Oh the humanity!

Someone on my team told me yesterday about how “Cards Against Humanity (CAH),” the brilliant card game gone wild, released a Black Friday stunt of sorts to “experience nothing for $5.” The company made $71,145 in sales on Black Friday. That is an average of 14,229 people who decided to give up $5 for nothing — if all donations were at $5. Their site indicates that some individuals gave more. This link shares a list of what CAH did with the cash. My favorites:

  • Alex: 760 pounds of cat litter: $500 — how many years will it take to use that?
  • Amy: 1.5% of my student loan debt: $2381 — the comment to that list item says “$100,000 for a BA, $60,000 for a MFA and now I design dick jokes for a living.”
  • Jon: Dinner for 2 at Alinea in Chicago: $840 — Jon I am with you. I know all about the talents of chef Grant Achatz and that is definitely an experience I would have on my list.
  • Kevin: Not sure what you need 11 boxes of Tylenol PM for, can we talk? ($60)
  • Nick: Taking CAH team to mini golf, batting cages, and ice cream ($500) — I am a kid at heart and I love that you are thinking about your team.

I loved seeing (whether by request or design) that most of the lists had one or more listings for charities of their choice, and most lists were balanced.  My curiosity is, for those that donated was their $5+ tax-deductible? Was it worth it? What was the reasoning for giving $5 for absolutely nothing? Would you do it?

Whether or not the $71,145 should have gone entirely to charity, it was great marketing. If you had not heard of Cards Against Humanity before their stunt you may know about them now. Whether you can appreciate the game for its crassness or vulgarity, everyone has to play at least once in life. I mean we have to make sure Amy truly uses her education to its fullest.

Consent: No means no

We get to decide who touches us. We get to decide how we allow others to treat us. We get to decide how we allow others to make us feel. Yet, how we are socialized to respond and react to each of these is remarkably different. Not a single person has the same experience in how we were taught to handle our reaction, or how we handle “consent.”

“Consent: giving permission for something to happen.”

Have you ever thought about how even the littlest of babies have the right to decide (give consent) to whether a stranger touches them? As a parent, are strangers allowed to touch a small baby or do we protect them until they are capable of communicating their consent? What we teach children at an early age matters, because it is the beginning of their education on consent.

Consent in some ways is similar to telling kids there is a Santa, and they believe you, then one day you tell them there is no such thing as Santa. Have we not then taught them a lie? Should they trust us after finding out we have told a fib all those years?

The below video “4 Ways Parents Teach Kids that Consent Doesn’t Matter” really opened my eyes about the topic of consent and shares the following four points:

1. Tickling and Roughhouse Play

2. Contradicting their Feelings

3. Forced Affection

4. Respect your elders


We teach politeness over feeling comfortable. We make kids hug their elders, or individuals they may not feel comfortable around. We tell them that they cannot think or feel how they feel or think. We do not stop tickling them when they ask us to stop. All of these ideas mentioned in the video are ways we continually teach children not to think for themselves and rather do what they are told. Of course, I am not proposing that kids be rude, but we often force them to do things they do not want to do. We need to listen for when they are not comfortable instead of only when they are just grumpy or do not want to participate or interact with others. There is a balance between being a bratty or disrespectful kid and allowing them to make choices that are most comfortable to them.

Eye opening ideas for me. Teach them that their “no” matters. Teach them to trust their instincts. Teach them to have a voice and to know when to give consent.


“Footprints for good.”

When I first started reading this book I thought oh this is going to be a boring one. You know the story about the rich kid, successful in the business world who finds himself helping people in need in a third world country. I do not mean to sound negative, but there are quite a few of those stories turned into books. However, this one is different. If you want to rethink your life, even in the tiniest of ways in order to help others, be sure to pick up “The Promise of a Pencil: How an Ordinary Person Can Create Extraordinary Change” by Adam Braun. After you realize it is more than the rich kid meets third world and you let yourself get pulled into his story you will realize that this is a meaningful book.

