Wednesday, April 22, 2015

April 22, 2014, was one of the best nights of my life.

One year ago today was one of the best nights of my life.  I knew the anniversary was coming, but didn't really remember the day, but this morning my trusty Timehop app reminded me with photos and more -- what day was it?

Our CPS Picnic!

Last year, Community Partners of Dallas -- with HUGE thanks to our CPS Picnic sponsors -- hosted a picnic for all Dallas County CPS employees to attend and to bring their families.  We have a Caseworker Appreciation Program at CPD, so this event was part of that program, but because we celebrated our 25th Anniversary last year, we made this event the biggest and best ever.

Normally, our Caseworker Appreciation large events happen 4 times a year and only staff attend -- not their family members.  A normal year is 3 events (such as lunch or ice cream), plus a holiday gift for all.

Now, believe me, the CPS staff truly appreciate a normal year and we get lots of smiles and thank you notes after handing out cupcakes or a coffee mug tied with a holiday ribbon.  You see, CPS caseworkers are on the front lines EVERY DAY doing God's work -- saving innocent victims of abuse and neglect -- and they receive very little in the way of thanks.  In fact, if you are good at your job, you typically just get more cases assigned to you.

But last year we wanted to really step up the thanks and a picnic at the Dallas Arboretum seemed the perfect way to do it.  Lots of work went into the event and it was a perfect night during Dallas Blooms with hundreds of volunteers all wearing big white T-Shirts with the words "Thank You!!!" emblazoned across the front in red.

NOTE:  The inspiration for the T-Shirt was WHAM's early video -- if you want to get even happier today, click here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIgZ7gMze7A

Anyway, the night was fantastic and we all had a blast, but the thing that made it one of the best nights of my life was that the hard-working Dallas County caseworkers of CPS heard that they were heroes from the most important people in their lives:  their very own children.

Thanks to the great people at Tenet Health (and most especially to my friend Maria) each caseworker received an Olympic-style medal around their neck when they arrived.  We had volunteers lining the pathway to the amphitheater for dinner and live music and the volunteers were cheering as the caseworkers walked down the path.  Yelling Thank You and You're My Hero, etc.

Children -- even teenagers -- turned to their mom and said they were proud of them.

Isn't that what any parent wants to hear?  Thanks for walking down memory lane with me.

Hug a caseworker today if you can.

Tell your mom or dad they're your hero if you can.

I get to do both.  Today's a great day too.


P.S.  Love you, Jen!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Good Morning Is Coming

As you may already know, I love a good quote.

My current favorite source is my box from Oprah (detailed in this post: http://blog.paigemcdaniel.org/2015/04/four-favorite-things-i-love-right-now.html -- fav #3 to be exact) and since it is almost time to write my remarks for next week's Chick Lit Luncheon benefiting Community Partners of Dallas, I'm on the lookout for inspiration 24-7!

But, by far, my absolute favorite, the quote I always come back to, the king of all quotes, is this one by Ralph Waldo Emerson...

Ponder this:  Be grateful for each new day.  A new day that you have never lived before.  Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.  We can squander, neglect or use it.  Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.

Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities crept in; forget them as soon as you can.  Tomorrow is a new day.  You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

Ain't it the best?  Believe it, people.

Be happy.  Work well.  Have fun.  Forget your mistakes and stupid shit.  Start tomorrow filled with excitement for what your new day will bring.

Each day is a gift from God.  Live it well!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

5 Tips to Get to Go

I'm living with a lot of balls up in the air right now.

We have lots of new projects beginning (and continuing) at Community Partners of Dallas.  I'm travelling a lot and I'm in meetings, lunches, and dinners so much of the time that I'm finding it difficult to focus.  I pray each morning and evening and thank God for putting me in the right place each day to further His kingdom, but my brain just swirls with unanswered questions, to-do lists, planning, next steps...

So my question is this:

What do you do when you don't know what to do next?

