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Help Save Art in Bossier City Schools!

September 3, 2013 • Paige

Bossier City, Louisiana schools art programs have been cut  back to near-nothing.  The budget is $1.00 PER STUDENT.  That is not enough to do even ONE art project, much less an entire year of instruction.

Check out this article written by the Bossier Arts Council for the details.

Please, read the article and give whatever you can spare, even if it’s only $5.00.

Donate to Bossier Arts Council via PayPal.
Important: When you get to the “Review your donation” screen, click the Special Instructions link and put “for Project Art Supplies” in the box so the BAC will know how to apply your donation.

I donated.  Will you?

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How to Avoid Burn-out: Make a List

April 2, 2013 • Paige

candlebothendsAltruists and volunteers are generally enthusiastic and big-hearted people who want to help everyone and fix everything – but no one person can do it all.  Over-committing leads to burnout, and burnout leads to less Good Stuff happening in the world.

I highly recommend making an actual, real list of all the things you’re committed to, and keep that list somewhere close at hand.  Put ALL of your commitments on there, including your job, your responsibilities at home, being Mom’s Taxi for the kids music lessons and sports, and all of your super awesome altruistic volunteering activities.

Once you have a list that you can actually look at – you will have a smaller chance of ever feeling like you don’t do enough, and you will have a smaller chance of committing to anything new that you don’t have time for.  Of course, that last part requires that you CHECK your list before saying YES to anything new, unless you are going to REMOVE something from your list.

I admit, I just wrote my list.  I’m shocked at how much is there.  There is no way any one person can do all of this on a regular basis for very long.  What that means is that some stuff has to come OFF of this list – whether I like it or not.

Looking at my list now, I am having a difficult time making a decision about what stays and what goes, but the alternative is not pretty.  I can’t remove my job, and I can’t remove school, nor can I remove anything I do for my family.  Like it or not, I must carefully consider all of my volunteering and altruistic projects and then decide on which of all these worthy causes I will devote myself to and KNOW that I’m going to kick ass and get it done because I’ve made room in my life.

Part of what we are all working towards is to inspire other people to make room in their lives for Good Deeds and to inspire altruism, and you will not accomplish that if the people around you are seeing you struggling to do it all.  Burning out is not going to inspire anyone to get off the couch and join you.   Make a list, make room, and make sure you can continue to be someone who is Getting Stuff Done.

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Love Yourself, so you can Trust Yourself

January 21, 2013 • Paige

‘Trust Yourself’ is a phrase we like to use, both in encouraging other people and in encouraging ourselves.  It seems so simple but it really isn’t, is it?  I can’t count how many times in the last year or so I’ve looked myself in the eye and said it right out loud so I could hear it:  “Come on, Moxie… Trust Yourself.”  Where does that Trust come from?  It’s hard to Trust Yourself if you don’t first LOVE yourself.

beautiful_woman_looking_into_mirrorI do pretty well with loving who I am, but it can be hard work sometimes.  It has helped that I don’t have a TV, and I never, EVER read those poisonous womens’ magazines.  You know the ones….. they tell us how we should look, what we should buy, and who we want to be like.  The central message is this:  “You need to change everything about yourself. Nothing about you is good enough.”

Take a very close look at the women on the covers.  Not only do the magazines feature women of only ONE body type, those shots are heavily altered.  There are websites  out there devoted to spotting altered photos and exposing them for the fakes they are.  Now that I’m hip to it, those cover models look like aliens with their over-sized heads and digitally sculpted waistlines.   I was in the grocery checkout line recently, eyeing a magazine cover featuring a photo story about “Hollywood Stars’ Bad Beach Bodies”.  After I finished snickering at the digitally added fat rolls and fake stretch marks, I got angry at the message being broadcast there.

How dare these women be comfortable in their own skin?  How dare we eat when we are hungry?  You should conquer that hunger because it is wrong!  How dare we mothers allow our stretch-marks to show in public?  How dare Demi Moore go to the store without makeup?  She can’t do that!

Guess what? She can. And so can you.

You all like to post photos of yourselves on FaceBook, so I know what I’m talking about when I say: You Are Beautiful.    You were beautiful when you woke up this morning. You are beautiful without your makeup.  I know that I am!  Don’t get me wrong – If you like to wear makeup, DO IT! You should do whatever you like to do, whatever makes YOU happy and forget what the magazines and commercials tell you.  Listen to what your own heart tells you.  It will tell you what I have told you: You are Beautiful, and there is so much to love about YOU.

