Secret Subject Swap: July 11, 2014

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap.

This week, 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado
The Momisodes
Spatulas on Parade
Stacy Sews and Schools
Sparkly Poetic Weirdo
Confessions of a part-time working mom
Dates 2 Diapers 2
Crumpets and Bullocks
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy
Someone Else’s Genius
The Bergham’s Life Chronicles

My subject is How Do You Pay It Forward? It was submitted by .

I pay it forward.

Quite a bit.

I am a firm believer that what comes out of this world is due to what we put in it. If we invest in hatred and anger we will have a violent, angry and destructive society. If we invest in love and hard work, we will have a productive, beautiful, atmosphere.

That is not to say everything will be all doom and gloom or sunshine and daisies.

There will always be some people who will have a nasty, mean, cruel streak that runs through them and they will do whatever they can to mar someone else's soul with pain.

On the flipside, there will always be people who choose to smile in the face of anger, who blossom in the driest and ugliest of soils, and who use the jagged, cruel foundation on what they were raised as a platform for kindness.

I grew up poor.

There is no way around that.

Many times, many many times, the things I needed, came only from the generosity of others.

My school uniforms were from the donated piles, the times I went to camp was due to scholarships from people who were kind enough to give kids an opportunity to go, too many times our food came from food banks and holiday meals, were brought to us by the Salvation Army or church.

It was not due to lack of hard work. My mom held down mulitple jobs, worked hard at work and at home. She cut me no slack and instilled in me an incredibly strong work ethhic that holds no shame.

That simply means, I will never be too proud to scrub toilets to put food on my table for my family.

My mom had back problems, almost constant pain, tingling and numbness, which she attributed to working all the time.

She could not take time off to go to the doctors and the fees for the specialists were too much.

Eventually, she had to go.

She was recommended for surgery. Then one surgery led to another and that one led to complications and that led to another surgery and that led to 6 months of bed rest.

And then another surgery to correct the complications.

After that, my mom was in constant pain. Walking is hard for her. Standing too long is hard for her. Sitting too long is hard. So she is usually moving around, disjointedly, trying to assuage the pain that she gets, the numbness she has not been able to do anything about.

For three years she fought for disability, for help for me and her. Savings go quickly once you have no income coming in.

Eventually with the help of a lawyer, she did get disability benefits. But in that meantime, we had to rely on the kindness of others.

I know, I know, that did not answer how I pay it forward, just simply why.

I have been shown kindness, many times in my life, that has proved to me that there is beauty and wonderful people in this world.

If you watch the television, listen to the radio or pick a paper, it all screams there is only bad people in this world looking to destroy it or pick it apart somehow.

There is no way, I can swallow that load of crap.

I know that there are good people in this world who would give you the shirt off their back just to put a smile on your face. I know that there are people in this world who would offer a drowning man a glass of water too.

But I also know, there are people who are idle. Who are on the fence. Who do not know that they can make an impact. They simply let life pass them by, believing in the myth that the broken record will continue to skip and err. They do not realize that if they get up, and change the record, a beautiful melody will play.

Attempting to be the change in this world is not easy. It is not appreciated by many who are content to stay in stagnant waters. It is often times not encouraged or advertised as people choose to look the other way.

How I 'Pay It Forward', 'It' to me being kindness, compassion, and the change I wish to be in this world is by being vocal.

I refuse to see homeless people, people living in poverty, people who are in abusive relationships, people who are addicted to substances, people who are stuck in prostitution as statistics.

I choose to see them as people.

People I want to help if they are ready to receive help.

I choose to be loud, annoying and shedding light on issues people try to sweep under the carpet.

By raising awareness.

By choosing to not shut up.

I do volunteer quite a bit. I actually recently scaled back my volunteering so I could spend more time with my family.

Although I believe in random acts of kindness, as they brighten a strangers day, and could give them the lift they need or the quick reaffirmation that not all humanity is bad, I like to focus on long term acts of kindness.

