Monday, March 31, 2008

Own Your Day

So what's new? It was an odd day today. The personal issue that had been bothering me resurfaced last night with an upsetting phone call- the effects of which carried over this morning. I was extra tired and felt unmotivated for work- I did start working, but it was a struggle and I felt like my day was slipping away because I was still upset about last night's experience. Around noon, I stopped trying to work and sat at my desk and thought for a while- I realized that I was giving away my power over my day. I couldn't control this other person's behavior and I couldn't control the fact that it upset me, but I could control today and what I did with my day. If I was to let my upset feelings dominate my day, I was giving this person's actions power over me. So right then, I decided that wasn't going to happen. It was bad enough to waste most of the morning, but I was taking back my day and making it productive. So I started making my phone calls and following my daily list and the day immediately started to improve. Was it a great day? No- but it was productive, I set up nursing home donations for next week, followed up with some auction items and made other calls. I didn't get to everything that I needed to, but the day had been salvaged and that was the most important thing.

Taking control over one's day and staying focused is important for achieving success in any type of work, but it takes on a particularly strong meaning when one runs their own business. For me, there is no one to delegate work to- if I don't accomplish something, it means that it won't get done and with every task that isn't completed, that is a step in our growth that hasn't been made. Good time management- which is the product of being focused, is a cornerstone of business success. Of course, every day isn't going to be the picture of productivity- sickness, personal commitments, unforseen situations or other things happen (even the ocasional "goofy day"). Those are all OK. But what's not OK is to waste a day because of my reaction to someone else's actions. So I was happy today that I realized what was happening and I took back my day.

Anyways, now going to search for a few more auction items (for both Anniversary event and date auction) that I will contact tomorrow, watch the next part of the John Adams miniseries (great movie) and then read for a bit and write my list for tomorrow (which will contain today's left over items- such a long list it will be). Sounds like a plan! Until next time friends....

Friday, March 28, 2008

Personal and Work

I had never realized how much personal issues can influence work on a level that one isn't even aware of. Example- I've been feeling really stressed and anxious with work for over a week. Now stressed and anxious aren't exactly new feelings for me, particularly with work. However, it has been especially troubling recently and I didn't fully understand why. It has been tough with fundraising, more difficult than usual, but that still didn't justify how I was feeling- stressed, incredibly tired, lacking motivation and not happpy. I wasn't even fully appreciating the good things that were going on. There was a personal issue that had been bothering me, but it never occurred to me that there was any relation between that issue and my work feelings. Anyways, last night I came to a conclusion about the personal issue and all of a sudden the weight was lifted and everything was better. I was happy and relieved and suddenly energized for work. This morning, I woke up an hour earlier than I had been and was happy to start work, particularly without feeling exhausted. So even though there wasn't a ton of results to show for my work today, it was OK. It just amazes me how my personal issue had such an influence on work feelings without my even realizing it.

Anyways, I'm feeling a little special tonight for a silly reason- we received our very first couriered package today. Now, we get mail daily- UPS, FedEx, stuffed animals dropped off personally, etc. However, today the Improper Bostonian had a package sent over by courier for our date auction and that is a first for us. What was in that package? It's a secret! Only to be revealed to those that attend our date auction (Friday, September 19 at Gypsy Bar, Boston)!

OK, that's it for tonight- heading to bed. There is other cool stuff to share as well, but that'll have to wait until next time. Until next time friends..

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Helpful People

Helpful and supportive people are the best! Yes, another incredibly simple statement- but I spoke with a really pleasant and helpful man this afternoon and it just made my day. This afternoon, I had been working really hard on finding more auction items- my primary focus was the date auction, but I was also working on some gift certificates for our Anniversary Celebration. I found a lot of new places- mostly restaurants to contact. So late in the day, I was calling tons of places and sending faxes right and left- I didn't actually get through to anyone and it was getting a little tiring. So I was wrapping up my calls for the day and decided to contact a kayaking business on the north shore for a gift certificate. I called the business and explained about Project Smile and our Anniversary Celebration- even though we need items for both auctions, I only ask a business for one donation. (I don't want to be greedy, even though we need both and also I know they get contacted from other chairities and want to make sure there is enough left over so they can help other places too).

