Category:

Social Good

spark goodness, random acts of kindness, teaching kids to be kind, how to raise kind children

Disclosure: Sponsored by author T.A. Barron and the Spark Goodness Program.

How do you teach your kids to be good people? Sounds simple, right? We think its innate but really, we lead by example. It’s not something you learn just from being told to do so. The way it makes you feel also is not something you can explain. It’s like childbirth in that way. The only way to experience it is to do it and to feel it wash over you like a warm rain shower in the summertime. It feels special, beautiful and fulfilling.

I’ve always told my girls that you get out of the world what you put into it. This is something my parents taught me. Life is not about collecting all the things. It is about living a life that is meaningful, intentional and purposeful and at the end of the day, it’s about being the kind of person that you’d like to encounter in the world.

READ ALSO: The Starbucks Effect

It’s summertime and the girls have had a definite lull in their schedule compared to the school year. They are required to do service work throughout the year for school. This is something they have always done. Aside from that, they’ve always seen me volunteer my time, money and experience for many different causes that I support. I do this because I believe in it and I love actively raising awareness. It gives me purpose. It makes me feel fulfilled. I want this for my girls too.

The world is what we make of it. We have to be active participants. Waiting for life to happen to you is not very fulfilling. I want my girls to know that sparking goodness does not have to mean giant, sweeping declarations of righteousness because, honestly, the idea of creating these grand gestures can be quite intimidating and daunting. I’m showing my girls that all it takes is a spark of goodness to ignite a raging fire.

Each act of kindness we perform has ripples and they reverberate and touch everyone around. Maybe it’s nothing more than grabbing an item at the grocery store from the top shelf for an elderly woman. It takes a second but she won’t forget that kindness. Though it was a second of your time, it might have meant everything to an elderly woman struggling to get her green beans. This causes her to smile and it makes her day brighter, her disposition sunnier and that is contagious.

READ ALSO: Random Acts of Kindness

My daughters see these acts every day. They’ve seen my husband buy meals for homeless people many times. They’ve seen us help our elderly neighbors, take meals to sick friends, give clothing to the homeless shelter or friends who could use them. They’ve seen me raise 10000 for Leukemia and Lymphoma. They know that every act of kindness matters.

I see, when they think I’m not looking, holding the door for people. Helping the elderly at the stores. Donating their allowance to special causes. Volunteering their free time which they don’t have much of to begin with. I am proud that they have made this a priority in their lives. I hope they never forget that every small act reaches many lives.

This year, T.A. Barron, well known for his philanthropy and creator of the popular Merlin book series that is currently being made into a film by Disney, wants to help influence children to find their inner hero.

To support this dream of creating more light in the world, he came up with the #SparkGoodness campaign that encourages individuals to bring good and light into the world. He even provided a list of ways families can spark goodness in their own communities.

spark goodness, random acts of kindness, teaching kids to be kind, how to raise kind children

Those that share are highlighted via his social media feeds and entered to win a monthly prize as well as a grand prize at the end of the year. T.A. Barron even provided an easy sheet to track all of your families sparks of goodness this summer.

spark goodness, random acts of kindness, teaching kids to be kind, how to raise kind childrenEven though sparking goodness is its own reward, I’d love to encourage you and your families to enter T.A. Barron’s year long #SparkGoodness contest. Those that share are highlighted via his social media feeds and entered to win a monthly prize, as well as a grand prize at the end of the year. The July prize is a set of family yard games valued at over $ 200!

How do you inspire your children to commit sparks of goodness and rand acts of kindness?

 

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Melody Ellison, American Girl, human rights

In a world where we still have to sound off to remind the world that #BlackLivesMatter, American Girl Doll Melody Ellison is a relevant reminder that the struggle is still very real for minorities and the only way to change that is to speak up and to teach our children to speak up for what’s right and just; human equality across the board.

Melody Ellison, the newest character to join American Girl’s popular BeForever line, is a hopeful and positive 9-year-old African-American girl growing up in Detroit, Michigan, during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. She loves to sing and blend her voice with others in harmony. After seeing her family members face racial discrimination and experiencing it for herself, Melody decides to add her voice to those who are speaking up about inequality.

Melody Ellison, Civil Rights, Equal Rights, American Girl

The beautiful 18-inch Melody doll has dark brown eyes and black hair. Melody comes in a bright blue-and-green houndstooth dress, a blue ribbon headband, and shiny blue patent shoes. Also included is No Ordinary Sound, the first volume in Melody’s classic series, by Denise Lewis Patrick.

My daughters love the American Girl dolls and their stories. Every doll has a story and every story matters. This is so important to me as a mom because I’ve spent my years as a mom teaching my daughters that every human being is created equal, every single person matters and everyone’s story is worth telling. AG perpetuates that same idea through their dolls, books and movies. Of course, some stories need to be told more than others and right now, the world needs Melody Ellison more than ever.

