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Give the Gift of Giving Back #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday

 

Every Christmas Eve we have a family tradition that means the more to us then any gifts: cooking for a local homeless shelter. We work as a family to peel, cut and cook our famous sweet potato casserole (with pineapples and cinnamon) in big containers that we take over while still hot. We have a group that works together serving and the others cooking.  It is a family activity that we do together and our sons get the gift of learning to give back to their community. We also make decisions on what charities we give to as another family activity.

 

With all the focus on holiday gift shopping it is important to take a break to think about ways you can give back this holiday season.  Today is Giving Tuesday and many organizations and individuals are sharing how they are giving back. Here are some posts with links highlighting their favorite charities.

 

MommyPoppins is having a virtual food drive.

 

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations discussed the Shot@Life Campaign. The One Campaign also shares information about the Shot@Life and other important initiatives.

 

Estelle Sobel Erasmus shared a list of 54 writer’s charities on the Huffington Post.

 

Cool Mom Picks discussed Family Volunteer Opportunities.

 

MomTrends shared thoughts on putting joy in the season by giving.

 

#TeamBlogalicious shared their favorite picks from Giving Tuesday.

 

Jessica Shyba (@mommasgonecity #theoandbeau) has an adorable book “Naptime With Theo and Beau” and is donating proceeds to the Santa Cruz SPCA.

 

Glennia Campbell shared information about Advocates For Youth.

 

TechSavvyMama discussed Gifts that Give back for the holidays.

 

Jim Higley discussed #‎HelpCampKesem‬ to help youths with Cancer.

 

 

Please share charities that you support during the holidays!

 

 

 

Tribute To My Aunt – Life Perspective From Cancer

When people recently asked me why I am not going to a yearly social media conference (going on this week – that I had been going to for years),  I could only share what was really going on: this week I am going to a memorial service for my Aunt who just recently passed way from Ovarian Cancer. Her name was Cyndi and we will miss her dearly.

 

So I decided that instead of only sharing my thoughts at the memorial service, I would also share them to my community. She bravely fought Ovarian Cancer for the last few years. During that time I had the priceless opportunity to talk to her about her perspective on Cancer and life in general. Here is some of what I learned (there was so much):

 

1. Every day is a gift – so live life each day to the fullest: My Aunt Cyndi was an intelligent, caring and engaging person who could always make me laugh. She was also open about some of the challenges in her life that she had trouble overcoming. But after learning that she had Ovarian cancer and the fight she had ahead, she decided to reach out of her comfort zone. Aunt Cyndi explained: when you realize your time is limited, your perspective changes.  She took the challenges head on to experience as much as possible. Aunt Cyndi helped me gain real perspective on life; Every day is a gift – so life each day to the fullest. I was able to let go of some of the petty things that I worried about to keep focus on what is really important.

 

 

2. Take care of your health, do early detection exams and medical support to match your family risk factors: My family, like many, has a history of different types of Cancer. But after we learned more about the BRCA gene, and realized my Aunt had it, my mother and I got tested. While we did not have that gene – we were ready to take the actions recommended by our doctors if we did have it..Many of the brave cancer survivors such as Christina Applegate and others went public with their stories to try to inspire women to do early detection exams (such as mammograms).  Or Angelina Jolie that shared her thoughts on why she did a preventive double mastectomy. Or Katie Couric’s spotlight on cancer: Action & Awareness.  Or inspirational women from my online community such as Jen Singer who has the Parenting with Cancer website  or Susan Niebur who bravely shared information about her fight with Cancer. The list could go on… What I learned is that Cancer is not rational, or fair – it just happens.

 

3. Support your loved ones:  We had the chance to show our love before Aunt Cyndi passed. But that also made me think about some of the family relationships in my life that I was holding back showing my love to. So I reached out to them, realizing that it feels better to put the past behind and move on to enjoy the time we do have together.

 

4. Social Action: In my dream world I would have this big endowment to get together the world experts on Cancer to share all the information out there in some massive database and crunch out cures…In my dreams somehow tech could find the cure.. In reality, I support the organizations that are doing research to do my part. This includes participating in research studies such as Cancer Prevention CPS-3 Study, which I am calling my gift to future generations run by the American Cancer Society. I will be participating in the study this weekend in honor of my Aunt Cyndi and many others (family and friends) that have bravely fought Cancer.

 

For those with family or friends that have been touched by Cancer (or your own experiences), what type of perspective did you gain?

 

 

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post. I did receive a small stipend to share information on the CP3 Study, but my participation in the study and outreach is driven by my passion to help find cures.

 

 

Makers: Women Who Make America Documentary #MakersWomen

10-2-2014 UPDATE: The second season has started (Tuesdays) airing on PBS.

