What Do Real Women Do?

I have an announcement to make…

I’m excited to share that I am currently working on a new project called “Real Women Give.” Over the past five years, I’ve met so many women who have a desire to make a difference. We have shared tips for cause efforts, cried over inspirational stories, and built a network to encourage and motivate each other. Then, it hit me. Whether it’s tips on supporting a girlfriend battling breast cancer or how to plan a high-profile charity event, this same sphere of influence should be available to women everywhere on a broader basis.

SO…

On October 5th – a week before my 30th birthday – I will make a long-time dream a reality by officially launching Real Women Give at a breakfast event in Chicago. I’m so grateful (and excited) that Diane Latiker, the Founder of Kids off the Block and a recent CNN Hero, will deliver remarks about the difference that just one woman can make when she takes her power and decides to use it for good.

Check back on Monday for more details about the breakfast and how to purchase tickets. As I embark on this new journey, please continue to send your thoughts, prayers, and ideas if you have them :-)

Have a FAB weekend!

Adding a New (Furry) Member to My Family

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting older or starting to nest, but I’ve decided that I am going to adopt a dog. It’s something that I have been thinking about for a few years now, and I think that now is the time! I’m obsessed with pugs (proof) so my original plan was to buy an adorable pug puppy. But, after talking it over with a few friends, I realized that 1) Puppies are WAY too much work for me and 2) there are so many great shelter dogs that need homes in Chicago.

So, I’ve been doing my research at on the sites below and I even got a chance to experience life with a dog this past weekend. As you can see, I thoroughly enjoyed my precious time dog-sitting Marley. My planned timeline has me finalizing an adoption in mid-October. Have any of you ever adopted a dog before? Do you have any tips to share with a soon-to-be dog mommy?

Chicago-Area Pet Shelters

PAWS Chicago – http://www.pawschicago.org/

Chicago Canine Rescue – http://www.chicagocaninerescue.com/

Animal Welfare League – http://www.animalwelfareleague.com/

Anti-Cruelty Society of Chicago – http://www.anticruelty.org/

 

Four Chicago Volunteer Opportunities for September

It’s hard to believe that Labor Day has come and gone. It is officially time to start talking about football, pumpkin spice lattes, and knee-high boots. No matter which topic of conversation you choose, don’t forget that there’s always room to chat about volunteering. Or better yet… There’s always time to actually get out there and volunteer.

I haven’t done one of these in a couple of months, but here are four volunteer opportunities that you can sign up for this month!

Cheer on Half Marathon Runners

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is assembling a team of volunteers to help cheer on and hydrate runners during the 17th Annual Chicago Half Marathon. Helpers will staff the info tent and guide runners at the end of the race.

Date: Sunday, September 8th

How to sign up: Send an email to volunteer_ILC@lls.org. (Volunteers must be 16 and older)

Serve Lunch to Veterans on September 11th

As a special thank you to those in the Armed Forces and to commemorate National Day of Service and Remembrance, the Chicago White Sox have partnered with USO of Illinois to host a lunch for vets.

Date: Wednesday, September 11th

How to sign up: Head on over to the Chicago White Sox Volunteer Corps page and sign up.

Grocery Shop at Vital Bridges Groceryland

Vital Bridges runs four grocery centers across Chicago that cater to the specific dietary needs of people living with HIV. After clients fill out their grocery menu, volunteers shop the food pantry for the items. I’ve done this service project before and it’s actually is one of my favs!

Date: Saturday, September 21st

How to sign up: Register on the Chicago Cares website. Note: If you don’t have an account already, you’ll need to sign up for one.

Volunteer at the AIDS Run & Walk Chicago

From packet stuffing to race day support, there are a couple of opportunities to help out with this signature event that benefits the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and several local HIV/AIDS service organizations.

Date: Saturday, September 28th

How to sign up: Visit the race site to sign up.

 

 

P.S. I love the photo above. It perfectly represents fall in Chicago. If you like it too, you can order a print here.

Do You Have a “Do Good Bucket List?”

Lately, I’ve been all about creating lists and mapping out my life. Things can get a little chaotic, and I like to make plans (even if I change them later or never get started on them). The other day, I was thinking of the various volunteer activities that I would like to do one of these days. So, that inspired me to create a “do gooder bucket list.” It may sound odd, but I think it’s a good idea! I’m still in the process of adding things, but here is where I’m at so far.

Before I kick the bucket, I hope to…

1. Help build a house with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans

2. Volunteer at a Special Olympics competition

3. Complete the two-day Capital Challenge Walk for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

4. Make care packages for our troops

5. Read to a group of children at a local children’s hospital

6. Run in a charity race (10K or longer)

7. Sing carols at a nursing home or hospital

8. Spend a week at an AIDS orphanage volunteering with the children and learning from the medical staff

9. Serve as a volunteer baby rocker and feeder for infants in the NICU.

10. Host an amazing conference for teen caregivers.

Some of these things are probably going to happen before others, but at least it’s a start. What service project would you like to complete before you kick the bucket?

