#TeachersAppreciationWeek

In reflection of Teachers Appreciation Week…

One mind at a time.
One imagination at a time.
One heart at a time.
One smile at a time….
One.
It only takes one teacher to inspire a student.
It only takes one student to inspire the world.

-April McCallum, @DestinysWomen

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Twitter Art Exhibit 2015: Postcard Artwork Inspires Hope

Blog - Twtter Art Exhibit (Black)

It’s that time of year when artist, writer and visionary, David Sandum, Founder of Twitter Art Exhibit calls for artists to collaborate across boundaries and borders for a good cause. This is the fifth year for hundreds of artists (both professional and amateur) to gift their own unique little picture to benefit the bigger picture. Submissions of original handmade postcard-sized art literally “fly in” from all around the world to raise funds for a worthy cause.

This year’s event held March 5-26, will benefit children and families through the Home-Start Moss organization in Moss, Norway, and will take place there. All of the artists and those who facilitate the event work on a volunteer basis. Cards are sold at the exhibit for $35 each with 100% of the funds going directly to the beneficiary.

My submission this year is called, “Hope Lives“. In a world with so many uncertainties and concerns, I wanted my little piece of inspiration to be a reminder that hope is alive. When it comes to keeping children safe and families healthy, it’s important to come together as a community to help build strong foundations for them where we can. We are always better together! Though we may not always feel it, we are constantly reminded through each breath we take, every new dawning of the sun, fresh blooms, bird songs and the transformation of the caterpillar into the butterfly, that the possibility of newness and rebirth is a constant. That there is hope.

Connect & Follow:

Website: www.twitterartexhibit.org
Twitter: @twitrartexhibit
Facebook: /twitterartexhibit

Related Reading:

#TwitterArtExhibit 2015

Twitter Art Exhibit 2014: Creating Art for Good

Burton Artist Alistair Kennedy to Join International Twitter Art Exhibit for Home-Start Families

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Sometimes It Takes Just One

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one. –Mother Teresa

There are familiar expressions floating around about the power of many. For example, “It takes a village to raise a child”, or “many hands make light work”.  Whether you agree with the first statement or not, I think it’s safe to say, we are stronger when we work together to bring about positive change. The strength may come from a greater capacity to raise funds, solve parts of a problem that you just don’t have the expertise or experience to manage on your own, or it may just strengthen you because you need an emotional support system.

Got Village?

But there are times when there is no village. You haven’t found your “tribe” to go with you. Whether it’s to help the homeless, encourage single-mothers, support widows, feed the poor, or help realize a vision that will empower your community, or simply one life. People around you seem clueless, disinterested, or maybe, just too busy to get involved on a personal level.Whatever the situation, it can feel like you are standing alone. And many times, you are. It can feel like you are in some kind of warped reality. You may wonder why people don’t see what you see, or care, or feel like you do.

So, what do you do with that? What do you do when an opportunity to make a difference in a situation or someone’s life presents itself? Do you walk away with your head down because no one would go there with you? Do you get mad (at who, and why)? Do you back peddle in your mind convincing yourself that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all, wondering, “What was I thinking?!?”

Vision for Something Versus Nothing

My good friend Nora had a saying that stuck with me. She said, “If you see the need, you have the gift”. Not that it’s technically true all of the time, but it does make you stop and think. Why do I see this, when seemingly no one else around me does, or not right now anyways? Is it possible that it’s for a reason? And, does it even matter why? Think about it, are you really going to stop because no one would “go there” with you? Does that even make sense?

Maybe you can’t do everything, but you can do something. Maybe you can’t feed or clothe or help educate a community, but you can feed or clothe or help donate to help just one person. It may be something as simple as helping widows with chores, buying diapers or formula for a single mom, giving toward one child’s education, donating a used musical instrument to a child that couldn’t otherwise afford to follow their passion for music. It can be a million things or it can be just one. It may come in the form of money, but it may just be spending time with someone that’s lonely, mentoring, encouraging, teaching, or serving—things that money can’t buy, but that make all of the difference in someone’s life. And because every single individual life makes up a community, the community becomes stronger and better because of it!

Opportunities are Invitations

You may learn about a need in your community through everyday conversation, by reading a story in the newspaper, hearing it on the local news, or from seeing it with your own eyes. You want to get involved and make a difference. Maybe you talk to a friend or two, but they’re not really interested, or they don’t think it’s their “problem”. Maybe you share with a group you’re involved with hoping they’ll see the need like you do and get on board, but they don’t. They may have other pressing projects, or their priorities might not match yours.