 

I am excited to share that on Tuesday, February 26th the documentary called “MAKERS: Women Who Make Americais debuting on PBS (check local listings) and includes a powerful list of inspiring women that are “groundbreakers who have sparked change, been firsts-in-their-fields, and paved the way for those who followed“. I had the opportunity to attend a press event months ago where they had some of the amazing Makers Women  in attendance (including Gloria Steinem and our own local Lisa Stone of BlogHer ) while they showed us some clips from the documentary.

 

 

 

Along with the ones I mentioned above, some others highlighted in the documentary are Katie Couric, Linda Alvarado, Brenda Berkman, Judy Blume, Carol Burnett, Ursula Burns, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres, Geraldine Ferraro, Theresa Kane, Billie Jean King, Maya Lin, Susan Love, Marissa Mayer, Robin Morgan, Sandra Day O’Connor, Maria Pepe, Michelle Rhee, Condoleezza Rice, Faith Ringgold, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Zainab Salbi, Sheryl Sandberg, Phyllis Schlafly, Barbara Smith, Martha Stewart, Kathrine Switzer, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Barbara Walters.  The Makers.com program description from the PBS website explains: “Review the story of how women have helped shape America over the last 50 years through one of the most sweeping social revolutions in our country’s history, in pursuit of their rights to a full and fair share of political power, economic opportunity and personal autonomy. The documentary builds on the unprecedented multi-platform video experience from PBS and AOL: MAKERS.com.”

 

The Makers press release also described “cast of partners behind the documentary that brought it to life – took a team effort, just like the movement overall!”:

 

  • PBS, for giving a national televised platform and broad community and grassroots network;
  •  AOL, for creating an engaging online experience at MAKERS.com;
  • and Simple ® facial skincare brand, for providing resources for production and promotion and sharing a like-minded vision of celebrating women whose authenticity, ideals and pioneering spirit inspire others every day.

 

 

 

The red-carpet premiere event in NYC was star studded and included interviews with many of the amazing women in the documentary:

 

 

MAKERS: Women Who Make America. Credit: Courtesy of Rahoul Ghose/PBS

 

 

 

 

The press release also had a quote from one of my inspirations “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day; a movement is only people moving.” ~ MAKER, Gloria Steinem.

 

 

Beth Blecherman (TechMama) with Gloria Steinem at the Makers Women Silicon Valley press event.

 

Having the opportunity to meet Gloria Steinem at the press event even inspired me even more to do my part to contribute to the movement. To start, I will be watching MAKERS: Women Who Make America on Feb. 26 on PBS !

 

10-2-2014 UPDATE: The second season has started (Tuesdays) airing on PBS.

 

Disclosure: This is a press update.

 

 

 

#FamilyFriendlyWork – Social Media “Meme” Edition

I was one of the lucky ones.  As a Senior Manager at a top consulting firm with a 4 year-old son and twins on the way, I was offered options. The firm was very serious about providing a family friendly workplace, so I could have taken maternity leave and then come back to flexible assignment. With twins on the horizon, I decided to leave, but felt fortunate that the choice was mine and I had great options should I decide to stay. Many parents don’t have it so easy, working for companies that don’t have family friendly workplace policies, and forced to make difficult tradeoffs to achieve work/life balance.

 

 

After my twins were in preschool, I explored options to get back to work and decided to start my “career 2.0” by working in social media. Writing and consulting projects in social media offer the flexibility to work at home, but there were, and years later still are, many tech events and meetings that I needed to attend.  so I did the juggle of working with my husband’s work schedule and finding a sitter.

 

I was lucky to have a husband who contributed an equal partner in parenting, as well as a mother nearby and some reliable sitters available. While our family’s work-life balance was truly a balancing act, with multiple support options available I have been able to pull it off so far. In my book, “My Parent Plan“, I talk about the process of planning for childcare. Even if it is well anticipated and managed, it is still a challenge because there is never an easy solution to manage both the anticipated and unanticipated in life. Balancing the schedules of younger kids needing a sitter, as well as working through after school programs for older kids, is sometimes nearly impossible to plan.

 

 

If I had a national task force to solve this issue, I would try to do the following:

 

1. Use the power of local communities: I would love to see each local community accept the responsibility of helping organize local (safe) afterschool programs. There are so many people out of work (including teachers). What if local governments could help match qualified local professionals with nearby afterschool programs. Communities could team up with fitness centers (such as the YMCA or JCC’s) to use available space for needed family services.