Anyways, so I spoke with this fellow and he was very helpful and said he would be happy to send us a gift certificate. I happened to mention that we also had our other event going on and he immediately said he would send a gif certificate for that one too. I was so happy! The funny thing was that I didn't tell him about our date auction because I wanted him to send an item, I told him because he appeared to be genuinely interested in what we were doing.

So that short interaction this afternoon really made the rest of my day. I know that he probably has no idea the effect that he had. There are a lot of people that help support our work, so I don't want to give the impression that he was the only one, but just the way it happened and how he offered items for our second event, without even being asked, really meant a lot to me.

So what's on for tomorrow? More of the usual and date auction sponsors- that is really getting urgent. I also need to work on my time management better. I do have a schedule, but it can be hard to stick to it because when I'm working on something, it is hard to switch gears and start working on other things. I do need to follow that schedule, because before I know it, the end of the day comes and I still have a long list of things that I didn't get to.
So until next time friends....

Monday, March 24, 2008

New Week

Welcome to a new week! Three days without blogging- I missed it too. So what's new? My major focus today was the date auction- particularly finding financial sponsors. It is slow going, particularly difficult finding businesses that would be a good fit. I really do need some help in identifying potential sponsors. This is an excellent event and I'm sure that there are companies/organizations in Boston that would like to partner with us- but I need help in reaching them. Things are going better however with the auction items and gift certificates for the couples to use. I contacted a number of places and also found a lot of new places to add to our list. I ended up spending a lot more time today on the date auction sponsors than I had originally intended. It gets frustrating sometimes the amount of time that needs to be spent on fundraising. On a certain level, I enjoy the fundraising- I've always loved a challenge and fundraising is an incredible challenge. When the fundraising efforts work out and we have success- it is absolutely wonderful.

Well, that's it for tonight- this is a short posting I know, but I'm awfully tired and need to write my list for tomorrow. I will write more tomorrow, because there is good stuff going on as well. Anyways, until next time friends.
P.S. A happy birthday (yesterday) to my mom- without her never failing support and love, I can't imagine what my life would be.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wednesday News

So guess what? It was a better day today. Why? Well, three auction items arrived in the mail which was great- a restaurant gift certificate, Boston cruise gift certificates and a whale watch gift certificate. Those will be used for our date auction, Anniversary auction and possibly for the April event that one of our supporters is doing. Then I was also making follow up phone calls for our date auction items and was actually getting through to people and getting commitments for items. I also picked up a limousine ride gift certificate from a limo service in Hopedale- it's for a 3 hr. limo ride ($225 value). So I was really happy about that- it was so nice to visit their office today. The lady was really supportive. It
really makes such a difference when one interacts with pleasant and helpful people- it makes working on the more difficult things easier.

I love our new date auction flyer- Lisa, our graphic designer, emailed it over and I didn't have a chance to look at untl today. Last year's flyer was good, but I had asked Lisa to make this year's sexier looking. She did a great job, I can't wait to start sending it out. It is the type of flyer that if i saw it, I would totally want to go to the event. That is the mark of a really good flyer!

So what else is new? I can't remember! This is probably a sign that I should go to bed. Have to go and write my list for tomorrow- I started in January with my daily list that I write the night before. It is such a help. There were a lot of things that I didn't get to today, so they need to be carried over for tomorrow. Someone told me that they had read in a coaching book, that if you have an item on your list and don't get to it, you should just cross it off, because it means that you will never do it. Totally untrue. Sometimes it can take me a bit of time to get everything done, but everything that goes on my list are things that need to be done. Not getting to an item usually means I ran out of time. It just seems like such an odd piece of advice that someone would give.
Anyways, off to bed. Until next time..

