Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Cards and Why I Hate Them

Do you send Christmas or Holiday cards?

I started sending them when I was a kid and even on into my twenties, but then I quit doing it for a very long time.

NOTE:  I still have an example of one I sent as a kid -- it's pink and has a Bijorn Wiinbladt-looking angel on it. Purchased at Neiman Marcus, natch.

NOTE to NOTE:  Remember when Neiman Marcus put their name on everything they sold?  Even designer clothing got an additional NM tag sewn (later stickered) inside.  I loved that.  Wish they still did it.

I'm not sure why I quit sending them in my twenties and thirties. Of course, it was more difficult to send a card then since it cost more to have them personalized and of course there was no such thing as excel labels.  Plus, I guess my friends quit sending them too.  Let me make it clear that I never stopped loving Jesus and continued to shed many tears over Its a Wonderful Life and Charlie Brown. I just quit sending cards at Christmas.

Anyway, probably 10 years ago I started sending them again.  I think that it was because I loved seeing the photos of people's families on them and (being a theatre major) I have never minded putting out "publicity" about myself -- so I liked the idea of having an excuse to send out a picture of myself that I got to choose and "sentimize" myself.

NOTE:  Not sure that sentimize is a word.  If not, I need to sell it to Tyra Banks.

ANOTHER NOTE:  By the way, Joe hates this publicity-seeking side of me, but cry me a river, babe. I think I'm hilarious and I am unanimous in that.

NOTE to ANOTHER NOTE:  Mrs. Slocum reference -- I got a million of them!

So you're probably thinking "Get to the point -- why do you hate them?" and I don't blame you.  I hate Christmas cards because I have a terrible time throwing them away.  I keep them for years.

Need to know what your card looked like 5 years ago?  Come over to my house.  I have them in scrapbooks, hole-punched and tied with a ring, in a silver bowl in the living room, just everywhere.

The photo above is this year's display and this is early on, people -- I'll have to get out the ladder in a week in order to display them around the den.  You did this to me.

Also, the cards and how they come to me kinda piss me off because it makes me realize what a shallow person I am, yet they also make me feel guilty.  Don't understand this?  If people use labels instead of hand-addressing them, I judge them.  If they actually write something to me inside the card and hand address them,  I know they are judging me.  Ugh.

Hey, not sure why I'm telling you this, but I'm having lots of fun at home this morning receiving Community Partners of Dallas' Toy Drive wishes, so I guess since I'm having so much fun "working", I felt the need to confess something to you all.  

Merry Christmas, friends -- and keep those cards coming!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Headlines are not how this should end.


There are lots of stories that I don't want to think about.

You might find that funny since I work for an agency that serves abused and neglected children, but it's true.  So many children living through nightmares -- right here in our own community.  You may be shocked, but there are confirmed reports of abuse and neglect in every residential zip code in Dallas County -- and more than 20,000 reports of abuse will be received annually in Dallas County alone.

But no matter how horrific the horror, the degradation, the injuries, the children are just that -- children.  Most of them just want to be loved and cared for and treated like every other kid.  That's why our Toy Drive is so vitally important.

We have some wishes left over here at Community Partners of Dallas and it would really be great if they could be filled right now by you.  We'd love it if you would call us at 214-624-7557 or come by our office at 1215 Skiles Street (near Baylor Hospital in the Meadows Foundation's Wilson Historic District -- gotta keep showing the love to The Meadows Foundation!) and pick up a wish or two and make dreams come true for these kiddos.

Thanks -- the kids need you now.  Me too.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks

Since it's Thanksgiving morning, I'm watching The Today Show and waiting for Matt and Al to host the Macy's parade.

Later, I'll be making a few dishes to take to my brother's for lunch (started cooking yesterday). Life is good and I'm grateful to be on earth.  Here's my list for 2014:

Obvious, but soooooo true -- my family.  My mom is my hero.  She spent hours with me overseeing a volunteer project this week, dispensing advice and hands-on help -- and her intellect is second to none.  If I'm smart at all, it's due to her influence.  Everyday, John and Lucy show us all how to love and be commited to others. Katie is not only smart, but has the most beautiful heart I know. Lina makes me laugh out loud and her generosity is contagious. 

