Coming Alive

Inspiring others to use their voice to change the World

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Rise Up and Walk

Rise Up and Walk

“We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk!”  ~Wangari Maathi

And walk is what we did!  This year the Wilmington UN Women Walk to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls fell on Earth Day, National Immunization Week (, and during the ONE THRIVE Campaign (   There was so much information to share and so many people there ready to take action.  When I read the above quote from the late Professor Wangari Maathi, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of The Green Belt Movement  her  2006 memoir, Unbowed, I was struck with that feeling of how we are all connected.  Not just to one another, but to this Earth.  Professor Maathi was not just a steward of the Earth, she was a powerhouse for social justice and equal rights for women.  Her fearless dedication to being a voice for justice left me thinking I have to do more!! 

The Sunday forecast called for heavy rains here in Wilmington, NC.   I sent a tweet the evening before to our local weatherman asking him to please make a window for our walk.  Well he must be magic—there was no rain and almost 100 people came to participate.  They were there to make a statement that gender based violence must come to an end!  The fact that up to 70% of women and girls will be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in their lifetime was on the minds of the walkers as they made their way around a 3k or 5k course.  Seeing the compassion and energy in these participants was uplifting!  They raised money and gave their time for this important cause.  This is still a new event for the community, and with the labor of love put into it I know it is only going to grow larger year by year. 

Participants also took the time to stop by the ONE table and fill out their carrot seed postcards to the White House urging President Obama to work with the G8 leaders to sow the seeds of change and lift 50 million people out of extreme poverty.  It is in these impoverished areas where violence breeds.  To end violence against women and girls we MUST end extreme poverty!!!

What actions can we take?  Here are a few:
*visit  and learn the facts, then look for a local chapter to donate your time or resources. 
*sign petitions and send letters to your Members of Congress……when you sign these petitions you are making your voice heard!!
*shop with a conscious—I wrote a post last December with several links for shopping with a heart:  I am also a HUGE advocate for The Body Shop!!! Read about their values campaign here to stop sex trafficking:
*and of course…..sign up to be a ONE Mom right here!!!  ONE Moms and ONE Dad are in Ghana this week for the launch of two new vaccines for rotavirus and pneumococcal thanks to GAVI.  No mother should have to watch her child die because of a preventable disease.  Let’s support women all ways that we can!
Professor Wangari Maathi faced these challenges and more remaining unbowed.  We must honor her by doing the same.  “RISE UP and WALK” for women everywhere……………………

Without a Fight

Without a Fight

            I have three kids in three schools this year; elementary, middle, and high school.  It is a challenge to say the least!  As parents we always hope to hear they make it through the day without a fight.  I am talking about the fights concerning who is sitting next to who or who told someone your secret.  In the slum of Kibera we are talking about much more than that.  After the 2008 presidential elections violence erupted along tribal lines with thousands being killed.  That is what makes the story of the Champions Soccer League, a program within the Sports Association of Carolina for Kibera, so powerful.  After watching the documentary Without a Fight  you will be left with an overwhelming feeling of optimism of what can be accomplished when we come together as a community.

            Last summer during our ONE Moms trip to Kenya we were able to visit Carolina for Kibera, a partner of the ONE organization. I instantly resonated with the strong emphasis on programs being community lead.  With our North Carolina connection I knew I wanted to bring my experience back home to not only encourage support of CFK, but to initiate conversations around strengthening our own community.  A few days after returning from our trip my family and I participated in the 26 Day Challenge and—WOW, what an experience!  Sharing it on social media ignited discussions and inspired others to join the challenge.

            When I heard that Without a Fight premiered last month at the 11mm Film Festival in Berlin, Germany, I reached out to the producer, Beth-Ann Kutchma, to see how we could bring it here to Wilmington, NC.  Imagine my excitement, when I learned we were not only screening it, but Kennedy Juma, featured in the film would be visiting from Kibera as well.  The film follows the personal lives of Nicholas and Adan as their teams prepare to meet in the title match of the Champions League, a soccer league started 11 years ago by Carolina for Kibera founder Rye Barcott.  It is based on an experiment to see if putting rival tribes on the same team could help stop ethnic violence.  The end result—over 20,000 games ending “without a fight”.

