Weekend Jam Session

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve post much on here and I’m craving some inspiration and fun music! This week’s selection makes me want to get up and DO something…..mostly DANCE!

Music is such a life force for me, I know I have written about that before, but I’m feeling like my writing, and life in general, is on the way UP!

Anyway, here’s what’s getting me out of my chair today.

I hope you enjoyed it and have fabulous weekend!!

 

 

How is one young woman leaving her mark on Maine’s foster children?

Sara Disselkamp knew from a very young age that she wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. Placed in foster care immediately following her Texas birth, Sara was adopted by William and Jane Disselkamp, of Millinocket, Maine, just weeks later. Knowing she could have been placed with any other couple in the world, she tears up just thinking about it.

Photo Credit: Malorrie Ann Photography www.malorrieannphotography.com

Photo Credit: Malorrie Ann Photography
http://www.malorrieannphotography.com

“They’re seriously the best parents I could ever ask for. They’ve given me more than I could ever imagine and I want to take that gift of giving and pass it on to others. They changed my life and I want to help be that change in someone else’s [life],” she says.

Something to Snuggle is Born

It is that unconditional love that spurred Sara to start a program aimed at helping Maine’s foster children, she lovingly calls it Something to Snuggle. “Oftentimes, children are removed from their homes to be placed with a foster family and they don’t get to take any of their personal belongings with them. It hurt my heart to think that there are so many children in our state who are not only without forever families, but are also without something to call their own.” explains Sara, a 22-year old college student majoring in, you guessed it, social work.

Last summer, she decided she would make blankets for children in the foster care system. “Although blankets are such a simple thing, they can serve as special security items during what may be one of the most difficult times in a child’s life. Something to Snuggle seemed like the perfect name for the project.” recalls Sara. And so began the endeavor of spreading out the material on her bedroom floor and getting to work. “Every time one was made, I thought to myself ‘There is one less child who has to go without something to call their own’ and my heart grew fuller and fuller,” she reflects.

It wasn’t long before Sara shared her idea with her mother, Jane, who was more than happy to help and very proud of her daughter. Family friend, Patsy Houston, who is a highly talented quilter, was eager to jump on board as well. “Patsy has done a wonderful job staying on top of the project and I truly can’t thank her enough,” Sara says.

The next logical step was getting the word out and what better way to do that than create a Facebook page?! Sara started the page on Sunday, March 15, 2015. Before she left for work that day, the page had 37 ‘Likes’. As of today, there are 1,162 ‘Likes’ and counting! The community support has been shocking to Sara. “The amount of people who have messaged me, sharing their own personal stories and wanting to help make blankets, is phenomenal. Never in my wildest dreams did I think the project would spread so quickly,” she states.

The Gift of Adoption

The fact that Sara is able to deeply understand the situation these children are in, without ever having shared their experience, speaks volumes to her character and her upbringing. Although she doesn’t have “memories” of what it was like to be in foster care, she knows how important it is for every child to have a permanent home. “I can tell you from my own personal experience, it’s [adoption] been nothing but a blessing. It’s the first thing I thank God for every morning when I wake up and the first thing I thank Him for when I go to bed at night.” she says.

Sara was able to grow up knowing her birth mother because her parents agreed to an open adoption, meaning she would receive letters as well as Christmas and birthday presents over the years. But it wasn’t until she was in the eighth grade that she found a letter from her birth mother, detailing Sara’s background and why she had been placed for adoption. “This was the most influential experience of my life because, in reading that four-page letter, not only did I find out how I came into existence, I knew that God had put me on this earth for a purpose.”

She believes part of that purpose is to help Maine’s children in foster care. “The only way you can’t make a difference is if you choose not to try. One spark is all it takes to start a fire. Something to Snuggle is my proof of that. Although this project has seriously hit the ground running, even the smallest act of kindness makes this world a better place. Everyone deserves SOMETHING to call their own. We’re making that happen,” Sara states, matter-of-factly.

Many Helping Hands are Needed

According to the Adopt US Kids website (www.adoptuskids.org), there are about 2,189 children in Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) custody at this time. Although she is thrilled to be helping so many children in her hometown of Millinocket, Sara knows there is plenty more to be done. The goal is to get one of her blankets into the hands of every child in the system. “I need helping hands making blankets in Portland. I need helping hands making blankets in Fort Kent. I need helping hands making these blankets wherever helping hands are needed. And when all of the children in Maine are helped, I’ll take on the next state!”

