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ON HIATUS ~ I’m Taking Some Time Well Spent on Self-Care (and Family Priorities)

Hiatus ~ A gap or interruption in space, time, or continuity; a break:

Since the vision for Time Well Spent first came to me in its entirety, I’ve given a great deal of myself to my concept for a wonderful new center for inspired and sustainable change (here’s a link to a 2page pdf of the concept: Time Well Spent Overview JAN 2011). At this time, personal and family obligations prevent me from working on Time Well Spent initiatives with any continuity. No worries! The concept is strong and solid ~ one that will ultimately fulfill unmet needs in a model that is sustainable and replicable (all keys to expediting positive change through socially-conscious business models, aka social enterprise).

I believe in my concept on every level, from a business perspective, and most importantly, as a catalyst for ~ and facilitator of ~ a better quality way of life for all stakeholders…for literally everyone it touches and our planet.  My business plan is 80% complete and it will keep, though impatiently, on the virtual shelf of my Word document files. Acknowledging the need for a hiatus now is difficult but necessary to the ultimate fulfillment of the vision. I guess it could be said that a hiatus is, practically speaking, Time Well Spent

Time Well Spent ~ Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk

Time Well Spent…the irony of the choice of this name for my social enterprise is not lost on me! In fact, I think it’s pretty much perfect! “Time Well Spent” is more than a name, it’s become a reminder, a warning, a lesson, a mantra…

Personally, I’m one who has thrown myself into everything I do, from running a disabilities awareness program to spearheading a grassroots community campaign for improved public safety (click here if you want to see my pre-TWS resume). The reality is that my biggest challenge is in finding balance. In fact, aside from the not-so-positive impact on my family (I won’t win any prizes for a clean house or a well-fed family, and don’t get me started on our debt from raising three kids on my hard-working husband’s single salary), the greatest consequence has been a personal health struggle as a direct result of my inability to care for myself, to find that balance, even while serving others, the community, those less fortunate.

While my story has been a decade-plus in the making, over the past year, I’ve come to a realization…a bit of an epiphany (at the risk of sounding dramatic)… Remember the story of the pebble, the rock and the brick… The truth is that it took the proverbial brick of health problems of my own and 4 hospitalizations of my parents to realize that I am NOT superwoman, I cannot do it all (yesterday). Time Well Spent will not be successful if I try to move forward with the concept now. Quite simply (actually it’s rather involved), I don’t have the physical strength right now because of a diagnosed adrenal fatigue complicated by a history of Lyme disease and all that impacts (the topic for a “whole ‘nother” blog!). As much as I want to help others, I need to take on a case closer to home ~ ME & my family!

Considering the value I put in being authentic and transparent, important to my social entrepreneurial spirit and my sense of being true to myself and others, I’m just not willing or able to sing the praises of my concept of a social purpose business called Time Well Spent while my own life and health suffer. That’s certainly not what it’s all about!

The reality is that I am a great example of those whom I wish to connect with via Time Well Spent. My mission, after all, is to (in short) help people help others and our planet in a way that is empowering and realistic. Rather than add to the burden or sense of guilt that many women (and men) feel about how much they wish they could help, how much they want to change their ways (consumer-wise and other-wise), how helpless they feel to actually making a difference….People like myself need a place to turn to for education, inspiration and empowerment while learning to understand how to practice self-care so they have more of themselves to give. So, starting with me, and hoping to share so that others may learn from my example and take heart in my story… I’m going to regroup, work on a personal health plan, tend to the needs of my family, in general, with a special advocacy role on behalf of my “older” and much beloved parents (don’t call them elderly, bless their 86 year old hearts!).

