Monday, November 30, 2009

Night Before

Well, here we are- the countdown to the end of the year and the night before an event. I'm in the familiar position of printing up bid sheets for silent auction items, boxing up stuff and doing the usual pre-event prep. Of course, I'm nervous too- worried about a good turnout and always afraid of having a disaster. Things are looking fine for our Santa and Stilettos event, so I really shouldn't be worried, but I am. This is a lot smaller event and required a lot less time, but it is still important. I have a number in my head for guest size and $ amount raised that I would be satisfied with. Hopefully, by tomorrow night, I will have met our goal. The good thing is that financially, I'm only on the hook for the cost of the DJ- which is a reduced rate, so the break even bar is set pretty low.

There is so much going on in my head- I don't know where to begin. I've been thinking about plans for 2010, thinking about this year, thinking about all the things that I want to get done, thinking about turning 30 in a couple of months. It is funny to think that I will be turning 30- to be honest, I'm not sure what I think about it. For the last few years, every year has been better than the year before- both personally and professionally- and even this year, with its financial difficulties, has been better than last year. My life isn't perfect- there are a few things that I'd like to change, but I am happy and healthy with a family I love, good friends and a career that matters to me. How much more can a girl ask for right now? I've always been a girl with dreams and now, turning 30, I'm worrying that I'll never make those dreams a reality. I know that is a stupid way of thinking- to think that you're running out of time at age 30. Years from now, I'll look back and laugh. I was 23 years old when I started Project Smile- same age as my sister is. When I look at her, I think how young she is, but I never thought of myself as young. It's funny how self perception is- I look at my youngest sister and I think how small she is, even though she is the same height as me- she might actually be a little taller.

I've been thinking to about other people. I already know that you can't change people- I've known that for many years. I don't try to change people- I believe for accepting others the way they are, finding the best in people and not to judge. But that doesn't mean that there aren't times when you wish people would act differently, wish you could get them to see things differently. I always try to understand things from the other person's perspective, but sometimes I just can't. I know that one doesn't have to understand everything- that the most important thing is to look at people's actions, not try to read their minds. I've found some people's actions hurtful lately and while I know that they probably didn't intend for it to be that way- it still hurts. There is nothing that I can change to make things better and I don't want to tell them exactly how hurt I feel. I'm trying to let it go, trying to just think of all the good things, but it still hurts. I don't even know why I'm writing about this- has nothing to do with PS, but it has been on my mind for the last few days.

Anyways, enough on that topic. I did get some good news today in the form of a $2,500 check from a Texas based company. It was a donation that I hadn't even expected- those are the best. It was funny because this morning I woke up listening to more dismal economy news and I was starting to worry about fundraising again- I went to the post office later that day and when I saw the envelope, I knew it was a check. Before I opened it, I thought how it would be so nice if it was a check for a few thousand dollars- then I opened it as I drove and there it was- I had to look a few times to make sure that is was actually $2,500 and not 250. Sometimes, wishes do come true!

Well friends, there is lots more to write about, but I'm getting tired and I need to go back to work on bid sheets for tomorrow's auction. I only have about 6 more to do, then I'll go to bed. I've been going to sleep way too late for these last few nights and it is a bad habit to get into. I've fallen off with my timer use, but will get back into it tomorrow. Wish me lots of luck for Santa and Stilettos tomorrow night- I'm sure it will be great, just hoping for a good turnout. Until tomorrow friends..

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's Thanksgiving Week!

Well, here we are- just a couple of days to one of the best holidays of the year- Thanksgiving! I love the days leading up to Thanksgiving as well- the food shopping, the cooking, siblings coming home, (my aunt and uncle aren't coming this year though which is disappointing)- it's all good. So what am I thankful for this year with Project Smile? I'm thankful that we're holding our own financially- in a year of vast economic troubles, we are doing OK. Of course, things have been difficult for us, but the fact that we have a small budget has really been a blessing this year. I'm also thankful for all the people that support our work- the people that have continued to support us and the new people that are now supporting our work- it is really wonderful. Personally, I'm thankful for my family and friends and all the fun stuff that I've been doing this year.