I’d like to thank Temper for turning me on to this particular video from Laci Green.  Laci hit the nail on the head when she talks about feeling as if   “I’ve got the wrong boobs!”      [youtube=]

At first,  I had a difficult time believing that a woman SO gorgeous and perfect (hah!) ever struggled to love herself, but she has been subjected to the same marketing and societal pressures as the rest of us. We are not so different after all.

Laci Green is not the only lady to inspire me to work harder to love myself.   I’d like you to also meet Rachele.  Some day, I want to be like her:  Confident. Fierce. Unapologetic.  Beautiful.

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Things That Matter

December 22, 2012 • Paige

Since the world ended yesterday (12/21/12), we are now all living in a brand new world. 

That made me start thinking about things that matter:

* Having clean water to drink
* Having enough food to eat
* Having someone to love and love you back.
* Having some place safe to sleep
* Having a purpose to your days.

Eat. Drink. Love. Sleep. Have purpose. Let everything else go.

Welcome to a new world.

– Moxie Gusto

Moxie is co-Founder of the Louisiana Initiative, and a regular contributor for S.T.A.N.D.

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Shelly and Jake: Pet Therapy Pioneers by Moxie Gusto

October 29, 2012 • Paige

Happy Halloween from the Dread Pirate Shelly and her Terrible Sea Monster Jake

This was my mother and our family dog preparing to visit a convalescent hospital on Halloween, many years ago.  Every week Shelly and Jake visited patients in the hospital for rehabilitation, and they came to be well known around our little community.

My mother saw a news story about therapy animals being used in hospitals across the country and decided that we needed something like that our small town.  Neither Mom nor Jake had any formal training, yet they became the first pet therapy team in our area.

Mom spent most of her time doing things for other people, and had a frequent habit of rescuing and rehabilitating abandoned or abused animals.  After her children were raised, it was only natural that she created her own volunteering niche in the community.

Jake was adopted from the pound as a puppy, so we have no idea where he came from.  He was very well-behaved and incredibly affectionate, with a special talent for giving the best hugs ever.

I was too much of a teenager at the time to fully appreciate what they were doing, and never got involved myself, but I always listened to my mom tell stories after each visit to the hospital. I put up the ‘disinterested teenager’ front, but I was so proud of both of them.  She would get fired up describing the happiness that Jake brought to the patients.  Some of them never got any visitors except for Jake and Shelly.

It was not her intention, but my mom brought an incredible amount of joy to her own life through volunteering at the hospital.  She didn’t have any special skills, but she did have an abundance of love and a kind and friendly nature that uplifted everyone around her. She probably didn’t think I was listening but I came to understand that lifting up other people is one of the most important things you can do with your time. It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you came from.  There is always something you can do that brings hope or joy into the lives of others.  Thanks, Mom.

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”   —   Ralph Waldo Emerson

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”  — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Footnote: Shelly and Jake underwent appropriate health exams, updated their immunizations and were screened by hospital staff prior to visiting any patients.  

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The Shepherd and the Two Travelers, a simple story.

July 24, 2012 • Paige

This blog article is technically written by me, but the story below is not mine.  I never knew where it came from, and after some research, I still don’t know.  I found some variations out there, but this is the version that I heard when I was young, and have been re-telling for all of my adult life.   The interesting thing about this story is that different people take different lessons from it.  Those are my favorite kinds of stories.  

The Shepherd and the Two Travelers  (as retold by Moxie)

A shepherd tending to his flock meets a traveler passing by the outskirts of his village. The traveler calls to the shepherd, “Hello, my friend! I have traveled far looking for a new home. What are the people like in your village?”

The shepherd replies,” “How were the people in the village you came from?”

The traveler explains, “The people where I come from are selfish, petty, and corrupt, the worst sort of people you could know”

The shepherd shakes his head sadly and says “Well my friend, you will find the people in my village are just the same.”

Sometime later, another traveler passing through called out to the shepherd. He too asked about the people in the village.  Again, the shepherd asked, “How were the people in your village?”

The new traveler replied, “The people in my village are kind, generous, and good people.”

The shepherd smiled and said, “Well my friend, you will find the people in my town are just the same.”