The new, nearly 50-minute film called “An American Girl Story—Melody 1963: Love Has to Win” available on Amazon Prime is centered around a 10-year-old girl who sees inequality in all directions. That includes police brutality against peaceful African American protesters, young girls being arrested for eating at an all-white lunch counter, and most traumatically the 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing. It’s an old story but ironically, it’s more relevant than ever today.

In the film, Melody personally experiences many forms of racism—racist classmates, wrongly being accused of stealing a dress from a department store and seeing a display of white dolls. Many themes in the film feel especially relevant to what’s happening in America today, in particular, the Black Lives Matter movement that has arisen in the wake of dozens of high-profile murders of African-Americans by the police.

“The story is set in the 1960s but today’s girl can relate to what she’s seeing in the media,” said American Girl President Katy Dickson. She added that young girls today can connect to Melody’s struggle in making sense of the inequalities and injustices around her. The film ends with a hopeful message. “She learns that love and the strength of her family and choosing courage over fear are the things that will sustain her,” Dickson added.

In the face of the recent election, this doll and this movie are a perfect teachable moment and an opportunity for parents to spread a message of love, inclusiveness, and tolerance to their children. I think we need that now more than ever. I get that it’s just a doll and just a kid’s movie but it’s more than that, it’s a chance to be better and to do better as a society.

As one of the marginalized of the world, I know those who are not marginalized have a different perspective not always through a fault of their own but this is your chance to change that for your children. Go the extra step to teach your child kindness and acceptance, to perpetuate the good in the world. We can make the world a better place for our children and help them make it a better place for their children through examples of love and standing up for what’s right. Let’s do this.

In celebration of the release of Melody Ellison and her movie, An American Girl Story—Melody 1963: Love Has to Win, American Girl is allowing me to give away a Melody Ellison doll to one lucky subscriber all you need to do is enter below.

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“Mommy, why is that man with no legs asking you for money?”

My daughter asked me this when she was 3-years-old. We were downtown Chicago for the Christmas lighting ceremony one holiday season and he was the first person who was homeless that she had ever seen.

I saw the man’s sign and I explained to her that he was a veteran of the military who had lost his legs while serving our country. I explained that he had fallen on hard times and now was homeless and had no job. I explained that it is very difficult for someone to get a job when they don’t have an address to put on an application.

I could see it in her face, she wanted to know why someone who did so much to protect us wasn’t being taken care of by the collective “us.” She’s right. Why don’t we take care of our people when they are in need?

She asked us to give the man some money and, of course, we stopped and gave him some money. My husband then bought him something to eat and gave it to him. This is something the Big Guy is known to do quite frequently when he sees someone in need. It’s one of the things I love most about him.

Anyway, it all makes for a great teachable moment but I was a little taken aback by the situation because you don’t expect your preschooler to notice these things and you certainly don’t expect them to ask for an explanation. In all honesty, I think we hope that our children are so tightly encased in their protective bubble that they never have to know. Or maybe we just wish the situation didn’t exist in the first place.

We spend our parental lifetime doing our best to make sure that our children have all that they need so that they don’t have to know that want or need. But the reality is that there are some people who run into problems in life and end up homeless for a multitude of reasons.

Homelessness is an issue plaguing cities and neighborhoods across the country. At some point, most of our children will see a person who is homeless or asking for money and ask us about the situation like my daughter did, all those years ago. How you handle it will certainly shape the way your child reacts to future similar situations.

Here are some suggestions on how to answer your child’s questions and what you can do to make a positive impact not only on the life of people who are homeless but in your child’s life by teaching them compassion, empathy, kindness and love for their fellow man. After all, isn’t that what we want? To raise good human beings?

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– Answer the child’s questions honestly. Show empathy and compassion for the person
who is homeless. Answers should be person-centered (the man who is homeless rather
than the homeless man). Using this type of language reinforces empathy and compassion for people.

– Answers should be short and speak to the child’s question. Don’t elaborate if not needed.

– Talk about what it means to be homeless: a person has no place to sleep, to eat, to shower and keep clean, or to keep their belongings.

– Speak about social problems that can cause homelessness.

o A person doesn’t have money to maintain a home – a home costs money.

o A person may not be connected to family/friends to help them.

o A person may have mental illness. Mental illness is when a person’s brain is not working the way it is supposed to.

– Talk about reasons why some people do not have money to maintain a home.

– Don’t attempt to use a person who is homeless as an example of what could happen if the child doesn’t stay in school, go to college, doesn’t get a good job or uses drugs.

– If the child wants to do something to improve the situation, you can:

o Talk about the many different ways to make a difference for people in need, such as making a donation to a local charity, volunteering, organizing a collection effort like a coat drive, food drive or toy drive.

o You can also include a bus pass or some small bills for transportation.

o create homeless hygiene kits to distribute to those in need. Using a large resealable plastic bag, include items and snacks such as granola bars, graham crackers, or fruit snacks; bottled water; socks; hats, scarves; deodorant; toothbrush and toothpaste; band aids; hand sanitizer; Kleenex; hand lotion; shaving cream and disposable razors; toilet paper; chap stick; hand lotion; and shampoo and conditioner.

o Include notes of encouragement or favorite bible verses, or a child’s drawing.