My friends are the best and make me a better friend and human being.  I'm so glad that God gave me you (gotta throw in some Blake -- thankful for him too).

My co-workers, board members, volunteers, CPS caseworkers, and everyone at Community Partners of Dallas.  You guys make me want to get out of bed in the morning.

The funds to be able to live comfortably and well.  Money to travel, to have a beautiful home, to attend the theater, to buy a book, to eat out, and to cook.  

Trite, but true -- TV, my tempurpedic bed, my Escada and my jeans, my jewelry.

And finally, God's grace.

It's a good life.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How To Write the Best Thank You Note -- My Tips for Success

What happened to the thank you note?

The most obvious answer is the Internet.  Yes, Al Gore's invention certainly has made a hand-written thank you note harder to come by than a silver dollar.

NOTE:  Don't write me (unless it's hand-written, of course).  I don't think Al invented the Internet -- I just still remember how funny it was when he said it.

Now, the younger people who work with me think I'm crazy -- especially about thank you notes after interviews.  I have been told by lots of business professionals (and not all in non-profits, by the way) that a thank you email is plenty of thanks after an interview.  They like the speed (I agree that the speediness part of an email is good) and I do understand that young people are just so comfortable with technology now because they have grown up with it.

NOTE:  One of my younger co-workers told me the other day that she so enjoys the Time Hop Application because she has been on FaceBook since she was a pre-teen, thus can see big changes in her photos, style, etc.  Even though Martha has aged a lot since 2004, I'm just a little older.  Funny how that works.

But to me, nothing beats a handwritten thank you note -- for any reason.  Yes, I want one after I interview someone for sure, but I also want one if I give you a gift, have you to my house for dinner, or just do you any kind of favor that you appreciate.  And when I say I want one for these reasons, I also pledge that you'll get one from me for same.  And since I do consider myself someone who writes thank you notes often, here are my best tips for success:
  1. Thank the person and explain why you liked the meeting, the gift, the favor.  A simple "Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today." is a perfectly appropriate first sentence.  Add in something else like "I so enjoyed hearing about your road to success in the non-profit world and I know that I will end up using your advice to further my career path."  Or for a gift "Damn, I have never seen a more perfect gift for me -- you know that orange is my favorite color -- and I've never seen underwear in that exact shade before!"
  2. Try to write the note the same day of the meeting or favor, or the next day and then get the damn thing in the mail.  I find that if I wait then I forget about it.  I have been known to send a second note just because I think maybe I forgot.  If you make a hard and fast rule to get the note out lickety-split, then you can rest easy.
  3. My favorite card to write is a small note card.  I love a personalized one (I always get mine at Paper Affair), but I have lots of them without personalization and they are fine too.  I like to have my full name on my cards since sometimes I think people might not know exactly who is writing them.  I know that sounds funny but it's true. If my full name is there on the card I can still sign it just Paige and they know for sure it's me and not some other Paige.  You would be surprised at how many Paiges can be invited to a huge holiday or charity event in Dallas.  If I'm going to the trouble to write I want credit for it, people!
I received this note yesterday.  Obviously from a very special boy with very special parents...

To me a thank you note means more than a silver dollar.  LOTS more.

P.S.  I wanted to report back that I have received a whole bunch of dolls for the Community Partners of Dallas' Toy Drive.  Many thanks to those of you who have sent them!  Here's a pic:

And yes, I have already mailed their hand-written thank yous -- who do you think you're dealing with?

Friday, October 31, 2014

Four Favorite Things I Love Right Now! Part 19

I cannot believe that it's been this long since I've done a four faves post -- the most recent one was in July.  Check it out here and follow the links each time to see the rest if you are new to my blog.  I often find new favorites, but I pretty much never turn against an old one -- just like friends, I dance with the ones that "brung" me (or least the ones who flung me around the dance floor at Dick Chaplin).