The reaction from my middle school son after the screening:  “That was REALLY awesome!”.  My youngest son recalls his favorite quote: “There are opportunities out there for you, but you have to look for those opportunities for they are not going to be handed to you on a silver platter.”  And the photos of the event are credited to my teenage daughter, who was eager and engaged in capturing every angle of the evening.  Many in the audience wanted to know how to get a copy (it is really that good!) and was directed to join the email list to get your DVD when they are available and host your own screening.  In a media world that is focused on the darkness, it is uplifting to showcase the good.

Woo!! Hoo!! Fax Machines are Making a Comeback!!!

I was so excited to learn that fax machines were making a comeback this morning!  Maybe we can go back to landline phones as well.  The idea of sitting in one place and having an intimate conversation with a friend knowing that neither one of us was folding laundry, doing dishes, answering emails, or better yet using the restroom.  When I heard the news on this morning I was thrilled!!  There are some other great predictions as well.  Take a look……….

            How awesome is that?  A little April Fools mixed in with a LOT of good news.  The beginning of the end of AIDS is welcome news to the millions of people living with this horrific virus.  Think about no child being born with HIV by 2015.  Our generation is responsible for this accomplishment.  Our scientists, physicians, leaders, and US!  But, we cannot stop now.  We are making progress and have to keep the momentum going.  Please take a moment, sign the petition, and add your voice.

Three Months to Ponder

Three Months to Ponder

So I have had three months to ponder what to write in this post–that means the pressure is on!  What I find so difficult is that every single day something worth writing about happens.  I have the most inspiring conversations, read intriguing articles, hear interesting facts, participate in uplifting events, and meet human beings everyday that are living life minute by minute making a difference.  When the days turn to weeks and the weeks to months then I have trouble simplifying a topic.  I really need to post more!!!  Since my last post on December 11 there has been Christmas, New Year, a new job, ONE meet ups, basketball, soccer, DREAMS, battle of books, theatre, date nights, UN Women Walk meetings, science fair, a teenage bonfire birthday bash, Rotary presentation, husband to Italy, polar plunge, UNA events, sick guinea pig, author lunch, orchestra, Links Luncheon, dinners and morning tea with friends, and the list could go on and on.  So what do I write about?

            My blog is called Coming Alive because prior to being a CDL for ONE I was quite content spending my evenings and weekends at home not doing any of the things above.  Our first year living in NC I spent every Saturday reading my Time magazine and playing scrabble or cards with my kids.  I was relaxed, but could feel a little stirring inside of me.  My husband and I were (and are) always telling our kids to put themselves out there and make things happen, yet here I was talking but not doing.  Then in September 2010 I was called upon to start a new life….and as one of my favorite authors Barbara Kingsolver continues….”and onward full tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore.  To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another—that is surely the basic instinct….Crying out:  High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris.  Time to take this life for what it is.” (excerpt from High Tide in Tucson)  I know that these many things are happening because I decided to “take life for what it is”. 

            I am not sure where these opportunities are all leading me.  What I do know is that you can put yourself out there, you can be a voice for good things in the world, and you can make a difference!  My life—like everyone’s—is every changing and if anything I hope my post inspires others to take what is right in front of them and embrace it.  “Onward full tilt we go!”


Gift Giving From The Heart

Gift Giving From The Heart

            Do you ever feel stumped, overwhelmed, and exhausted this time of year?  Exhausted from the constant brainstorming to come up with a creative, simple, economical gift that can be given to the friends, family, and teachers that bring us joy all year long, overwhelmed by the thought of squeezing one more task into an already full schedule, and stumped on what to give!!  Please tell me I am not alone in this.  I used to be excited to make my giving list and come up with what I wanted to do.  Now between my three kids at different schools we have 20 teachers and little time to spare I am not feeling so jolly!!! 

