An old man walked up a shore littered with thousands of starfish, beached and dying after a storm. A young man was picking them up and flinging them back into the ocean. "Why do you bother?" the old man scofted. "You're not saving enough to make a difference." The young man picked up another starfish and sent it spinning back to the water. "Made a difference to that one," he said.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Day 13-The Gift of Life

Today my gift was a planned gift.  It has been on my calendar for weeks.  It was a gift, to be honest; I wasn’t looking forward to giving.  It is not that I didn’t want to give the gift, but more that I was anxious, nervous and a bit scared.

January is National Blood Donor Month and I had signed up to donate blood.  Our local high school, Kouts High School, was having a blood drive and this was my opportunity to give the gift of life and hopefully motivate others to do the same thing.
I have only given blood once back in 2008 when I was in the police academy.  We had a blood drive competition between the squads and since I am a competitive person I wasn’t going to chicken out in front of all the guys,  even though several others did.  I had a positive experience and not for sure why I was so worked up today. 

Prior to leaving I was anxious and trying to find every excuse in the book not to go.  We had received a couple of inches of snow last night and so I was convinced I couldn’t get out of my driveway or the roads were going to be too bad to drive.  But I knew none of this was true.
I arrived safely at the school, snow on the road in all.  I quickly learned that the majority of the people donating where high school students.  This was such an encouraging thing to witness.  All the chairs were filled with students giving blood.  I must admit, I was flattered when the man checking me in thought I was a student.  After I was checked- in I had to review several documents and then received a coupon from Culvers for a free pint of frozen custard.  Bonus! 

I anxiously waited for my number to be called.  My number was called and I met with a nurse who pricked my finger to test my hemoglobin.  All looked good so I got to move onto the questionnaire on the computer.  It was a bunch of, “Have you ever….” questions.  I completed the questionnaire and the nurse looked at the results and ask if I had traveled out of the country in the last year.  I stated, “Yes, to Mexico.”  She requested a list of all the placed I had traveled while in Mexico. I told her, “Cancun, Riviera Maya and Tululm.”  She says, “Tulum! You can’t donate blood if you have been to Tulum due to your risk for malaria.”  Who knew!
So my gift of life failed.  I was disappointed that I couldn’t give blood but maybe secretly relieved.   I will be able to try again in February.  Since I was unable to give blood I made a financial contribution to the American Red Cross.

Did you know…
·         The American Red Cross needs to collect 22,000 units of blood each weekday and
·         Around 15,000 units each weekend to meet patient needs
·         Every two seconds, someone needs blood.

To find a blood drive near you go to  I encourage you to donate blood and give the gift of life. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Day 9-Super Bowl XLVI-An opportunity to give

Since starting on this gift giving journey I have been surprised by many things, but two in particular. #1-How many opportunities there are to give once I opened my heart. I have post-its on my desks of reminder of gifts and a file folder of gift giving ideas. Gift ideas are everywhere! #2- I’m realizing there are so many people and organizations doing some pretty cool things to make a difference.

With this said, I wish the news was filled more with #2 instead of all the doom and gloom we see today.  No wonder so many people are negative and depressed.  We are surrounded by negative and depressing information everywhere we turn.  I challenge you to seek stories that are uplifting and put you in a good mood.   I also encourage you to share those stories with others. Let’s start a revolution of positive and inspiring information filling our inboxes and facebook walls!
I am fortunate to work for Cisco Systems, Inc., a company that makes giving back and volunteering a priority.  Through Cisco, a sponsor of this event, I was presented an opportunity to donate to a service project related to Super Bowl XLVI called Super Basketsfor Hope.  

According to their website, Super Baskets for Hope is the first service project in NFL history to extend its reach nationwide.   Super Baskets for Hope will deliver gift-filled baskets to 7,000 hospitalized children in each of America’s 32 NFL cities. The outreach project is a collaborative effort of Riley Children’sFoundation, the Basket of Hope program, and former Indianapolis Colts coach, Tony Dungy.
My gift on day #9 was a financial donation to Super Baskets for Hope. To donate or learn about what is in the baskets, check out Super Baskets of Hope website at

Monday, January 9, 2012

Day 7 & 8- BCS Championship Game… I don’t really care!

I was sitting in the "man cave" watching the BCS Championship game because I felt like it was the thing to do. But as I was sitting there I felt like I was wasting time.  I don’t really care if Alabama or LSU wins.  My team, the University of Michigan won the Sugar Bowl that makes me happy! So I decided to quit watching the football game to come blog! 

Do you have life goals, a life list or a bucket list?  One of the things on my life list is to travel to all 50 states.  I have 17 more to go and hope to knock off at least Wyoming and Oregon this year. 
My husband was out of town this weekend so one of my friends came over and we planned a trip to Wyoming.  Talk about God’s country. I was looking at all the pictures of the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks and can’t wait to go hiking and maybe even hang-gliding!  My gift for Saturday was a treat for my friend (and to be honest myself also).  I bought beautifully decorated cupcakes from Designer Desserts.  I wish I would have taken pictures. I bought my friend the chocolate cupcake that had teal icing, sprinkles and a cherry on top and me a coconut cream pie cupcake that really tasted like coconut cream pie. They were delicious!
On Sunday I decided to go to church.  I had been out of the habit for almost a year. I have no real good excuse for not going.  I try to use my husband as my excuse since he works most Saturday nights and sleeps in on Sundays. But let’s be real, I’m a big girl and could go by myself. I just choose not too!