Adoptive and Foster Families of Maine (AFFM) and DHHS are just two of the agencies that will be receiving blankets from Something to Snuggle. This past week Sara had the opportunity to make a delivery at AFFM and learned that blankets go very quickly there and they are always in need. Next week she will be making a delivery to DHHS.

Looking Toward the Future

What’s next for this thoughtful young woman? Well, in May of 2016 she will graduate from the University of Maine with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work. Upon graduation, she plans to get her Master of Social Work degree, though she’s not sure just yet how she will put them to work. “As of now, I’m torn between working as a counselor or working in an adoption agency,” she says. However, before she does that, she’s got one more major thing to do- bring adoption into the national spotlight.

Last summer, Sara traveled to Tennessee to represent Maine in a scholarship pageant, America’s National Teenage Scholarship Organization (ANTSO), Miss Division. ANTSO focuses heavily on how their contestants are of service in their communities. On the heels of that experience, she will be preparing to compete for the title of Miss Maine USA this November! While the platform for Miss USA is Breast and Ovarian Cancer Awareness, Sara’s personal platform is adoption; which she also used in the ANTSO pageant.

“Between school, work, preparing for Miss Maine USA, working on Something to Snuggle, and spending time with my loved ones, my plate is so full right now but that’s what keeps me going! I feel incredibly blessed to be able to be doing everything I love,” Sara says. There are many children today, and in the future, who are equally as blessed that Sara is doing what she loves. Her passion for this project abounds. With her enthusiasm and help from the community at large, there is no doubt that every child in Maine and beyond will see Sara’s dreams come to fruition. The world is a better place for having Sara Disselkamp in it.

How You Can Help

If you would like to help her reach the goal of giving every child in foster care something to snuggle, please send your blankets to:

Something to Snuggle
C/O Sara Disselkamp
4 Somerset Street, Millinocket Maine, 04462

Also, be sure to “Like” her Facebook page so you can keep up to date with Something to Snuggle! http://on.fb.me/1F27Lgd

Throwback for the Weekend!

Good Morning!

This weekend I thought I would do a collection of songs I loved back in the day.  They take me to my teen years when things were so much easier, of course you couldn’t have convinced me of that then!

Last week I started writing a brief reason why I chose each song and I will continue to do that, but this weekend it’s purely for the memories!

Bring on the nostalgia!

Okay, so I lied.  I have to speak about this video.  Michael was a HUGE part of my childhood.  I adored him-he was my first boyfriend.  He was always controversial and I’m not here to talk about that.  I think he was THE true definition of a musical artist and a genius.  I bet there’s hardly an artist since the ’80’s who can say they weren’t influenced by him.  I wasn’t sure which song I was going to choose and then I came upon this video of his live performance at the 1988 Grammy Awards.  I knew this was the one, where he was truly in his element.  I love his emotion and connection to the music.  And those dance moves?  EPIC!

What a great start to the weekend!

Have fun!

 

 

10 Things I Would Tell My High School Self

10 Things I WouldTell My High School

This June marks 17 years since I graduated high school.  That seems so crazy to me because it doesn’t feel like 17 years have passed.  I don’t feel like I am old enough to have been out of high school for that long!  No wise comments either!  Hahaha….

A lot has happened in these fast 17 years though.  Some things I wish I had done differently and some choices I wish I would have never made.  But every thing that has happened has shaped me into who I am today and for that I am grateful.

With that being said, there are some things I wish I could go back and tell the young woman I was, but as we know, it’s hard to tell a teenager anything, so would I have listened?  It’s hard to say.  I thought I knew it all and sometimes, there isn’t anything anyone can say to you; you have to learn it for yourself.