            I love to introduce fair trade chocolate and tea with holiday gifts.  It is a wonderful, inexpensive way to open up the conversation of how what we buy can create change. My eyes were opened this year to the success stories that come as a result of fair trade and income generating opportunities especially for women living in dire circumstances.  When visiting Amani Ya Juu in Kenya I was seeing living proof of the power of our purchases.  Wearing the dress I bought that day just feels good—and we all know when we feel good we look good!!  There are many organizations and businesses that promote fair trade and ONE has brought many of those items to their website.  So this year I am gift giving from the heart and I invite you to do the same!!

            The ONE store website has now expanded to include some really great stuff.  My fashionABLE scarf is ONE of my favorites.  In the fall I was wearing it as a belt and now I am wearing it to keep me warm!  This link is worth a visit.

            For all of the teachers on your list–buy them Beads for Learning from  The Leaky Collection donates 100% of the profits to pay teacher salaries.  I wear my bangles almost everyday!!

            If you like African bead work, then you must shop !!  When we met Anthony Mulli in Africa I was in awe of his confidence.  This 18 year old has it together and his talent for beading is incredible!!

            Of course my friends all make fun of me for the amount of product(red) items we have at our house.  For several years in a row the kids would all get a new (red) shirt from the Gap at Christmas time (of course my husband and I would too!)  Grandparents bought us the product(red) ipod and the list could go on.  I love supporting the Global Fund!!  This year I am buying product(red) coffee from Starbucks for all of the coffee lovers in my family.

ONE has many partner organizations that are offering some “gifts that give back” this year.  So as you are finalizing your list be sure to check these out too…….

 A free download of “Joy to the World” by the David Crowder Band:
A CARE package from CARE:

L.I.F.E. (coffee) Jacket from Comfort the Children:

MAC Cosmetics or Fidelity Denim’s Special Edition Women’s Jeans via the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation:

A 4 pack of holiday ornaments from Save the Children:

Childrens’ toys, books or holiday cards from the U.S. Fund for UNICEF:

The Jam Box for Charity Water:
So after writing this post I am feeling my old self come back.  I know exactly what I am doing for my holiday shopping and I hope you do too.  I am wishing you all a holiday full of love, laughter, peace, joy, and warm hearts!!

Together as ONE,

Finding Balance

Finding Balance

So divinely is the world organized that every one of us, in our place and time, is in balance with everything else. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
            This quote has always reminded me that I have a purpose right here where I am at.  When I read it I want to breathe deep and feel that all is well and that my life is happening as it should.  Lately though, it seems that finding the balance has become complicated.  Over the last month the actual word “balance” keeps presenting itself—balanced budget, balanced tires, balanced family life, balanced work life, balanced hormones, balanced homework with extra-curricular, balanced checkbook, and then this picture showed up on the ONE facebook page…………things did not seem to be in balance!!


          If I am to be truthful it all started to feel quite overwhelming.  As moms we feel the pressure to balance it ALL!  We want to be super moms, wives, employees, volunteers, and world changers.  As I looked at the picture above I realized that I was feeling the pressure to feed the billion hungry people.  What I realized was I cannot feed the billion people by myself, but as ONE mom I can share this picture and spread the word.  My visit with Congressman McIntyre in Washington D.C. helped me understand just how important it is that each one of us shares the picture and spreads the word.  He was impressed with the number of letters I was bringing from ONE members in his district.  He said that hearing from constituents about their wishes for protecting the less than 1% of the budget that is saving lives is important and appreciated.  He has visited many countries in Africa and understands the importance of these programs. 


            This year has been exciting for sure, but it has not come without some adjustments.  As the year comes to an end I have found myself turning inward and reflecting.  Thanks to my wonderful ONE mom friend, Karen Walrond, I am enrolled in her online pathfinder course and have discovered my word for the year is—you guessed it—BALANCE!  I recommend everyone to check out the course  Life is not easy and as moms we tend to focus on helping all of those around us.  Sometimes we have to stop and rediscover ourselves.