Patience V. Impatience

Patience IS a noble virtue. Still, as a social entrepreneur, I’m impatient to expedite positive change both socially and environmentally. I’m equally eager to mainstream the belief in, and support of, positive change that is propelled forward by the power and participation of a more conscious American consumer.  That being said, true success will depend on the successful creation of a lasting and growing Time Well Spent.  So, while moving forward sooner rather than later would appear to help those in need and support our environment, the truth is that the ultimate success of the concept, and the ability to help the most people and affect the most powerful change, will increase as a result of this relatively short hiatus I am taking, this “interruption in space, time and continuity.”  So, the fulfillment of my dream will ultimately rely on my patience to let the idea be as I tend to pressing matters at home, trusting in the universe, as those wiser than I point out, and believing that Time Well Spent will become a reality when the time is right, personally and in terms of the social landscape and the readiness for just the kind of information and support Time Well Spent will provide.

Lessons Learned ~ The Tip of the Iceberg

Already I’ve learned so much more than I could have ever imagined. My appetite for learning and my passion for social innovation and positive change have made the last few years a time of incredible intellectual and even spiritual personal growth for me… Slowing down is going to be a challenge! Using all kinds of restraint, here’s just a list of the things that I have learned about, love to talk about, and ultimately will blog about and share:

Social Enterprise

Social Justice

Social Innovation

Fair Trade

Sustainability

Green-Washing

Conscious Capitalism

Impact Investing

Up-cycling

Repurposing

Reuse

Collaborative Consumption

The List Goes ON…

In the end (or should I say the beginning of this journey), all that I’ve learned has convinced me that the need for a place like Time Well Spent is very real. The potential to expedite positive change ~ helping people improve the quality of their own lives, the lives of those less fortunate and the environment ~ is great indeed.

So, while I will continue to follow the leadership of those in social enterprise and conscious capitalism and triple-bottom-line business models, I will be taking a (relatively) short time to make sure that my personal life is in order, from my own health and wellbeing to the duties which I am entrusted as mother and daughter…

Until next time, Carpe Diem!

~ Nancy/Time Well Spent

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Fall DeClutter For Good Book Drive ~ A Mission Accomplished

The fall of 2010 was not without its surprises and curve balls. In addition to moving out of the pre-launch office (planned), my parents were both hospitalized in September (unplanned) back-to-back in fact. It was draining, emotionally and physically, as hospitalizations of loved ones most often are. It also served as a very concrete reminder that, for now, my time is most appropriately spent in the care of my family.

As much as I would love to run monthly DeClutter For Good drives, as I did in the spring of 2010 or throughout much of 2009, I made the difficult (yet at the same time obvious) decision to cut back on the drives. Falling back on an old favorite, the fall drive was a book drive, with a favorite main recipient organization, I’m happy to say.

DeClutter Your Books For Good delivery

Dropping off books at More Than Words, I am always struck by the truth in this social enterprise's name. These teens who have faced hardship in their still-young lives are given a second chance ~ learning how to manage their lives by learning how to manage a business. Their bookstore/coffee shop is a haven of hope for them. They have always shown me great respect & appreciation. I'm so pleased I finally got a pic!

Nearly everyone has TOO MANY books! What’s more, we kind of hate to part with them ~ even those books, the vast majority I would hazard a guess, that we never read a second time. “DeCluttering For Good” and contributing to a collective effort to help a worthy organization, people in need, is just that extra incentive we need to get some of our extra books out from under. Keeping books out of the waste stream when we purge through our books, well, that’s a no-brainer!

Through the contributions of many people, most notably a generous donation from the Hamilton-Wenham library after their used book sale, donations at Ipswich High School’s Fall Curriculum Night and Ipswich Recycling Committee’s fall recycle day, I was able to donate 1,000+ books to More Than Words, one of my favorite non-profit/social enterprise hybrids anywhere! Click here to read a post I wrote in the fall of 2008 after my first visit to MTW. I’ve done many drives for them and never tire of delivering the books to their bookstore/coffee shop in Waltham, MA. More Than Words employs at-risk teens, giving them the business skills and life skills to turn their young lives in a positive direction, while changing community attitudes about these young people who have been through tough times. Books are simply the “thing” they sell, the vehicle for their life-altering efforts. Our disadvantaged youth deserve a second chance, if anyone does, and MTW gives it to them.

