Tag Archives: charity

Sorry, Wrong Number?

cordless phone by televisionThe phone rang. My husband and I were in the middle of dinner and a movie, so we let the answering machine pick up, as usual. We expected that it was one of the dinner-time callers who repeatedly tried to connect with us even though we registered on the Do Not Call list.

“Hey Mom. I’m sorry I missed Mother’s Day and your birthday. I just wanted to let you know I got home safely.”

A huge smile swelled in me because I was delighted to hear from my son, and thrilled that he decided that talking with me was important enough to use a telephone. Sometimes he contacted me on Mother’s Days and my birthdays, but it was never a big deal when he didn’t. I hadn’t heard his voice since he visited five months earlier. His deep bass tones surprised me, like they did when he last visited. I was still used to his boyish tones. I dashed to pick up the phone before he finished leaving his message.

He sounded relaxed, smooth, and genuine. His words seemed to come from a deep place within him. I hoped that this indicated that he was feeling secure and calm. This might mean that the storm of adolescence was relaxing its grip on him as he transformed into a young adult. I felt relieved to not hear the familiar tension and uncertainty restraining the words coming through his throat. His voice may have betrayed the effects of drugs, but he spoke clearly enough for me to feel somewhat confident while I dismissed that worry.

He told me that he was organizing a Freedom Concert in St. Petersburg, Florida. I knew that he had liked driving to the southeastern states during college breaks, so I felt glad for him. I knew that he enjoyed organizing events, and wondered if this was like one of the beer binge bashes that he had coordinated before, or a more respectable festival that promoted one of the nonprofit groups that he supported. He said that he was afraid to tell me about it because he didn’t know if I agreed with that kind of cause. I wondered what the cause might be. Freedom. Concert. When have I ever been opposed to freedom or concerts?

He sounded so cautious, I urged him to send me something about it. He responded with surprise, and said that he would. I told him that it didn’t matter if I agreed with the cause; I cared about him, and wanted to know about what he was doing, whatever it might be. He sounded surprised again when he thanked me.

To drive my point home, I told him that I was really glad that he called, and that I loved him so much. Pause. He said that I didn’t know how much that meant to him. I nearly cried. Poor kid. What had he been going through that such words would make such a difference? He said, “I love you too, sweetie.” My son never called me “sweetie” before. Again, I considered that he was stoned out of his mind, or maybe someone was impersonating him while he laughed in the background.

I felt sad for my son. Poor me. I was so eager to have that kind of conversation with him, that I deliberately chose to take a chance on being wrong about whom I was talking with. I decided to enjoy it, rather than admit my skepticism. My heart wanted the caller to be my son. I wanted him to call me to chit-chat this openly, and find that I loved him more than he realized.

I wanted him to let me know when he had any doubts about being precious.

He asked me how my work was going, and quickly added that he wouldn’t want to be in my shoes. I laughed and wondered what he meant, but just continued to listen.

He told me that he missed me. I let a little skepticism slip in.

I asked about the earthquake that I felt earlier that day. The epicenter was near where he lived. He said that he was still working until 3 in the morning sometimes, so might not have felt it. I wondered what he might have been doing at 3 in the morning when he worked at a store that kept him very busy during regular business hours. More skepticism slipped in. I asked him to tell me about what his work was like.

Then I heard that moment of silence that indicated that his call waiting was signaling him, and he said, “Dad is calling me. I’ll call you back in a few minutes.” This didn’t surprise me at all: my son always responded quickly when his father wanted his attention, and his father always kept phone calls short.

When I let go of the phone, I immediately went to my computer to look up the Freedom Concert. I found that it was raising money for an African Socialist food bank. How sad that anyone would think that their mother would object, to such a degree that he would be afraid to tell her about his involvement in such a project.

My husband and I replayed the answering machine message several times, debating whether it was my son’s voice.

No call back. I wished I had caller ID so that I might have been able to resolve this mystery for certain.

A few days later, I texted my son to ask if he had heard of the Freedom Concert in Florida. He said no. I asked him if he had called me lately. He said no. I told him about the phone call, and he responded, “LOL”. I told him that I loved him, and he said, of course he knew it.

I am writing this for the young man who called me, and for his mother. Imagine how he felt when he heard someone whom he thought was his mother tell him that she loved him; how he felt when I responded to him with an unexpected amount of caring. I thank my lucky stars that I don’t remember ever struggling with expressing my love for my son, even when he didn’t seem to regret doing things that I didn’t like. More than ever, I am savoring that my son and I connect monthly. Texting is keeping us connected better than any other means is likely to.

