Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Well, here we are- it is officially Christmas Eve and I wanted to wish everyone a very happy Christmas. For those who aren't celebrating Christmas, I hope you have a happy holidays too. Thank you for reading my blog and taking an interest in Project Smile. It means a lot to know that people care.

So what's new? Not a heck of a lot. I'm still working on the office and getting ready for 2010. I have done a lot of organizing though and finishing up a bunch of little things, so the office is definitely looking better. I probably will do some work next week because I have a lot of 2010 planning still to get done and I also want to do some research on ways to improve certain things- particularly emails and other marketing.

When I was a little girl and my father would act up about certain things, my grandfather would lean over and tell me, "do you know why the good lord gave you two ears? Because, it's in one ear and out the other." I used to love to hear him say that. Of course, when hurtful things are heard, it's never that easy to let them go. But still now, 15 years after his death, when I hear things that make me sad or angry- I think of him and imagine him sitting next to me and telling me those words. I heard some things tonight that made me extremely upset, but I thought of what Jimmy would say and I'm just going to let it go. Life is too short to be hurt and upset about other people's opinions of oneself.

Anyways, it's 2am on Christmas Eve and this is a time to be happy- a time to think of all the wonderful things in life. Right now, it is also time to go to bed. Merry Christmas friends!

Monday, December 21, 2009

2 Days Left

I have two days left to wrap things up for the year- translation: I have two days to produce a magically clean and phenomenally organized office and have a complete work plan for 2010. Will I get it done? I'm determined to get the office part done- minus the phenomenal part, but I know I won't have the 2010 plan completed. I know the year isn't over, but the plan is to take a complete break next week and not work. I don't know how realistic that is- it is really hard for me not to work, I get a little obsessed sometimes. But I also know that I need a mental break. I've been struggling lately and not getting enough accomplished, so it would be a good thing to take a week off. I probably will end up doing some 2010 planning though.

It is has been an interesting year- both personally and professionally. There were a lot of highs- continuing to grow despite the economic meltdown around us, the date auction, the anniversary event, the grants we received, reaching more police and fire departments, continuing our DCF donations, expanding our holiday donations, deciding to work with homeless shelters next year and meeting lots of cool people who support our work. Of course the were a few lows- I met quite a few rather lousy people, it was a lot tougher finding financial sponsors for our anniversary celebration and there is the tremendous pressure to grow Project Smile so that my vision becomes a reality. It's funny- now that I'm writing this and actually thinking about 2009, I can definitely say this was a good year. I've also learned a lot and I have an excitement to learn more. The good things that happened this year far outweighed the bad.

The lady came today to donate stuffed animals and books from the drive she organized at her office. She is the same woman that I wrote about last month- two of her children died of cystic fibrosis and another child is awaiting a transplant. Her daughter had wanted to donate her stuffed animals to PS, but had died before she got to make her donation. I was thinking about it for a while this afternoon- I can't even begin to imagine how one copes with losing two children and having another one sick as well. I thought about how strong this mom must be. It also made me think about how important it is to enjoy every moment in life. I do a lot of worrying in life, but I want to spend more time enjoying the present. One of the best things I did this year was my summer of fun. Every weekend for almost the entire summer, I did one new fun thing. It was awesome- one of the best things that I did. Things kind of fell off with my mom's accident in October, but I've decided that after Christmas, I will be officially back to my weekend adventures. I've never been one to take things for granted- maybe that's because I worry so much about things. Seeing this lady today and knowing that she lost two of her three children, reminded me of how important it is to enjoy every day and to cherish every moment with our loved ones.

