Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Disney Was Right

Dianne volunteers at The Rose on the days we have artists come in and lead our clients and their friends/family through some activity designed to help them take their minds off the fact that we exist because breast cancer exists. She's a friend from my previous life in politics and I'm thrilled she's as committed to causes as I am.

On our last Pink Day at The Rose -- that's what we call them -- she was reacquainting herself with her past passion for needlework as she waited for someone in the waiting room to take us up on the offer to take up needle and thread. I guess it was all that embroidery surrounding me (subliminally suggestive of altar cloths) because I felt the need to confess.

"I still haven't had the chance to get a note out to your friends who might lead one of these days for us. I love the idea of healing drumming. . . . "

Without looking away from her work, "Then go do it now." Dianne is both artistic and pragmatic.

Recognizing that she, Terri, the needlework artist, and Jill, the other volunteer, had the situation in hand, I scooted off to type up the email and copied her on it.

When I got back to the conference room, I began to explain to Jill that in a couple of weeks that very space would be transformed into a pop up shop for Sweet Notions. While The Rose is my primary client, Sweet Notions is another nonprofit in which I invest my time. The two founders started it with very little money (and still have very little which is why my time is an investment and not a paying gig) and collections of jewelry from family and friends. They turned that into a social enterprise that benefits vulnerable women. The London version of it -- where one founder lives -- has proven to be very successful as far as life transformation is concerned and is making some strides at sustainability. The Houston manifestation is in a reinvention phase.

"We are trying to arrange with a local group who works with women coming out of human trafficking to provide jewelry-refurbishing as art therapy. When we get pieces in the collection phase that are outdated, we utilize artists' input and create templates for how to reclaim the piece in some way. We call that part Design Camps and they've done very well in London. But in Houston, we're lacking a partner. I've got a lead that the Y might be a connection but we haven't heard back from the contact there," I told Jill.

At that moment, Dianne's phone dinged, indicating she had an incoming text or email. I noticed she had a slight smile on her face as she picked up her smart phone. The smile turned into a bonafide grin as she read and then said, "You have now."

"I have now, what?"

"You've heard from your contact at the Y."

"What? How would you know that?"

"Because the healing drummer friend of mine, the one you just emailed, is the same woman who runs the program for human trafficking at the Y and she just replied to you!"

And, that my friends, begins the story of how Sweet Notions now has a partnering entity to assist women coming out of human trafficking. Houston maybe the fourth largest city in the U.S. but it's really just a small world after all.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Happiness is ...

An editor who I've lunched with once and who has seen me move from the political sector to the nonprofit world thanked me this week for a press release I'd sent.

For those of you who may not be in the wonderfully wacky world of media, that's not something that happens every day. So I thanked her back. She replied, "We appreciate your eye for a terrific story and your wonderful writing!"


Now, in the grand scheme of things, that compliment is not a big deal. I mean, really, one of my friends is well on her way to starring in and producing a television show and another just completed a writers training in Africa and has a blog that simultaneously inspires me to grab a keyboard and start typing and/or grab an apron and work at the Dairy Queen again because I couldn't possibly be a writer of his caliber.

So, I'm not exactly examining doors to ascertain if my head will fit through.

But I am pleased.

And on that delightful little high, I hear my dear friend and the longest-tenured one I have in Houston say today -- in an almost off-handed, of-course-you-are way -- that she's programmed her phone to play the theme for "Mission Impossible" when I call. When I check for why, she responds as though it's totally obvious, "You don't ask 'what can I do?', you ask 'what else can I do?'. You're always looking for what needs to be done and doing it."

I gave up wealth, position and power a long time ago. I'm glad to know that instead I now have a reputation.

I am a very happy woman.