ONE Amongst Many

ONE Amongst Many

Being a member of the ONE Moms Advisory Council has presented me with opportunities that I know many moms only dream of, but through it all my ONE hope is that mom’s everywhere see their unique opportunity to make a difference and risk stepping outside of their comfort zone to be a voice for the most vulnerable.  If you re-visit my very first post I clearly state that I am not comfortable writing, but I would do it if it meant ending poverty.  Over this last year I have learned how to use social media to do good.  Knowing that a child is dying every 6 minutes in the Horn of Africa we need to use every possible resource we have to be their advocates.  I may only be ONE mom, but I am ONE amongst many.  If we can all talk, write, facebook, tweet, and share the facts this story will get heard.  We need to do what and ALL that we can.

Dr. Jill Biden attends a roundtable with USAID Administrator Raj Shah and National Security Council Senior Director Gayle Smith and a group of mom bloggers to discuss their recent trips to Kenya and ongoing work on global development, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, October 24, 2011.   (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

When I had the opportunity this week to meet with Dr. Jill Biden, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, and Gayle Smith from the National Security Council I was there for ALL moms.  Hearing the depth of compassion and the sense of urgency as Dr. Biden shared her stories from her recent trip to the refugee camps in the Horn of Africa I wanted to soak it in so that I could carry her experience out with me.  When I was in Kenya I was able to see programs funded through USAID working.  Administrator Raj Shah is focused and determined to address this situation and see that our investments are saving lives, building communities, and creating stability.  As Gayle Smith from the National Security Council so clearly pointed out as she answered my question, when we provide individuals with food, shelter, and medicine we give them dignity which is important, especially in large ungoverned spaces.  People with dignity tend to “act right”.  As moms we all want our kids to live in a peaceful, stable world.

My hope is for the conversation not to be about ONE Moms going to the White House, but instead about the 13 million individuals who are starving, dying, or displaced in the Horn of Africa.  This number is 10 million more than the Haiti earthquakes and more than the population of Los Angeles and New York combined.  When we start to think that it is too big to tackle then we need to read the proof, our voice is making a difference and right now for those suffering from the worst drought in 60 years we need to make it loud!  Below I am standing with a dairy farmer who is now able to support herself, her family, and contribute to her community.  I am only ONE mom, but when I started talking people everywhere started listening and they will listen to you too, so start the conversation!!

Africa Revisited

Africa Revisited

             I am not sure how, but it has been a month since I posted on my blog.  I always go back to the post I wrote the first of June titled, The World is Busy  I am notorious for saying, “after this weekend everything slows down”.  I am coming to the realization that life will continue to move forward and while I have three school age kids at three different schools life will move forward at an Indy car pace!     
     This last week though, my ONE Mom trip book came in the mail and I was jolted with emotion.  My trip to Africa and all of the feelings that came with it came flooding back.  Looking at the book and seeing me on the pages I think it finally became clear that I really was standing on the continent of Africa with these incredible women both from Kenya and America.  This experience has not been a dream and the opportunity that I have been given to make a difference in the world is right here in front of me.

            Looking back on my blog, there is so much that I have not shared yet; places we visited, friends I made, and stories I heard. I know that I need to write these down.  I absorb experiences.  I think they travel right down to my soul.  I find it extremely difficult to put them into words.  However, I want what I learned from Africa to be available for everyone, especially my kids!  So I am designating a day every week on my calendar to Africa.  I am pulling out our ONE Mom itinerary and revisiting each moment.  This trip has been transformational and by sharing the stories I hope to encourage others to have their eyes opened as mine have been.

What can ONE mom do?

What can ONE mom do?

If I am to be completely honest, I will admit that writing my blog post is agonizing.  Deciding on the title, the content, and the direction to take my blog is like trying to choose my flavor of ice cream at Boombalatti’s.  The process takes me forever!  I tell myself if I have my house clean, my laundry done, my desk caught up, and my part-time job found then I will be in a clear place and the words will flow. All of us moms know that we are never caught up and the truth is, I need to give myself permission to sit and really put my thoughts to paper.  This is not only for those who read the blog, but for my kids, and for me.