Anyways, so what else is happening? Well, I'm gearing up for our Santa and Stilettos event next Tuesday with the Hello Stiletto Shoe Club. It is going to be such a fun event, I'm really excited. We have some great auction items and I'm picking up more sports items shortly. We've book Santa Claus who is generously donating his time. Jessica from Leokadia is going to be one of our shoe judges and she is donating a special shoe prize too. I am worried about attendance, but that is hardly anything new. I've got the word out as much as I can and Melissa is promoting it to all the shoe club members. We should get a good turnout from them since it is a Shoe Club event. The only cost that I have is the DJ services, so it's not like I'm on the hook for a lot of money. I do have a lot of calendars that still need to be sold, so I really need a lot of people there. Each guest will receive a calendar with their $10 ticket donation at the door. My personal goal is to have 100 people there. It is totally feasible. I'm also concerned about the weather, but I can't control that, so I need to stop worrying about it.

Tomorrow, I am going to spend some time cleaning up the office. I'm not planning on making business calls tomorrow- a lot of people are away or trying to get out of the office early, so it isn't the best time to reach people. However, now that I'm thinking of it- I am going to make a couple of follow up calls to people who usually make annual donations. Hopefully, if I can reach them, they will be in a happy holiday mood and will commit to their usual donation!

I'm not sure how much blogging I'm going to be doing for the rest of the week. I'm taking Wednesday and Friday off work. I'm planning on blogging tomorrow, but in case things change- I hope everyone has a very happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for supporting Project Smile.
Now, before I go to bed I need to get on the phone with Comcast and figure out why half my tv channels are scrambled. Hopefully it is a problem on their end and my much loved television is not going on the fritz. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Time Management

I hit a small animal on my way home tonight. I was driving along on a back road and I saw it moving slowly across the street, coming from the other lane. I braked immediately, but I still hit it. The noise was horrible. It is such a shock when something like that happens and such a reminder of how delicate life is and how things change in an instance. One minute I'm driving merrily along, thinking of the play that i went to tonight and making plans for tomorrow- then in a second, things change and I've killed an innocent animal. There was something even worse because it was moving so slowly across the road and I saw it coming, but couldn't do enough to avoid it. If it had moved faster or maybe if I had sped up, instead of hitting the brakes, it might not have happened.

Anyways, enough on that sad topic. What's new? Well, I've started a new time management system today. I've noticed that I can get distracted sometimes and not get enough accomplished. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to give myself a 15 minute time limit on a task- I was going to move really quickly and get as much done as possible in a short period of time. So I did that and it worked out great and I thought to myself that I should get a timer and do these short bursts of really concentrated activity more often. Something like interval training, but for the brain. Interval training is supposed to be one of the most effective ways to work out. For some unknown reason, I didn't follow through. Then yesterday I was reading the Wall Street Journal and they had an article about time management systems. The writer had tested 3 different methods- and there was one that was almost the same as my timer idea. It is called the Pomodoro method- you get a tomato shaped timer (honestly, it doesn't matter what kind of timer you get) and you give yourself 25 minutes to work on a task without any interruption at all. Then you take a 2-3 minute break and start another 25 minute session. I was so excited to read that. This afternoon, I broke out my cell phone timer and started doing it. My first task was cleaning 2 desks in my office. I worked very effectively and got a lot done. Then I did 25 minutes of email, that worked well, but I added in a bit more desk clearing which I probably shouldn't have done. But all in all, I think this is a system that I could really use- especially since it is almost the same thing that I thought of on my own. I don't remember what the other 2 time management systems were- one was too complicated and I didn't have time to finish reading the other, but it also seemed complicated.

What else is new? Not a heck of a lot- calendar sales are still going slowly. Hopefully we will be able to move a lot of them at the Santa and Stilettos event with the Shoe Club- which is less than 2 weeks away. There was some good news though- remember the grant application that I lost? Well, I received an invitation for their annual grant awards dinner next month (the day after shoe party)- that is very good because it means that you'll be getting a grant. Unless they suddenly decided to be very cruel and invite us to a dinner to watch OTHER people receive their grants! How dreadful would that be? A few days ago, I found the missing grant application neatly folded on my bedside table. See how much I love my work- I take it to bed with me!