In addition to More Than Words, I donated a boxful of parenting books to Lynn Community Health Center for them to share with the young parents to whom they provide services. Certainly, young parents find themselves in a situation where they need to suddenly learn a great deal about raising children, something challenging at any age. I still need to send a thank-you to the kind person who made the delivery for me from the local Beverly NorthShore Cafe (a yahoo group born out of that town’s freecycle group).

Finally,as the fall was drawing to a close, I delivered the last of the books from the fall DeClutter For Good drive. I had set aside 4 or 5 boxes of young children’s books, early readers, beginner chapter books and children’s non-fiction. Just in time for Christmas, I made the short drive to Ipswich Cornerstones, an alternative school for very young children who, in many instances, live at the school because home is not a safe place to be. That I am able to deliver an occasional box of books (or in the past bedding, games, sports equipment) is bittersweet. It’s such a small act really, but makes a difference in their already challenging young lives. Shining a light on the problems that lead to their being at a place like Cornerstones is a long-range dream. For now, the books will have to suffice, and the knowledge that I’m helping to make people aware of the needs that exist and the simple ways we can help if we collectively DeClutter For Good and donate to organizations helping those in need.

To all of those who donated books, thank you. Each of these organizations welcomes donations. Visit their websites or feel free to get in touch with me via a comment reply. In particular, More Than Words is a wonderful recipient organization for book drives on Boston’s North Shore and the Greater Boston area.

Time Well Spent will be at Scala Arts Center’s Art & Wellness Evening

I was thrilled to be invited by artist Lisa Scala to join her and some amazing friends this Thursday, from 6 to 9 pm at her Scala Art Center in Georgetown for an Art & Wellness Evening.  It’s another chance to meet wonderful, like-minded people and a chance for friends to give me their book donations for this month’s DeClutter For Good drive to benefit More than Words. It really sounds like a wonderful night, taking time for you and benefitting those in need in the process. In addition to the book drive, there will be a raffle with fundraising for victim’s of domestic violence.

Here are all the details:

 

Scala Art Center

28 West Main St. Georgetown MA 01833

Thursday September 16th 6:00 –9:00

We would like to invite you to our first Art & Wellness Evening.We are hosting this event to bring a variety of amazing artists and wellness professionals together for one special night of the art of healing.

Massage Therapist, Shiatsu Therapist, Shaman, Aesthetician, Holistic Healing Reiki, Green Products, Mary Kay Jewelers, Potter, Fiber Artists, Puppet Maker, Painters, Film Maker and so much more.

We have invited the local author Harriet B. Varney Miller the writer of “Birth of the Phoenix” to join us for a book signing of her riveting novel.

We will also be collecting donations for a National Coalition Against Domestic Violence cause in honor of her book.

Prosperity & Wellness Book Mark a Complimentary Gift for the first 20 guests. A simple thank you for your support.

Art & Wellness Basket Raffle to help Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Great ladies night out so bring your friends.

We will be serving healthy refreshments.

Thanks for donations and support of the DeClutter For Good yard & garden tool drive ~ Encouraging Sustainability & Healthy Choices

With thanks to Marini Farm, Wolf Hill Garden Center  & Tedford & Martin’s Hardware for their willingness to place a collection box and to service learning teens Drew Wood and Mitchell Klimowicz, this drive was a bit tougher to execute but still resulted in a trunk filled with garden tools (with plenty of useful life left in ’em) delivered to Wellspring House in Gloucester, A special word of thanks to Sallie Felton for her generous donations of used garden tools. Living right here on Boston’s North Shore, Sallie is a life coach and declutter expert and author who walks the walk as she talks the talk. Her approach to life change is profound in its simplicity, “Start Where You Stand.”