– You can purchase pre-made kits at www.salvationarmystore.com/comfort-pouch-kit.html.

– Or visit https://centralusa.salvationarmy.org/metro/homeless_hygiene_kits for a list of items to include and a downloadable sheet of notecards.

I love the idea of keeping pre-made kits in your car to hand out when you see a person who is homeless and in need. It’s a great way to get the children involved and be proactive. If you are like me, I seldom have cash on me but if you already have kits made with a few dollars in them for a meal, you don’t have to worry about that. Not to mention, you can make the kits a few at a time and give them out as you see the need. It’s a wonderful example to set for your child and it allows them to do something positive to change the situation, rather than just feeling helpless. We need to encourage them to be kind to those in need and give those who need it a hand up.

Last year The Salvation Army provided shelter to 628 men, women and children at the Evangeline Booth Lodge family shelter in Chicago. The Booth Lodge is one of Chicago’s only shelters that keeps families together.

The Salvation Army mobile feeding and outreach program makes 32 stops daily throughout Chicago to provide hot meals and support services to people who are homeless.

I think it’s our duty as parents to teach our children to have compassion for people in need and if they can, do something to help. We have to lead by example and be that change we want to see in the world. If we don’t, how will our children ever learn to care, to fight for what’s right, to stand up against what’s wrong and to be the change this world needs? It all begins with us showing them how to get involved and to choose to do good rather than do nothing. Homelessness is not just someone else’s problem, it is everyone’s problem.

How will you teach your child to help the homeless?[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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Clean Air Moms Action, moms, Presidential election 2016, Clean air act

This post was produced with support from Clean Air Moms Action. All opinions are, of course, my own.

The upcoming election has been dominated by divisive candidate issues. Believe me, many of us have lost friends and family because our politics simply cannot reconcile themselves but there’s one thing that we should all be able to agree on: harmful pollution, climate change, and toxic chemicals are putting our families at risk and it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you’re a liberal or a conservative, every one of us lives on this planet and, I hope, everyone of us wants to take care of it so it’s still around for our children and our children’s children.

When I think about the future, I immediately think about my daughters. The future is not some obscure thing that will happen to me. Since becoming a mom, everything I do is directly in relation to how it will affect my children and that means I have no choice but to be the change. It’s my job to be their advocate, to make sure that they are healthy and happy and, for me, that means making sure that they have clean air to breathe.

A few weeks ago, the news reported that safe carbon levels in the earth’s atmosphere were a thing of the past. We officially passed the point of no return, 400 parts per million, where the earth’s climate was concerned. The low point of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere typically occurs around the last week of September but this year, levels failed to drop below 400 ppm.

Why’s that a big deal? The 400 ppm mark is considered the red line in the sand and crossing it poses dangerous climate ramifications. Right now we’re at 400 ppm, and we’re adding 2 ppm of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every year. Unless we are able to change things and turn that around and return to below 350 ppm this century, we risk triggering tipping points and irreversible impacts that will send climate change spinning beyond our control. It will be catastrophic.

To reverse the damage and do some Superman/ Wonder Woman like planet saving, here are three areas we need to focus our attention towards.

CLEAN AIR. Air pollution from fossil fuels leads to bad air quality in too many communities. Increases in smog can trigger asthma attacks and exacerbate other chronic health problems. Do not let your child’s health be voted away to protect polluters’ profits. Instead, VOTE to protect little lungs from toxic air pollution.

CLIMATE CHANGE. The same harmful pollution that is making our children sick is causing rising temperatures and extreme weather events. Our changing climate is making smog worse. It increases respiratory health threats, particularly for people with allergies and asthma. Also, intense heat waves exacerbate heart and lung conditions. VOTE for candidates who support proposals to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. And vote to put our country on a clean energy path while protecting American jobs!

TOXIC CHEMICALS. Dangerous chemicals are found in our daily lives. They often enter our homes and bodies without our realizing it. In fact, these chemicals may not even have been disclosed, identified or studied. Thousands of toxic chemicals found in everyday products are linked to potential reproductive and developmental toxicity, endocrine disruption, birth defects, cancer, asthma, headaches and skin irritants. Children are among the most vulnerable to such chemicals.

It really hit home for me when my 9-year-old came to me with tears in her eyes and asked me, “Mommy will the air last long enough for me to grow up?” That broke my heart because while the answer is yes ( just), I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I have no idea what the air we breathe will be like for her children and grandchildren. I can’t make her any guarantees. We’ve ignored the warnings for far too long and now, it falls on our shoulders to literally save the planet for our children.

