Coming Alive

Inspiring others to use their voice to change the World

Archive for the month “September, 2013”

One Way Out

“Only the educated are free.”–Epictetus

After returning from Kenya I was bombarded with comments and questions about why I was advocating for individuals in Africa rather than here in the United States.  It prompted the post, “We Have It In Us To Do Both”.  My feelings are the same today (two years later) and I have been fortunate to become friends with Christine Catlett who is living proof that we can make a difference both here and in Africa.  I believe all of the mid-life moms (by that I mean 30s, 40s, 50s) reading this post will be inspired by Christine’s Story.


For those of us who left the professional world for the parent-at-home career, there comes a point when the youngest is in school all day that space is created to contemplate doing something personally fulfilling that is separate from them.  I embraced being a ONE Congressional District Leader and Christine Catlett chose to become a Guardian ad litem—translated ‘guardian during litigation’.  Basically a Guardian ad litem is the advocate for the child who has been removed from a home by social services.  It takes a special person to take on this role!  After volunteering a few years Christine became a trainer for their organization under a time restricted grant.  It is easy to know the (com)passion she has for these kids—it radiates from her and being able to train others for the role was an opportunity she welcomed.


Christine’s story then takes a turn—in the direction of Africa (Kenya to be exact).  When the grant ended for the training program she felt like she needed an adventure and something just for her.  Through a friend she learned about a non-profit that coordinates volunteer opportunities abroad.  Christine was going to the Dago Village in Southwestern Kenya and she was going SOLO!  Now it is no secret that the ONE Moms trip to Kenya changed the lives of everyone involved and the experience was no different for Christine.  She returned with the same emotions and thoughts that we all had—a deep rooted desire to take action.  Our ONE Moms post trip involved numerous media events as well as meetings on Capitol Hill and the White House.  We created a movement that has since led to a second ONE Moms trip to Ethiopia and the creation of ONE Mums in the United Kingdom.  Christine left Dago Village with an aim to educate every single child in that village and she is well on her way through the creation of the non-profit One Way Out.

The first time Christine and I met for coffee/tea I knew that our enthusiasm for changing the world matched.  While in this village witnessing the beauty and poverty all woven together, she knew in an instant that if ALL of the young people in this village received an exceptional education the situation would be different.  After returning home she started talking to her friends about what she wanted to do and they wanted to be part of helping Christine fulfill her wish.  Christine returned to Kenya several times building relationships and meticulously choosing the school with the highest standards that was graduating students with National level scores on the KCPE (standardized test similar to SAT).  Then through One Way Out began a sponsorship program.  Sponsorship candidates are between 5 and 14 years old and placed in Preschool through Class 8.  After reading their stories you chose a child and commit to fund their education through high school.  The fees for preschool are $65/year and for Class 1 through Class 8 it is $625 the first year and $525 every year after.  High School fees are determined after the scoring of the standardized test.  The primary school students attend Sirua Aulo Academy and your sponsorship provides them with all school fees (including enrollment and examination fees), textbooks, pens, pencils, paper, full room and board, uniform (two complete sets including tie and socks), one pair of black school shoes, and most importantly a life-changing education!  Currently there are 40 students being sponsored in primary school, 50 supported at the preschool, and many more waiting for someone to hear their story.  The relationships built between the sponsor and their students are really touching.  They write letters and send pictures.  The outpouring of gratitude is how you know your gift is making a difference.

mama maria & kevin

In addition to the sponsorship there is also a merit based Headstrong Scholarship awarded to a non-sponsored female student each year.  Research is clear that investing in women and girls makes the greatest impact.  However Christine and I share the same feelings that are only made more evident after a crisis like the one in Nairobi, Kenya last week—it is crucial that we reach our young boys with a quality education giving them the tools needed to create professional lives free of hate and violence.

Ever since I met Christine I have envied her ability to create an organization that is making such a difference.  My impact has been through sharing stories and inspiring others to use their voice.  Her influence has been completely action driven.  It reminds me of the Proverb quote: “Some people make things happen, some watch things happen, while others wonder what has happened”.   Christine definitely knows how to make things happen!  I am so grateful that my path has crossed with hers.

As I wrap up this post (yes it is long, but for such a vital cause), I will leave you with this passage to ponder:

One morning an elderly man came upon a boy surrounded by thousands of starfish.  As eagerly as he could, the youngster was picking them up and throwing them back into the ocean.  The old man chuckled and said, Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you.  What difference can you make?  Gently tossing the starfish into the water, the boy said, It will make a difference to that one!​​

​-author unknown​

Better to Give

With my birthday right around the corner this is the perfect post to write!  I have provided a way everyone can get me a gift!  Let me begin by sharing that I love gifts that give!!  This puts companies like UncommonGoods top on my list.  Not only do they have the Better to Give program that donates $1 from every purchase to the non-profit of your choice, but they are invested in showcasing unique designs and handcrafted gifts that are good for the earth and the people of the earth—just as I talked about on my shop page. Even better, they are a certified B Corporation.  Being a B Corporation is like having the Fair Trade Certified stamp of approval for your business.  This means meeting rigorous standards for wage levels, environmental impact, and giving back to the community.  Get this—they cover 80% of healthcare, donate 15% of net profit to non-profit organizations, and offer incentives to encourage low-impact commuters (over 38,800 human powered miles to date!)  Over 40% of products are from independent designers & artists and half are made right here in the United States.

Now I am not asking you to buy me a gift from UncommonGoods (even though I could provide a nice long list of items I love), instead I am encouraging you to think of an upcoming purchase you need to make and visit the UncommonGoods site.  Your gift to me would be the $1 donation that goes into one of the four charities that are part of the Better to Give program.  You can choose from:

Women for Women International—providing women survivors of war with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency.


RAINN—the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization that carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.


City Harvest—striving to end hunger in communities throughout New York City through food rescue, distribution, and education.

City Harvest

American Forests—protecting and restoring forests worldwide, helping to preserve the health of our planet for the benefit of its inhabitants.

American Forests

What is there to think about…….start shopping!


Coming Alive Again and Again and Again


I believe our lives are made up of “coming alive” moments to move us forward.  In between these moments we can sometimes fall into a deep sleep until the next one presents itself.  I have struggled over the last six years to find meaningful, flexible work.  I have been given the most incredible volunteer opportunities that opened the doors to so many possibilities, just nothing to fill the professional void I feel.  My husband has heard me say so many times over the years that I have no doubt what I am supposed to be doing is out there just waiting to crash into me.  I wish most days it would hurry up!

I made a decision at the beginning of summer to take a vacation from all of my volunteer related activities and focus on the direction I wanted to go personally and professionally.   Reading, journaling, reflecting, and the beach filled my days.  While reading Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho, I came across the best passage:

“Rest a little, but as soon as you can, get up and carry on.  Because ever since your goal found out that you were traveling toward it, it has been running to meet you.”

Resting has been good for me and I am excited to say that I feel as if I am “coming alive” all over again.  I have taken some early steps to return to school in 2014 to complete my master’s degree, but instead of nursing I am embracing my passions and going for a Masters in Public Administration.  The cost and GRE have my stomach in knots, but I stand by my mantra that “all is well”.  In the meantime I am offering Coming Alive: The Workshop, Independent Consulting, Public Speaking, and Writing.  I even took the leap at the beginning of summer and started writing the book to accompany my blog.

When I finally started to move forward again I was presented with a great opportunity to write for the online/catalog retail company, UncommonGoods.  I am super excited by this and can’t wait to share the world changing they are up to.   Now I feel a direction with my blog—that means more posts and that I am back in the game!

Always as ONE,


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