The fab 5 that keeps me going...

The fab 5 that keeps me going...
One generation plants the trees; another gets the shade. ~ Chinese Proverb

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cream of Pumpkin Soup Served in a Pumpkin Shell

"Served it in a pumpkin shell and there you'll keep it very well." The presentation of this savory soup is spectacular!


1 large fresh pumpkin (about 12 inches in diameter) for serving the soup

2 ½ cups fresh, baked/cooked pumpkin or canned pumpkin (see below)

3 cups chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream

½ cup dry sherry (optional)

4 tbsp. butter

1 small onion, chopped

¾ cup diced celery

1 sprig of fresh thyme

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ tsp of salt Toasted pumpkin seeds for a garnish

fresh grated ginger or 1 tbsp. ground ginger

fresh cracked pepper to taste


Cut the top (one third) of your pumpkin to create a lid for your pumpkin serving bowl. Scoop out the seeds and strings, cleaning the inside well of any debris. Clean the seeds and place them on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle the seeds with a little salt. Roast in a 200°F oven until lightly golden brown. Set them aside to be used as a garnish.

2 ½ cups of fresh pumpkin can be cooked on the stove top or baked for a stronger taste. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees or boil a pot of water. Cut up a large pumpkin into small pieces that will fit in a baking dish. Remove the strings and debris with a large spoon. Place pumpkin upside down (peel should be up) in the baking dish - the baking dish should have sides that come up at least 2 inches. Once you have the pumpkin in the baking dish, add an inch of water to steam the pumpkin in the oven. Bake or boil until tender (approximately 45 to 60 minutes depending on the size of the pumpkin.

Remove the pumpkin from the water/baking dish and let cool. Scoop out and measure 2 ½ cups of pumpkin into freezer bags and store. The pumpkin is good for a year in the freezer.
In a large soup pot, melt 2 tbsp of butter over a medium heat. Sauté onion, celery and garlic for about 10 minutes. Add the pumpkin, sherry and chicken broth. Blend in well with a whisk. Add the thyme sprig. Simmer for an additional 20 minutes. Remove thyme sprig. Remove the mixture from the heat and puree in a blender. Be careful to puree small amounts of the hot mixture with the blender top on to avoid having the mixture burst out of the blender. Alternatively, if you like it a bit more substantial, mash with a large fork or potato masher. Return the mixture to the pot. Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter in a separate sauce pan. Whisk in 2 tbsp of flour. Whisk in the cream. Blend well. Cook for one minute. Whisk the flour, butter and cream mixture into pumpkin puree. Simmer for 5 minutes more.
Heat the pumpkin shell in a 200ºF oven for 10 to 15 minutes before adding soup to keep the soup warm for a longer period of time. Pour soup into your hollowed-out pumpkin serving bowl. Serve the toasted pumpkin seeds on the side for garnish and plenty of fresh cracked pepper.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Giving Thanks...

There are times when I sit down with pen to paper (really keys to computer) and I'm at a loss for words. And other times (if you have read some previous posts), my heart spills out on the pages. I also make it a somewhat standing policy to not engage in political discussions. Some of those things are better left unsaid.

This I know:

* The neighbors that have so generously made our One Can A Week a super-success the past 4 months are FANTASTIC PEOPLE! I really 'heart' you all! There is not one of you that I wouldn't readily open my door to with open arms, and I do hope you take me up on it!

* Your encouragement was/is absolutely incredible. The notes you left, the smiles you flashed and the little shouts of encouragement on Sundays kept me going! And none of this could have happened without YOU!

* You are the 'unique and special ones'. You see the good in giving.

* Past two weeks collectively: 168 lbs.!

* About 54 homes in 4 months, you have donated a total of 979 lbs. of food, 10 lbs. of non-food items and $50.00.

* Life is Good. Really Good. Have a Fabulous Thanksgiving! And know, that there will be food on the tables of many families because of YOU!!!

Hope to see you ALL and your families

at Tahoe Park in Catalina Vista for our

"Party in the Park!"