Here are 10 things I would tell my high school self:

  1. These really are the days of your life.  I’m not going to say the BEST days of your life because that would imply that there’s nothing to look forward to as an adult.  Also, high school is hard.  Not necessarily in terms of the course work, but it terms of fitting in and making friends.  But these will most likely be the most carefree days of your life.  You will have responsibilities, but in most cases not like you will in adulthood.  Make the most of your high school career- join clubs, play sports, write for the newspaper, run for student council- don’t be afraid.
  2. Don’t spend so much time comparing yourself to others.  You don’t know what their story is and chances are they are just as insecure as you are!  Everyone has a struggle and comparing yourself to someone who you think has it “all” is unfair to yourself.  You are every bit as smart, pretty, funny, athletic, whatever, as they are, you just have to believe it and then cultivate that belief.  Most people are not born with the ability to get a 4.0 GPA.  It takes work and you’re not putting in all the work you could be.  Learn to love your curly hair; it really isn’t the Afro you think it is- didn’t you see that girl at school with the new perm?  People pay big bucks to have what you have naturally!
  3. You get to decide who you are.  You are not defined by who you hang out with- well to a degree.  There is something called guilt by association, it’s not necessarily fair but it’s true.  If you’re hanging out with a crowd that is known to regularly shoplift, even if you don’t, people will assume you do.  They’re not going to take the time to get to know the kids like you have, so be careful and choose your friends wisely.  You get to decide if you’re a shoplifter too or a music geek, a drama nerd, or a loner.  You may hang with all sorts of people but you don’t have to fit a label that others have placed on you.  Your grades also do not determine who you are.  You may not get the best grades but that is because you need to try harder, not because you are a slacker.  What I am saying is this, you have a choice in the person you want to be.  You don’t have to be what other people have said you are; so you mother told you that Lisa gives up when the going gets hard, but why does she get to decide that?  You are YOU, you decide when you “give up” and when you push harder!  You don’t have to go with the flow and just do what is expected of you.  You have a say in how your life is going to go and once you graduate, you will have the ONLY say in how your life is going to go, so you better start thinking for yourself.
  4. Don’t waste so much time on unattainable guys.  I don’t mean unattainable like they are out of your league.  ANY boy would be lucky to spend time with you!  I mean boys who don’t see your worth, your beauty, and who treat you badly.  You never know who could be looking at you while you are chasing boys not worth your time.  I know, you thought you loved him.  He was fun to hang out with and you two were like best friends.  You seemed to understand him but he treated you like crap most of the time.  Don’t you know you deserve more?  He had a lot deeper issues than you could have known and one day you two will make peace, but please know that his treatment of you had FAR more to do with him than you. However, that does NOT mean you should marry the first guy who really pays attention to you and makes you feel special.  Just trust me on this one.
  5. Don’t waste too much time on boys, period.  You need to discover who you are, independent of boys.  This is also one of the things that doesn’t define you- whether or not you have a boyfriend.  At no point in your life should you ever base your happiness or self-worth on having a man.  I am not saying that down the road a loving and respectful relationship won’t be worth it because it is totally worth it.  You need to find out what makes you happy, what your goals and dreams are, what experiences and memories you wish to create for yourself, and then see how having a relationship fits into that.  Build your life around you and the rest will fall into place.
  6. Being popular and having a lot of friends really isn’t all that important.  As the old saying goes, I’d rather have 4 quarters than 100 pennies.  You probably don’t fully grasp that concept right now but let me tell you, I know a LOT of people, but very few would I call a true friend.  Not everyone is as kind and trusting as you are.  They won’t nurture your friendship the way you do.  You’ll learn this the hard way over the years.  What is important is being a good person despite what others may do to you.
  7. You are NOT fat!!!  You may not be a size 2 or even an 10, but you are perfect just the way you are.  Your body does not define your worth either!  (see previous blog post:http://bit.ly/1BtLJuO)  You are healthy but you could be taking better care of yourself, you know exercising and eating better.  Overall though, you have a great body!  We are bombarded every day with images of what the media wants us to believe is attractive but it’s not realistic or healthy sometimes.  God gave you the body you need to carry you through life, imperfections and all.  Treat it kindly and respect it for the vessel that it is.
  8. It’s okay to not know what you want to be when you grow up.  I don’t know why “they” think that an 18 year-old knows what they want to do for the rest of their lives!  Seriously, there is too much pressure put on kids to decide their life’s course early on in life, most times before they even truly know WHO they are, let alone WHAT they want to do for the next 50+ years!  College is important and you should go, if not for a career path then for the life lessons you will learn.  Just try not to rack up too much debt!  Live your life a bit, discover your passion, do what makes your insides sing, give back something meaningful to this world.  Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to know it all when you graduate high school!
  9. Go on your class trip!  I’m not sure why you think that staying home and hanging out with your new boyfriend is a good choice.  This is your first opportunity to experience life outside of Maine.  And NYC?!?!  Are you nuts?  I can’t think of a better way to kick off your new-found freedom than a trip to New York City with your best friends!  You should have participated in more fundraisers throughout the years so you wouldn’t feel so guilty about asking your parents for the money.  Or you could have saved money from the 3 jobs you have had all these years!  Start taking advantage of your life!  Once you are settled down, there won’t be too many chances for travel.  Which leads me to…
  10. Save all the $$ you’re spending on cd’s and other useless crap and use it to travel and experience life before college or starting a family!!  If there is just one thing I could impress upon you the most, it is to live your life before you commit yourself to others.  Be you for a while before you become a wife and a mother.  Motherhood is the most amazing thing, but it can wait.  Being a wife can wait.  You can be a girlfriend and still live your life.  If he’s the right man for you, he will support you in this.  He will want you to be wholly YOU so you can reach your full potential.  The world holds many lessons and adventures for you, so let go of your fear of being alone, let go of your need to make everyone else happy, and focus on what makes YOU happy!  Relationships and jobs will come and go but you will always be with you.  Make sure you don’t have any regrets and learn from each mistake you make. Oh, and all that cash you blew on tapes and cd’s?  One day there will be these things called iTunes and YouTube and it will amaze you how you can get all the music you want from them, sometimes for FREE!  No one listens to cd’s anymore and all the ones you have bought end up in a closet, like some sort of shrine….save your money!