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuesday News

I have readers! Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog. It is quite a wonderful feeling to know that people are actually reading and I could really do with some good news tonight. It wasn't a bad day today, but it was one of those disappointing days when you feel you work hard, but accomplish little. There were a couple of positive things- I contacted some new places for auction items and I finally made contact with the manager at a well known Irish pub/restaurant in Boston that donated a gift card for our date auction last year. He is very supportive, so it was really nice speaking with him today. He is sending us a gift card for this year's auction. I didn't get through to anyone else today.

I probably shouldn't sound so down about things, but I am very concerned about how the economy is affecting our fundraising- now and for the rest of the year. Businesses are already cutting back and I'm worried that it is only going to get worse. I'm working on getting as many sponsors lined up now for our events and also work on grant application as early as we can- while there is still some money available. This week, I'm also going to start lining up our 2009 calendar sponsors. Does anyone have any suggestions for businesses/organizations who would be interested in supporting our work? Suggestions are always appreciated.

Anyways, back to work tomorrow and hopefully it will be a much better day. All the usual stuff to do and also working on event sponsors. I don't have any donations scheduled for this week, which is actually OK because there is a ton of work that needs to be done in the office. It is funny how things go- I'll have lousy days, then the next day will be awesome- it is really amazing how it can be such a roller coaster.
For those that read my blog- thank you. It really means a lot to me. Keep leaving comments too! Off to write my list for tomorrow and read for a few minutes before bed. Untl next time friends..

Monday, March 17, 2008


So here's the lesson for today- never assume you know what's inside an envelope. Yes, it is a very simple thought, but a good one to keep in mind. The funny thing is that for the 4 years that I've been fundraising, I've always prepared myself for the worst when I open an envelope that I know has fundraising news in it. It is actually a mini process that I go through- there's always that feeling of anticipation when I go to open the mailbox, I flip through everything quickly- if it is something big that I've been waiting for, such as grants, I'll open the envelope right then. However, I always feel the envelope first to see if there might be a check in it or gift card. Whether it feels flat or not, I always prepare myself for the worst news- partly because of all the rejection that occurs, but also because if it is good news, it makes me feel that much happier. Anyways, so today an envelope came from a very upscale Boston restaurant and even though it felt strangely thin, for some reason I assumed it was good news. I was assuming it so much that I drove the very short drive back to the office and kept thinking about how happy I was that we received this gift certificate- that it would be an awesome item for our date auction, etc. Bad thought! I got in my driveway and sometimes I'll sit in my car- usually at the post office and open the interesting mail quickly- so I parked the car and it suddenly occurred to me that I should have opened the envelope before I started rejoicing that I got this gift cert. So I opened it and no gift certificate! Instead, a polite letter of rejection. Yes, I was a little shocked, but in a strange sort of way it was also a little amusing- because it was a reminder that one should never assume anything.

So what else did I do today besides go to the post office? The day really flew by and I didn't get half the things done that I wanted to. This morning I was at TJX corporate HQ (a very impressive place) for a photo with their Foundation Manager- they gave us a $5,000 grant last month and I wanted the photo so we can put a press release into the local paper and also use the photo on our website and newsletter. It went very well. It is always great to meet people in person, particularly people who have been so supportive of our work. I was working on all the usual stuff this afternoon. Tomorrow, I need to get back to work on finding sponsors for our events- it is going really slowly. And of course, back to work on my auction item quest. I didn't get to call any today, so that's six for tomorrow, so I can stay on track.

Anyways, happy St. Patrick's day to all my Irish friends! Until next time...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday Night

Blogging again on Friday night- what's happening??? Plans got scratched for tonight, which was disappointing- but probably for the best since I have to be up early tomorrow morning (those who know me will sympathize!) and I'm recovering from a toe injury- dropped a metal snow shovel on it yesterday (don't ask).