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Family vs. Total Strangers – Who Gets You At Your Best? by Moxie Gusto

April 16, 2012 • Paige

I’ve read too many times that some RLSH feel like they’re a much better person in their RLSH persona, than they are in every-day life.  Some have said they’re not proud of the person they are in civilian life.

That doesn’t make any sense at all.  If you aren’t living up to the core of your RLSH persona in your every day life – WHY NOT?

Don’t your friends and family deserve all the best things within you?  Is a little integrity too much to ask?

This quote drove it home for me a couple years back:

“If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love. Don’t be surly at home, then go out in the street and start grinning ‘Good morning’ at total strangers.”  – Maya Angelou

I saw myself in that statement, and I began to consciously change this.  I’m not a perfect wife, mother, or sister but my family – the core of my life deserves all of my best.

You can’t be a rotten person at home (or at work) and later put on a mask and try to “make up for it” out on the street.  Be who you are, every minute of the day.

Why So Simple? by Moxie Gusto

March 12, 2012 • Paige

What does all of this ‘Simple Living’ stuff have to do with being a “super hero”, “extreme altruist” or whatever the current catch-phrase?  NothingEverything.

Thoreau said, “As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”

Generally speaking, Americans’ lives are cluttered with distractions and centered on “wants”.  Simplicity helps us gain a very fine understanding of what our “needs” really are. It is not so much about having fewer possessions; it is an approach to life and an attitude that guides our actions with clarity and purpose.

Simplicity is about separating “needs” from the “wants”, focusing on things that really matter and eliminating everything else. I can tell you from experience that this process involves a lot of letting go. When you live with simplicity in mind, you are less likely to get caught up in distractions and drama; it becomes easier to see the heart of a situation, conversation, or problem.

For me, living simply is a daily effort that touches every part of my life.  My kitchen has very few gadgets, yet I cook quite a lot.  It’s amazing how many gadgets can be replaced with a fork and a little muscle power.  The gear I use is fairly simple, as well. I’ve got a sturdy pair of boots, a very bright flashlight, a cell phone, and a first aid kit. The basics are covered and I can focus on using my eyes-and-ears.

Choosing to live simply can take almost any form, yet the intent is often the same: a pursuit of finer understanding and sharper focus, better efficiency in all actions.

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Simply Oblivious by Moxie Gusto

December 5, 2011 • Paige

The moment a cell phone chirps, it’s attended to no matter what else is going on. Text messages, tweets, and status updates are a steady stream of someone else’s thoughts pushing yours to the background; a constant drip of distractions that take your attention away from whatever is happening at that moment, be it dinner with the family, business, or driving!

I miss the days when ‘the phone’ was at home and people attended to messages after returning home.  Nobody freaked out if you didn’t return their call within an hour or two, but try not answering your cell phone now!  Don’t get me wrong: I have a cell phone.  It is sturdy and reliable and serves me well.  It doesn’t text, it doesn’t Facebook, and it doesn’t take precedence over my real life.

It is very uncommon to see anyone without his or her eyes glued to a little screen, totally oblivious to what is going on around them. Can you imagine how often a person engrossed in their cell phone gets short changed or over charged because their attention is not on the business transaction happening at that moment?

Not only is keeping your attention on your cell phone rude, it’s dangerous. I’m sure almost everyone reading this has seen the mall security footage of the woman who falls into a fountain because she was walking along attending to her cell phone.  Now, imagine the same woman walking to her car at 10PM in a dark parking lot.  She would fail to notice any sign of danger and her cell phone will be no help to her.

Observation and attentiveness are the foundation of personal safety. Pay attention to your surroundings. Almost everyone fails right there at step 1.  If you aren’t paying attention, all the ninja training in the world is not going to save your skin or help you save anyone else.

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Simple cleaners: do more with less

February 25, 2010 • Paige

When we took our trip to Memphis for the fencing tournament, I knew I would be doing a load or two of laundry, so I brought a plastic bag with some of my home made laundry powder, and a small bottle of vinegar for softener.

However, I didn’t remember to bring any dish soap, or buy any at the grocery store. Oops!  I discovered that a half tablespoon of laundry powder works for washing dishes, as long as I used a lot of vinegar in the rinse water.

I wouldn’t want to use the laundry powder very often on dishes, but it is fine in a pinch and kept me from going back to the store to buy anything.

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