Clean Air Moms Action, moms, Presidential election 2016, Clean air act

Unfortunately, harmful pollution, climate change and toxic chemicals are putting our precious children at risk. It doesn’t have to be this way. It shouldn’t be this way. This doesn’t mean there’s no hope. We just need to collectively get involved, care and make changes. It starts with each one of us.

On election day your vote can elect candidates who care about these issues. If for nothing else, please vote as if your child’s health depends on it. Because it does. Take the pledge and commit yourself to voting for your child’s future.

This fall Clean Air Moms Action is traveling the country with a documentary film crew capturing the stories of parents who are fighting daily to protect their children’s health effects of exposure to oil & gas productions, high-tide flood waters, and ground water contamination from coal ash waste sites.

You can see more videos like this on the Clean Air Moms Action YouTube page

Please join me in working together to move clean energy forward in the US. by joining the fight to protect our children at cleanairmomsaction.org.

Next Tuesday, your vote will tell leaders that you care about protecting our children from the harmful effects of toxic air pollution. The same harmful pollution that is making our children sick is causing rising temperatures and extreme weather. It’s our job as parents to protect our babies and their futures.

Join me by voting. Research candidates with a good record on the environment and vote for them. Join the #CleanAirMomsVote selfie project. Print out the Because I Love sign, fill in the blank, and post it to social media with the hashtag #CleanAirMomsVote

Learn more on the Clean Air Moms Action website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Follow the hashtag #CleanAirMomsVote

 

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gun control, san bernadino, mental illness, parenting, parenting in the time of chaos, throat punch thursday

My mind has been swirling with all the mass shootings and talk of gun control or should I say, lack thereof? Between Trump, shootings and racists using a burned out van to vilify all the Mexicans, I felt I was due for a Throat Punch Thursday post.

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately feeling nostalgic for my “good old days of blogging.” You remember, the days when I used to stay up to all hours of the night documenting my trials and tribulations of early motherhood after the babies went to sleep? I miss the whole exhausted, cut your wrists, open up a vein and bleed all over your keyboard days.

I miss the days before monetization, SEO and giving a damn who was reading and who I might be offending. I really miss my regular Throat Punch Thursdays so here I am, opening up my veins.

I know sometimes I’m controversial. I know that I’m political and opinionated but I think you come here to read the real truth through my mom goggles not rose-colored bullshit that’s strictly politically correct. Nothing I say should come as a surprise. I’ve never changed my opinion on gun control, ever.

Anyone who has ever met me knows that I am a lot of things but politically correct is not one of them. I have a giant heart with all the feels and not a lick of filter on my words. I’m passionate and I need to write things out to navigate the mucky waters of my mind.

Which brings me to todays rant, first Throat Punch Thursday in awhile, gun control. If you have ever read me before, you know that I believe that there should be stricter gun control. My belief is that people with guns kill people. Guns are not necessary. They were once, when we needed people to readily mobilize into a militia but we are way passed those days.

We live in a world where we’ve had more mass shootings this year than we have days in the year. We are no longer shocked when we hear that there has been another mass shooting, we expect it. We simply hold our breaths until we find out that our loved ones are not within range and then we exhale and pray to make it through another day. It sickens me that this is what it has come to.

Every single morning that I drop my daughters off at school, I kiss them and tell them that I love them. I watch them as they walk into the building. I watch them until they are through all three sets of glass doors and then, as I pull away, I pray that no one shoots them while they are trying to get an education, trying to grow up. I hold my breath every day until they walk back through the door. Every siren makes my heart jump into my mouth. This is what the world has come to.

My daughters have “drills” they do on the regular to learn appropriate protocol for what to do in case a gun wielding “madman” gains access into the building. I pray a lot. The Democrats say we need stricter gone control and the Republicans say we need better mental health. I agree with both.

Honestly, I wish we lived in a world where there were no guns. I hate violence and I think most people who have guns don’t need them. We live in a country where a person dies every 16 minutes from a gun. The scariest part is that people are being shot in places where they should be safe, where people are most vulnerable. No one is expecting to go to church, the movies or school and get shot or die.

Current gun control is not acceptable.

The staggering reality is this, anyone can buy a shotgun and almost anyone can get a handgun by applying for a license and waiting a few days. There are no required classes, training or enforced restrictions on keeping and owning a gun. Simply apply, wait, take your gun home and hope you don’t shoot yourself of your kids don’t find it.

This is what REALLY scares me. I had an actual conversation with someone I know, who appears by all accounts intelligent and worldly. We were having a deep conversation about mental health and a suspected diagnosis. My suggestion was get help; make an appointment, see a psychiatrist to get an accurate diagnosis and a psychologist to talk it all out.

