It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do.

A note on giving back, and why it’s important to me.

 

Friends,

This note might offend some of you (for which I invite you to stop reading right now) – or, I am hoping it may inspire some of you to do something that not enough people push us to do in our lives right now – give back.  

After a string of events – some inspiring, some disheartening, I feel compelled to put into words my own personal beliefs on charitable giving and volunteer work.  I am tired of seeing good people live their lives in a way that doesn’t add any comparable value to our world, and where they literally waste the enormous blessings and gifts they’ve been given in pursuit the instant-gratification lifestyle America is so wonderfully known for.  I know I do the same thing too, but I’m trying to be more purposeful with what I’ve been given, and with what I have to give.

In a consumerist, materialistic, and hedonistic America we are taught to pursue our own self interests, to plunder the resources of our world because we live in this beautiful country and because well, we earned it …right?  But in a world that has given each of us so much¸ do we ever really stop to think about how much we take, and how very little we give back?  Do we stop to think about how very little we actually honor all that we’ve been given?

I don’t know about everyone else or anyone else for that matter, but I frequently find myself feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of gifts my life has been blessed with.  From parents who love and nurture me, to a brother and sister I couldn’t live without, to friends in so many corners of the world – to my education, to my health, to my involvement with Esperanza – I really truly don’t think I could ask for a better life.  And then I realize too, how little control I’ve actually had over all of this.   I can’t help but wonder why I have been given so much – when others have been given so little.

Charitable giving and volunteerism are often thought of as zero-return investments, but it doesn’t have to be that way.   I encourage all of us to stop thinking that way.  Sometimes, improving just one life is means enough to give of yourself to something.   Ask yourself this:  if you were born into an under-privileged family, or into poverty – how would you view that person who had been given so much, but gave so little (if anything) back?  We each have time, and we have resources.  Are we using our time and resources to leave this world a better place for future generations to come?  I’m not asking you to sacrifice your happiness, or even to give until it hurts – but I am challenging you to be purposeful about how you utilize your resources.  Do you add value to more than just your own pleasures and personal agenda? I hope so.

Martin Luther King Jr. once stated “Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.”  To all of my friends with at least a college education– do you compliment the outstanding education you received with character?   Life is so much bigger than what you produce for your boss, your company, your portfolio.  Is your character apparent in the application of your studies to your career? To your life?

Blake Mycoskie, founder of the uber trendy TOMS shoes wrote an entire book labeled Start Something that Matters,  and as he wraps it up says this “Not only is taking that first step less difficult than you may imagine, but it may change your life in wonderful ways.  Once you start helping others, you will notice this change – you will feel less sad, less stressed, and more purposeful.  This isn’t wishful thinking on my part.  I have seen this happen over and over.”

As for me, my heart belongs to the poor.  I love the poor with every cell of my being.  My faith in Christ, and gratitude for His grace, and steadfast love for me guides me.  It doesn’t have to be faith-led though.  Find what‘s important to you.  Honor the gifts you have been given, respect the sacrifices others have made for you, and find grounding and humility in knowing that you likely had very little to do with where you are today – In knowing that you are of the elite few that were set up for great success from the very moment you were born.

I love each of my friends for who they are, and will continue to do so – however in loving them I believe it’s important to hold them each to high standards.    It’s on my heart that my generation and my peers do more – but if nobody challenges us to do more, or says anything to acknowledge that we are actually doing very little to give back – then nothing will ever change.

We can each do more to make our lives matter, and I hope we start now.  As for me, I’ve started giving 10% of my earnings away each month, and have volunteered to be a mentor to an at-risk adolescent in the Dallas area.  It means less time for me, and less discretionary money – but I can do this, and because I can, I will.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading, and for being a blessing to my life.

Love always,

Kayla

 

 

 

 

Allergies in the Winter?

It’s Thursday, January 12th — which is significant for a couple of reasons.