Well friends, I'm getting tired. I've been getting to bed a bit earlier these last few days and it has helped me in the mornings. I am feeling less tired than I was, but still not back to my usual night time energy. I didn't blog last night because I wanted to read more of a thriller, but then I ended up opening the book, reading a paragraph and then fell asleep- definitely not the way I should be. Until next time friends..

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I don't know what went wrong today- it was a very tough day. I struggled from the very beginning to get going- even after exercising- and felt unmotivated and overwhelmed (a bad combination). I didn't write my list last night, so I didn't have that to help get me focused. I don't even know what caused it- I've been feeling really tired and like I'm fighting something off, so maybe that is to blame. I was also worried because I still have a lot of calendars to sell. Last night, after blogging, I think I started to get a little overwhelmed thinking of how much we need to grow if we are to become a national charity. I need people to help- to be more precise- I need staff. But without money, where does one get staff? I'm trying to get another intern. Volunteers are great for events and short term, but they are busy with their own lives and can't commit to what we really need. So I felt lost today- I had a lot of work but could barely get anything done. The struggle went on for a while, then I thought of what mom had told me a few years ago about the idea of winning the day- she got that from a training program she took and talked about it a lot. I wanted to get something productive out of the day, so I went back to my usual baby steps routine. I thought of 2 small tasks that I needed to get done- I did those, then I thought of 3 slightly bigger tasks that needed done and I did those. Then I went back to a couple of other small tasks. Things didn't suddenly become all peachy today, but I did get some work accomplished and that is the most important thing. The day started out like it would be lost, but it was salvaged. I know it is OK to have days like this, but I just wish it didn't happen. I wish I could be enthusiastic and motivated everyday and not get overwhelmed, how wonderful that would be!

I know there is so much else to talk about, but I'm tired again. I'm less tired than Ive been at night, so that is a good sign. But it is probably best if I make it an early night so I can be bright and focused tomorrow. It is 12:05 and my goal is to be lites out in 15 minutes. What an early night! I also have to write my list- that thing is so important to me, especially when I have moments like today. Until tomorrow friends..


Today was a busy day, but there was one thing that has stayed in my mind. I had a meeting with the marketing director at a venue. She is familiar with Project Smile and I've met her before. She asked about PS today and I gave her a brief update- she told me how I must wake up every morning feeling so rewarded with what I do. She joked about how she thought her job was only about getting people to spend money and buy alcohol. I told her she was being way too harsh on herself. It's funny because I hear that all the time- people tell me how I must feel so rewarded because of my work. As I was driving home, I started to think about what I actually do feel when I wake up every morning. Considering I'm such a non-morning person, perhaps the best question is what I think before I go to bed. I feel so many different things, it is hard to tell. Rewarded isn't really one of them though. Perhaps when the day comes that PS is a national charity or- before that- one that has a much greater impact- then I will feel rewarded (and rather relieved too). I've always loved Project Smile, there is no doubt about that. But my focus every morning, every night is on what we need to get done and frequently I get stressed about everything that I haven't gotten to during the course of a day. I rarely ever think of PS in terms of the good work that we do. My only focus is having PS grow. Sometimes, I do take a minute and think of how far we've come, but that is usually in the context of planning where we need to go. I can tell you that I do feel lucky quite a lot. When I hear friends talk about wretched coworkers and bosses, I feel very lucky for being my own boss and when I hear others talk about being afraid that they'll be laid off- I feel lucky that I don't have to worry about that. My financial stresses are great, but I don't have to worry about walking into work one day and finding myself jobless. I'm also lucky in that I have flexibility in my daily schedule. I'm also lucky to have a job I love, some of the happiest moments in my life have been because of Project Smile. So I think that's how I feel- not rewarded, but lucky. I know that some people don't believe in luck- they say that it is all self created and the product of hard work. I don't know about that- plenty of people work hard and don't get anywhere. I do work hard and I've been lucky in that I am getting somewhere. There were plenty of breaks that didn't necessarily have to go my way. It is flattering when people tell you how they wish they could have a job like mine. I don't know how many of them are serious of course, but it is always nice to hear.