I was catching up on some work stuff tonight- finding new auction items (I'm getting a little obsessed)- not really obsessed with auction items per se, but really want to make sure these two events are the best they can possibly be. I contacted another ski resort today, followed up with some more places and tonight I was working on airline tickets. I already applied to one small airline, tonight I applied online with AirTran as well. I'm also going to contact a few other airlines- those would definitely be great items. I picked up a gift certificate to a fondue restaurant in Framingham- Melting Pot. They donated a $50 gift card. This is another I'd like to use- the restaurant had such a great atmosphere, the owner was very friendly and the menu looks really good. I'm looking forward to eating there soon. I really do try to patronize places that have been supportive of Project Smile.

I was also catching up on emails tonight- sometimes I get a little far behind with responding to emails. . should do what my friend Michelle does and just respond immediately. I've also read that one should set aside a block of time each day to respond to emails. I'm not talking about the urgent business emails that I get- those obviously get responded to immediately, but some of the other emails that I get which aren't urgent but still deserve a timely response.

Anyways, should better be going- I need to get ready for my class tomorrow. It is a good class and I'm looking forward to it. Until next time friends..

Thursday, March 13, 2008


So what's the latest and greatest? I'm still working on trying to blog everyday- some nights I just get pretty tired- it's definitely not that there is nothing going on! I did two nursing home donations today- Wrentham and Blackstone. I'm really working on trying not to let it bother me, but honestly can't help but feel sad. There was a lady sitting in a wheelchair in the hall of one of the nursing homes today and I looked at her as I walked by to leave and she had these big blue eyes that looked so lost and I just wanted to stop and hug her- wanted to make her feel better and have that sad look go away. But I didn't though- maybe I should have, I don't know. I just smiled at her.

In more cheerful news- we received VIP tickets to a taping of the Colbert Report for our silent auction. I am really excited about that- another item that I'd like to use! This was the first time I contacted the show. It is funny because I called and the woman gave me an email address to write to, it was one of the those non specific email addresses and usually I've found that emails to those types of addresses don't tend to get much of a response, so I wasn't really expecting much. So I was extra happy when I opened my email this morning.

I keep trying to think of new places to contact for auction items- today I was contacting some boating companies that operate whale watches, harbor cruises and fishing trips. We need items for both the date auction and the Anniversary Celebration. Tomorrow I want to reach out to a few "mountain resorts" that are in the Berkshires and see if they could donate a gift certificate. The goal is to have a wide range of items so that there is something for everyone. I also called a restaurant in Framingham for a gift certificate- they were very receptive, so I'm going tomorrow to pick it up. It is a cool restaurant, so I think it will be a really good item.

I've been really concerned lately about how the economy is going to affect our fundraising. We're already keeping costs to a minimum, so I can't trim anything more there. I'm particularly concerned about how our grant funding will be. Since I can't control the economy, I think our best plan is to keep reaching new potential grant sources so we have a wider base of financial support and make our two big fundraisin events as large as possible. I'm trying not to worry about it too much, but it is definitely a huge concern.

Anyways, off now to write my lengthy list for tomorrow- I have a lot of things to catch up on. I was supposed to meet a friend for lunch tomorrow, but had to cancel because there is just too much that needs to get done. It's nothing dramatic that needs done, just a lot of the usual nitty gritty. Until next time...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday News

Greetings! What's the latest and greatest? I must say this hour change (although wonderful with the extra light)is really messing me up. I am so tired and feeling like I haven't gotten a ton accomplished these last couple of days (or much of anything actually!). Yesterday, I did a donation at a nursing home where retired nuns, most of whom are suffering from Alzheimer's, live. The stuffed animals were well received. I can't help but feel so sad when I leave the nursing homes- I felt this overwhelming sense of relief when I left the place (although it was perfectly fine) and was able to breath fresh air. I even drove with the window open, just so I could enjoy the feel of fresh air, not caring if it was cold. I keep thinking that I should be adjusted to nursing homes by now and not let it affect me so much, but it really does. I feel this awful combination of sadness, guilt and fear when I go into the places. We've been receiving a lot of positive feedback from the program, so I know I should feel happier that we're able to bring some cheer to the residents, but the other feelings are so much greater.

