, common courtesy? These are apparently not universally accepted assumptions. And that’s where the friction seems to start: when we assume we’re all working under the same social guidelines.

Can you help me stop being such an ass? Click To Tweet

And, with no wish to be an ass? I’d better improve at checking them out!

How do you check out basic assumptions and avoid being an ass? I could use all the help I can get in the comments. Thanks.

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June 20, 2018 Posted by Andrea Happiness, Thinking 4 Responses »
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