Anyways friends, that's all for tonight. I'm feeling rather lousy and a little achy and tired (I slept badly last night which is highly unusual). I hope I'm not getting sick- I know I've been saying the same thing for over a week. I probably should have gone to bed earlier. I do have lots of other interesting things to write about, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. Good night friends...

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Well, I don't have much to report tonight, but I didn't blog last night and didn't want to miss tonight as well. I was tired last night and had to finish up a few things when I got home, so that was why I didn't blog, but then I got an energy boost around midnite and didn't go to bed until 2:30. I had a meeting this morning, but took the afternoon off, but I'm still feeling tired. I do have other things to write about besides my tiredness!

I decided recently that we're going to be expanding Project Smile to work with homeless shelters and provide stuffed animals, books and coloring books for children living in homeless shelters and battered women's shelters. My mom had actually suggested it a couple of weeks ago, I was thinking about it more and more and it makes perfect sense. I did some research online and there are over 3,000 children living in Massachusetts homeless shelters- isn't that so sad? If we can do one small thing to make their lives a little happier, then that would mean a lot. I get a little worried expanding Project Smile because we still have so many more police/fire departments to reach, but children forced to live in shelters are experiencing traumatic events and that is what our ultimate mission is. I've applied for funding with a grant that I submitted yesterday and I'm going to include it in other grants that I will be working on. We won't start this until January because there are a lot of other things that I want to work on before I start that. I also like the idea of launching our expansion with the new year.

In other good news- we were approved for the Capital One Project Smile card where 1% of each card holder's purchases will be donated to Project Smile. I am really excited for this. Now, I need to get it linked on our site and promote the heck out of it. The card is meaningless unless people sign up and use it. Of course I will sign up for it, but I need to get a lot of people to sign up. My goal is to get 5 people within the next month and ask them to ask 5 other people to get the card. We need more than 5 people obviously, but since I don't have any experience in trying to get people to sign up for new credit cards, I want to start with a small goal.

Well, I think that's it for tonight- my eyes are starting to fall asleep, it is almost 1am and I'm heading to bed. I have a long list to write for tomorrow. I am glad that I blogged tonight- it doesn't feel right to go to bed on a weeknight without blogging.

A special Happy Veteran's Day to everyone serving in the military and those who have served.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Strength of Others

I've been slipping with my blogging lately- I still have been unusually tired at night, so that's why I haven't been writing. I slept briefly earlier tonight, so now I'm a bit more energized. I decided last night that I definitely wouldn't be going to bed without blogging today.

I received a very moving email this afternoon- it started out as a fairly typical email from a lady who wanted to do a stuffed animal drive in her office, then the email became quite shocking- she wrote that her daughter had found out about Project Smile when she was 15 and had wanted to donate her stuffed animals and had a box ready to be donated. She then wrote that her daughter died last year of cystic fibrosis. I was so saddened to read that and touched too that a girl who must have been very sick would take the time to want to help others by donating her stuffed animals. I decided to call the mom, it seemed more appropriate than just emailing back. The mom answered her work phone and as we talked, she told me that her son had also died of cystic fibrosis in 2007 at the age of 18 and her only other child, a son, was awaiting a double lung transplant- he also had cystic fibrosis. I can't even begin to imagine the pain that this mother has suffered. Losing one child must be horrific, but to lose two children and to have another child so ill- I can't imagine there can be much worse for anyone to endure. Yet, this mother was so cheerful and anxious to help collect items for us, it was incredible. I don't know where she gets her strength from. When I got off the phone with her, I just stared out into space for a while, just trying to comprehend the magnitude of what she went through and how kind she is to want to help others. I don't have children, but I do know that I've always been worried of something happening to my brother and sisters- I don't know how I could go on living if I lost one of them- and if I lost two, it makes me cry just to even think of the magnitude of such a loss.