There it is, the things I would tell myself if I could go back in time.  I’d like to think that I would at least listen and consider the advice.  It’s easy to say that I am grateful for my life experiences thus far because it’s not like I can turn back the clock.  But I truly believe I am where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing.  Of course there is room for improvement and some of this advice for my old self holds true for who I am today.  I hope to instill these messages in my two children so that one day they won’t look back and say they wished someone had told them this information in high school.

Tell me what you wish someone would have told you in high school in the comment section below!

 

Amazing things that will happen when you learn to enjoy being Alone

To be comfortable with being alone is really a gift to yourself. I enjoyed this article and I hope you do too!

What kind of memories do you want to create?

Best thing about memories

Recently, my husband acquired some property that is in need of repair.  The previous owners were an old couple and we don’t really know a lot of details, but it seems that the husband passed away and the wife went to live with one of the children.  I assume that the children took whatever mementos, trinkets, and pictures they felt were necessary but I have to say, a great deal was left behind.

The house has been vacant for a number of years and there has been significant water damage to the lower level.  We have sorted through rooms upon rooms of mildewy photos, books, papers, sewing materials, and assorted household items.  In doing so, we’ve learned quite a bit about the sort of people they were; a well-liked, religious African-American family with several children and a penchant for learning everything about anything they could get their hands on.  The man was highly educated, eventually earning his doctorate in education.  I have to assume this was a real feat for him because he came up through the south, having been born in the 1920’s with very little, and during a time when higher education for blacks was not exactly possible or encouraged, to say the least.  The wife was educated as well, though I did  not find as much out about her as I would have liked.  She was, I believe, quite a bit younger than him and probably a homemaker for the most part.

They had hundreds of books, some were VERY old, ranging from great works of literature by Shakespeare, to religions of the world, to the history slavery.  Even the modern literature they owned were by novelists such as Toni Morrison.  There were no fluffy, beach reads to be had in this house.  I would dare say there was not one book there that you could NOT learn from on some level.

There were file cabinets solidly filled with newspaper clippings, cards and letters from friends and family, dissertations the man had written about his travels and his history.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  Collection after collection that, to the untrained eye, would appear to be just a bunch of junk.  But as I was picking through some photos and saving out the undamaged ones (in case the family did not get all that they wanted), it occurred to me- they were hoarders of sorts, but not like the hoarders you see on television.  They didn’t have literal heaps of garbage laying around.  They were hoarding education and their own brand of memories I guess you could say.  They obviously thought the things they were saving were important, so why was I- a stranger- throwing away their prized possessions?