On mental health, I am a firm believer in get help. Screw “what people think”. I’ve been on both sides of it and it’s always better to seek treatment than to try to deal with it on your own. The response I got shocked me, “I’m afraid to see a psychiatrist because if I have an official diagnosis in my record, it may restrict me from being able to purchase a gun in the future. “ It was everything I could do to not let my jaw hit the ground. This is a person who already owns guns and is not a hunter. These guns are for protection but with an undiagnosed, untreated diagnosis his biggest danger to him is himself.

So basically, our gun laws are just making those who might be mentally ill avoid getting treatment because it might interfere with their right to bear arms. Is this really what we want? Mentally ill people ignoring their mental illness so they can have guns in a full on state of crazy? Wouldn’t it just be safer for all of us if there were no guns?

What kind of world do we live in where the mentally ill are so afraid of the stigma of illness that they’d rather be suicidal and a danger to themselves and others than go to a doctor and have to disclose that they got help for a diagnosis? Wouldn’t we rather people be treated and healthy than undiagnosed and on the loose buying guns at will? How did our values get so screwed up? When did we start vilifying sick people? Why do we need so many fucking guns anyway?

I feel like I’m ranting but it’s because I’m mad that this keeps happening. Isn’t this the exact definition of insanity? What is it going to take for people to realize that its time to change our policies? I don’t want to be afraid to send my girls to school. I’m tired of being afraid that every trip to a public place could be our last.

gun control, san bernadino, mental illness, parenting, parenting in the time of chaos, throat punch thursday

We need more than just thoughts and prayers, we need deeds and actions if we want to make this world a safer, better place for our children to live in. I’m sick and tired of living in a world where every time I see my girls walk away, it could be the last time.

What are your thoughts on gun control, San Bernadino and all of this?

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HIV, AIDS, CDC, #ONECONVERSATION, Sin Verguenza

Disclosure: This post is made possible by support from the We Can Stop HIV One Conversation at a Time campaign. All opinions are my own.

Do you talk to your kids about Aids and HIV? I mean my parents never talked to us. That’s not how it worked in Latino families back then. The rule was don’t have sex until you were married so why would your parents tell you about sexually transmitted diseases when YOU weren’t supposed to be having sex anyways. That would be like giving expressed consent and every Latina girls, there is no consent to have sex until you are married or dead. Only just because you don’t talk about it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

In our culture, people get married earlier and, at least in my neighborhood, Latino kids were having sex before most of the Caucasian kids. Not me, because I took my dad’s threats of killing me if I did very seriously. I’m pretty sure that he would have so I did what any good Catholic, Latino kid would do, I waited until I went to college. But there I went, off to college with no information because my parents refused to discuss what they refused to believe could be going on.

Well, at least that was how it was for the girls in our family. The boys, well that was another story, I remember condoms being slipped to my brothers. You know to prevent pregnancy.

HIV and AIDS were never discussed in the house.

Back when I was a teenager, AIDS and HIV were all over the news. I knew what it was. We all did. But we never discussed it like it pertained to us. I mean with us being virgins and everyone believing that it was exclusive to homosexuals and drug addicts. We were just good Catholic kids who were trying to stifle our hormones until we could get the hell outta dodge.

Seriously, my parents never even explained sex to us. I was told, “It’s going to hurt really bad,” by my mother and “Don’t do it!” by my dad. By the first time I actually had sex, I can’t imagine the face I made in my disappointment that it was less than unbearably painful, as my mom had led me to believe. In fact, compared to the horror show I was expecting, it was nothing. Poor guy, my expectation of awful was pretty high.

This is not how we do it in my house. I am very open and upfront with everything with my girls. I answer as they ask. They are 8 and 10-years-old and they know more about their body, where babies come from, how their body works and the consequences of sex like pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases then I did when I went to college.

They’ve been asking questions since they were preschoolers and I’ve always given honest, age-appropriate answers. I’m building trust and, hopefully, laying the basis for an open dialogue about everything as they get older. I’m not their friend. I’m their mom. It’s my job to keep them safe and educated, not tell them what they want to hear or sugarcoat life. Sure, it was very awkward explaining periods, Caitlyn Jenner and how babies grow in mom’s uterus but it’s what I signed up for as a parent. It’s my job to talk about the hard things so that they can make informed decisions because I won’t always be there to stop them from making mistakes.

We need to do something about the things we can change that affect our lives and the lives of our children like educating them about AIDS and HIV.

Here are a few facts about HIV that we need to know and discuss, as awkward as it might be for us, with our children.

HIV, AIDS, CDC, #ONECONVERSATION, Sin Verguenza

  1. Hispanics represent approximately 17 percent of the U.S. population, but account for an estimated 20 percent of people living with HIV (242,000 persons) and an estimated 21 percent of new infections (9,800) in the United States each year.
  2. Approximately one in 50 Hispanics will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetime.
  3. Men account for 87 percent of new infections among Hispanics.
  4. The rate of new HIV infections among Hispanic men is almost three times that among white men, with gay and bisexual men particularly affected.
  5. In a study of 20 major U.S. cities in 2011, approximately 15 percent of Hispanic MSM were infected. Among those who were HIV-infected, more than one-third (37 percent) were unaware that they were infected.
  6. The rate of new HIV infections among Hispanic women is more than four times that of white women.
  7. AIDS continues to claim the lives of too many Latino men and women. Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 100,000 Hispanics with AIDS have died.