It is amazing the stories that people carry with them and the things that they overcome- one of the women that hosted an event for us emailed me last month about how she wanted to be more involved in Project Smile- she wrote about how she had dealt with trauma in her life. She had survived the Station Nightclub fire- a horrendous 2002 inferno that killed 100 people. Seven of her friends had died in the fire. When I read that, I tried to imagine what that must have been like. I go out with groups of friends all the time- and I couldn't even imagine the idea of going out with 7 friends for a night of fun and they all died. It is terrible just to think of it- I can't imagine living through something like that. I guess that no one can imagine these situations until they happen and you are forced to live through them- to find a way to carry on.

It is inspiring to think of the people that want to help Project Smile, particularly this lovely little girl who wanted to donate her stuffed animals to us and her resilient mother who is fulfilling her daughter's wishes. When things are tough and I'm feeling uninspired, I will think of her and all the other people that support our work- who believe in what we're doing.
Until tomorrow friends..

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Week, New Month

Well, here we are- into the first week of November. I feel slightly shocked because I don't know where the heck October went. There was so much that I didn't get done last month, it isn't even funny. But that's water under the bridge and now we're onto a new month and working on getting things done so we wind up the year on an upswing. I was working on our event next month with the Hello Stiletto Shoe Club- Santa and Stilettos (isn't that a great name?). It is a holiday themed party at Felt, the Boston nightclub. It is a lot smaller than our two big events, but it should be a nice fundraiser. Hello Stiletto is an awesome womens social organization based on women and their love of shoes. I've been going to their events for a couple of years and always have such a fun time. They are the reason that Sofft was on board as our date auction sponsor as well. We're working together for the holiday party. Melissa (shoe club founder) already arranged the venue and date. Today, I got a DJ on board and I'm still working on finding some fun, attractive men who would like to dress up as Santa Claus and greet the ladies and judge the shoe contest. The event itself will be fun and simple- most of the shoe club events are like that and that's one of the things that I've always liked about it. I also want to do a holiday ornament swap, but I'm trying to figure out the logistics of doing an ornament swap with a large crowd. I've only ever done it with 20 people or so. I also want to do small silent auction as well. It was kind of funny working on event related things today. I haven't done any event work in a month, so I actually enjoyed doing it today. Sometimes, I'm not sure how I feel about event planning- in a lot of ways I love it, but in many other ways it is very stressful and frustrating.

Anyways, other interesting news- it looks like we will be offering Project Smile credit cards for our supporters. Capital One just introduced a new program where people can get credit cards and 1% of their purchases will be donated to Project Smile. How cool is that? I applied on Friday to be in the program- it takes a couple of weeks to be approved. Of course, the big thing is to get people to actually sign up for the credit card, but it's an awesome program.

I was also working briefly on calendar sales- we still have a lot of calendars left to sell and only about 8 weeks left. I didn't get to contact any new departments today which was annoying- I got wrapped up in other things.

I am struggling with my new email plan and I'm starting to think that maybe it isn't the right plan for me. The goal was to respond to each email as it comes in. However, I can't seem to do that. A lot of times, I will read and email then come back to it later. The problem is that sometimes I never come back to it- very bad. so, I've been trying to take care of it immediately as was recommended, but I can't get myself to do that consistently. I think maybe that plan doesn't work with the way my brain functions. I usually need time to make a decision- I like to think about things before taking an action. I've been that way most of my life, so maybe that's part of the reason I'm struggling to respond to email immediately- my brain just needs more time. So instead of trying to fight myself, my new plan is to dedicate time at the end of the day to respond to the emails that came in. That way, I've already read them and had time to think. Obviously, if something urgent comes in earlier, I'm not going to wait hours to respond. It's important to come up with a plan that works for you- the original email plan sounds awesome, but it doesn't seem like it is awesome for my brain. It's kind of like how I'm a night person and really don't function well in the morning. I used to fight that and would force myself to start work earlier, even though I accomplished practically nothing. I stopped doing that and my productivity increased. The fact is that I can't think well in the morning- I can think great in late morning, afternoon and late night. It is dreadful if I have to do anything productive in the morning.

I have to go to sleep- I think I'm fighting off a bug because I've been amazingly tired for the last couple of days. I didn't blog last night because I was too tired. Hopefully, I can keep getting a lot of sleep and I won't be sick. It is only 12:35, but my eyes are hurting and I'm about ready to roll over and conk out. Until tomorrow friends...