Sunday, December 6th


Lunch/beverages will be provided.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I was invited to talk with folks, along with Peter Norback (One Can A Week - Miles Neighborhood) at the Sam Hughes Neighborhood Association meeting this past week, about One Can A Week. I was really struck by the cohesiveness that is so apparent among neighbors in this neighborhood. Inevitably, FOUR people jumped up with enthusiasm to start One Can A Week in the Sam Hughes neighborhood. I think they too, see the benefit of how 'giving' brings about Community. I'm still not exactly sure how this works. I think it is the fact that everyone is on board to a common cause. And basically, It Feels Good to do good. I can't think of a better way to unite!

And there was even talk about starting a "Dining For Women" ~ Sam Hughes chapter. Can you imagine if EVERY neighborhood started a chapter?! Yeah, I can't help but to think of possibilities ~ its more Fun to think Big. (This is why my husband is the 'brakes' in the family, because undoubtedly I'd have a small village of kids at home! Okay, I guess we do ~ a Big Village then!)

And when people are united, and there is community ~ there is safety. And Happiness! Go Sam Hughes!!!
Another cool thing that happened was at an RV park we stayed at Halloween night. A woman (picture on right) approached me and asked if I was Lisa Hepner with One Can A Week and I said, "yes." She said that she had seen my blog, wanted to make a food donation, and asked for a business card. Pretty neat! Thanks Terry!!! We love random donations!!! :)

Hope ya'all had a Fabulous Halloween!

88 lbs. this week, including 4 lbs. of non-food items and $50.00 cash!

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lot's to be Thankful for...

See ya Sunday!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Best Story I Have...

Just over two and a half years ago, my husband and I got the phone call paired with the email that our 'adoption referral' was on its way. Basically this means that when you go through the process (paperwork pregnancy!), you are eventually "matched" with a child. You receive minimal paperwork, no medical history and a small grainy photograph. The lucky parents get videos.

As we opened up the email with as much anxiety and excitement as a birth, we both cried tears of joy. Little did we anticipate what life-changing events (for all) lie ahead.

Because my husband had to work, I made the trek to Ethiopia with my Mom (who was a complete trooper. When I called and advised her to leave her Rolex at home, she replied, "okay, I think I can find my Gucci watch somewhere around here." LOL). As we arrived in Ethiopia, I was sick with anticipation and nerves, but it was all completely dispelled when I walked up to the foster home only to have my children run out and leap into my arms with delight! I was so prepared for them to be completely afraid of me (had they ever met a white person before?!) and run the other way. To be greeted with such excitement ~ I was not prepared for. I also was not prepared for the was to come ~ the meeting of my son's Birthmother.

I would venture to say it was the most painful day of my life to date. You see, she had 3 children, but was making an adoption plan for just Milan (Yinges), because he is profoundly deaf. (Understand that in Ethiopia, being Deaf is a death sentence). And as she sat stoically, I couldn't even open my mouth to utter a single question, because the Flood Gates would have opened. It would have been the Ugliest wail anyone has ever witnessed. So I sat quietly. We took some pictures and looked awkwardly at each other. I asked her to speak into a video camera - her wishes for his future, and figured I would ask my Ethiopian friends back in the states what she had said. I unfortunately and painfully never got that opportunity, as our house was broken into and the camera stolen with the videos therein. But there was something Bigger happening, which none was prepared for. And in that moment, I felt like I had just ripped a child from his Mother's arms. None of this felt good. I would spend the next year asking God, "why?"
With a pit in my stomach, I brought my two kids to the airport where an Ethiopian woman sized me up and then looked me straight in the eyes and started to speak. (I thought I was going to be scolded for taking a child from his Mother). And all she said was, "Thank You. I really Thank You. No, Ethiopia Thanks You!" And the floodgates opened. She cried, I cried, we embraced and departed ways onto our flights. I felt better, but still uneasy.

The next jaunt of our journey brought many challenges with communicating and structure. We were clearly starting from scratch, and our little Milan Yinges could do nothing but point and grunt or have a drooling screaming breakdown in order to communicate his needs. The journey would be long, but we were in it for Life.

