Monday, February 29, 2016

Tales From A Nonprofit Director

Someone once said to me, "Man, you've got it good. Working for a nonprofit must be so much fun."

And it is. But it is not easy. Now, before I go into this long diatribe about how hard my life is and how many hours I put in, please know, I get it. I get that there are a LOT of perks. As with any job, there are pros and cons, but unlike most jobs, my world is a whole lot more fickle and revolves, my dear ones, around you. Yes, you.

I've worked in nonprofits for many, many years. Even in college, my part time jobs were with nonprofits, so that means for 25 years of my life, the whole "serving others" bit has been in my blood. (Outside of that short stint in television, this really is all I know.)

Wherever I work, there is always a mission. Our mission is basically our purpose or service. When I worked for the Girls Scouts, it was to improve the character and empower girls of all ages. When I was with the American Heart Association, it was to encourage people to live longer, healthier lives. When I worked for the Tubman Museum, I worked diligently to educate people about African American art, history and culture, and now, my sweet readers, my job is devoted to acquiring, conserving, interpreting, and exhibiting artifacts reflecting Georgia’s heritage from the antebellum through reconstruction eras. I try to engage and inspire the community by presenting authentic and entertaining educational programs, exhibits, and special events through a wide range of events.

I'm not doing it for me. Heck, I already know this stuff. I'm at the museum more than I am at home. I offer these events, programs, tours for YOU. It's all for you.

I live in a community where showing pride in your city and promoting what is good and just is our raison d'etre. When I got hired, we had a hand full of solid programs and very little movement toward growing and expanding into our community. We needed support. Just like at every other nonprofit I have worked for, I worked hard, with our staff, to create program, events, and pull out little intriguing nuggets to share with our community. The key here was to engage my audience.

That requires creativity, time, and a whole lot of trial and error. We stuffed our program calendar with offerings, and now we offer just about everything under the sun. These fun events take up a majority of mine and the staff's weekend time. It takes months of planning, begging, borrowing, and pleading to make these "little nights out" for you and your loved ones happen. If you don't support the nonprofit, it will be all for naught.

As I sit here, typing this quick blog post out, I'm trying desperately to keep my eyes open. I'm running on antibiotics, pain pills, and about 4 hours sleep. I had some dental work done last week (emergency,) and I had a huge event all day Saturday. I stood at our front door, smiling and chatting it up with hundreds of people. I talked so much on Saturday, that at 3:15, when I wiped my mouth thinking I had a little bit of saliva, realized it was a little blood from the procedure. I left, only to go lay my head down for 30 minutes, then got dressed and headed out to be a celebrity judge for a local college's talent show/musical revue. I got home just before midnight.
I was wiped out.

I came into work today because I knew I had a lot to do... for you. I wanted to make sure the museum got cleaned up from the Saturday event. I wanted to work on ordering more items for a big party I plan to throw in April (Beards, Bourbon, & Bacon) and yet.. I really need to be laying down and healing.

But I can't. I have a party to throw for you.

But the question is... do you support what I do?

I had someone come look at the house for a wedding, and was quickly informed that they did not want (for their reputation,) to be associated with the Civil War. I quickly explained what our house was about... and knowing I am offering this person the lowest rate in town for a wedding, and for them to still sort of wonder...

It's exhausting.

If you say you want a good life for your family and you don't take advantage of what community groups are doing for you - then shame on you. People like me are busting our bottoms to make sure your quality of life is extraordinary. We give everything we have to only have you come up and ask for free tickets or for us to donate something, or to maybe even come to YOUR EVENT. When did you reciprocate the favor?

Next time you pick and choose events to attend, remember, there is a real life human being behind that computer skin who is trying to make your life better. Will you show your appreciation by participating?

Yes, I get to go to a lot of parties and mingle with more important people than the average person knows, but I work a lot of hours. These parties are work. The conversations, the grinning and bearing it when you hear something offensive, the begging for money or collaboration.. it's all there for you to see and take advantage of.

I suppose my hope is, each of you will one day take the time and actually support a few events. Show up to a few activities, and keep living your fantastic life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

HEAL Thyself

It started with a little drainage, and turned into bronchitis.

Aint nobody got time for that. That damned bronchitis tried to ruin my Valentine's Day and Birthday weekend at the beach. Luckily, one of my board members was able to arm me with the good stuff.

Thank goodness, it's over. But now I have this terrible toothache.