I’ll admit, I was angry at the children of these people.  Why didn’t they care about the things their parents thought were important?  Why hadn’t they taken better care of the place that housed their parent’s memories?  I thought about how I hope that when the time comes, my children will be sorting through my stuff and not some stranger.  I also thought about how I will not leave so MUCH stuff for them to sort.  I wondered what story the things I leave behind would tell my children?  If a stranger were to be throwing out of MY memories, what would they piece together about me based on their findings?

I have piles and piles of my children’s school and artwork saved.  I do throw

These treasures were just unearthed from our kitchen island.

These treasures were just unearthed from our kitchen island.

some of it away but a large portion of it I can’t bear to part with, it is far too cute!  I have a zillion photographs to organize.  I also have some special outfits that my kids wore when they were really little saved so they can share them with their own children.  My mother did this for me and when my daughter was born, I was able to bring her home in the very same sleeper I wore home from the hospital!  It really created a special memory for me and as she got older, she loved hearing the story of how we wore the same outfit.  I still have it tucked away and perhaps she or my son can bring home their child in it, provided they want to and it’s not falling apart!  I hope the items I have saved over the years will express to my children, or whoever, how much I loved my family and my life.

But beyond that, I hope it shows them that I valued creating living moments to remember and memories with my loved ones, not piles of papers and books.  Although the papers and books were interesting, I have to wonder how much of these people’s time was spent collecting these items?  How much of that time could have been spent creating an intangible collection of memories?

We can’t take the things we accumulate with us when we die and I know the last thing I am going to be worried about in my old age is having more “stuff.”  I want to create lasting memories with my family.  I want them to look back on our life together and smile at the things we did together, whether it’s a craft project, a trip, or just camping in the back yard.

Memories are a funny thing though.  I have 35 years worth of memories We don't remember days,stored in my head and sometimes I have a hard time recalling one if put on the spot.  Quick, what’s your favorite memory from your freshman year of high school?  Uh……um……can I get back to you on that?  I lived through it but I don’t remember a lot about it, and NO it’s not because it was so long ago!  If I sit and consider things, I am able to recall specific scenarios but it’s not something I think about often.

When my father passed away almost a year ago, I remember feeling overwhelmed by the thought that I had to remember every single detail about him; every moment we shared had to be logged daily so I wouldn’t forget him.  It tore me up that there were things I could not remember.  But as the days have passed, I realize that I don’t have to keep those memories at the forefront of my mind.  He enters my mind often, all on his own and there are things everywhere that remind me of him or call to mind a certain memory of him; an opportunity to play a practical joke on one of my kids or husband, a song on the radio, a “Remember the time when Papa” story from one of my kids, or my son’s favorite- the classic “Pull my finger,” trick that Papa showed him.

Scents, sounds, places, objects, and other memories can spark a recollection for me, and not just about my father.  I specifically hung metal wind chimes in the tree outside my home when I moved in because it reminded me of summers spent at my grandparent’s house a child.  They lived by the salt water and I spent a fair amount of days on their back porch, listening to the wind chimes and the waves lapping the rocky shoreline.  Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil, coincidentally, also reminds me of those days.  A whiff of Jean Naté body fragrance reminds me of my great-grandmother, who has also passed away.

It’s nice to have objects that you can take out and look at to provide you with

My father's guardian angel coin.

My father’s guardian angel coin.

memories; I have the tiny guardian angel coin that I bought for my father years ago and he proudly made sure to carry in his pocket with all his coins every day.  He would always take out the handful of change and pick through to find it and show me he had it with him whenever he saw me.  I can see and feel where the details of the angels face and wings have been rubbed smooth by his fingers and presumably, all those coins.  It means the world to me and I would be heartbroken if I lost it, but it’s not my father.  He’s in my heart and soul.  He lives there, not in some coin.

So, I will continue to collect my sentimental objects as memory keepers, but I intend to collect far more memories you can’t hold in the palm of your hand.  To me, these are the real crown jewels of my family.

How about you?  What will your collections tell people after you are gone? What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?

I want to  know what you think