Choosing to Live in Color

This week’s summer showcase post is from my friend and LHF Greenhouse member, Jade.   In addition to being generally awesome, Jade blogs at the Madness of Monotony and recently had a piece about creative uses of snap-pops featured on Freshly Pressed.

Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the tr...

Do make time for regular trips to Oz?(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a time when my life was overflowing with creativity. Not simply my own, but everyone around me. Writers, artists, actors, musicians, songwriters, designers … I couldn’t throw a paper airplane without hitting someone whose talent filled the space. My spare time was filled with art shows, community theatre in all its forms, or performances of local musicians.

At the time, I didn’t realize how unusual my life was, or how fortunate I was to be surrounded by so many incredibly talented people. I didn’t realize that most people’s reality was so much more … mundane. I know that may sound judgmental, and I truly don’t mean for it to, but it’s like seeing the Wizard of Oz and going from Technicolor back to Kansas in plain old black and white.

Sure, I worked, but it was secondary to everything else. My job didn’t interfere.

Until it did. Continue reading

Brain Cancer Survivor asks Why NOT me?

One of the things I love most about the summer showcase is it gives me a chance to share the stories of people using their lives to prove that no matter what you hear on the news, humans have a great capacity to love and support each other– even through the most difficult of circumstances.  Thanks Mary for helping to make humanity look so good!  

I’m 33 years old. I’m healthy. My blood pressure is 100/65. My BMI is 21.3. My “bad” cholesterol barely registers on the charts. I eat nutritious foods – lots of fruits, veggies, chicken, yogurt. I do have a sweet tooth, but I try to balance it out with some exercise.

Oh yeah, and I’m a brain cancer survivor.

**Cue screeching tires, deer in headlights look, and one or more of the following reactions:

“Are you ok?”
“But you look so healthy…”
“That’s terrible. You don’t deserve that!”

I am OK. I do look healthy and I feel healthy. And, there are over 600,000 people in the United States living with a primary brain tumor and not a single one of them deserves it. Continue reading

Breaking the Cycle of Violence

This week’s summer showcase post tells a difficult but important story about how one woman is using what she learned through her own personal tragedy to make sure her children, and children like hers get the care they need to break the cycle of domestic violence.  Thanks for your bravery, Heather!  For more information about Heather’s work, visit the Generation Hope website.

On the evening of March 11, 2011 my life and the lives of my children were changed forever.

I was brutally attacked, strangled, and beaten so badly by my ex-husband that friends and neighbors didn’t recognize me. It was highly publicized by the media because my injuries were so graphic. During my ex-husband’s sentencing hearing the county attorney stated “that it was the worst beating she had seen in 11 years of doing domestic violence prosecution and that I had looked worse than some victims in homicide cases she had prosecuted.” I was lucky to be alive.

Unfortunately, our children were all present during the attack and watched their father beat me, and then kick and stomp on my face repeatedly. They could do nothing but scream in terror and beg their father to stop hurting me. They were 1, 3, and 5 at the time. At some point during the attack my five year old daughter knocked on a neighbor’s door and they came to our aid saving us physically from the attack.

We had survived….physically. And yet we were so broken emotionally that making it through the day was difficult for all of us. I was forcing myself to take my kids out to do things to get their mind off of things but inside we were all suffering. My children were exhibiting behaviors that were damaging to them and I could see that they needed help I was not able to give them so that they could cope with the damage that was caused from witnessing domestic violence. Continue reading

Permission to be Multi Passionate

I’m so excited  welcome Deanna Lohnes, back to the blog.  You may remember her from last summer’s  Kardashian /Cardasian mix up.  Deanna teaches solopreneurs and small businesses to create effective marketing messages. Deanna owns Parlance Media Stop by the blog and say hello. When she isn’t building success with smart business owners, she is lounging in a boat or on the beach.

When Maureen asked me to write a post about how the world benefits from cognitive surplus efforts, I was thrilled. I have surplus cognition! I have my fingers in lots of business pies! No problem.

No problem, that is, until I sat down to write. Blinking cursor. 218 words too embarrassing to submit. Blinking cursor. Delay, embarrassment, blinking cursor. Finally, I realized why writing a post about spare time efforts was like pulling teeth: I’m multi passionate.

“Hi, I’m Deanna and I’m multi passionate.” It feels like the kind of thing one admits in a church basement surrounded by supportive but similarly afflicted friends. Over the years my many interests have led people to call me flaky, unfocused and indecisive. I’ve been accused of lacking drive, commitment and ambition. In college a friend suggested I get tested for ADD. Once a friend even lamented that I would be happier with my work if I were less intelligent.

I’m just now starting to accept the idea that I’m not flighty and shiftless. I don’t need to settle down and focus. I’m learning to embrace my multi passionate self. Many years ago, Barbara Sher coined the term scanner to describe people who were interested in a dozen things at once. I think my parents bought her book for me because I couldn’t choose a college major. Since then, renaissance man has gone in and out of fashion to describe the same phenomenon. Some of us are just wired to need variety. Having the option to switch between multiple projects keeps things interesting. Continue reading

Teaching Generosity: A Tribute to my Grandparents

When I started this series on how we spend our “cognitive surplus” I knew I wanted to include a family oriented story. I did not, however, expect to write that post myself. That changed a week ago Friday when, while on vacation, I learned my grandfather had died.

I didn’t realize it when I was young, but I hit the grandparent lottery. Every holiday, every birthday, every graduation, every life event, big and small, included Grandma and Grandpa. They visited us at school. They took us on vacation, they invited each of us to stay with them for a week each summer by ourselves (so we could be the sole beneficiary of their affection for a while). As we got older, they loaned* each of us the money we needed to buy our first (and sometimes second) cars. Their house was always open, and several of us grandchildren took full advantage of their hospitality by living with them (or at least coming over to do laundry) as we transitioned between living with our parents and living on our own.

What is even more amazing is their generosity was not reserved for “family” in the traditional sense. Grandma and Grandpa never met a child they didn’t welcome into their home and hearts with open arms. They were always happy to extend their hospitality to friends-of-friends be it for a meal, a trip to the airport, or even a stay at the “Harney Street Bed and Breakfast” as some people took to calling their house after an especially active month of house guests. After they retired, they filled up some of their free time volunteering in a local elementary school listening to second graders practice reading, and serving at a local homeless shelter providing a smile and a warm meal to some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

Even with all of these amazing gifts, I realized as I was writing this post that the most precious gift they’ve given me is not on this list. Through a lifetime of decisions big and small my Grandparents taught me the joys of giving. They taught me, not through words, but through example, to give as much as I could joyfully give, without worrying about what I would get in return. They taught me there is plenty of love to go around, and the rest will work itself out later.

Thanks Grandpa and Grandma for setting such a great example. I hope to be half as inspirational to the people in my life as you’ve been to me.

Your Turn

Is there someone amazing in your life who deserves a tribute?  Tell us about them in the comments.

*and by loaned I mean they said they were loaning us the money but didn’t want us to pay them back until we could afford it. I’m fairly confident none of those loans were ever actually paid in full.