I know what I'm going to do:
  1. Give it to God.
  2. Clean off my desk.
  3. Hit the books and research, research, research.
  4. Seek out advice from experts -- yes, friends, I mean YOU.
  5. Lead my FANTASTIC team at CPD to even greater heights.
I better get on it.  It's go time.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Four Favorite Things I Love Right Now! Part 21

Time for another Four Faves, people!

If you missed the most recent one, click here http://blog.paigemcdaniel.org/2015_01_01_archive.html

It's hard for me to believe that the last Four Faves post was in January.  Frankly, it is not because I don't have any fav things, I think that the reason is more me trying to appear smarter than I really am.  I think that if you read this blog each week that you know that I write about all kinds of things -- serious things like child abuse and opinion things like advice for job seekers, etc.

I also really like to write about my favorite things, but it seems so, well, commercial.

NOTE:  Please know that I do not receive any remuneration from anything I talk about in my posts, except of course, I am paid to work at Community Partners of Dallas.  I'm so glad that the board thinks I'm worth a salary.  My personal creditors are glad too.

Now, on to the Faves!
  1. I don't usually start with a TV show -- remember the smart persona I'm attempting to portray -- but damn if I don't still love Bravo's Southern Charm.  Cameran and Shep (pictured on the left) are my favorite cast members, but I'd sit in a hot car with any of them -- I really don't like to sit in hot cars.  
  2. This stuff is great -- O'Keeffe's Working Hands cream.  Seems like my hands and cuticles just keep getting drier, so I ordered this from Amazon and I love it.  No fragrance -- Joe likes that -- and it isn't too greasy.
  3. My latest fav thing is something from the queen of fav things -- Oprah.  I ordered this for my sister-in-law Lucy and for myself at Christmas.  It is a wooden box filled with 365 thoughtful quotes.  It was $85:  365 Gathered Truths Box from Cottage Coastal.  I try to post some each week on my Instagram and FaceBook.  This was today's.
  4. I have a new fav cocktail -- a little vodka with Whole Foods Italian Soda in Pomegranate flavor -- delish!

What are your Four Faves?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How Much is a Good Mother Worth?

I cried yesterday while reading The Dallas Morning News.

I was reading an editorial called "Simple Acts, Senseless Deaths" about two recent random acts of violence in Dallas.  The first one killed a new immigrant from Baghdad when he and his wife rushed out to take photos of our recent snowfall.  Mr. al-Jumaili had "survived bombs and the terror of wars, only to be killed a few feet from his apartment" in northeast Dallas.

Tragic, senseless horror.

But the second random act of violence was the one that made me cry.

Irma Martinez was doing what so many good mothers do - she was sitting in her car, waiting to pick up her teenage son from a friend's house, when she was killed for her cellphone.  Ms. Martinez had "cleaned houses for 18 years but found time to be there for her son, who was involved in Dallas Police Explorer, a Boy Scout program for teens and young adults interested in police work".

Tragic, senseless horror.

Ms. Martinez's story just kills me because there are so many kids who don't have a mom like Irma Martinez.  Her life is over because some idiot wanted a phone.  This got me thinking...

How much is a good mother worth?

I'm not talking about the salary Ms. Martinez made cleaning houses -- that was probably not much money compared to the salary that you or I make -- but certainly the time she spent cleaning her employer's house(s) probably allowed her employers to be better employees and parents.

But if we could estimate the value of the time and energy she spent into taking care of her son -- pushing him to succeed in school, making sure he enjoyed relationships with peers, ensuring his safety by picking him up after school, etc. -- we could put a very high value on making a good boy into a good man.

At Community Partners of Dallas we see lots of bad parents, so when Dallas loses a good one, it's a true tragedy.  Ms. Martinez's life was worth more and she deserved so much better.

Every child deserves an Irma Martinez.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What happened on March 11, 2002?

Today is March 11, 2015

Thirteen years ago today...

  • George W. Bush was President of the United States.
  • Rick Perry was the Governor of Texas.
  • Laura Miller was the Mayor of Dallas.