Anyway, it's Halloween, so enjoy it and the faves today:
  1. I LOVE my personalized cups from Paper Affair -- and since they are on the Partners Card (a fundraiser for The Family Place -- a fantastic cause), you can get 20% off if you buy them this weekend using your Partners Card.  My set before this were orange and had a chevron pattern, but I've long been a fan of a polka dot too. 
  2. What a gift it is to drive up to my office building and see the wonderful Meadows Foundation staff planting pansy after pansy in our flower beds!  Community Partners of Dallas is truly blessed to have been given this building for the past 6 years.  Four more to go, so plan to hear from us soon about our future building to come #CapitalCampaignStarts2015  #Yikes!  #Win4TheKids! 
  3. My latest breakfast is the easiest thing ever and I love it!  Enjoy my receipe for Paige's Bit of Canadian Bacon with Parmesan:  First, put your skillet on medium heat and put just a tiny bit of butter in it.  Let the butter melt and then put 1 piece of Canadian bacon on top of the melted butter and let it cook a couple of minutes.  Turn and cook a couple of minutes more.  You should see a bit of grill marking, but doesn't matter -- you're just trying to heat it.  Turn it back over, turn off heat and sprinkle a pinch of shredded parm over the top and just let it sit on the stove another minute.  Remove and add black pepper.  Enjoy with a slice of apple on the side.  Probably only about 50 calories and keeps me filled until lunch.
  4. Holiday decorating is what separates us from the animals and I like to prove I'm human every single holiday of the year!  Halloween is second only to Christmas at my house.  Here's my dining table.  Love! 

What are your four faves?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

What's inside your vessel?

I've been awake since about 3 am. I just hate it.

The older I get the more that stress seems to affect me.  Currently,

  1. I cannot turn my head to the left due to some neck/back pain -- have had this 2 days and had the same thing last week for a couple of days
  2. My eyes are blurry -- so much so that I'm having trouble typing this
  3. My stomach is slightly upset

And now I'm going to be dog-tired all day.

My mother told me a long time ago that as people grow older all they talk about are their ailments, so I guess I'm just playing to type.  At least you might not have to hear about it at lunch today since I'm writing about it now!  You can thank me later.

But in the grand scheme of things I know that my stress is nothing. So many people have it worse -- and I feel for them. But the ones I feel for most are the children we serve at Community Partners of Dallas. Kids who are innocent victims of parental rage and heartache.

The other night I watched Iyanla Vansant on OWN and a mother told her adult son that she was so sorry that she used him as a "vessel for her rage" when he was a boy.

What a beautiful use for words -- forgive me for using you as a vessel for my rage.

So today, forgive me for using you as a vessel for my stress.

Thanks for listening -- and if you have a cure for any of my ailments, please let me know. The stress isn't going away anytime soon.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Jury Duty, Baby!

Well, I'm downtown at jury duty this morning. Seems like most people I know are usually bummed about serving. Not me. 

I like serving on a jury and have done so 2 times, maybe 3. I love America and I think the right to a trial by jury is one of the most important parts of our government. 

NOTE:  I even served on the Grand Jury for 3 months, M, W, F -- foreman, suckers!

The part that isn't so fun is getting up, heading downtown, then participating in the process of what my mom calls "hurry up and wait" -- the time spent sitting in the jury room waiting to be called. 

The jury room is an unusual place. I think I end up getting called for duty about every other year or so, so that means I've sat in this room (or another one if at a different courthouse -- Crowley today) in my adult life about 20 times. I like to sit in the back of the room and study the people. It really is a pretty good representation of our population -- but I think a bit more Caucasian than Dallas County is in reality. 

But today is different for me. First, a friend and neighbor of mine just walked in -- hi, Carolyn -- and I don't want to be picked. 

This is just not a week I can serve and the last time I was on a jury it took a week.  I cannot return tomorrow, as Community Partners of Dallas has me busy as a bee this time of year.  

So, here are the tips I've heard to not be chosen for jury duty:

1.  I'm ready to raise my hand high during voir dire and tell them and what I really think. 
2.  I'm wearing a red top and gold jewelry. 

NOTE:  Do not ask me about the attire -- just following direction from others!

I imagine that if the case is about child abuse or domestic violence, I'll certainly be let go. But, no telling what the case will be. I'll let you know what happens -- and I promise that I will serve the next time I'm called. And I'll wear blue.