Wellspring House is an amazing organizations that works tirelessly to help people work their way out of difficult circumstances.  A visit to their website ~  where there URL heading reads “Helping Families Move Out of Poverty to Achieve More Secure & Fulfilling Lives” ~  is at once humbling and inspiring ~ certainly “time well spent” and highly recommended. Farmer Mitchell was thrilled with the donations as was Executive Director Kay O’Rourke, pictured with me in the photo below.  The backyard farm Mitchell tends provides food for the entire staff and then some, with all of their extra crops going to another homeless shelter in Gloucester. 

A winter DeClutter For Good drive I ran resulted in hundreds of pieces of business clothing and accessories donated to Wellspring House, so I’ll toss in thanks to all who contributed to that including Regina Reis’ Dinner with the Girls group and a heads up that I hope to do another DeClutter For Good business attire drive in the fall.

DeClutter For Good Thanks ~ Sports Equipment Drive

Thanks to service learning teens Will Galanis, Mark Gallant and Brendan Coleman, the DeClutter For Good donation drive was a great success and focused on used equipment including uniforms and cleats, balls and equipment of all kinds.

DeClutter Your Sports Equipment For Good

Unexpectedly creative photographer made for a fun keepsake, this after the boys handled the interview with me piping in only infrequently ~ no, really!

Locally, a dozen soccer balls and a dozen basketballs were given to Cornerstones Ipswich ~ a day and residential school for local children in need.  Time Well Spent has passed along donations of books, toys, bedding and the like to Cornerstones over the last 2 years and I always think of this special local organization when conducting our drives.

Thanks also go to Agawam Diner’s John Galanis (aka Smiley). The diner is another friend to the community, supporting causes quietly as the needs arise. John had his “dad hat” on and helped the boys deliver his pick-up truck full of sports equipment to Playing It Forward, a non-profit that has a system in place for getting sports equipment to those in need both locally and globally.  PIF’s founder David Cohen shared his thanks in an email. Here’s a quote:

“I wanted to let you know that I just met the guys and the equipment has been delivered. What a job they did! They probably do not grasp it now but what their efforts will definitely have an impact on kids less fortunate. I am glad I held up a shipment to Aruba because some of the soccer items will be added to the boxes. Thank you for all that you are doing!”

As far as making it happen, thanks also go to Tri-City Sales for sharing some huge boxes, so needed to work out the logistics of the drive. Thanks also to the Ipswich Schools for allowing drop-off boxes to be placed in their foyers, making the donation process easy and giving the younger kids a way to participate in DeCluttering For Good. Notices home made a big difference, with those schools who sent a notice home coming up with the most donations. Phys Ed teacher Ms. McNichols gets a high five for donating some old, but still useful, equipment.

To read more about the drive, click here to read Mark’s summary of his service learning experience.

Reflections of a Service Learning Teen’s Efforts to Help get Beanie Babies to Kids in Need via Our Troops & Operation Troop Support

I always open the summary descriptions written by my service learning teens with a bit of trepidation. Did they get the point? Did they experience what it truly means to help people help those in need? To put it simply, did they feel their time was well spent? After reading Robbie Brengle’s reflection and the email he sent to me with the document and some pics, I think the questions can all be answered with a resounding, “Yes!”

So, mentoring a young person, helping people get their Beanie Babies out from under while avoiding the trash, helping Operation Troop Support show our support to our military and, in turn helping to ease the sadness and stress of a child in a war torn country, and in general setting an example of empowered collective decluttering… That’s at least 7 ways this DeClutter For Good can be considered Time Well Spent!

To be sure, the drive “ended” decidedly late in terms of the calendar. Still, I feel that Robbie and Jeffrey’s experience with the DeClutter For Good beanie baby drive was a positive one.  In addition to helping double the number of beanie babies that would have been collected by the more typical DeClutter For Good drive that involves one drop-off weekend in a given month, I believe the two teens, now rising seniors, learned quite a bit about not only the physical logistics of materials-based collections, but also about the people side of the equation.

DeClutter Beanie Babies for Good Drive on the Front Page

After writing a letter to the editor, the teens scored the front page of the local weekly~above the fold, might I add!