I volunteer in a Womens and Children Shelter. Usually in the playroom where I plan a couple crafts, have story time, and fun activities. I prepare meals at the shelter, I have recently with the help of co-workers and friends, sponsored a meal and brought it in for 25 people at the shelter.

I do events at the shelter. I help facilitate and create events, snacks, and activities and crafts for the Back to School event where low-income children can get their school supplies at no cost to them or their parents and they will get treated to a day of fun. Also the Fall Festival and the Christmas Party.

Things can get drab and boring living in a shelter. It can be heart breaking and depressing. A friend asked me why I choose to participate in 'useless' activities/events as mentioned above since they can do with more money and food rather than fun.

Do you know how awkward it feels to have to ask for something? How weird it feels that your family cannot provide something for you? How hard it is for your parents to admit they need to get out of an abusive relationship? How brave it is to go to a shelter? To admit you need help?

Do you have any clue how much of a toll that takes on a little ones soul?

I know we think we shelter our children from the bad things in life, or at least we try, but sometimes there is no sheltering. There is abuse, drug use, bad language, poor circumstances that they are just born into, they begin to accept that as their norm.

Let me note, I do not only donate my time, but also my money to many worthwhile organizations that allocate money and funds to people that need it, but the reason I choose to do these events is because it brings joy to the hearts of many who for too long have been down trodden upon.


Yep. That is it.

I will facepaint, act silly, hop scotch, pin a tail on a donkey all day long, to show these children how to have fun, that they can have fun, and that not everything in life is serious and scary.

We need reminders from time to time, that there are better things in this world, and that those things are tangible for us.

Besides volunteering at the shelter, I host food and necessity drives for our local shelters twice a year.

I tend to bug my co-workers into adopting a family and an elderly senior around the holidays, also do that home. I usually carry blessing bags with me when I am out on the town, to give to anybody that may need one, usually a homeless person.

A blessing bag (at least mine) includes, granola bars, peanut butter crackers, first aid kit, numbers to the shelter, two dollars in change, duct tape, hand sanitizer, gum, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, a water bottle, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner (travel size) and a comb.

I spent the first part of this year getting donations for an event we hold every couple years for uninsured and underinsured women within our community to get their screening mammograms. Our department partners with local organizations, Komen Grant, BCCCP, the health department, private donators, to make sure we can get these women covered for screening services. I pounded on doors, sent letters, stopped into businesses, and you know what? I got donations for our event.

I participate with the American Cancer Society for different events. I've volunteered for the CPS3 Studies, I have captained a team and raised thousands of dollars for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk through the ACS the last three years, I have participated and captained a team for Relay for Life for the ACS. I know in total over the years I have personally raised over 10,000 for the American Cancer Society but I have no exact totaly how much.

I have signed petitions asking for more funding in state aid for patients who are diagnosed with cancer or other diseases so they can get covered. I have wrote to our paper. I have wrote to our senator.

I also donate to my friends when they are collecting for worthwhile causes. I donate my time to multiple events in my community. I particpate in the Diabetes Walk and raise funds, I regularly donate clothes to the salvation army.

Those are ways I 'pay it forward', small they may be and I know I am forgetting a ton, but they are only a part of it.

I truly believe the best way I pay it forward, is to choose to be vocal.

When someone makes a snide remark about homeless people, about wasting time volunteering, about how funds sometimes go missing in big organizations, about anything that is rude, condescending, or non-productive, I open my mouth.

Too long we have let naysayers entertain us. We have believed the Chicken Littles of this world that the sky is falling and there is only ugliness left here.

I choose to negate that.

If we plant negativity, negativity will grow.

If we choose to effect change, it may be hard work, it may take a couple tries, we may have so much push back we will want to stop, but if we keep going, good things we will happen.