 

 

2. Take Your Kids To Work (when possible). Let’s face it, not every workplace is a good fit for parents to share with their kids (and many kids are in school all day). How about expanding telecommuting options so if it fits with the job -  parents can utilize all the modern communication technology out there and work from home more often. Or what if some conferences and workplaces that were flexible offered childcare, allowed parents to bring their kids or offer supervised activities for kids?  After years of seeing parents taking their kids to the BlogHer Conferences, I was not surprised to see yet another year of childcare announced for BlogHer13. BlogHer is a great role model for incorporating a family friendly “conference” environment.

 

I have already seen many great examples of parents (moms and dads) taking their kids to work.  The Huffington post shared a picture of Licia Ronzulli with her toddler at European Parliament and Mom101 discussed what a family friendly work environment looks like with a picture of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand being sworn in holding her child. Unicef and many other organizations recognize “Parents should be afforded the necessary protection and assistance to fulfill their responsibilities within the community and to their children“.  The New York Times just recently published an article that discussed “For more than two decades the demands and hours of work have been intensifying. Yet progress in adopting family-friendly work practices and social policies has proceeded at a glacial pace.

 

To help move the discussion of family friendly work environments forward I want to call on the power of social media to share #FamilyFriendlyWork success stories. I hope this will ignite the discussion and show that creating a family friendly workplace is possible. Keep in mind, I do believe a family friendly work environment does not mean everyone should bring their kids to work, it means that parents can have the support to either find the right childcare or include their kids in relevant work experiences when possible.  What better way to inspire our own kids to create their own career goals?

 

CALL TO ACTION:

 

Please comment below with your family friendly work environment ideas, success stories or links to blog posts (or any social media) or websites that discuss this. For those parents that want to share links to pictures of their #FamilyFriendlyWork please do so. It can happen!

 

MY EXAMPLE:

 

I took my 14 year old son to a tech conference (he even received his own press badge) as my cameraman and video editor!

 

 

If you post or share, please use the hashtag #familyfriendlywork and share your ideas (and links) as comments to this post.

 

Disclosure: This post is just my own way of trying to further the discussion of family friendly work environments…

 

 

 

 

In Honor of Susan Niebur – Her Inspiration Will Always Be With Us

When people ask me about the parent blogging community, I say it is a diverse and supportive community.  Most can’t understand how online relationships can translate to friendships, but it does. I had the honor of meeting Susan Niebur (WhyMommy) through BlogHer. Beyond being a parent blogger, she was also also a scientist, mother and amazing friend to many. The first time I had an extended email conversation with her was on the night she posted about her courageous fight with cancer and that she was going in for a Double Mastectomy. When I read that post, I emailed her to see if there was anything I could do. She was so brave and took the time to respond to my email with information about Inflammatory Breast Cancer. I then followed her inspirational journey online at her blog Toddler Planet. When I had the opportunity to spend time with her at BlogHer events – my admiration grew – she was like a strong ray of light that touched so many. Or -as she put in her blog – a fighting princess. I even had the chance to take a picture of her at BlogHer 08 (above).

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Power of The Blogosphere for Support and Peanut Butter Pie

I just returned from back to back trips to BlogHer11  in San Diego and a family East Coast beach vacation (lots of aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins abound). Every time I go to BlogHer I am envigorated at the power of the blogging community. When I spend time with my family I am reminded of the power of family vacations to create special memories.
 
While we did not have Wi-Fi at our vacation house (which helped me get some needed “unplugged” time), I did check my emails when I got reception. One morning I happened to see an email that brought me to tears. A fantastic food/mom blogger that is part of our extended “blogging” community (Jennifer Perillo of In Jennie’s Kitchen) shared sad news: her husband died suddenly. When my sister in law saw me tearing up while reading my email on my phone – she asked me what happened. After I told her, I realized that there were bloggers and blog viewers across the country (maybe world) also shedding tears of saddness at the news. Many people have questioned how “real” the blogging/social media connections I have are. This is another example of how the blogging community shows their support.
 
On that note, to support  Jennifer Perillo and honor the memory of her husband, bloggers have been making and posting about Peanut Butter Pie. Here is the Food Network post that summarizes all the posts to date.
 
Because I just got back from my vacation – I missed making the Pie and taking a picture for yesterday’s community event. But I want to honor Mikey by heading to the store today to get the ingredients and attempt to do something I have not done in a long time – cook a pie.

 

One.Org – A Movement To End Poverty, Mom to Mom

Emily McKhann, Co-Founder of The Motherhood, and some other fantastic mom bloggers shared that they were participating in a very special movement called OneMoms for One.org. With all the information shared on social media, "grassroots" cause campaigns are the most worthwhile of all. Here is information about One.org from their website:

"ONE is a grassroots advocacy and campaigning organization that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa, by raising public awareness and pressuring political leaders to support smart and effective policies and programs that are saving lives, helping to put kids in school and improving futures. Cofounded by Bono and other campaigners, ONE is nonpartisan and works closely with African activists and policy makers."