Unfortunately, I don't have dental insurance.. sooo.. it's clove oil and motrin.

But enough with my problems. Let's take a look at the special weekend.

Okay, okay, enough with the questions, friends! No, I did not get engaged. Let's move on...

Friday night we piled into the car about 6:30 and headed Southwest for Mexico Beach. I drove the 2 hours to the farm, then we drove another 3.5 hours to Florida. Around 7ish, we decided to stop for dinner in Alabama, and I am so glad we did! We stumbled into this awesome little Mexican restaurant.

I enjoyed a chili rellano and SG got the Texas fajitas. It was a wonderful meal! The service was excellent, the place cute on the inside. We both decided that this would be a must stop by when we are traveling. 

By the time we got to the beach, it was around 11pm est. We basically crawled into bed for a nice long night's sleep. The next morning, we got up and headed over to a local dive in Mexico Beach called The Fish House. Always a great place to go for breakfast!

He opted for a heavy meat omelet, and I went for cheese eggs and a side of fruit. It was one of those perfect, relaxing breakfasts where we held hands and laughed. Great conversation with the man you love is the perfect way to start a trip. After breakfast, we headed over to the Dollar General market and did a little grocery shopping, followed by another stop at a Piggly Wiggly in Port St. Joe. My gift to him was to cook paleo meals the entire weekend (outside of our going out to eat.) I did my research a week before and was armed with my grocery list! 

We even stopped by a little arts & crafts/farmer's market across from the Old Governor. I bought a hand quilted cap, strawberries and zucchini.

We headed back to the house for a nap, and I later, I cooked a delicious lunch. It was a watermelon, strawberry, caprese salad with balsamic vinegar. Delish. 

We took yet another nap. (I told you I was loaded up on meds,) and little did I know, while I was resting, SG had made dinner reservations for our Valentine's dinner. We got dressed up and headed over to Apalachicola. We stopped in a great little coffee shop called the Apalachicola Coffee Company for cappuccinos. 

After the coffees, we drove over to Antonio's on the Bay. A lovely Italian Restaurant. I would HIGHLY recommend this place. The view from the restaurant was beautiful!

We started with: Antipasto Italiano. The restaurant describes it as: 
Antipasto means "before the meal" and is the traditional first course of a formal Italian meal. Our traditional antipasto includes cured meats such as prosciutto, salami and soppressata, then anchovies, roasted peppers, olives, artichoke hearts, fresh mozzarella. 12.45 

Of course, we enjoyed our drinks. He had a dirty martini, followed by a glass of Riesling, I had a Bellini. Next came about TWO baskets of bread with the oil & vinegar.

 Followed by our entree's. I had the Melanzane alla Parmigiana: The dish is claimed by both Campania and Sicily. Melanzane alla Parmigiana (or eggplant parmesan) is a very famous Southern Italian classic dish. Made with layers of eggplant, tomato sauce and grated parmesan cheese, then baked. Served with a side of pasta. 19.45 

While he had the Penne all ‘Antonio: Penne is a type of pasta with cylinder-shaped pieces. Penne is the plural form of the Italian penna, deriving from Latin penna (meaning "feather" or "quill"), and is a cognate of the English word pen. Chef Antonio’s best pasta creation, Penne Pasta sautéed in a light pink, cognac sauce with scallops and shrimp. 19.95

And in classic style, we ended up swapping meals. lol 
Following our entree, we went for the dessert. I had the Tiramisu:  Layers of espresso drenched lady fingers separated by mascarpone cream and dusted with cocoa powder. 7.95
While he went for the Bavarese al Cioccolato: Bavarese Chocolate is soft, tasty, and fragrant…I love it! To simply say that it’s good is really an understatement.

I hardly remember driving home. I was basically in carb coma. Talk about the perfect Valentine's gift! We had been going so low carb for months now, it was just too much. You know how romantic it was? We got home about 9:30, I walked into the bedroom, put on my pjs and went to sleep. Oh yeah. Good times. 

The next morning, I awoke, definitely fatter, and made a beeline for the kitchen. I made a high protein, healthier breakfast casserole. It was spicy havarti, sausage, eggs, and cilantro. We loved it!

Afterwards, we wanted to take Gypsy to the beach, so we packed up the chairs and headed that way. Just one block from the house and I noticed a coffee shop! I HAD to stop. 
We grabbed out lattes and headed down to the Gulf. 