Braun’s non-profit idea started from a conversation with a child where he asked: “What do you most want?” The child’s response was: “A pencil.” He wanted a pencil so he could go to school and learn. It was a reminder of how privileged we are each and every day. Most of these children whether in Africa, Asia, or Latin America do not have a school let alone a classroom to go to each day. Throughout Braun’s book he shares what he learned along the way of building his organization and juxtapositions his experience with little things anyone could do in their daily life to make change. Listen more. Strive for exceptional things. When you are tested, continue to move forward. Connect with others. Believe. Rejuvenate in order to be completely present with others. The list goes on. “Pencils of Promise” has built over 150 schools and the entire idea was started with $25. This is the one of the final quotes of his book, I thought it was a great ending:

“Start by changing the subjects of your daily conversation form the life you are living to the life you aspire to create. By speaking the language of the person you seek to become, you will soon find yourself immersed in the conversations that make you most come alive. You’ll sense the energy you emit attracting similar energy from others. Your conversations will lead to opportunities, which will become actions, which will become footprints for good.” Page 250

This book made me think about what I am doing in my life right now. How am I helping? How am I listening to those around me? How am I connecting? Regardless of whether I have started a non-profit, or building schools in other countries, how have I become alive? Am I living my true energy? How will being true to myself lead me to the next phase in my life? So many questions and so many opportunities.

Read this book. It may just inspire you.

Voracious desire to learn…

What I remember most about my mom was that she loved children and that she was a teacher. From before I even went to school, there were kids and babies underfoot in our house. When I was really little until about second grade, my mom ran a day care in our house. I had a love/hate relationship with her job. I loved the constant and instant access to playdates and friends. I can still remember the names of the children and some of our many adventures on our back porch, quasi above ground pool, outside riding bikes, etc. Even the time when one of the boys proposed to me and gave me a ring, (yes I guess courting starts young doesn’t it?) What I hated – was that I had to share my toys, my bedroom (babies sleeping), and my mom when I came home from school at the end of the day.

A few years later she moved to her main love, teaching elementary school. Again, I had a love/hate relationship. When I was in second grade, she was the secondary teacher in the “other” second grade classroom. For anyone who knows what it was like to have your mom teach in your school, or be highly involved in your school, there were times when you loved that they were nearby, and other times when you were going through growing pains, teased, or gaining your own independence, that you wished you were dropped off at school only to see them at the end of the day.

Either way, we do not get to pick what our parents do for a living or how they are present (or not) in our life. We do eventually have the opportunity to look in hindsight and see what we learn, or how these experiences evolve us into the people we are today. I am grateful to have had those years with my mom, watching her extreme patience (I wish I was granted with such patience). She valued education and learning and even now thinking about it, she got her masters in teaching in her forties, not an easy feat with three growing kids and a job. Maybe that is why I have such a voracious desire to constantly learn new things.

I am not a teacher. I absolutely love children, but I do not think I would have the patience to spend my day in a classroom and then come home sane to my family. I admire, commend, and appreciate each and every individual that teaches in a classroom. You shape the world for so many little (and not so little) beings each and every day. Thank you, mom, for teaching me to solve problems, crave ideas, and to continuously try new things. Miss you.

An apple for the teacher?

I read this quote yesterday, only now I cannot remember where I found it.

“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

-Henry Adams 

It inspired me. It made me think of my different teachers. Mrs. Murray for 4th and 5th grade. Mrs. MacDougal for Kindergarten, Dr. Pruis was second grade. I think I could list them all. Well at least my elementary school teachers. I guess there were also a few high school teachers that really had an impact. One in particular my senior year. I was going through a really hard time with some family issues and had a hard time focusing on school. My english teacher knew that things were not easy and instead of having me write a report on the book we were reading in class, she had me write about what I was going through. I would give anything to be able to read the report I turned in. I have always been grateful for her intuition to know that what I was going through was more important than writing about Shakespeare. Just one example of how I was affected by this teacher.

I had professors in college that changed the direction of my life. I remember my junior year of college very clearly. It was the year I remember finding my voice. I wrote a paper for a Sociology class. Somehow the topic was on “voice.” Which I know sounds a bit random, but in the way I was raised, we were not really encouraged to speak up and be direct. Through the research I did for my paper, I went through a process and realized how I kept so much inside. I was done with doing that and began speaking up and taking a stand for myself, and well…the rest is history.

Lastly, I think of all my different art teachers. They taught me to look beyond a blue sky and a house with a white picket fence. Somehow art became a coping mechanism for me growing up. I was never amazing at it, but I was not horrible either. Art made me feel like I could make it through tough times. It inspired me about the possibilities in life. I could lose myself while throwing a pot on the wheel, and if I was truly mentally centered, I could make a decent, balanced, aligned piece worth showing someone else. I was proud of my work. Art made me feel whole.

Thank you for all the teachers out there that affected my life and experience. Do you remember the teachers that changed your life?