 

Save 20% Today on FEED for Target Items

SALE alert! Today only, you can save 20% AND score free shipping on the FEED x Target collection online only. I’ve been stalking this collection for a while now and have chosen my four things that I want right now.

Have you snagged any items from this collection yet? If not, better get on it soon! This is a great way to help provide meals to families in need while getting some cool pieces for yourself, for your home, and as gifts.

 

Newborn Bib Set, $12-$15 (Provides 12 meals)

Orange Polka Dot Scarf, $14 (Provides 14 meals)

Fabric Storage Bins, $30 (Provides 24 meals)

Large Bakeware Dish, $30 (Provides 25 meals)

~kb

Shifting My Focus Back to Selflessness

Does being selfless and doing good work wonders for your well-being? Well, according to a recent article, it does. I can’t verify the science but I can tell you conversely that being selfish makes me feel awful. And, BOY, have I been selfish lately. It usually starts with a desire to self-preserve and then I look up and I feel terrible. Last night, I had a come-to-Jesus (or whoever you choose to reckon with) meeting with myself and was able to clearly link my anxiety, stress, irritability, and overall bummed out-ness to the fact that I had tipped the scales between an outward focus and an inward focus. I stopped really thinking about anyone but Karyn. No volunteering, no blogging, no do-gooding. Just doing me which usually meant that I was doing nothing.

Do you remember my post about the book “29 Gifts” and the author, Cami Walker? That was essentially the premise of the book. She was so focused on herself and in the throes of her own pity party when it was suggested that she give gifts to friends for 29 days. It worked for her, lifting her spirits and reminding her of what was really important in life.

I had entered that space that gives me the willies. I was being “The Selfish Giver.” It felt good at first to be a little self-involved, but that quickly faded. I need balance. I need to be altruistic. Helping others is a reminder that this world is much bigger than me.

Does giving back or volunteering help you balance your moods?

~kb

P.S. Need more healthy reasons to give back? Check out this article.

Photo Credit: CreativeCapitalB.com

A Labor of Love, Service, and Sacrifice

I think about caregivers on a regular basis. I think about their strength, their sacrifice, their service, and their spirits. So, when my friends at the American Cancer Society asked if I would join in their 100 Caregivers Stories series, it was a no-brainer! I’ve never been shy about talking about my caregiving experiences with my mother and am currently working on a webinar series to address the unique needs of youth caregivers.

Although I have since transitioned out of that role, I’m still honored to be surrounded by so many amazing people who have stepped up to provide care to a loved one battling cancer or another disease.

I think of my bonus mom, Angie, who somehow is able to juggle her career with caring for her mother who is living with Alzheimer’s. I think about friends who recently lost parents to cancer after lovingly (and sometimes painfully) watching their superwoman succumb to the illness. And, I think about a young woman that I know who not only cared for her sister with cancer, but also stepped up to support her sister’s daughter.

Caregivers are so incredibly valuable for so many reasons. There are economic, societal, and health benefits to caregiving but, above all of that, caregivers remind each of us we are all connected. To every person who has ever been a caregiver or is one right now, here’s a short quote that will breath a little life into you on your worst days…

Patience and fortitude conquer all things. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Would you like to honor a caregiver? You can sign up here to share a blog post.

 

 

As a part of the American Cancer Society’s 100 Days/100 Stories series, the 100 Caregiver Stories series wants to shine a light on 100 amazing caregivers by the end of 2013. I am a member of the ACS’ Blogger Advisory Council. No financial compensation was received to publish this post.

Photo: Pinterest

Praying for Oklahoma + Ways You Can Help

As news stories continue to pour out of Oklahoma, it’s clear that the this ordeal is far from over. It’s such a sad situation and I am sending much prayer to everyone affected by the tornado, especially to the families of those who have lost a loved one as a result.

Huffington Post has compiled a list of ways that you can help. Check it out here.

 

 

Photo: CNN

Monday Motivation: ConGRADulations to Me

Nine days ago, I took a BIG step towards completing a huge goal of mine. I walked in the 2013 Commencement Ceremony at my alma mater, University of Illinois, in celebration of my almost-completed* Master’s degree in Health Communication. Being down there brought a wide range emotions from joy to periodic sadness. The joy came from being back in Chambana. The sadness was a result of wishing that my Mother could’ve been there with me like she was in 2005 when I received my undergrad degree down there. Throughout all of the various emotions, the most powerful one was pride. I was am so proud of myself for really sticking with this program, even when I wanted to do everything else BUT study or read.

Class of 2013!

Completing my degree was the first thing that I’ve been able to cross off of my 30 Before 30 list and now I’m fired up to keep checking things off! A personal challenge of mine is closing the deal and following through on my brilliant ideas. Part of that has been fear, but that’s behind me. It’s all about moving forward.

With one journey wrapping up, I’m already on the prowl for a new one to begin. That’s the good thing about life. If you wait long enough, there will always be another path to create, another story to write, or another journey to begin. What are you in the process of creating? What would you like to start? There’s no time like the present to make it happen. Trust me. There’s NO greater feeling than completing a challenge.

I’m a living witness.

 

 

*Once I complete my capstone research project this summer, my graduate studies will officially be completed.

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