After Gypsy's nice long walk, and me trying to catch up on my magazine reading, we headed back to the house, where I whipped up the next paleo lunch!
This time - cilantro, cucumbers, red onions, lime juice, sea salt, and olive oil! YUM!
Followed by:

Paprika chicken in a Butter, garlic, white wine and thyme sauce with a side of spinach. 
We were in paleo heaven! lol

Which caused us to nap and for me to develop the world's worst headache.
It was so bad, I thought I had meningitis again. Seriously.

Valentine's was a good one. Plus, he got me a book I was dying to read:
We got up the next morning and headed back to Georgia. 

That Monday, we sort of laid low and relaxed. On Tuesday, we had my birthday dinner and I got a Samsung Fit Gear from him, a nice wooden laptop desk from his mom, and a $25 gift card from his sister. 

This past weekend we worked on his house - he's trying to decide whether to sell or to keep.

Decisions, decisions. 

So with that folks, I turned 43. 
Nothing special. I was sick. Ugh.

Oh yeah.. and I started a commercial website. Oh yeah I did. Know all of the inside scoop you get? Well.. with all that I do, I've decided to turn it into something else. Please consider following that blog:
It's fairly self explanatory.

Until next time. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Need to Get Out of My Own Head

I work daily at trying to keep my inner curmudgeon at bay. I realize that I have a natural propensity to being dry, sarcastic, and sometimes a little too much of a realist. I get it. It's been brought to my attention and I work hard at not being that person.

With that being said, today was a true test of my faith and character. Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

A few weeks ago, my sister was undergoing some tests for breast cancer. They found a mass in one breast and several nodules in the other, along with a host of other symptoms, and honestly the outcome was not looking good, so that whole thing was laying underneath the surface of my every day. The what ifs were racing through my brain, and finally, last night, I came to some peace about most of it. 

Just last week, I got really, really sick. It started with vomiting and diarrhea (gorgeous thought, right?) Followed by a burning, hacking cough that made me feel like I was suffocating. I was stressed out about it because I had a pending birthday trip and I am one of the millions without health insurance. Luckily, one of my board members gave me an array of strong drugs and within about a week, it wiped it out. BUT, my birthday/Valentine's trip was sort of a bust because, honestly, I did not feel well. I was a bit of a negative nelly about the whole thing, just overly bummed out over not feeling well. I slept a ton and just lay around feeling like absolute shit. 

I was feeling sort of morose over my transitional lifestyle, age, this and that, and the unknown future. I sent SG a text saying I was really in a dark place and needed a healthy dose of positivity. 

After a good night's sleep, I awoke to another day - but this time, I felt tons better and was genuinely in a good mood. I got my car out of the shop (the bumper was replaced after my sister crashed into it.) I got to interview, in person, Matt Catingub, who happens to be: the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Glendale Pops in Los Angeles, California, the
Artistic Director and founder of the Hawaii Pops in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Artistic Director and founder of the Macon Pops in Macon, Georgia, the Festival Pops Conductor of the New Hampshire Music Festival, the Past Pops Conductor for the Honolulu Symphony, the Hawaii Symphony, and the New Mexico Symphony. Pretty impressive, right? THEN I got to interview Steve Moretti. He is a Multi Grammy®-nominated and two-time Telly Award winning drummer and percussionist, plus he can also be seen and heard, playing live in the Clint Eastwood film,  “Jersey Boys!” He toured with Matt  and the legendary Rosemary Clooney for six years and recorded two Grammy®-nominated CDs with them on Concord Records: Sentimental Journey and The Last Concert. He has appeared on the Today Show, The View, the Rosie O’Donnell Show and Christmas Special, an NBC special, An Evening with Scott Hamilton and Friends, A&E, PBS, and Oregon ArtBeat. They sat in my office and joked around about all of the fun they have had traveling all over the world. This is the 4th story I have worked on them for. As I sat across from them, I thought to myself, I'm doing it.

Do I realize it?

I'm doing it. I've had the chance to interview folks who did big things on a big level. I have told their story. I have a bit of friendship with some of these folks. I need to appreciate this and realize that I set out to do what I planned to do. I am successfully freelancing. It's all good. So that picked my spirits up. 

Then after a brief conversation with my coworkers, we realized that one of them had never visited my church, St. Joseph's in Macon. It's absolutely beautiful. An amazing cathedral. I know, I know.. we all think our churches are beautiful.. but.. 