We can’t let something like stigmas kill us. The stigma associated with HIV and homosexuality may help to spread HIV in Latino communities. In some communities, the cultural value of machismo may create reluctance to acknowledge sensitive, yet risky behaviors, such as male-to-male sexual contact or substance abuse. Fear of disclosing risk behavior or sexual orientation may prevent Latinos from seeking testing, treatment and prevention services, and support from friends and family. As a result, too many Latinos lack critical information about how to prevent infection.

There are a million uncomfortable reasons and excuses to not discuss AIDS and HIV but there is one very important reason to have just this one more conversation about HIV and AIDS and that is your life and the lives of your children. Don’t you want to protect them? Silence is deadly, people.

If you want to learn more about how to start the conversation or just get some useful facts and information, please check out the CDC’s #OneConversation campaign information available in English or Spanish.

Join the conversation on your favorite social media platform:

One Conversation at a Time is collaborating with AltaMed Healthcare Services to help promote Sin Vergüenza an exciting, entertaining, and suspenseful telenovela web series. Produced by Los Angeles-based AltaMed Healthcare Services, Sin Vergüenza takes viewers into the lives of a dynamic Mexican-American family coping with issues around HIV and sexual health. Each family member represents a different age group, sexual orientation, and marital status and faces unique challenges. Each person is also at risk of getting HIV.

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Sin Vergüenza addresses difficult issues that many Hispanic/Latino families face including stigma, infidelity, shame, sexuality and aging, condom use, dating and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer (LGBTQ) relationships and sexuality. Yet, it also portrays the unconditional love and support of family – even in the face of unexpected challenges.

Best of all, it’s a way to encourage Hispanic/Latino families and friends to have meaningful conversations about HIV. Watch the first episode of Sin Vergüenza  here.

After you watch it, talk about it with your friends and family and encourage them to watch it.

I’ve watched 2 episodes and I’m hooked. Now, I have to finish watching to see how it all plays out.

How will you start the conversation about HIV with your child?

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Today, marriage equality became legislation nation wide. Today we got one step closer to human equality.

According to the Oxford dictionary a Human Being: A man, woman, or child of the species Homo sapiens, distinguished from other animals by superior mental development, power of articulate speech and upright stance.

That is all it takes to qualify us as human beings.

This is what differentiates us from the animals. It does not say that there are varying degrees of human beings. Man, woman and child homo sapiens are all equally human. Not one is better or more superior in mind or make up because of race, creed, color, religion or sexual preference. We are all, at our core, human beings. If everyone accepted that, the world would be a more peaceful and beautiful place to live.

I am a 42-year-old, heterosexual, Latina woman which in the eyes of some make me less than. I am nearing middle-age, I am first generation Mexican-American and I have a vagina. Old, brown and vagina to some. But not to me. To me, I am the strongest woman you will ever meet. I don’t stop and I don’t even believe in the word can’t. Nothing is impossible. Your underestimation of me, of anyone, is your problem not mine because I will prove you wrong every damn time. I’m the underdog and I have nowhere to go but up. Be prepared to fight because I won’t give up and I think that is how most minorities feel.

This morning, I wrote a piece at Latina.Mom.me about Donald Trump’s racist statements about the Mexican people and South American immigrants. He said Mexico is not sending it’s best and those Mexican immigrants that come to the United States are criminals, rapists and drug lords. That pisses me off. I am personally fucking offended.

Maybe he should read a book because, in case he missed it, this country was founded by immigrants. This country was built on the blood, sweat, tears and backs of immigrants. Immigrants from Mexico and South America are no more criminal than the immigrants who landed on Plymouth rock, in fact, maybe less so. My ancestors didn’t murder the Native Indians.

Most of my family were immigrants; none of them were rapists, drug lords or criminals. Most of the people fleeing from South America are coming to provide better lives for their children. They are good, hardworking people. They are victims of their circumstances. They are running from the drug lords. And Mr. Trump as you talk of building a wall on the Mexican American border to keep Latinos out, just remember most of the area you want to build a wall around, once belonged to Mexico. They didn’t land on the border, the fucking border landed on them.

Then I see the news about Dylann Roof, white racist guy who decides that it’s his personal right to go kill a bunch of innocent African Americans at church. He just walked in there like he was an exterminator and it was his God given right to murder human beings because he does not feel that their life is equal in value to his because they are black.