The most popular TV shows were

  • Friends
  • CSI
  • E.R.
  • Everybody Loves Raymond

The most popular films were

  • The Lord of the Rings:  Fellowship of the Rings
  • Black Hawk Down
  • Collateral Damage
  • The Time Machine

The Billboard charts for the month included

  • "Wherever You Will Go" by The Calling
  • "Hey Baby" by No Doubt
  • "Ain't It Funny" by Jennifer Lopez featuring Ja Rule
  • "Can't Get You Out of My Head" by Kylie Minogue

You may be wondering why I care what happened on March 11, 2002, but it was a big day for me -- it was my first day at Community Partners of Dallas!

I was lucky then and am still lucky now.  I love my job!


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Pakpow Observations

Sorry, but I missed writing the blog last week.  The icy weather kept me inside for 3 days and we are expecting more tonight.

NOTE:  ONCOR, I'M WATCHING YOU.  YOU BETTER KEEP IT ON.


Now, back to regularly scheduled programming...

I had lunch plans with my long-time friend Carol on Monday and we were supposed to meet at Pakpow Thai at 11:50 am.

NOTE:  Yes, this is an odd time to meet, but I'm sneaky like that at a place that takes no reservations and I want to beat the lunch crowd.

Anyway, due to a little confusion in the text-message-only lunch planning, Carol was about 45 minutes late, so I ended up sitting at the table for quite awhile by myself.  And since I didn't think I had my phone with me (I actually did but didn't know it until after Carol arrived), I just sat there and observed the other people in the restaurant.

Observations:

  1. Most people who are sitting alone (waiting for someone else to join them) stay on their cell phones the entire waiting period.  I bet FaceBook gets a big rise in users from 11:50 to 12:45 each day.
  2. Of the 28 people seated (it is a small place and it was almost totally full), I was the third oldest.  This is an estimate and there were a couple of dudes who looked older than me, but I really think they weren't at all -- just balding.
  3. While the tables are super close to one another and conversations were happening on either side of me, I couldn't keep up with either one of them.  Not sure if this is because the music is loud or if I'm losing my hearing (see observation #2).  Obviously, eavesdropping on a conversation or two would have made my waiting super enjoyable, so damn you, Pakpow and your apparently great space planner.
  4. Most of the tables seemed to be occupied with people having business meetings or friends.  I don't think anyone was on a date or with family, except perhaps the only couple older than me. 
  5. Each table of people seemed to be dressed somewhat alike.
Once Carol arrived (and ate the rest of my meal that I had finally ordered since I assumed she wasn't coming), I told her about my observations.

NOTE:  Observation #2 changed the moment Carol walked in.  I went to fourth oldest.  Love my OLD friends!

The observation that really interested me was that people who were together were dressed alike.  I watched people come in and sit alone (and get on their cells, natch) and then their friend or business appointment would enter and I could tell almost immediately who the person arriving was coming to meet.  The guy in the Patagonia puffy vest was waiting for the guy in the puffy jacket (both navy, I might add).  The girl with long blonde hair, leggings, and boots was meeting the table of girls with pony-tails and draped scarves.  Even I had dressed to meet Carol in a slightly more boho outfit than I normally wear since Carol and I were theatre majors together and she is a creative type -- I just hadn't realized it until I saw it happen in front of me.

Of course, this all brings me to think once again about how important what we do here at Community Partners of Dallas is.  The kids we are helping may have never had a new dress or a new pair of shoes.  They go into the world each day feeling worthless (because their parents tell them they are) and then when they arrive at their destination they are shown in living color that they don't fit in. They are wearing old, torn, ill-fitting clothes, while their peers are dressed for success.

We all want to fit in.  The clothes we provide for the abused and neglected kids of Dallas County CPS are truly making a difference.  And if a new outfit makes me feel better, just think what it can do for a kid who's never had one.

Thanks for helping us.

Please take a few minutes and observe your next restaurant patrons.  I'd love to know your thoughts.

On a related note, look what Joanna and I are wearing at work today.