The first being that today marks the two-year anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that destroyed much of Haiti, and has left nearly 2 million people still living in tents.    Though not front-page news anymore, the situation in Haiti is still dire.  I am proud to be a part of an effort and organization that recognizes that, and that has not forgotten that the people there still need our help, prayers and support.

Life in Texas is chugging along, though this week was a particular eventful one!  My sweet mom flew in on Monday to help me move.  Not a big move, granted, but still a move.   When first looking for a place to live last May of 2011, most people told me to start in Uptown.  Uptown, Uptown, Uptown is what I heard — so that’s where I looked.  After being here for almost 6 months now though, I realized that Uptown, as fun and glamorous as it was, wasn’t quite the right fit for me.  So that, and a 20% increase in rent prompted a move to the Knox/Henderson area (where my beloved, and pain-in-the-ass MBA roomate, Andy Bruce, used to live).

The move of all physical items officially wrapped up yesterday, but now we are moving into the setting up phase.  Tedious work!  However, this new place feels like home.  It’s cozier, the people are friendly, and I’ve already got a few things hung on the wall!  Mom’s great taste and style will help me pull it all together a bit more, and then I should be ready to roll!

Wrapping up this blog though — I’ll bring it full circle and address my title.  Allergies in Winter? Oh yeah.  I haven’t had allergies this bad for over two years, and though usually they come on in Spring, leave it to the big D to start them big, and start them early!  Bummer!

Maybe the early bloom of cedar tree pollen means it will abate quicker as well? I sure hope so….

Its a new year — and a new effort!

Okay, so my buddy Drew has been on me since — well since forever — to be a regular blogger.  I am renewing my intent to blog this year.  I am going to accept that I will not be an every two-days blogger and shoot more for once a week! I think I can probably manage that!

Since my last blog quite a lot has happened.  I had an amazing, AMAZING two years in graduate school.  I learned a lot, made some life long friends, and had some very tremendous life experiences.  Since I graduated last June of 2011, I rejoined the wonderful and amazing family of Esperanza International, and am now living in Dallas, Texas!  I am doing my best to learn the ropes of development work, as well as communications and marketing — all under the umbrella of a shoestring budget nonprofit.  I have to say its been a challenging couple of months in Dallas, but things are starting to make some sense and we are gaining momentum.

I’ll end this post by saying that although its not home yet, Dallas is a wonderful city.  The people are friendly, the weather is nice (minus the month and a half of 105+ weather I had upon moving here!), I love my job — and I’m thankful I’ve made some really nice friends here so far.  Not a day goes by where I don’t miss my family and friends from other life chapters –but life doesn’t ever stand still, so I’m doing my best to embrace this new phase of my life.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, Holiday Season and New Year celebration!  Lots of love, and hopefully I’ll be back soon!

 

Summer reading: “What Should I Do with My Life?”

I looked at the calendar yesterday and couldn’t believe my eyes…just three weeks left until my life changes yet again.  Three weeks and I go back to school…da-da-dum.

I’m ready though.  I am excited and ready.  I’ve been keeping fairly busy but its still a little odd to have such an unstructured lifestyle right now.

One of the books I (as well as all my future Foster classmates) am reading right now in prep for our MBA program is called, “What Should I Do with My Life?”by Po Bronson.  Its an interesting and often thought-provoking collection of small life stories.  Each of the  90 or so stories are captured in about 5 pages, and boast biographies of every type of person, and every walk of life.  I find the turning points for all of these individuals to be fascinating — the questions that come up, and the causal relationship between their lifestyle and major paradigm shifts makes for great personal reflection.  I touched on some of those points in my first blog.

This is a great book to read though, and a good pick for my generation in general.  With the exception of our brave soldiers who have fought abroad in the last few years,  my generation has faced no real hardship, and very few real challenges.  We walk with our hands outstretched, greedy to assume possesion and power of things we have not yet earned.   In large part, we have also assumed (what I believe) to be a horrible attitude of self-righteousness and entitlement.

Things were shaken up this year though as our economy tanked, and that illustrious vision of immortality flickered ever so slightly.  I wonder though, and maybe I sound like a nagging mom – but were things shaken up enough for us to really, truly wonder what we should do with our lives so that a disaster like this doesn’t happen again?  I hope so.