Fast forward one year: Milan had 'something wrong'. My husband and I felt it in our gut. We were returning from a trip to Mexico and Milan had to go to the bathroom 4 times in 45 minutes! And then kept signing that he was 'thirsty'. So we looked at each other and my husband suggested maybe he drank the water in Mexico. Yes, that definitely made sense. So I made a doctor's appointment and expected to get an RX for an antibiotic ~ that would surely do it! But instead, we were told we were going to spend the next 5 days in the hospital - Milan had Diabetes. I have to admit, I was completely Blindsided.

So through my tears in the doctor's office, I felt a sense of relief come over me. I paused for a moment and "got it." You see, Milan's deafness saved his life. Adoption saved his life. His Birthmom gave Life to him ~ Twice. Ethiopia doesn't have Insulin and the doctor exclaimed, "he would not have seen his 5th birthday if he was not adopted."
Miracles DO Happen.

I cried every day for a month, and it still breaks my heart. But Diabetes is something we live with every day. Milan gets 4-5 shots a day and cannot live without Insulin. He is a trooper. He is a small hero, in a big way.

Just like the Neighbors in Catalina Vista ~ you are all small heroes in Big ways...
86 lbs. this week!

Thanks to my class too! :)

See you Sunday!

Lisa :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Get Your Good News Here! Keep your Cell Phone near!

Our regular drop-off this week was extra happy because we got to add a small pile of "extra" donations. See, I'm taking a real estate professional development class at the moment (for 6 weeks), and the instructor said we needed to come up with a 'consequence' for random cell phones going off during class, or people leaving or showing up late. My dear friend Martha (another great realtor buddy) BRILLIANTLY (I might add) suggested that we donate cans. So the end result was this: If your cell phone goes off, if you leave early or arrive late; you donate TEN cans (to One Can A Week) and TEN dollars (which goes to Long Cares Foundation). All of this is fabulous, but the funny part of it is when someone's cell phone rings, I let out a big howling cheer (I can't help it!). So RING phones, RING!!!! :)

The other funny part of this is that (in this picture w my little ones) Howard, who works at the Community Food Bank and helps weigh our donations, told me that his cell phone is never quiet ~ he cannot get it to a 'shush' or vibrate ring - it goes off no matter what or where. I asked him to join our class kindly. ;) Just askin'... :)

So this week is (*drum roll*) 104 lbs., including 6 lbs. of 'non-food items' (which included toiletries and paper towels). GREAT JOB! And thanks to my class and your cell phones!

It looks like we are now 'consistently' in the three digit donations. This brings such a smile to my face. Just like walking CV every Sunday and chatting with ya'all. This week I got to meet "Taco" ~ a resident doggie who is one of those unique-doesn't-need-to-be-leashed and is a smart-cookie kind-of-dog. See you Sunday Taco!


p.s. The update on the shoe-tying: In progress.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Good News, or the Good News?

Which one would you like first?

Good News #1: 109 LBS. THIS WEEK!

Good News #2: Another INCREDIBLE Dining for Women gathering at the lovely home of Janis. A big THANK YOU to Dory (picture on left), Janis and Gypsy who will now all co-lead our sister dining adventures. Also a big THANK YOU especially to Dory. Dory is such a kind woman who really has a keen sense of knowing how to connect a group of people, and how the dynamic works. You see, Dory invited her friend Kay to this weeks Dining out and Kay brought something that we all could use, all too often: Perspective. Kay is one of those really special people too (birds of a feather, stick together ~ no wonder Dory and Kay are friends!). She is special because she lived and breathed India for 5 years, and by her stories, she still carries India in her heart. This is a woman that lived among poverty that we cannot conceive. She described the streets of 6 lanes wide, littered with people sleeping on cardboard boxes. She told of the legality for a man to kill his wife ~ which happens quite often, as the motivation would be yet another dowry from a subsequent wife; and that this 'normally' happens through burning. She described poverty and disease to a tune that it sounded like a movie, for we have nothing we can relate it to. All of this, and Kay survived there for FIVE years! She was studying with the Sages and Saints of India and practiced meditation. She now meditates 5 hours for every 24 hours of her life. Wow. I mean, wow. (Okay, that wasn't exactly good news, but the good news is that women from Tucson are gathering to make a difference! No, actually that is Great News!)