This past year I was blessed to meet a friend whose husband also works nights so on Sunday we attended church together.  My gift on Sunday was a financial gift to Valparaiso Nazarene.  I really enjoyed the service.  The worship band’s energy was contagious and the pastor preached from the Bible, was relevant and humorous.  I think I will be going back again!
I really try to support local small businesses when I can and I encourage you to do the same.  I hope everyone has a blessed week.  Try to give a gift if you can, even if it is just smiling, asking someone how they are doing or holding the door open for the person behind you. All little gifts make an impact!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Day 6-Bubble Smoothie?

I think I must be out of the loop, but before last night I had never heard of “bubbles.”  I learned that bubbles are tiny tapioca pearls that can be added to tea and smoothies.  They are dark in color, chewy and have a sweet taste.

Last night I met Wendy Taddeucci, owner of Simply Organized, LLC at Uptown Café for drinks. I would say coffee but neither of us ordered coffee!  It was my treat and gift for the day.  Wendy ordered a bubble smoothie, which I had never heard of but it looked yummy.  I think I am going to have to try one the next time I am at Uptown Café.  
Wendy and I are both professional organizers and have been organizing in NW Indiana for over five years but have never met.  We had a fun evening discussing what it is like to work with people and change their life by helping them get organized.  We had similar stories and both learned that we have laughed, cried and become friends with many of our clients.

Are there professionals in your community who you would like to meet, collaborate with and get to know better?  If so, reach out to them and ask them to join you for coffee or a bubbled smoothie! I have so enjoyed getting to know many fascinating people over the years.  I encourage you to look outside the four walls of your office/home and get to know someone new today!

Check out Wendy on TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive on January 29th.   

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Day 3-Letters to families of fallen officers

Last year I started writing letters to families who had a loved one that was killed in the line of duty.  Due to other gifts I was able to give throughout the year I got behind on these letters.  I kept a list of letters I need to send and eventually I will send letters to every family that lost a loved one in the line of duty starting in 2011 until I decided it is something I should no longer continue. No sure that will ever happen!

Today I wrote letters to the families of Border Patrol Agents Eduardo Rojas and Hector Clark.  They were killed in the line of duty on May 12, 2011 when their vehicle was struck by a train.  Both Agents left behind a wife and two children.  To learn more about these officers click on their names.

Through a tragedy that took place in my home town on December 30th, a young, vibrant 18 year old girl lost her life way too early and was laid to rest today.  I was reminded how quickly those we love can be taken away from us.  Never miss an opportunity to tell someone you love them.  RIP Emily.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 2-Recycled Christmas Cards

Do you still have your Christmas cards laying around the house?  Want to help a great organization fund raise with your used cards?  If so, mail them to St. Jude's Ranch for Children. They recycle the cards and sell them to raise funds for their organization.  They also except all other types of greeeting cards. 

This was my gift for today and it only took me about 10 minutes to go through my cards, place in an envelope and prepare to ship. 

Here are their card donating tips:

  • All types of greeting cards, including Christmas are used.
  • Only the card front can be used (please check to be sure the back side is clear of any writing, etc.)
  • We can not accept Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting cards.
  • 5″ x 7″ size or smaller is preferred.
  • Mail donations to :
    St. Jude’s Ranch for Children
    Recycled Card Program
    100 St. Jude’s Street
    Boulder City, NV 89005
For additional information:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

365 Days of Giving

Happy New Year!  Well 2011, a great year, has come to an end and I am looking forward to the possibilities for 2012.  A year ago today I made a goal to give a gift everyday for year and I am happy to report that I accomplished that goal yesterday!

In the beginning I don’t think I really knew what I was getting myself into or where my gift giving journey would take me.  It has been fun, challenging, heart-warming and life changing.  I have met many great people, learned about wonderful organizations and causes and have made many new friends.
This journey that started as a challenge has turned into a new way of life for me; something I can’t live without.  Over the past couple of months people have been asking me if I am going to continue with my daily gift giving and without hesitation my answer has been, “YES!” 

I know this will sound strange, but I think I would be sad not to give a gift every day.  It is something I look forward to and enjoy the smiles it brings to people faces.  It is something truly being done with no expectation of receiving anything in return.  I also strongly feel this journey I have been on and will continue in 2012 is part of God’s plan for me. What I am suppose to be doing.  And until I feel otherwise, I will continue to make the commitment to give.
Are you wondering what my final gift of the year was?  It was a New Years Eve Party at my home for a group of close friends.  There was one catch if they wanted to attend, they couldn’t bring any food.  Usually when we have parties we all pitch in and everyone brings food but not this party.  I think I outdid myself and had tons left over.  With the help of my husband, I spent half the day in the kitchen preparing all types of yummy appetizers.  We are not partiers so the night included watching a football game, Family Feud, Dance Central, Rock Band and the Newlywed game.  We all made it to midnight and some of us even made it until about 1:30.  We had fun laughing, joking with each other and more importantly enjoying each other’s company.  I love to entertain so this was a fun gift to give.

I am not big into New Year’s resolutions, but I do set many goals for myself for the year.  If you do the same and I hope one of your goals for the year is to increase your giving!
Thank you for letting me be a part of your life for this past year. I hope you continue to follow me on my gift giving journey.  Have a blessed 2012!