Anyways friends, that's all for tonight. I'm off to write my list for tomorrow, then bed. Hopefully by tomorrow night I will be able to gush about my fabulously clean office! Until next time...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wrapping Up

Well here we are- still working on trying to wrap things up before the start of the new year. I didn't get to a lot of things today that I had wanted to. I had a meeting in the morning and then the trip to Boston to donate the stuffed animals took up a big chunk of the day. I'm so happy we donated to the Christmas in the City program. The people that I met were really happy about our donation. One of the guys told me that they usually provide for about 2,200 children, but this year they had an additional 3,000 apply. After he said that, I felt a little guilty that I hadn't donated more. It was about 145 stuffed animals and toys that we donated. As I was driving home, I was thinking about how things changed from the 2002 when all I could do was donate a Barbie doll to that program, to today when I can organize a donation for 145 children. Seven years from now, hopefully we'll be able to have our Christmas event that can help thousands of children. I would like to do something in the western part of the state too- there is a lot of poverty in some of the western towns and I think it tends to get overshadowed by the needs of the bigger cities. I would love to do holiday events for kids who really don't have any alternatives for gifts. Some of the towns that I've driven through when doing our donations have been so economically depressed it is shocking- and this was before the economy tanked last fall.

There is so much more that I want to write about, but I'm so tired right now. It was a late night last night and now I'm feeling it. I'm rather obsessed with getting prepared for 2010- I don't remember being like this before. I'm going to write my list for tomorrow- I've fallen off with my list writing recently. I need to submit our website updates and send off our newsletter to Lisa, as well as continue the office clean up and 2010 plans. I also want to take some time for learning- actually sitting down and studying various topics so I can keep improving. Every year has been a year of improvement for PS, but I want 2010 to be a big year. I want to fix the mistakes that I make, become more efficient and keep growing.

But tonight, there is no more growing- I'm off to list write, then sleep. Tomorrow night, I'm off to see The Nutcracker with my sister- I am so excited. My sisters are I saw it once about 5 years ago and it was so beautiful. We have good seats too, so it will be awesome! Until tomorrow friends..

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Late Night Energy

Well, it is 1:15am and I'm just starting to blog- I got a major energy rush around 11pm and have been going steady- sorting stuffed animals and cleaning. Tomorrow, we're donating stuffed animals to the Christmas in the City program. They provide holiday gifts for homeless and low-income children. There was an article about the organization in today's Boston Globe and it mentioned their need for toys for children. They provide gift for over 1,000 needy kids. I already knew about the program- I had donated a Barbie doll many years ago to their organization- before I even started PS. I always wished I could do more, but money has always been tight. I read the article as I was drinking my morning tea and thought it would be great if we could help by providing stuffed animals. I called and they were very enthusiastic about our donation, so I'm dropping about 200 stuffed animals and a few toys off tomorrow. I'm so glad that we've expanded our holiday donations this year. I wasn't even planning on doing more holiday donations, but it is so touching to read about the good work that group does (and so many others), and it makes me happy that we can help.

I got a nice email today from Morgan Memorial Goodwill, thanking us for our stuffed animal donation. Their party was on Saturday and it was a big success. The coordinator that I dealt with told me that she'd been reading my blog- I love to hear when people read my blog. When I first started, I thought that no one would ever read it. It's pretty cool to think that people actually find it interesting enough to keep reading!

So what else is going on? The major organization/clean up is still underway. I had Amanda, our fabulous intern, working on transferring the info that I had on my old desk calendars onto our excel database. It is really funny to look back at the calendars from when PS just started. They are a really nice momento as well- almost like freezing moments in time. However, now that all the important info has been transferred, I can toss them. It would be nice to keep them for sentimental value, but my office is overflowing and I need to move stuff out. It's also funny to look at how far I've come in learning how to run a business- these last couple of years, I've really grown a lot in terms of being more efficient and organized. There are probably lots of ways I could improve, but I've definitely grown a lot since we first started.

My energy kick is fading fast and my eyes are hurting now. I was going to blog and then get back to work, but I'll just go to bed. I'm really focused on getting things organized for next year- I want to run PS the best way possible and that means starting next year with a clean and organized office, everything from this year finished and a plan laid out for 2010. I know that I'm not going to get my 2010 plan finalized before Christmas, but I need to make some serious progress. I'm also taking a vacation between Christmas and New Years. I'm not going anywhere, but I need to take a real break and chill out for a while. I'd love to go away, but can't afford that. Well, now I'm officially tired and I'm about to start going on a tangent- so instead I'll say good night. Until tomorrow friends..