Our Daily Show with Jon Stewart VIP passes arrived which is exciting- they are 4 VIP tickets to a show taping in New York City, we'll use them in our silent auction during the Anniversary Celebration. I'm also working on getting some other cool items, but can't share anything yet until we get them! I think the Daily Show tickets are a lot of fun, I'd like to go myself! We also have to start working on getting some autographed celebrity photos again.

Well, that's it for tonight. I have to go and write my very lengthy list for tomorrow- the usual stuff and I'm doing two nursing home donations. Also, I have to keep working on obtaining sponsors for the Anniversary Celebration and Date Auction. I didn't get to contact 3 businesses today for auction items, so I'll work on 6 tomorrow so I can stay on track.
Until next time friends...

Friday, March 7, 2008

Friday Night

Blogging on a Friday night- I think this is a first! I was out earlier- met up with a friend for dinner in Boston (had a great time). I got home a few minutes ago and had a sudden urge to blog! I'm actually really excited that I have readers- find it quite amazing actually.

So what's new? Not too much today. Our volunteer, Sandy, was working on contacting nursing homes, she organized about 4 donations for next week. I was working on the usual stuff and getting more auction items. Our Jon Stewart tickets arrived today- such an awesome item! I can't tell you how excited I am for our 5th Anniversary Celebration- there is so much work going into it and I really want it to be an awesome event. Of course, the major thing is actually getting people to show up- but right now I can't worry so much about that. I'm trying to get everything in place so that it is an event people will want to go to. Getting awesome auction items is a big part of that. However, besides that, just knowing that this was started 5 years ago is a pretty special feeling.

Anyways, I contacted some fun new places today- I'm trying to get airline tickets donated and also working on fun mini adventures. I contacted a dog sledding expedition place- I think that would be a really cool item for our aution. I also contacted some other places that are pretty special- can't talk about it until I actually get the items though! Last year, we had 47 items in our auction. As of today, we have 96 places on our list for items. This doesn't include the 47 who donated last year. Of the 96 places, we have received 22 items and have a commitment from another 8 places for items. Some of the other places are currently closed for the season and others we have made contact with and are waiting to hear back.

I'm so into auction items that I even asked our waiter tonight who I should speak with about a gift cert. donation for our charity event. He checked with the manager and came back with the marketing director's card. I haven't really done anything like that before, but my friend Lisa and I were talking about Project Smile and auction items and I just thought about how the restaurant we were at would be a really cool date place. It is a tapas place on Newbury St. and has awesome sangria! The prices are pretty good too.

Well, I'm getting a little tired, so until next time...

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Greetings! So what's the latest and greatest? There was not a whole lot of news today. More phone calls and emails and a ton of faxes. Amy, one of new volunteers, has been working on getting gift certificates donated for our date auction and she called me this afternoon with a load of faxes that needed sent. So hopefully, we will get a good response and start getting some items in. I also dropped off our deposit check at the Sheraton for our Anniversary event- so now it is really official!

So today I met a friend of mine for dinner tonight- Michelle started volunteering with Project Smile about 3 years ago and she did a great job. She still helps out at events and is always so spportive. I don't see her very often (hopefully that will change now!, so we met tonight to catch up. The reason I'm writing about this is because she is always so positive and encouraging and that is the best thing in the world. Positive people give off such an energy and it is so important to have that in your life. My mom has always been incredibly supportive and I owe a lot of Project Smile's success to her.