I am genuinely excited to meet my classmates.  I’m excited to work  with them to determine what we can do with our lives that might help make our business smarter, greener, more ethical.  I’m excited to work with them to push ourselves to become  better citizens, people who want to do more than just make money — people who want to do something good, people who can use our life example to get our country’s attitude in check and make our world a more solid place.

Of course, I recognize we can’t change the world – there are only 100 or so students in my class.  But hey, I am coming from a micro-finance background and know how the little things make all the difference.

So what should I do with my life, or what am I going to do with my life?  I’m not totally sure yet, but I imagine it will be a fun adventure as things continue to unravel over the next two years!

Blog #2, oh yeah.

Getting Started!

Well, this is my first time blogging and I am finally getting a move-on after two years of encouragement and and  persuasion from none other than  my blog-savvy buddy Drew Meyers.

I am just freshly back from a stint abroad, and doing my best to re-integrate  into the American-way while simultaneously preparing myself for my fall enrollment at UW’s Foster School of Business.  I’ll be getting my MBA.

I suppose a blog should be written in many ways like a paper — assume your audience knows nothing (or little to nothing).  So I’ll use this first blog to talk a little about who I am, and where I am in the whole roller-coaster ride of life.  I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and am honestly only mildly happy to be back in the area for school.  My biggest fear is the weather — sound petty?  I’m okay with that, because after spending six years in the Bay Area, and then the past two years in the Dominican Republic I have really come to enjoy the sun, its warmth, and all the extra energy it seems to propel into every day life.  One day at a time though, and for now I’ll continue to enjoy the lovely summer weather we’ve been having.

I spent the past two years working for a Christian micro finance  organization that serves the poor in the DR and  Haiti.  It was, without doubt, the most incredible and humbling blessing of my life.  My eyes were opened to so much, and I was brought to a much more confident, peaceful and inspired place in my relationship with God.  My time there reaffirmed my sense of peace and purpose in pursuing a life that will give back to others and make our world a better place.  It’s really hard to be back stateside, but like I said I am just trying to take everything a day at a time.  Slow and sure, I’m trying to keep busy with purpose.

I am back in Seattle now for the first time since I left for college in 2001.  I am looking forward to being in school again.  A new pace of life, a challenging environment and the opportunity to meet a new group of people will be a great step for me right now.  I learned enough with my work in the DR to know that  I still have a lot to learn — my intent is to get a jump start on some of that learning in my MBA program so that I can go back out into the world and help some really outstanding NGO’s reach those who need them with a greater degree of efficacy.

I’ve started doing some of my suggested summer reading, and then also stumbled upon a coffee-table book I am finding fascinating, Thomas Friedman’s  “Hot, Flat, and Crowded.”  Its exciting to read books like this now because I have seen horrible corruption, abject poverty, disease and much more with my own eyes.  I notice I am more more aware of taking the big questions and the pivotal debates scrawled out in these books to heart than I ever have been before.

I have a couple things I came across in my recent readings that I’d like to share here, I’ll continue to investigate and ponder them over the next week or two I am sure.  I hope you all enjoy, and thanks for bearing with me!

“If we want things to stay as they are, things are going to have to change”  (I was astonished at how this fit into so many areas of my life.  Friedman used it do describe how we enjoy life right now, and that if we want to continue enjoying life on our planet as we do today, the world’s current consumption rate and how we protect our resources, has got to change).

(From a Po Bronson book)  Sankskrit describes five layers of self/mind: physical, feeling, perception, intention, and consciousness.  Self is the combination of  the five– so if I break it down, how do all five of those  elements come together to reflect the person I am? Or the person I want to be?

We all  talk about being do-ers, and how our actions speak louder than words…but, every day our silence says things loud and clear.  I have to wonder,  on which issues does our silence speak louder, and clearer than our actions and words combined?

Thanks again! Blog #1 completed ;)