The teens went to New England Biolabs to pick up a large donation of  the little stuffed creatures and saw how traditional businesses can embrace the concept of corporate social responsibility by doing their share to support the community and the environment.

And, lastly, they learned that it isn’t over until it’s over, that it doesn’t matter whether the papers have been turned in, the front page photo taped proudly to the fridge, the accolades have been made and received, the job isn’t done until the donated items have been delivered to the service organization that will get them into the hands of those in need.  I’m so pleased to report that today was that day and there’s a whole bunch of photos of Robbie delivering the Beanie Babies to Operation Troop Support in Danvers, MA, to prove it!

robbie beanie babies

Go to Operation Troop Support’s Facebook page (here’s a link to the Beanie Baby Collection album)  to see more pics (and, while you are there, “like” their page and follow their good work to support our troops!).

Of course, as Robbie indicates in his summary, I could go on and on, just did and often do!  Today, I’ll practice the tiniest bit of self control and refrain from sharing  any more of my thoughts on the subject and, instead, I’ll let Robbie’s perspective speak for itself:

To fulfill the twenty five hours of community service required of Juniors at Ipswich High School, I tutored a 5th grade student in math and organized a Beanie Baby drive with a friend, with the purpose of collecting people’s unwanted Beanie Babies, and shipping them to American soldiers stationed overseas to give to children as gifts and tokens of peace. Both projects left me feeling a sense of accomplishment, and I actually had some fun during the process. I also enjoyed doing two completely different projects because it gave me a chance to test my abilities in different fields and it was refreshing to mix up what I was involved with during the past six months. While it was stressful and difficult at times, my experience in doing community service was a positive one.

After about a month, I realized that tutoring alone was not going to get me to twenty five hours of community service, so I started looking for another project to do before the proposal deadline in January. Luckily, I heard through the grapevine that Nancy Gallant had something available, so Jeff Carpenter and I went in to her office on Route 1 to meet with her and some other kids about potential community service projects to do. Nancy Gallant is incredibly passionate about what she does, which shouldn’t come as surprise because she spends a lot of her time helping others for literally no money. If you were to ask Nancy about what she does at Time Well Spent, the organization that she created and runs her donation drives out of, she could probably go on for an hour about each of the projects she has organized in the past couple of months.

Nancy was the one who gave Jeff and I the idea of a Beanie Baby Drive, because she did some research and found out that other organizations have been collecting Beanie Babies and shipping them overseas to American troops, who can put the small stuffed toys in their pockets and on their gear to give to the children they come across as tokens of peace. We both agreed that that seemed like a pretty cool project to do, but like most teenagers, we procrastinated and kept putting it off until the last moment possible. Nancy displayed the patience of a saint throughout the entire process, because she sent us email after email, trying to get us to start our project.

Finally, in April, we got the ball rolling by writing a letter to the editor of the Ipswich Chronicle, detailing our plans to start a Beanie Baby drive in the coming weeks. On the first of May, we made a flyer and found a donation box to put in the high school entrance on Friday the 7th. This past week we went around to friends’ houses collecting their heaps of Beanie Babies, and received a big donation of stuffed animals from New England Biolabs today. The final phase of the drive was to consolidate all of the Beanie Babies we had collected over the past week, and drive them down to an organization called Troop Support in Danvers, which ships goods to soldiers overseas free of charge.

My goals while working with Nancy Gallant and Time Well Spent were to improve the lives of others and to teach others about the rewards of serving the community. While I didn’t get to see it first hand, I hope that I improved the lives of some children living in war-torn countries by providing them with a token of comfort and peace in the form of a tiny stuffed animal. I never actually spoke to anyone about the rewards of community service, but hopefully through my actions and my demeanor while I was volunteering, people understood that helping others is worth their while.

I have to chuckle at Robbie’s description of my having the patience of a saint, knowing how often I’ve joked about having the pleasure, “and at times the pain,” of working with community service teens! The truth is that I want the experience to be an enjoyable one, it’s part of what community service should be about ~ participating in a way that is positive, that feeds the soul and lightens the spirit, little problems and glitches along the way and all.