The statements: “I am just a mom”, and “What can ONE mom do?” resonate with me.  Since leaving my nursing career so many years ago to stay home with the kids, I have repeated these words too many times.  I feel I am neither a “working mom” nor a “stay-at-home mom”.  There was a time in my life when I was extremely career driven, but that desire left me when I became pregnant 14 years ago.  After my daughter was born I knew I wanted to be home with her however, I never felt compelled to be an “at home” mom either.  I do not care to cook, clean, sew, craft, or join the mom groups.  For years this frustrated me and left me wondering where I fit in the grand scheme of this “mom” discussion. 

Then last year as I embraced this volunteer position as ONE Congressional District Leader, I was starting to see what my role as a mom has been.  When I was invited to be on the ONE Mom’s Advisory Council my eyes were opened and I realized what ONE mom can do.  ONE mom can raise children with an awareness of the world through books, movies, museums and conversations.  ONE mom can create a world of compassion by encouraging her kids to donate, to give gratitude, and to love. ONE mom can find her voice and share it with others to inspire a whole world of moms to speak up, to unite, and to ultimately change the world!!

            Many moms following the ONE Moms ( have asked what they can do in their own communities.  I thought it might be helpful to read the monthly ONE Wilmington email that I send out.  Just think of the awareness we can create if more moms engaged their communities—together as ONE—moms can do so much!!

Happy Friday ONE Wilmington,

     September always feels like the start of a new year–I have a new calendar, the kids have a new school schedule, we start DREAMS, and I always start a new exercise routine!  This year in addition to these new beginnings I see a real engagement and interest in the issues facing women around the world.  I have been so humbled and honored to be part of the ONE Mom’s Advisory Council and have the opportunity to raise awareness at this level.  I invite all of ONE Wilmington to be a part of this conversation.  You do not even have to leave your house to take action, just set your DVR and utilize your social media to give your voice for women everywhere!


*Monday, September 19 (8-9 am EST) the ONE Moms will be featured as part of Good Morning America’s launch of The Million Moms Challenge. (details are at the bottom of this email!!!)

*Tuesday, September 20 @ 6:30 pm I will be speaking and sharing details from my recent Kenya trip at the UN Women and Coastal Carolina Chapter UNA-USA program “Women, War & Peace”  (This program will be an introduction to Women, War & Peace, a five-part PBS special, premieres Oct. 11, 2011. The series continues on Tuesday nights at 10:00 p.m. through Nov. 8.)  I will also attach a hard copy flier to this email for you to print, share,and pass on!!)


*Interview with fellow North Carolinian ONE Mom, Jennifer James, and myself on the UNC-TV program North Carolina Now– we are at minute 17:30

*Article in Lumina News by Michelle Saxton:

*WILMA:  Pick up the September edition for a nice ONE Mom article in the front

*UNA-USA Fall 2011 newsletter:  attached to this email as a document

*October 1 @ 9 am will be our once/month ONE Coffee/Tea at Port City Java 2099 Market Street

*October 8 @ 7 pm will be the Una Luna Full Moon Saturday event–more details to come (possibly a documentary screening)

*ONE UNCW is off and running with our fantastic ONE campus leader, Kayleigh Maneval!!!

*For those interested in hunger and agriculture ONE is now taking applications for an incredible 6 week online Griot course–I strongly encourage checking out this opportunity:

*ONE High School Clubs are taking off at both Laney and Isaac Bear Early College–the interest was phenomenal!!  Be on the lookout for NHHS, Ashley, and Hoggard to follow suit.

     As always if you have any questions, comments, or ideas for ONE in NC-7 please send them my way.  This last year has truly proven that North Carolina cares about the world’s poorest and is committed to giving their voice to make sure that we are doing all that we can to make poverty history.  This is a great community to be a part of.

Together as ONE,

ONE Congressional District Leader NC-7

ABC News is launching an historic, first of-its-kind campaign on Good Morning America on Monday, September 19th, called The Million Moms Challenge – and we want you to be a part of it.