Again, what do you do with that?  So, here’s what I want you to think about: if we take our focus off of the “that” (the issue or need) and re-focus on the “you” in the question, it changes how we view it. Imagine the need and imagine the question posed this way: What are YOU going to do with that? Instead of just seeing the issue or need as a problem, it transforms it into an opportunity. Opportunities are invitations. Personal invitations with your name written on them, because you are the one who saw and was moved by the need. This is an opportunity for YOU. Are you going to accept the invitation?

Power of One

Go there anyways. Go alone if you must.  But go with confidence, and a smile in your heart knowing that you saw a need and you did something to make a difference in another person’s life.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Sandy Hook: Community Matters

I began writing this post when thinking about the families who have experienced such great loss in the Sandy Hook shootings. We’ve all read and heard stories surrounding the fateful incident, one that has stirred a gamut of thoughts and emotions in all of us. In the midst of this dark time, I’ve been moved by the significance of community. Not just about being stronger together… but about being better together

History is filled with all sorts of accounts about groups of people who banded together and were strengthened by their numbers, but for all the wrong reasons. I want to bear witness to the people who come together for all the right reasons. Because of their intentions and solidarity, they leave an indelible effect in a community, a place, and a time, because they leave it better for having come together.

Over and over we hear testimonies of people in the midst of crisis who have felt pulled to “be there” for one another, and not just family and friends, but complete strangers. That’s just pure goodness and selflessness in a time when “self” has been so prioritized. How refreshing. One man said he got tired of watching the sadness and sorrow on his television set and decided to go down to where the victims’ families were gathering. In his words, he was compelled to go and just “be present” for strangers in his community. What strikes me about these simple gestures is they’re not about some big strategy about how to rush in and save the day, but simply about “being present” and “being there”.  

It’s about showing up when people need us most; and, it’s about showing up with what is in our hand to give at that moment. Sometimes we miss significant opportunities because we withhold or delay until we think we have “enough” to give. You being present, is enough.

We see an outpouring of compassion during the holidays, strangers being more thoughtful of one another, generosity in giving and also in spirit. It’s the one time of year when collectively, the world is a little kinder and a little gentler.  If only we would take hold of that spirit of generosity and thoughtfulness throughout the year.  One woman said, “After feeling so helpless in the wake of that tragedy, our little family of three decided we needed to do something–anything–to help”. It’s that tugging on our heart strings to treat others as we hope they would treat us if the tables were turned.

“Your strength and compassion (have) been, and will continue to be, an inspiration to me and countless others as we work to honor the memory of your precious children and our beloved staff.” (Note posted by Principal Donna Page on the Sandy Hook School’s website)

Again, it is the simplicity of human kindness that is so often what remains in our memories. Never underestimate the healing power of an encouraging word, holding someone’s hand (even if in silence), and heartfelt prayers. A principal who had experienced violence at his school in the past said, “We remember the love and prayers that were sent to us, and in an effort to pay that kindness forward, we wanted to send to you our love, our hope, and our faith, so that you may heal in your own time from this tragedy.”

When others are too weak, we hold them up. When they are numb, we help them feel. When they are cold, we give them some of our warmth. When they can’t speak, we simply allow them space and time.

Randy Caballero, a young boxer, started an event called Just a Little Something. He said, “When we bring this valley together, we can make anything possible.” So many people stepped up to do something over doing nothing. Sure they felt helpless and impotent to make any real difference. What do you say to a mother who has just lost her baby? What words can possibly comfort at a time like that? The point is, sometimes it’s not about words, or doing just the right thing, it’s about showing up, being there, and not letting those who are suffering suffer alone. From stuffed animals to bracelets, handcrafted items to flowers, balloons and memory books to poems and prayers—every little thing came together to form something very powerful, a community that locked arms (and hearts). The clear and indelible message was, “We are here for each other.”  

When victims’ families receive gifts and love notes with hope-filled words from strangers whose eyes fill with tears and hearts swell with empathy for a grieving mother and father—ones they will never meet–that means something. Fire Chief Stephen MacAdam said, “You see from the events this week, it really is a family, not just in one town, but right across the country”.

Whether it’s a mass shooting in an affluent village in the town of Newtown, Connecticut called Sandy Hook, or at Virginia Tech; natural disasters in now-familiar places like Joplin or New Orleans; or mass devastation and human rights atrocities in war-torn regions in the Middle East, Bosnia, or the Congo, the message doesn’t change. When we are “there” for each other, sharing our courage, faith, love, and resources, our communities are stronger, which means our children are stronger, and we are stronger.

“At the end of the day, the equation is in favor of what is good and what is human and what is giving instead of what takes away.” -Veronique Pozner (Mother of the youngest shooting victim)  Read the Article: “Noah Pozner’s Family Remembers and Mourns”.

The cousin of a Sandy Hook shooting victim wears a bracelet that was given out at his cousin’s funeral. It reads, “Ana Grace. Love Wins.” Yes, it does.

Photo by: ValleyIndy/Flickr

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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