When I was driving home tonight, I started thinking about what I would tell someone who wanted to start a non profit like I did. Michelle and I had talked about if briefly. I'd simply tell them to go for it- that if it is something you really want to do, you'll find a way to make it work. I'd also give practical advice, like the kind that has helped me. I had no idea when I started Project Smile just how difficult it would be, I never knew the level of stress and anxiety that would be felt, but on the flip side, I had no idea the incredible highs that would come with my work. If someone had told me how great the good days would be, I probably would have laughed in disbelief. If they told me how difficult it would be, I'd probably laugh at that too. So my point is- sometimes not knowing is an absolutely wonderful thing. That said, if someone had given me a crystal ball in June 2004 when my job at Dover/Sherborn had ended and had let me see what the next 4 years would bring- the highlights, low lights and all the stuff in the middle- without a doubt I would have made the same decision. My job is far from perfect, but I absolutely love it.

Anyways, need to go and write my list for tomorrow. I have a lot of auction items to follow up on and the usual fundraising things, contacting more police/fire departments and my two volunteers are coming too. Until next time....

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


So our blog now actually has comments on it! I am very excited! It is great to know that people are actually reading my blog.

Today was a pretty good day- I did 4 donations to police and fire departments (Brimfield, Sturbridge, E. Brookfield). It was kind of funny when I got to E. Brookfield and both the police department and the fire department were closed! They were all out on calls. I didn't know what to do- those were my last donations of the day. I had six boxes in my car and the idea of taking them back to the office and then mailing them was very unappealing- it costs quite a bit. I also definitely didn't want to make a second trip. So I sat in my car by the fire station for a little while, trying to figure out what I should do- when all of a sudden a pick up truck comes flying up the driveway- and a guy jumps out and hurries into the fire department. Thankfully, he wasn't rushing off to an emergency call and I was able to unload the fire department's donation and I left the police department's donation there too. Then I went to Worcester to pick up more of our Project Smile boxes. Although lugging the boxes to my car is always a chore, it always makes me happy when I look at our logo on the boxes.

What else is new? We are geting an absolutely awesome auction item! I don't what to say what it is yet until it arrives, but it is very cool and will be very popular. No hints! I was really happy this afternoon when I got back and there was a message from that business- it is always a good feeling when you a call a business looking for a donation and they actually call you back!

Tomorrow, I'm back to work on all the usual stuff- including finding sponsors. I also found a few new places that I want to write to for items. Now I am off to eat grapefruit.... until next time.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Ups and Downs

Well, I'm still working on the blogging every day routine- don't know why I'm having such difficulties with it. Tonight, I'm blogging earlier, because I think that I get too tired later and don't have the energy to write- although I always do enjoy it when I blog and I am a night person!

So what's new? Things have been OK- some good things going on and also struggling with other things. First the good news- volunteers are working out really well, it is great to have the extra help. I was so happy yesterday when one of the ladies who comes to help sort stuffed animals said that she wanted to come for an extra day to help out more- it was such a good feeling to know that someone wants to spend their extra time helping Project Smile.

We also received some good auction items lately- including a $50 gift card to a really good local restaurant. I was doing a lot of internet research yesterday and today, looking for places that I hadn't thought of before and contacted a lot of places- hopefully we will get some donations for our auction. One of our volunteers was helping call places today too. I need to start working on obtaining financial sponsors for the event too.

I'm still struggling in regards to finding sponsors for the date auction in Boston and that has been quite stressful. I need help with making connections with Boston area businesses who would be interested in supporting our event. I'll keep you posted on how things go, but if anyone has suggestions, please send them along!

I'm also trying to reach new businesses to help sponsor our Halloween and Child Safety event, that has been difficult as well. I've reached out to all of last year's sponsors, hopefully they will all be on board again, but we absolutely need to find new sponsors. Last year, we had 850 children and parents attend the event- it is really a wonderful event (if I may say so myself!). Now we really need it to become a bigger fundraiser.

Anyways, enough fundraising woes for tonight. Tomorrow I am out west to the police and fire departments- Brimfield, E. Brookfield and another town nearby. I haven't been to Brimfield before, I always enjoy going somewhere new. I also have to work on following up on nursing homes that we contacted last week and of course- auction items. I try to contact 3 businesses a day for auction items.

Until next time....