Let me remind all of you racist assholes who share this twisted mentality; Americans brought the Africans to the United States as slaves for free labor. The Africans were stolen from their homes, separated from their families, raped, beaten, humiliated and dehumanized before they were worked to death in the fields like animals. They were treated as disposable labor and property, not people. I’ve actually heard people in the south tell a black person to “go back to Africa!” Are you kidding me? They didn’t want to be here in the first place and now you tell them to go back? African Americans are Americans and bottom line, they are human beings. If you can’t treat them as such, maybe you should leave? The people of color are having a bad week. This has to change, soon.

But thankfully, today one injustice was undone. Today marriage was made legal across the country and no one can refuse anyone that right to be married. The world we live in changed for the better today. It’s not just about a wedding and a party with the person you love, it’s about the right to be seen as a spouse in the eyes of the law. It’s about being able to share insurance, be one another’s next of kin, be at the bedside of the one you love because you are legally seen as family. It’s about not having your entire life undone on top of losing your partner. It’s about being free to love and live as a family unit. It’s about parental rights and medical say so. It’s about humanizing the homosexual community.

In response, one middle-aged white man, Rick Scarborough, a christian fundamentalist and former southern Baptist pastor, threatened to set himself on fire if Supreme Court ruled in favor of same sex marriage. I ask you , does anyone have a match this asshole can borrow?

In other news, have the country is threatening to move to Canada to escape the marriage equality  hell in a  fate of the United States, apparently this morons know nothing of world politics because Canada has had legalized same sex marriage for a decade.

The bottom line is that all of us, the weak, poor, huddled masses… the browns, the blacks, the Jews, the trangendered, the homosexuals and those of us with vaginas we are just as human as the middle-aged white men who hate us with such fervor that they want to see us eradicated from their existence.

Today is a day of celebration. We have made one tiny step for human equality. Let’s keep fighting and remember that we all deserve the same, respect and rights because we are all equal in our humanity. Today, love wins! Today, the world became a better place for our children.

What are your thoughts on marriage equality?

 

 

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#ChampionsforKids, hungry, child, Snacks for students

Every once in awhile I get the opportunity to use my piece of the Internet for something good. I love when that happens because it makes me feel like I have a higher purpose than just documenting my life online. It gives me a chance to actively make the world a better place for my girls, to be a good example and give back.

I partnered with The Motherhood and Champions for Kids for their Snacks for Students Program. Champions for Kids is the first of several campaigns to launch nationally, with the goal to provide resources for more than 10 million children in 2015. It makes it simple to give kids in your own community the resources they need to thrive. Since 2004, Champions for Kids has served more than 5.4 million children across all 50 states through in-store donation campaigns, service projects and community events.

Champions for Kids, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Emerald and Kettle Chips have joined forces to make it simple for communities to provide basic resources for students through in-store donations.

The Snacks for Students program is part of the Champions for Kids program that seeks to make it simple for shoppers to purchase and donate items to children in need. I chose to work with a local organization called Charis House for Homeless Mothers and Children. This is a cause close to my heart because there are so many brave women who have to make the decision to leave an abusive relationship, many relinquishing all financial stability in order to give their children and themselves a better chance at life.

From February 16 to March 2, U.S. customers at more than 3,600 participating Walmart stores can purchase snacks and breakfast items for children and place them inside designated donation bins. All donations made in-store will stay in the local community and be distributed through school districts or youth-based organizations. This is the perfect way to give back to the people that should matter the most to you, the children in your own community. Doesn’t every child deserve a full belly?

In addition, Champions for Kids, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Emerald and Kettle Chips will provide 13 awards, totaling $45,000, to school districts and participating youth-based organizations based on the total number of donated items collected in each store.

I am proud to be a part of this program and to be able to help the Charis House for Homeless Mothers and Children. Who will you help feed?

Disclosure: I partnered with The Motherhood, Champions for Kids and Walmart to provide donations for the organization of my choice but all opinions are my own.

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1GD,deedaday

I’ve always found the philosophy of do unto others, as you would have them do unto you a righteous one. I embrace the idea of random acts of kindness and karma, the idea of putting into the world what you would like to see. This is a good way to be and something that I feel very strongly about passing on to my daughters. I want this to be part of my legacy.

1GD,deedaday

This year, I’m setting a new kind of resolution and it’s all about doing good deeds. I’m going to be the change that I want to see in the world. I’ve joined the #DeedADay movement and my goal is to wear my bracelet and do 1 good deed a day. I’d like to encourage my readers to join with me. Imagine if we all did a good deed a day, what a better place the world would be. Imagine the ripple effects in the world, if every single one of us did one single deed?

I’m joining the The 100 Good Deeds organization in setting a resolution to do a good deed a day! The 100 Good Deeds bracelet is both a fashion statement and a cause to encourage everyone to do a good deed.

1GD,deedaday

A good deed means we’ve gone out of our way to help someone and only counts if the deed remains anonymous. No need for thanks. Each time you do a good deed, move the ring on the bracelet closer to the button.

