Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why I love Dolly Parton.

I told a joke the other night – well, I should say that I tried to tell a joke the other night – at the Community Partners of Dallas Chick Lit Luncheon Sponsor Party.  We were at Barney’s New York and the store had kindly done a raffle for $2,000 worth of shoes, so I thought my joke was appropriate.  It is from Dolly Parton in Steel Magnolias:
I wear a size 6, but a size 7 feels so good, I buy an 8.
Truly, one of my favorite lines ever.  I must admit that in the heat of the moment I couldn’t remember it correctly (see last week’s post on “Speechwriting Made Easy”), but I was adlibbing and we were talking about shoes, thus the attempt at humor.
I tell you all this to talk about shoes and why they are so important.  Girls love shoes.  They always fit and if you need a bigger size, who cares?  Most people can wear “normal” sized shoes, so there is no large size department.  Even though I wear a size 14 (mostly) dress, I can walk right into the shoe department and try on any size 8 in the place.  In the dress department it is always a question as to whether they have my size. 
Side note:  This same night at Barney’s New York I asked the store manager if they had a certain dress in my size.  He said “Well, it’s a DVF dress, so they make it in your size, we just didn’t buy it.”  Case closed.
I was reminded about another reason girls like shoes by a 7 year old girl named Courtney who came to our Rainbow Room last week.  Courtney’s caseworker told our staff member Pam that Courtney’s house was the dirtiest home she’d ever been in.  Pam told me that Courtney’s little shoes were so small for her feet that the top of the shoe had curled up and separated from the sole.  But once Pam showed Courtney the shoes we had in her size, the little girl smiled and pointed to the purple and white shoes with sparkles.  Pam said Courtney put on those shoes and started dancing and prancing around like she owned the world. 
Shoes make us sparkle.  They take us away from our lowest point – literally – and raise us up, not just off the earth, but off from our humdrum lives.
Shoe shopping today, anyone?
P.S.  I think I’ll send my #FundraisingFriday $10 gift to the Dollywood Foundation's Imagination Library this week.  Love me some Dolly!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Speechwriting Made Easy -- 4 Tips for Success

The Chick Lit Luncheon is Friday, so I have been in speech writing mode this week.  I actually enjoy writing (hence this blog, duh), so I usually have fun doing it if I don’t wait until the last minute – which for me is 2 days before.  Luckily this week, I knocked it out yesterday, which means I was 24 hours ahead of my oh-shit-why-haven’t-I-done-that-yet deadline.  Golf claps for me.
Anyway, I usually just speak without notes, but when I have a time limit I have to write it out or there’s no telling how long people would be at Brook Hollow on Friday – dinner, anyone?  SOOOO, this got me thinking about the blog post today, so here are my four quick tips for a fantastic speech (and yes, that would imply that my speeches are fantastic, and yes, I am the sole judge of that):
  1. Be sure to sound like yourself and write it as if you were speaking normally to people.  Some people tend to want to make themselves sound “smart” and use long words and throw in flowery language.  Don’t do it.  Your speech needs to sound like you are just talking to a friend.
  2. Always keep an ear or eye out for a good quote or story that could work in your speech.  I look for things all year that I can use.  Oprah and Dr. Phil have always been very good to me – their guests who are adult victims of child abuse (that is what I talk about for this speech each year) sometimes give me the most heartbreaking quotes.  And with the DVR, I can back up 4 times to get every word in the quote correct.  And of course I always mention where the quote originated.
  3. Even if your topic is serious (like child abuse), you can weave in some humor.  I think my mother has been mentioned in my speech every year because she is hilarious and/or bringing her up is a great way to use self-deprecating humor.
  4. Practice!  I read mine through about 4 or 5 times the night before and once or twice the morning of.  My kitchen counter is the perfect height.  I print it out in a very large font and then underline words I want to emphasize and places where I want to pause for effect, etc.
I hope this is helpful and I hope to see you Friday – I’m willing to accept your critique in the valet line!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

#FundraisingFriday is here!

As you might imagine, I don’t read everything that comes across my desk, my computer screen, my I-Phone, my I-Pad, etc.  I bet you don’t either.
I am lucky enough to have a Mom who reads her Dallas Morning News religiously every morning and who texts (my mom taught me how) to let me know if there is something I really need to look at in case I don’t get to the paper that day.  I have co-workers who alert me to interesting articles about fund development, social media, etc. – but I would say that really, I am the main person who does this for them – as well as friends who will see something and let me know about it.
It takes a village, doesn’t it?  So much to read, so little time.
Anyway, I say all this to let you know that my friend Leslie Clay (Development VP at Hope Cottage.  Her mom and my mom were childhood friends.  So cute!) sent me an email about 3 weeks ago about this blog post.  Leslie thought it would make a good one – I think she’s right, so here goes…
There is a small movement in the Non-Profit world that is going around and the movement could use your help.  Called #FundraisingFriday, the idea is to ask everyone to commit to donating $10 each Friday to your favorite charities.  The #FundraisingFriday name obviously came from twitter since it uses the hash tag, but you don’t need to be on twitter to participate.
Everybody knows that $10 a week is a commitment, but it is totally do-able (and remember, I work for a charity, people), so I say let’s start this week.  Of course, I would love to encourage everyone to start by donating your first $10 to Community Partners of Dallas – CPD is an agency where $10 really buys something for the abused and neglected kids in our community.  It could send 3 babies home to their foster parents with new onesies or a whole bunch of kids back-to-school with pencils.  Hell, it can help pay $10 worth of our electric bill – and we would be honored to receive your donation.  Visit to donate now and be sure to note that your gift was from #FundraisingFriday!
But just so you know that this post is not a total ploy to rake it in for CPD, I’m going to send my first $10 to my friend Leslie at Hope Cottage – this was her blog idea, after all – I know they help kids get adopted and a lot more.  Look for it, Leslie!
P.S.  I’d be happy to help promote your #FundraisingFriday recipients on this blog, so please post where your money is going in the comment box below.  I’d love some new ideas for my future gifts!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

RIP Johnathan -- We Let You Down

Another set of crap parents have admitted to starving their son.  Johnathan Lloyd Ramsey (known as JL) was starved to death by his father and step-mother – as a punishment.
When I look at this 10-year-old’s face, I see a darling child.  What could this kid have done to be punished so harshly?  Even if he did punch his step-mother and cause a miscarriage (I find it hard to believe that a 90 pound boy could physically accomplish this, and I also wouldn’t believe one word that came out of the mouths of either one of these “parents”), the punishment did not fit the crime.
We have been told that JL’s mother (who lives in New Mexico) called and frequently asked about the boy, but when told over and over again that he couldn’t come to the phone, must have hung up and went back to her business.  The paternal grandfather is the one who finally contacted the police, but it took too long. 
Who do I blame for this tragedy?  Everyone. 
Yes, I totally blame the parents who starved this little boy, but I also blame every other person who knew that child.  It takes months to starve to death.  Where were the neighbors, the school officials, the family, the friends?
This is a grim reminder for us to watch one another.  Listen to your inner voice.  Ask questions.  Be suspicious.  Call 911.  Call CPS (800-252-5400).  And if people won’t listen, keep calling.  Shout if you must.
JL’s life depended on it.  We let him down.