It's incredible 

So we decided to pop in, and lo and behold, we walked right in at the tail end of an organ concert. Not only did I get to show off the church, my co worker, who happens to be a pianist, got the chance to hear our organ. It was magical. 

 Again - another reminder that God was there. I went over to the candles and lit one for my sister, hoping we would receive good news today.
After church, we headed over to Molly's cafe and had a delightful lunch. It had been a while since I ate there, and it was nice when the waitress remembered me. Sort of made me feel appreciated and its the little things like that.. that make the difference. Little did she know that I was having a hard time feeling positive lately, but she made me feel valued. Little. Tiny. Things.

I made it back to work and right before it was time to go, I thought I would call a few businesses down on Cotton Avenue for a story I am working on about the history of the street. I decided to give one book store a call, because I had remembered the wife of the store owner mentioning one day how much he wanted some promotion. So I called him. 
He was rude. Basically implying he did not have time for me or the story. Now.. I've been in the store. It's mostly empty. I'm pretty sure he had a minute to answer two questions and I KNOW he needs the exposure. He basically was rude and blew me off. 

Now.. this is just a thing right? But remember the weeks I've been having, and I was genuinely coming to him in good faith, trying to include his little shop into something special about the tiny avenue he works on. But in turn, I got slapped in the face. For what? Who knows. I was reminded in that moment of that Buddhist saying and it goes something (loosely) like this: When someone lashes out at you, don't take it personally. It is a signal of the inner wars they are battling and they are spilling out onto you.
Or the guy is an asshole and made a girl who was already having a shitty new year into an even worse year.
Thanks, dude. I will NEVER patron your business. 

Moving on... 

I interview other folks and drove home. So my good feeling went from up to down to.. I stopped at a restaurant for a to-go order and the waitress complimented my shirt. Again.. simple little thing, but it made me feel good. And once again, order was restored to my world.

And yes.. my sister's results came in. She is cancer free. There is a mass and it was very suspicious, and honestly, we were all expecting the worst, but it turned out okay. What a huge burden removed! 

But I got back into my own head again. 

I was reading the nominees for the 11th Hour awards, and man oh man.. I wanted the Cannonball House and Beards, Bourbon, & Bacon to be nominated. I fought for years to get the Tubman on there, and finally it was. But man.. my little place was not. 


I work my ass off to make the places I am at shine and be the best, and I think people enjoy them, but man.. sometimes I feel ridiculously under appreciated. Why do I even try? Then I realized, I need to get out of my own head. I'm fabulous, damn it. Seriously. I'm not bragging, it just is what it is. I have a kick ass job, and I'm running that business like a boss. (Well.. I am a boss.) We've made HUGE strides. I'm doing my thing, I have great friends, let go of the dead weight, am getting healthier each year, and I know, without a doubt, I am doing it well. 

I always bloom where I am planted. 
Perhaps it's time to change the soil? 
For now, I'll change the direction I am standing. I need to be in the sun, with other wildly vibrant flowers, not sitting among the row of basic flowers, doing the same old thing, in the same old fishbowl. 

It's time to embrace me and celebrate me and get out of my own damn head. I'm a problem solver, now I need to go solve some of my own problems.


A perfectionist

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Birthday Week - It's a-coming.

Well, here we are. One week until my birthday. I have to tell you, I have zero expectations and zero emotional pull to this next one. I'll be 43. No big deal. Still in my early 40s, still feeling fairly young on the inside, not looking too old on the outside. It's just another day.

But because I like to mark every occasion, I actually do have some plans. SG is taking me down to his beach house for the weekend. We'll leave Friday night, drive down to Mexico Beach, and stay through Monday. I like the distraction. If there is a beach, that makes it double awesome.

Good things are happening for my SG. His crazy ex signed the papers for him to claim his house back. She's out and left a terrible, nasty mess for him to clean up. Not to mention, she spray painted a skull on the front door. What a nut job! So glad for him to be done with that chapter of his life. Now he is trying to decide whether or not to sell or live in it until the girls graduate from high school (which is in 5 years.) 

What does that mean for us? Oh who knows. We are still doing the long distance thing, knowing we wish we could live closer, but what we are doing now works for us. I have a career, he has his, I have my life and family, he has his... it is all very interesting. Someone has to compromise eventually. 