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Week

Well, here we are- the start of a new week and getting closer to the start of a new year. It doesn't seem real that we're about to start 2010 though. Usually, I don't think it is such a big deal, I think that happens because partly because we put together our 2010 calendar in the middle of the summer, so I've been at least looking at the new year since then. This year feels different though, I'm not sure why, but it definitely feels different. Maybe it is has to do with having a milestone birthday coming up soon. In a few weeks, I'll be back to work on our next date auction and anniversary event. I'm not really ready to think about that yet though. I also have a lot of planning that I want to do and I haven't even started.

Anyways, enough on 2010 plans- I still have a lot to do before we finish 2009. Our 2 big holidays donations are done- on Friday, we did our annual donation to Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries for their children's holiday party. I love donating for their party- they have over 400 children attend. Someday, we'll do an event like that, but for now I'm really happy that we can support their event. We get very positive feedback from Goodwill as well. One of the ladies who I dealt with this year told me that her boss had been asking her when our donation was arriving- they were really looking forward to getting our items.

Today, we did our holiday donation to the Dept. of Children and Families- stuffed animals, toys, puzzles, books and crayons (the larger crayons packages than we usually give out). Expanding to DCF is one of the things that I'm happiest about- it has worked out even better than I thought it would.

This afternoon, I actually made progress with cleaning up and organizing my office. Amanda, our intern, was working on my computer and I used that time to focus on my desk. With the new year coming, I want to make some changes and make my office more efficient. My desk still needs a lot of work, but progress is happening.

Well friends, that's it for tonight. I'm tired- I went to bed too late again last night and was really busy today. I was going to have a grapefruit, (it is grapefruit season again- yay!) but I think I'll just go to bed. I was also going to decorate the tree I put up in my room too, but since it is almost 1am and I'm trying to go to bed early, that will have to wait until tomorrow. Until tomorrow friends..

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I don't know what's been going on today and yesterday- they haven't been the best of days. There is nothing dramatically wrong- nothing major has happened. I just feel in a bit of a funk and I don't particularly no why. I didn't get enough work done and that always bothers me. My desk is a mess and I didn't get to clean it. Yesterday, I thought I might be getting sick- I was super tired, but I didn't feel sick today- still tired though. I haven't been eating properly during the day and I know that makes me really tired. I've been eating breakfast late and lunch even later, so by the time I eat lunch- I already feel exhausted.

I love Christmas time, but I'm getting anxious about buying gifts. I have such a limited budget and I feel like I can't get anyone very much and it gets me a little sad. I know that it isn't all about buying stuff and no one is expecting any big gifts, but it makes me feel sad that I can only do a little. It was easier when my siblings were younger because money went further- for not that much money I could get them a bunch of toys and they were happy. They're too old for toys now- at least those kind of toys. I feel as the oldest sister, I should be able to do more. I've made mistakes before and went overboard at Christmas and I'm trying not to do that. I want to get gift for my friends too, but I don't think I can manage that. I know this has nothing to do with Project Smile, but it has been on my mind.

I'm feeling overwhelmed. I have a lot of police/fire departments that I need to contact, I have quite a few calendars left to sell, newsletter that needs written, web updates that need done, I need to work on a 2010 plan and a bunch of other things that I can't remember right now. I also have to sell the auction items that are left. I have those 2 beautiful large Christmas baskets that didn't sell. I think I'll put them on our FB page tomorrow and see if there is any interest in them. I really have no space to store them either. I also want to take some time and do a bit of studying- someone gave me a book about online social networking a few months ago- I had only looked at it briefly and didn't find it particularly interesting. I was going to put it in the silent auction, but as I went to do write the bid sheet, I flipped through the book again and there are actually some interesting points in there. So I want to take some time and study it some more. There are also some other online free courses that I want to sign up for. It is so important to learn ways to improve. One of my plans next year is to learn more about different topics, so I can improve the way I run PS- I don't want to spend money taking courses, but I'm sure there are a lot of free resources that I could take more advantage of.

