Burn Burn Burn

Every year since #Blogust began in 2012, the Shot@Life team has asked me to participate in some challenge to help raise awareness for the program and donations of vaccines for kids around the world. The surface challenge is easy – ask you to leave a comment and every comment you leave = one vaccine donated. Simple, right? The real challenge for me however is right here, these posts. They never just say “Ask your readers to comment,” they say “Hey, can you write a post about a woman halfway around the world doing the kind of work that humbles you so much it hurts?” Or “Yo, how about you pick one quote, any quote in the whole entire world full of quotes, to inspire children?”

When I was a kid, 17 or so, old enough to not realize I was a kid still, I was walking down the street in the city I lived in and the cover of a book caught my eye. I picked it up and read the first page I opened to. And the next page. And the one after that. I bought that book and still have it to this day. It’s tattered and worn, 23 years later. It’s full of scribbles and notes, highlighter and circles. It’s also full of the person I became because of it. No one had more of an impact on shaping the woman, the mother, the human I’d become than Audre Lorde. If I have to choose someone’s quote to share to inspire my kids, your kids, the limitless sea of kids on the internet and in the world, it’s going to be her.

And if I have one wish for all of those kids, it’s to realize that there is something inside of them that can be a force for whatever good they want to make happen. Sometimes all that takes is a pen and paper, or a keyboard and a Twitter account.


Give a kid a shot at a healthy, long life, so they have the chance to find out what they’ve got and use it. Leave a comment here (or on Facebook or Twitter, of course) and we’ll donate a vaccine to a kid in need. Any comment will do, but I’d love to hear the quotes, the song lyrics, the lines, the verses that move and define and inspire you.

During Shot@Life's Blogust 2015—a month-long blog relay—some of North America's most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share inspirational quotes for their children. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or take action using the social media on this website, Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, one vaccine will be donated to a child around the world (up to 50,000).

(after you comment here, head over to the amazing Erika's blog and comment on her heartwarming post today, too.)

A Time to Give

In the amount of time it takes me to drive from my house to my office, I could drive in the opposite direction and end my drive in Tahoe. We live in the sticks of Northern California because we have to. We have five children. We have to put them all somewhere.

When my boys were little, we lived in a crappy little basement apartment (which I loved so very much) in the middle of Denver. We hardly had enough space for us, let alone a bunch of kid stuff. For this one tiny little sliver of my life, I was Über-organized. I rotated toys in and out of circulation so they frequently felt they had a fresh supply of things to play with. I did the same with their clothes.

They had one toybox which they could keep full of all the action figures and Legos and Hot Wheels and Nerf guns and puzzles and dinosaurs and Dora the Explorer toys they wanted (because gender roles are for sissies, and Dora was *awesome*), but it wasn't to overflow. All their toys had to fit inside that one toybox (which really was just a big Rubbermaid crate with a bunch of stickers and shit on it) and if they didn't, some would have to be donated to charity. Not just any toys had to go, good ones were donated, ones a child who maybe didn't have enough money to buy new toys would be happy to find at the local thrift shop. 

Same went for Christmas and birthdays. Each year at the beginning of December, we brought out all the toys, all the games, all the Erector/construction sets, and we started making tough choices, because if Santa was going to leave presents, we had to make room for them. Each year I explained to them that not every family is lucky enough to be able to buy their children Christmas gifts, and that we could help make those kids' Christmas' a wonderful time by giving our best toys, the ones we have cared for and kept together and played with delicately, to the local thrift shop so a family who needed to find wonderful gifts for their kids at the thrift shop, would. 

My children (and really, every child ever) were delighted at this prospect. Yes, giving up toys they loved sucked for them, but they loved the idea of giving another kid a good Christmas, and I loved them for their kind little hearts. 

Of course, those little boys are not little anymore, and they don't really play with toys anymore. We don't have toyboxes, we have cable bins. We don't rotate stuffies, we rotate game systems. We have a great big house a million miles from no where that can store you won't believe how many crates of Legos and Airsoft guns and vintage handheld game systems. There are no more gently used toys to pass on to a new family, but the ritual of it is still important. These men-and-women-in-training need to have it instilled in them that thinking of others, that giving while they're busy receiving, is as much a part of this holiday craziness as turkey and trees and 33% off sales with free shipping.

Wanting to give isn't nearly as easy as wanting to get, until you learn how freaking amazing giving feels. 

The first Tuesday in December is #GivingTuesday. After school, we are heading out to the mall, where each kid is going to pick one gift that they want to get under their own Christmas tree this year. They're going to bring it home and wrap it gorgeously. We're going to take it our of our family budget for Christmas gifts, and count it as one of their personal Christmas gifts, and then we are going to give it away to someone else.

Maybe it will go to a local foster child, maybe to a family who's having a rough time getting by or rebounding financially. It won't be worth a ton monetarily, because we don't have a ton to give, but it will be something. It will make a child's Christmas brighter, and it will give my children the greatest gifts I can think to give them - humility and humanity.

Join the giving movement here and find ideas for giving here.

R is for Reason. Let's Show We Have Some.

He's why. His brothers and sister are why. My little sister is why. Every kid and every family of every kid who has to live with the reality of how hard physically, socially, and emotionally being actually, really physically or mentally delayed/retarded is, they're the reason we have to think about the language we use, and teach our children to do the same. 

That little boy up there sat up and looked out a window all by himself yesterday. That is the single biggest accomplishment of his life so far, besides you know, survivingThat's why not tossing retarded around like it's some flippant joke matters. We may have freedom of speech, but we also are able to, you know, sit up whenever we want. Power/Responsibility.

It isn't enough to just not say that word anymore. You wanna end war n' stuff, you gotta sing loud. The symptoms of the disease range from flippantness and callousness to  racism and bigotry, but the disease itself is fear and ignorance, and it is super contagious. You can actually carry it and pass it to people and and not even know you're doing it. If we want to eradicate this word and the disease that it is leached onto, we have to make sure our childrens' comfort zones and social circles expand well beyond that which they see in a mirror. We have to make sure that they know other children, ones who aren't abled as they are, ones who aren't colored as they are, ones who don't dress or eat or pray or talk as they do. 

You make it personal for your kid, and he will defend it to the death. Kids are way cool like that. You once explain to a kid where the N word came from and he will forever take head-smashing on school buses by thugs who say it, because he will stand up and shame the hell out of said thug. You introduce your kids to their fake Canadian cousin Jumby and they will forever stand up and stop anyone who they hear say the r-word like it's a joke, and not a war their family member fights and wins every day.

My kids are healthy, mentally and physically  and I know exactly how lucky I am for absolutely no reason at all to be able to say that, so it's my duty to make sure that my children, my family, each of us show respect and love with our words, thoughts, and actions. Not saying one totally insignificant word is a teensy price to pay for that cause. And if we can't think of a better one, one that doesn't make a mockery the heroic, brave, beautiful lives of children like my fake Canadian nephew, or my little sister? Well then, there's only one thing left for you to do.

Poster by Alison Rowan - $12.00

Poster by Alison Rowan - $12.00

Spread the word to end the word. Pledge your support here.