The Challenge is a call-to-action to engage a million Americans with millions of moms overseas to raise awareness  about the challenges facing moms and babies in the developing world.  (Did you know, for example, that every 90 seconds a woman dies in childbirth?)

The Million Moms Challenge will be featured in weekly segments across ABC News (including Good Morning America, World News with Diane Sawyer, Nightline and 2020)… leading up to a Diane Sawyer primetime hour in December on maternal health.

So what do we want you to do?  It’s really easy:

1.          Show up at 7:30 a.m. Monday morning September 19th – outside ABC News’ Times Square Studio – on the southeast corner of 44th and Broadway.  You’ll be  finished by 9.    Feel free to wear T shirts from our partner organizations – or even printed with pics of your own mom.

2.       Hold up the index finger of your right hand, and  open your left palm, like this:

3.       Write or stamp the words “Million Moms” on the palm of your left hand . We have stickers…and self-inking stamps and markers – all with washable ink.  (Handwriting is nice, too.)

4.       Kids can write on their hands – even draw pictures of their moms!

5.       When the shot is live…Smile for the camera!

Bottom line: we’re asking folks to raise their hands for moms and babies around the world.  

Remember, you don’t have to be a mom to help a mom. You just have to be one in a million.

And if you can’t make it to Time Square, be sure to watch GMA on Monday (8-9 EST)…then  snap your own picture at home with the Million Moms symbol and send it ASAP to…or post it on your own Facebook page or blog.

Social media:  Tweet me:  I’m one in a million for healthy moms & babies around the world. Join the #MillionMomsChallenge with me!

Twitter and hashtag:    @amillionmoms;  #amillionmoms

Like on Facebook:

Building Bridges and The 26 Day Challenge

Building Bridges and the 26 Day Challenge
Imagine your teenager allowing the entire family to sleep in her room for the night, your twelve year old son eating on less than $2 for the day, your youngest using no electronics after sundown during summer break, and your husband going the day without his phone!  When returning from Kenya I wanted to do more than repeatedly remind my family to appreciate their home and meals, and to NOT waste water.  Learning about the 26 day challenge for Carolina for Kibera ( was a way for me to do just that and bring my experience in Kibera as a ONE Mom home to my family.

Only three days post trip we were signed up and ready to begin each day with ONE new challenge.  We had it in our heads, ‘piece of cake’, until the day we had to eat on less than $2/day or go with one meal.  That was when this experiment opened our minds, our hearts, and our wallets.  So, on day 25 we wrote our $26 check to The Full Belly Project ( a local non-profit whose mission is to design and distribute income-generating agricultural devices to improve life in developing countries. (You must read Rye Barcott’s book ( to understand why $26.)

Not only were we reminded of hunger during our 26 days, but we tried out life in small living quarters (the typical size for a family of 5 in Kibera is 10 feet x 10 feet), tolerated the noise pollution for a day (one of my toughest days!!!), washed our clothes by hand, used one bucket of water for all of us to bathe, did not throw anything in a trash can for a day, cooked everything on one burner, and shut down electronics.  Even if you do not do them all, I encourage everyone to try a few—it will open your eyes!!

In Kibera it is not only about going without.  What I was struck with while I visited was the sense of community. This is something that we often lack in our fast-paced, busy lives here in America.  Incorporated in the challenge were days of chai with friends, borrowing from a neighbor, playing soccer with a Kibera made soccer ball, and volunteering in our own community.  It is all part of building bridges, both here at home and across the globe!
In all honesty–there were periods during the challenge where one (or all) of us became irritable, and some dropped out of that day’s challenge, but I believe that is what made it effective.  It was those moments when we sat down, talked about why we were doing this and what actions we can take right now to make a difference in the world.  Going to and adding your name to the petition for the crisis happening in the horn of Africa, and signing up for the 26 day challenge at are things you can do right now.  Remembering that the families in Kibera face ALL of these challenges every single day and by participating for only 26 days and sharing it with others through conversation and social networking we can give a glimpse of a family’s daily life in Kibera that hopefully will inspire others to join the conversation and take action!

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