So, I will enter a dialogue. I will explain why I do what I do. I will invite them to volunteer next to me, next to the people in the shelter, celebrate our cancer survivors, bring a family a meal that they have hungered for...not to shame them, but to educate them.

I choose to be a loud advocate for the causes I believe in.

Really the word is annoying. The buzzing bee in the ear that just will not go away.

Raising awareness and being vocal may get some backlash but it opens a conversation. It presents an opportunity for people to help a broken system, it allows them to consider helping, getting involved, or finding something they believe in to advocate for.

Choosing to be vocal can inspire others around us. They may never tell us, they may never show us, but it may light a fire in their souls and help them blaze a trail of change and kindness in this world.

Choosing to be vocal can educate people on how they can help others. Some people simply do not know where to apply to volunteer, who to talk to, or where they can find some cause they are interested in.

Choosing to be vocal, allows me to reflect on what I believe in and how I can help more.

We are only as good as the kindness we put forth into this world.

We belong to each other.

For that reason alone, I will always pay it forward and I will never shut up.


  1. Love, love, LOVE this post! And I think I fell a little in love with you. I, too, am a big believer in paying it forward and I do whenever I can. I grew up poor as well, and I'm still struggling financially. But we don't let that stop us from giving.

    1. Thanks Sarah :-)

      We do what we can when we can. As long as our hearts are full of giving that's all that matters.

      It's hard to get on the right track financially sometimes. Half the time I find myself doing the happy dance when I have enough to cover ALL the bills.

      Silly little things but seriously, bills suck and it's hard to get straightened out and on the right road sometimes so good luck.

      OOO (<-those are just hugs, I wasn't sure how you'd feel about kisses)

  2. I believe in paying it forward too. I have to admit, I never really thought about the random acts of kindness that we see on the news and smile at but you're right, they're cute but they're one time occurrences. Continued, long time commitment to a cause is so much more meaningful.

    1. Don't get me wrong, I still like to do them. Buy the cup of coffee of the guys behind me, leave a positive note for a co-worker, leave little gift cards in public places for people. It never hurts to put a smile on someones face.

      But I'd rather work at keeping the smile there and getting to know the person.

  3. YOU are AMAZING!!! Your pay it forwards are in no way small especially to the people that you touch.
    I also grew up poor. I know exactly what it's like to not have the things you need and that is also the reason I pay it forward.

    1. It love to hear when people can give back.

      Every time we do it's choosing to invest in our society and each other. :-)

  4. You're making the rest of look bad....

    No, but seriously. You are amazing. I remember, while growing up, adopting a family at Christmas with my parents and how fun it was to go shopping for them. I'm thinking this year we'll choose a family from the Angel Tree.

    I hope you continue to inspire and advocate. ((HUGS))

    1. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to adopt a family and give and it teaches our families the importance of giving.

  5. Jenn, you are saying so many true and important things in that post, I can't even start commenting on everything. Love the JOY you bring to (little) people's lives, the BLESSING BAGS you carry in your purse, the INVOLVING of and EXPLAINING to people who need to hear it (I consider myself one of them) and mostly the TIME you give for the countless activities - you are a hero! Thank you!

    1. Tamara don't make me blush.

      Thank you for your kind words friend!

  6. A. I loved what you did with the prompt. I think the why is just as important as the how. You did a very good job with telling the whole story.

    B. I love all the ways you pay it forward. You do the stuff I don't really like doing, like I love children, but ever since I had children of my own, I don't have fun anymore pinning the tail on the donkey. In fact, the donkey kind of stresses me out. But that's the point in volunteering. We all can contribute with our passions and joys to the greater good.

    C. I think being vocal is a good thing. It's almost like I see a struggle of positive and negative things becoming viral, whether it be on the internet or gossip among the PTA, and it's like you get to a point where you have to vocalize your feelings just simply for balance of the input going into your brain.

    D. Joy is a very good thing to bring this world. There just doesn't seem to be enough of it, especially in the environments to which you bring joy.


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