Those mom bloggers (#OneMoms)  are in Kenya this week to meet with local moms to see what their lives are like in a developing world. Follow their amazing trip this week by reading their blog posts http://one.org/blog/category/mothers-day-2011/  and join the movement by signing up at http://one.org/us/actnow/moms/.

I did!

Here are links to some posts from the other mom bloggers on the trip:

Jyl Johnson Pattee – MomItForward, Jennifer James of the Mom Bloggers Club, Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks  and Emily McKhann's fellow Co-Founder at the TheMotherHood – Cooper Monroe.  

 

Secrets to My success: Guy Kawasaki’s Social Media and Business Tips (with info on current deal!)

When I first starting blogging in 2006 one of the first people I followed on Twitter was Guy Kawasaki.  He already had a successful business career and was one of the early ones to fully realize the potential of social media. I also read Guy Kawasaki’s books. His tips are explained in a authentic way that helped me understand the intricacies of business and social media, and he reinforces these key messages by reaching out to his community with presentations and social media events. One of my favorite social media events was the USS Nimitz Blogger Embark, which Guy, I and a team of bloggers went on together.

Last week I interviewed Guy Kawasaki about his book Enchantment for a REP Interactive video (more details to come on my video). Using his hints and tips were invaluable to me; I now have my own online brand, TechMama, so I can say his tips worked! I looked forward to reading Enchantment to learn more.

Guy Kawasaki and Beth Blecherman talking about Guy’s book “Enchantment” during a REP Interactive video. More details about the video to come…

Deal alert, read on to find out details..

Guy Kawasaki’s most recent book, Enchantment, “explains how to influence what people will do while maintaining your highest standards of ethics“. Enchantment is about a journey – bringing to market a cause, more than a temporary or shallow relationship to get the job done. While my TechMama brand is the intersection between tech and family, a key part of my brand it holding myself to the highest standards of ethics to respect the influence I have.

The book discusses how to use push technologies such as Twitter and pull technologies like Facebook, websites and blogs to achieve likability, trustworthiness, and overcome resistance,.  There are great tips in this book for anyone in business and social media.  Even those who are social media obsessed like me need to read the book and learn about influence, ethics and the best uses of “push” and “pull” technologies.

On that note, I saw that there is also a deal going on for those who buy Enchantment. Here are the details:

 Guy Kawasaki recently teamed up with friends at Peachpit Press to create a special promotion. When people anywhere in the world buy a copy of Enchantment in any form (paper, recording, or ebook), they can get a free copy of Garr’s book called Presentation Zen. Presentation Zen is one of the best books ever written about making great presentations. Seth Godin said this about it: “Please don’t buy this book! Once people start making better presentations, mine won’t look so good.” Redemption is done here: Click here to find about about the Enchantment/ Presentation Zen deal.

The deal is valid for the first 750 entrants. But deal or no deal, I recommend the book Enchantment as a must read for those in business and social media.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book Enchantment for review purposes. 

 

Inspiration by Drake & Dominick and Avid – To support Foster Kids College Dreams

While I met Deborah Perry Piscione for the first time at a media event, I was already a fan of her website Betty Confidential. Then I was inspired to find out about a foundation started by none other then her sons Drake and Dominick in lieu of birthday gifts to raise money for the AVID program (Advancement via Individual Determination) that helps put foster kids in public school on a college readiness track.

The Drake and Dominick foundation website explained "This remarkable non-profit, AVID, is an innovator and leader in preparing first-time college go-ers on a college readiness track. Offered as an elective class in public schools (starting in the 4th grade), AVID kids learn lifelong skills such as organization skills, financial essentials, and tutorial support for any classes they need additional support in. The AVID life becomes a family for so many foster kids as they participate in AVID through 12th grade."

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Chris Medina on American Idol – Why I just may start watching that show..

I have been too busy to watch much TV, but I do like the reality shows because they make my life seem less crazy (ehh, ehh Real Housewives). I don't really watch the singing/dancing reality shows that often, but happened to walk by when my hubby was watching American Idol last night. Chris Medina was auditioning – and it was so powerful that I may start watching American Idol (as well as Steven, JLo and Randy make a great judging panel). Here is Chris Medina's audition. It is especially touching to me because I have such ethical, caring boys of my own – but as my eldest is in middle school I see how mean kids can get. Chris Medina is a role model for boys – his mom should be so proud!

Click HERE to see the video:

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