Life has been trudging along this year. I'm sick for the first time in 10 months, like really, really sick. Terrible upper respiratory infection, and unfortunately, I don't have health insurance. My job doesn't provide it, and quite honestly, I'm incredibly disappointed in the Affordable Healthcare Act's options. Sooo.. I would rather just pay the fine and take my chances. I know, it's playing roulette with my health, but sometimes you have to gamble a little. 

Luckily, a friend of mine is a (is it Nurse Practitioner or Physician's Assistant?) and she is qualified to write scripts. Basically, just one step down from a doc. She offered to bring me a Z pack sample and some prednisone. Hopefully she won't forget! lol

Work is going well. We received a GIANT blessing in the form of a large contribution. Praise God for some miracles! People, if you want a tax break, remember your local nonprofits. We run on a tiny budget and any donation, no matter how big or small, makes a HUGE impact. My museum is no exception.

My sister has her biopsy scheduled for the 16th of February. None of us can figure out why she had to wait so long, but apparently, that's the earliest they can move on this. Still waiting. Still waiting. 

My dad just turned 70 years old yesterday! I'm thrilled for him, really. I don't know what it is about men, but for some reason, if their father dies at a certain age, they get it in their head that they will die at that age. Well, he outlived his dad, and he even said, he could not believe it. 

Which brings me back to my birthday. I'm turning 43. The only plans and goals I have for this year is to really bring some prosperity to the Cannonball House, perhaps finally snag an engagement from that awesome guy of mine, and keep on track with my healthier lifestyle changes. 

What type of goals do you have planned for this year? 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Ain't Nobody Got Time For That

I'm sick.

Like... sick, sick.

Friday night it was the gastrointestinal thing. I won't go into great details, but no orifice went unused.
Saturday - Couldn't breathe. Wheezing.. hacking cough.. runny nose.

Dear Lord In Heaven..

Ain't nobody got time for that.



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Peanut Butter & Glee

I'm sitting here, wrapped in a blanket, propped up on some pillows watching Glee and eating natural peanut butter out of the jar with a plastic spoon.


If you want to know what real life is like? Here ya go.

One day I'm busy doing some (I can honestly say this,) some super cool things, others days I'm scratching the bottom of the peanut butter jar.

But I'm alive.

If you read my blog post before this one, you know I've got some interesting stuff going on at home. My sister found a lump. Okay, that's common, right? There were other symptoms.

So she goes to the doc. Has a mammogram, only to be called back for a special mammogram and ultrasound. They found a mass in one breast, and a nodule in the other. Biopsy ordered... etc. etc.

I don't think I need to go any further.

I can only imagine her fear. Hell, I've been there- just not there. I was clear and free past the ultrasound. (Can't say the same for my other issues, but when it came to the breasts, I was clear.)
She, my dear friends, does not seem to be in the clear.

So we wait. We test. We wait. Now it's time to expect the "next steps" conversation.

This too shall pass.

Just last night I was enjoying a fantastic party to celebrate one of the magazines I write for's 30th anniversary party. It was really quite lovely and awesome to run into so many people that I adore. My hometown is pretty special like that.

But tonight... tonight it is Glee. And Peanut Butter.

Prayer warriors - I need you to warrior up, okay?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Cancer Can Suck It

There is a mix of fear and relief happening right now.

I got home from my weekend trip, went to work, did my thing and headed home. But then I noticed an odd couple of FB posts from my sister.

Last night it read:

347 days to go. ‪#‎LessonLearned‬: It is only human to have a moment of fear. It is what you do after the initial moment that counts in life.

OK.. she is doing this "Lessons Learned" thing for her 39th year of life. Then today I read:

I never do this- but asking everyone for prayers/ healing thoughts for me today. Trying to stay positive right now.

That one caught my eye.

I called her.

Turns out there are some potential health issues. Not just a lump, but other symptoms.

It doesn't sound good.

But we wait. She is having tests ran now.

Here's the thing - I've been there. But my situation was different. This... the symptoms..

I just don't know. Relief comes from a selfish place - Thank God it's not me this time.
Fear comes from a place of empathy - What if?

We wait. We wait.

If you are the praying kind, please pray for her.

Or send happy, positive thoughts.

I'm a lot stronger than she is when it comes to coping, living, fighting...
She is always the nurturer.

As the older sibling, I worry. I want to protect her, but remain positive.

Here's hoping for the best. Prayer warriors - get to it now, and tell Cancer to suck it.

Then again... it could all be okay.

Until next time.


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