To learn more about DeClutter For Good drive concept, click here.

The true meaning of Time Well Spent…

To those who check in regularly, are aware of my efforts with Time Well Spent, or have simply stumbled upon my weblog…

I’ve had to change gears and am spending time right now helping my mother (and father) through some health issues. They are 85 years young and filled with as much humor and love as ever, though they are just realizing they are “getting old” in terms of their physical bodies! For the time being, time spent with them, advocating for them and seeing to their needs emotionally and physically ~ sharing plenty of laughs and treasured memories with them along the way to be sure ~ is going to be my priority and most certainly the true-est way for me to know my time is well spent.

2005 pic of my folks with me after my "first" dance recital ~ ceili dancing with the moms at my daughter's Irish dance school's 10th anniversary recital! They are so supportive of me, even when they don't quite understand me ~ unconditional love of a parent ~ gotta love it!

 Plenty to learn about here in the meantime. Follow me on twitter and facebook (links are connected to my TWS logo and my photo) and/or sign up for my newsletter, knowing that things may be a little quiet on my efforts to launch my service-driven business for a while. I’ll be back with renewed conviction to my concept to help people in the suburbs live a quality life each day, for themselves, their families, those in need and the environment.

Until Next Time,  Peace & Good Health to you and all those you hold dear…

Carpe Diem,

Nancy

P.S. JULY UPDATE  on my Mother’s Condition ~ Walking the Time Well Spent Walk with Work/Life Balance a Part of the Puzzle…

We did get a treatable diagnosis for my mother  and I think it is important to share in case it helps expedite just one person’s diagnosis who is suffering from PMR Disease. My mother received her diagnosis after a painful and painfully long week + (not too long in the grand scheme of thing but, gosh, it felt like forever).

So, now, with her permission, I’m telling everyone just a little about her experience PMR Disease ~ Poly Myalgia Rheumatica Disease … Just like it sounds! Many painful inflammatory autoimmune ~  I suggest “googling it” to anyone who knows of an older person with a sudden onset of pain or a supposed “worsening” of existing arthritis (a common misdiagnosis)… When you search for the description, there should be a pic of my mom (jk ~ she fit the symptoms to a T).

Happy news is it is treatable w/LOW dose steroids and my mother is feeling great and with renewed conviction to staying that way! She’s back to her water aerobics, improving her diet to healthier choices and has added some weight training… And, lest we forget, she is 85! Without disrespecting her privacy, I would just like to acknowledge the grace and good humor she carried throughout the ordeal, trying to brighten the day of doctors and nurses “because they see so much suffering.” She was more concerned about my seeing her in pain than the pain (which was excrutiating) itself. In a word, she was and is amazing

My mother jokes that she’s recovered more quickly than I have from the ordeal! True that! In all honesty, it’s given me the pause needed to be sure that I finish regrouping personally and professionally, increasing my likehood of ultimately achieving my vision for Time Well Spent. As impatient as I can be to make it a reality (I mean, I’ve had the idea since January 2008), taking the time, as I have been (note that 2008 was not exactly yesterday), to really work out the logistics while walking the walk and talking the talk, it’s going to be so worth it in the end… All the groundwork, preparation, hours of networking, brainstorming, sharing, regrouping, learning, teaching, helping… It all is, and will be ~ you guessed it ~ Time Well Spent.

A quote Mom always gives credit to my Aunt Rita for, “Patience is a virtue, catch it if you can, seldom in a woman, never in a man!”  Have to chuckle at the blatant sexism of the early 1900s!

Continued thanks for the support ~ and patience ~ on the part of all those who support my vision for Time Well Spent.

Wishing You a Happy and Safe Summer 2010!

Nancy

p.s. I’m still updating the Time Well Spent facebook page with posts about social enterprise and all things “doing good through best business practices that consider the impact on all stakeholders.”  Check it out and say hello!