Imagine if the other son called his mother, expecting her to respond the same way that I did. Imagine that he moved her to say, “I love you more than you ever imagined,” and, “I’d love to hear about the African Socialist food bank.”

Imagine if she rose to his expectations.

Amazon Wake

Amazon Wake

A New York Times article has been blasting across many websites this morning. Thank God! I have been researching the impact that Amazon is having on our culture, and the picture that I’m finding is not appealing. The Amazon family of companies is impacting the availability of essentials:


– pantry items: “Amazon’s Prime Pantry Service Lets You Buy and Ship 45 Pounds of Groceries For a $6 Fee”
– Subscribe & Save: “6 Ways to Beat Amazon’s Prices”


– sales partners: “Amazon Favours Brands Like Burberry and Levis with ‘Pay To Play’ Strategy”


‐ household supplies, major appliances, construction tools


– warehouses: “Worse Than WalMart”
– crowdsourcing: “The Unregulated Work of Mechanical Turk”
– merchants: “What Amazon Doesn’t Tell Third-Party Sellers”
–  professional services: “Amazon Eyes Local Services Market”
– affiliates who provide links to amazon.com on their webpages


‑ web services, tools, and supplies: “Amazon’s Wholesale Slaughter” for janitors, industries, medical professionals, building contractors, scientists, and others
‑ small business: “Retail Predatory Pricing Bully Tactics”


‑ reading: “Amazon controls about a third of the book business”
‑ toys, games, etc.

Social Justice

‑ Smile: “Why Amazon is Smiling and Charities May Be Losing”

Christopher Zara wrote that Amazon’s competitors are seeing

“ a world where storefronts are obsolete and economies are stimulated not by local merchants with a personal stake in where they do business but by a select few online players. It can be a depressing prospect if you care about things like civic engagement, livability and social capital, all of which tend to decline with the disappearance of local businesses.”

My friends and family are finding ways to start boycotting Amazon. Rob Hopkins posted at the Transition Network, in reference to Amazon, “I give so much of my time every day to trying to create a different, more just, more resilient world, yet my shopping decisions undermine that.” The resulting discussion raises issues about alternatives, Amazon’s motives, international laws that govern sales, and whether Google is posing a similar threat.

According to the New York Times article that is spreading like wildfire around the world this morning, John Grisham, Stephen King, Lemony Snicket, Nora Roberts, and 900+ other writers signed a letter that will be posted as a full-page ad in this Sunday’s New York Times. It is fueling debate about Amazon’s relationship with book publishers. The writers organized as Authors United. You can read the letter at their website.

Even Simon Head couldn’t help but support Amazon when salon.com reviewed his book “Mindless: Why Smarter Machines Are Making Dumber Humans”. He says that you might find that doing business with Amazon is “morally indefensible” after reading his reports. Yet, links to buy his book (and other anti-amazon books) land readers at amazon.com!

Some of my links above give ideas for alternatives to doing business with Amazon. Please share ideas in the comment section below, so we can each find more alternatives to supporting Amazon’s business practices.

Image Credit:
Original Image by Claudio Toledo
Creative Commons License This work is used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License.

Modified by Grace Buchanan
Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

My Response to a Liebster Award

Thank you Ron of The End Zone for honoring me with a Liebster Award. In his blog, he writes about insurance. He recommends “Notable and Inspirational Videos”. He also writes romantic song lyrics. Such a versatile man.

Liebster Award

Procedure for responding to a Liebster Award

You can retain the award, even if you don’t accept it.

  1. Accept the award by creating a post that recommends a few new blogs that have few followers. This helps to promote the blogs.
  2. Answer a question that was posed by the person who nominated you (see below). This helps your readers get to know you better.
  3. Write a question for your nominees to answer. This helps your readers get to know your nominees better.
  4. Add a link to the blog of the person who nominated you, in recognition of the honor. This lets the readers of the nominating blogger know that you accepted your award, and helps to promote the blogger who nominated you.
  5. Have fun with it.

Congratulations to my fellow Liebster Award nominees and friends Maggie Wilson, Stephanie, and JMGajda.