The 1GD bracelets are designed by Mary Fisher, author, artists and AIDS advocate and made by vulnerable women who’ve been trained for this work in Uganda, India, Indonesia, Zambia, South Africa, Rwanda and Haiti. This project gives women a way to support their families through earnings, while empowering them to also contribute to good deeds around the world. Proceeds from 1GD bracelets are reinvested in the program to provide more women and girls with more training in more countries.

1GD,deedaday

I love looking down at my bracelet and seeing the good I’ve done. The bracelet inspires me with the possibilities of all the good that I can still do. I want to share that with everyone I know, especially my own daughters.

1GD,deedaday

 

I’m doing my one good deed a day, are you?

Disclosure: I was gifted this 100 Good Deeds bracelet to review and share with my readers. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.

 

 

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#crimingwhilewhite, racism, Ferguson, white privilege

In an effort to go color blind, the world has missed an opportunity. Saying that you don’t see color, that you only see people is wonderful in theory but the fact of the matter is that, color does matter, especially to those who are of color. Underneath it we are all human beings and what a wonderful world it would be if everyone could live that way but everyone doesn’t and by denying that the experience for those of color is no different than that of white privilege is just crazy and, quite frankly, may be the most insulting thing of all. The privilege of living your life without being first assumed to be a criminal is something most take for granted.

I’m not African American. I can’t pretend to know how it must feel to be an African American man, especially with the contentious history with white America. I did however grow up in a predominantly African American neighborhood, I am Latina, I am a woman and just about as blue-collar as they come. I’ve had a taste of what it feels like to not be white in America and it doesn’t feel good. In some cases, it is more than being treated as less than, it’s down right scary.

The very word minority means being few in numbers, less than the majority. When you are of color, it’s “their” (to borrow a word from my privileged friends) world and the rest of us are just trying to survive in it. We are raised knowing this. We accept this and whenever we get any crazy ideas that we are equal, someone is always there to laugh in our face or put is back into our place. We have to work twice as hard to just be “equal”.

If you are reading this and you have never felt less than (believe me, you can be Caucasian and feel this way too but there is a certain level of entitlement that comes with having alabaster skin) I am happy for you because it is demeaning. It’s like being caged and silenced. Imagine having to always try to prove yourself as worthy. Imagine praying that people can see past the color of your skin and get to know you the person before putting you in a box because of what you look like. If you do dare to be “equal” to deem yourself worthy of a better life, be prepared to fight the uphill battle of your life. It won’t be easy and you will be tattered and torn by the time you reach the top but it will be worth it.

The thing is you can’t hide the color of your skin. Before you ever open your mouth or say a word, the world has already judged you on your skin color. It doesn’t matter who you are, we all have preconceived notions. We can’t help where we came from but we can help where we are going. We can choose to treat people equal. We can choose to judge people on their merits and not on the color of their skin.

The preconceived notions are what continue to kill our children. I hate to say it but I think when people see color, that color is automatically associated with a stereotype. It doesn’t matter what’s real and what’s not because the stereotype is ingrained and naturally believed. The volatile reaction to civil rights for all is born of the fear that we might actually be equal to the people we feel better than.Privilege only exists because one group is allowed to diminish the worth of another.

I grew up in the Chicagoland area and there are many people of different ethnic backgrounds but still if Hispanic or African American youths are seen in a group, they must be up to no good. They must be gang bangers, carjackers, up to no good criminals. In these areas, we know our boundaries. We keep to certain neighborhoods, where we belong. We know that veering outside of those boundaries could mean trouble for us; like accidentally being shot or harassed by the cops. Never mind the south, we try to stay north of the Mason Dixon line because confederate flags still fly proudly in the south. I don’t know about you but I’ve always seen that as sort of a warning sign. Do not enter. Turn back now.

I’m not making this up. This is the truth for many. How many young people have to die for us to say no more? Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and etc, etcetera. I could go on for days. Just watch the news. White privilege has been around as long as our country has. It started with the Native Americans. We have to choose to change it; to raise our children with bellies full of equality and respect for other human beings. Color should not be a consideration in matters of love and humanity.

The country is outraged and talking about racism today and that is wonderful but in a few weeks, it will fade away and the people of color will be abandoned once again by their current day freedom riders and be once again alone to face the bigots who would just assume shoot them in the face then ask questions. The saddest part of all, there are still people who will argue that the cops were within their rights to shoot these boys dead.I am outraged. Stop being bullies.

Here is where we differ.

I don’t believe that any boy, child, man, woman or girl should be shot dead in the street like an animal. I believe in justice and equality for everyone. To put it simply, being black or brown is not a crime and being white doesn’t make you exempt from moral accountability. If you shoot, we bleed, we die…whether you care or not.

Check out the #CrimingWhileWhite hastag on Twitter if you don’t believe me. Racial profiling is deadly. Ask yourself, are you white enough to pass their skin color test? If not, you might want to pay attention to the state of the world and your part in it. Be better.

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