Well, I'm getting a bit of a headache, so I should probably go to sleep. I've been trying to go to bed early, it is 12:15 now- lights were out by midnite last night, but I had nightmares and woke up at 3am with my hear racing, so maybe the whole going to bed earlier thing just doesn't agree with me! Maybe I am fighting off a bug again, I don't know. I know I sound like a Pathetic Polly tonight and I'm really not- just tired and overwhelmed. I did take advantage of the beautiful weather today and hung Christmas lights outside. It is a rather odd light display, but it makes me happy to look at it.

Tomorrow, we're donating stuffed animals for the Goodwill children's holiday party in Boston. We've been donating to that for the past 2 years now. I've never been to the party, but I'm really glad that we're able to help. Monday is our holiday donation to the Dept. of Children and Families. I would love to do a children's holiday event at some point, but that probably won't be for a while.
Anyways, off to bed. Until next time friends...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Well, here we are- back in the familiar position- unwinding and dissecting an event, just a few hours later. So how did it go? It was a very nice event, I'm glad that I partnered with Hello Stiletto for it- Felt had set up their Christmas decorations as promised and the placed looked beautiful, they had a large amount of appetizers available, our DJ played really good music, Santa Claus was awesome, the pink carpet walk-off was a hit as always- it was the type of event that I would have been happy to attend regardless. However, the turnout was lower than expected and the silent auction didn't do well. We had over 20 auction items- a nice variety of sports items, golf outings, jewelry, theatre tix and other things, but we only sold 3. I don't know what happened. Obviously, people have less money this year to spend and maybe with the holidays coming they are holding onto their money to buy particular gifts- even though any one of those items would have made a great gift. It obviously wasn't an audience that wanted to spend a lot of money. Our items were well displayed, in a central location, so there is nothing that I could have done better on that front. The sports items are being returned tomorrow and the rest of the items will be held onto. I don't have any events planned, so I need to work on another way to sell some of those items.

It is definitely the type of event that I can see growing. The firefighter who was Santa Claus had a wonderful time and is really on board with participating again. I am going to make this an annual event. It is OK to have small events- do I want 500 people at every event we have? Of course I do. But that isn't realistic. We had a very pleasant, very enjoyable event tonight- people really looked like they were having fun, so this is definitely something that I want to build on. Tonight was a good foundation- it opened my eyes to how cool Christmas events can be, even though it was smaller than I'd hoped for. Every event that I've done has grown over the years- two years ago, our first date auction had 350 people and we raised $3,800. This year it was 500 and $12,000 raised. So I'll think about how to make it bigger and we'll come back next year with another holiday event.

It's funny, although we had less people than I'd hoped for and we raised less money than I wanted- i don't view the event as a failure at all. We created a good foundation for future Christmas events and it was a really fun night. We raised awareness for Project Smile and although there weren't a ton of people- those that attended had a good time. And we did sell calendars and raise some money. This event was never intended to be big and I put a limited amount of time into it, so it wasn't like I expected a huge return. I don't know why the auction was so unsuccessful- perhaps coming off the big holiday shopping weekend didn't help either.

Anyways, that's it for tonight. I'm a tired munchkin. Last night was another 3am night. I was working on bid sheets and getting things ready for tonight. That's also it for events. Next month I'll be back to work on the date auction and anniv. event and starting work on events for 2011- I have a number of potential events in my head and I need to narrow them down and focus. Our most successful events have been singles events (date auction), so I might focus on bringing that to another city. But I also know that we need to spread our event wings some more and work in a couple of different events. Christmas 2010- plans will be underway soon.

This morning, it was so nice- I was trying to get organized before our intern Amanda showed up, but I was really tired and dragging- when a friend called me to wish me good luck tonight. It was such a nice surprise, I wasn't expecting her to call at all- moments like that make me feel so grateful that I have friends. We only chatted for a few minutes, but I just felt so encouraged after I talked to her. There is little better than knowing people care. Another friend drove in with me this afternoon and helped at the event and a couple of friends attended too. It really means a lot to me when my friends make an effort to support Project Smile. I hope they know how much I appreciate it.

OK, eyes are hurting a lot now- need to sleep. Tomorrow night is the grants award dinner which I'm looking forward to. Until tomorrow friends..