1. Blog Recommendations

Social Commentary

I met Sydney Majoko of The Truth Shall Set You Free through an international online coursera.org writing course, and felt kinship as I watched him bring his head and heart to the public eye. Now his blog gives me a view that I really appreciate: he literally sees the world upside down from me, being on the other side of the world in South Africa. I am fascinated by his commentaries on news stories, and his storytelling style. Besides, he was my first follower.   🙂

Mental Health

Sydney’s new blog Battle of My Life shares important, compassionate stories about people experiencing mental health issues. Each stirring story gives its readers an intimate glimpse into the experience of mental illness.

Illicit By Nature has a way with words that hook into my heart, as I look on with admiration. Her words are bold as she writes about her day-to-day struggles and victories with mental health.

Soul Food

I am always glad to receive notification that jamesneed published a new post at his Welcome to our MindMedicine blog!. Each one is a simple meditation that balances me.

Each LisaRosier “Daily Haiku on Being” accompanies an equally stunning photograph.

Heart and Brain Food

Leni Spooner at All Things Moocable got me blogging. She rescued me from my frustrating attempts to expand the blog that I started at tumblr (as a statistics MOOC assignment). She is one of my favorite advocates for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).

2. Nominator’s Question to Me

“If you inherited a lot of money or won the lottery and never had to worry about money or work again, how would that change your life, and what would you like to do that is different?”

My husband is the best friend I have ever had, so I would use the money to give us more time to be together.

My kids, siblings, and closest friends are financially independent (fulfilling their dreams), so I would put aside some secretly as an emergency fund for them, in case they ever need it.

Prison Reform

When I was in college, I discovered a certain idea living in my mind, and it continues to wait for a time when it can grow out to the sunlight.

If I had enough money, I would start a program for the largest “correctional” system that I could afford. Each facility would be designed and renovated by a team of engineers and technicians who are the leading edge of resource conservation.

Joan Baez sings, “There but for fortune go you and I” at the Open Houses. This is a pleasant place of healing, not punishment. Prisoners earn the ability to care for themselves and each other through various occupations, not because this saves money on Operations, but because of the very simple, clear principles and standards that explain the consequences of constructive behavior. Personnel and residents at all levels meet regularly to discuss ways to give more meaningful guidance and opportunities for responsibility to each of the residents. Not everyone would be released, but everyone has opportunities every day to work toward increasing their freedom. Each prisoner who is released has experienced transition to life outside in such a gradual way that they have minimal culture shock. The support system and structured routine do not suddenly collapse. The likelihood of recidivism is wonderfully low because each person and their supportive network has become confident in their ability to set and work toward goals.

Lawyers, judges, juries, and people who testify, take on a different view of the felon and their own roles in the criminal justice process: they are sending the person to a place of caring, not fear.

3. My Question for my Liebster Award Nominees to answer

“At my new correctional facility, meals are nourishing and appealing. What is your favorite nourishment?”

Thank you, Ron, for nominating me, and prompting me to think about how to accept a Liebster Award.

See People, Share

In the Introduction to his blog, Dennis Cardiff wrote:

I have come to know many people, now friends, who for various reasons are, or were, homeless…

What has been seen cannot be unseen.”

...be the change you wish to see in the world... Dennis Cardiff

via Introduction to Gotta Find A Home

Dennis reminded me that I used to shut my eyes to people who begged on the streets. I made myself blind to them as I studied the traffic lights carefully, or deliberately engaged my traveling companions in focused conversations that distracted us from seeing them. I couldn’t bear to read their cardboard signs, look at their dirty old clothes that were inappropriate for the weather, or see humanity in their faces.

One day, I saw a woman standing on one of the street corners. Seeing a woman instead of a man was the drop of water that broke the levee in me. Nutrition bars had accumulated in the glove compartment of my car, so I gave them to her. I silently hoped that she would take them to whatever home she had, and share them with many, like the story in the Bible about Jesus feeding an entire crowd with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. Then, I kept my supply stocked up, and shared it every week.

Eventually, the same man was on the same corner for several weeks. I felt satisfied when I discovered which nutrition bars he preferred. The way his face lit up when he saw me made me feel great; he looked more human now than stone-faced, even though nearly everyone ignored him and overlooked the opportunity to respond directly to his needs.

When I stopped seeing him, I stopped giving out the bars.

Now, Dennis reminds me of when Joan Baez sang,

There, but for fortune, go you or I.”

I need to restock my car with nutrition bars.