This is Kay talking with the group.

Good News #3: I got to meet Amy and Bonnie; two incredible women and Catalina Vista neighbors on my One Can A Week route. Amy even told me how to get through her gate because she too, wants to participate. Awesome.

Good News #4: My 11yo daughter attended our Dining for Women and wrote me a note that said: "The country was India. The food was delish. It was a whole different, cool, awesome experience. I had so much fun. I hope to be able to go to more because it was so enjoyable. Thanks, Mom for sharing this experience with me. Sequoia".

Good News #5: For those of you who might think Dining for Women is a very serious thing and we sit around and talk about the perils of the world ~ think again:

I love this picture, because in One Big Gulp, this is what it feels like to be part of something Very Big on a Small Scale. What a beautiful thing...

Good News #6: Thanks to the people that thank me for doing One Can a Week, and those who enjoyed the interesting information about real estate in Catalina Vista last week (staying informed is good! And I love sharing my passions!).

Good News #7: THANK YOU to all the people that give to One Can A Week. It doesn't happen without you! I appreciate each and every one of you!!!!!! Catalina Vista ROCKS!!!

Good News #8: Life is Good. And this is Otis and his Mommy, Janis (she is ALL Good ~ an amazing woman with a giant heart!). He agrees. Even he is smiling.
See you Sunday! And sending GIANT hugs to you all (I know I needed a few this week ~ whew!).
Todo esta Bien. It's all Good...


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Its all in the little things ~ tie your shoes!

Having adopted children at an older age poses some challenges. Yes, the history that we will never know about, the first years of their lives ~ always a mystery. But there is more. Our kids have some 'gaps' that we forget, overlook or just don't see. It happened recently. As the weather changes, we went on a school shoe shopping escapade. Amira and Milan picked out some tennis shoes that fit and I purchased them and we went home. They were excited to wear their shoes the next day, and in our hurry in the am with 5 little ones to get to 4 different schools, I failed to notice my son's shoes were untied.

As many of you know, Amira and Milan came from Ethiopia, and in our excitement to buy clothes and shoes, bought them what every American kid has or has had: Light-up, velcro tennis shoes. So in fulfilling our need, we didn't see that our Milan could not tie his shoes. I totally missed this. Until yesterday, when I noticed he couldn't tie his new shoes. He is 6.

These small things are so eye-opening. It reminds me of the time we went to the Secretary of State's office downtown to get the documents apostilled for the adoption of our little MeiLi from China. Our two kiddos from Ethiopia had only been home for about 3 months when we visited this tall building and took the elevator up. As if this wasn't enough of an adventure, when we arrived on the floor we needed to get off, there was a drinking fountain across the hall. My kids ran up to it (as kids do), but instead of fighting to take a drink, after they discovered that water spurts out after pushing the button, they both proceeded to wash their hands in it. All of this is funny. But not as funny (maybe the wrong word) as the time that we stepped into the Addis Ababa Sheraton Hotel while in Ethiopia to take the kids for a swim.

We stepped in the front door, and this hotel is every bit of a 5 star hotel by American standards. It is all so wrong. The most extreme poverty that you could imagine (you can't ~ I couldn't) is just yards away, and here is this lavish hotel with marble floors and big chandeliers and men in suits with top hats (yes, really!) greet you at the door. My kids immediately saw the large fountain and started to take their clothes off ~ after all, it was the cleanest bathwater they had ever laid eyes on!

So its always teaching moments in our household ~ if we choose to pay attention. Our kids teach us something new on a daily basis. My 6yo can't tie his shoes, but he can read. And he is profoundly deaf. Wow...

Taking things for granted is something I like to think I don't do, but I, like most of us, do.

When I wake up every Sunday, I have to admit: I do not always want to walk the neighborhood of Catalina Vista and collect cans. I really sometimes just want to sleep in, have a pajama day, and never even leave the house. But there is something that happens every time I show up. Every Time I Show Up...

This is an example of what makes it all change. I get little notes sometimes with the food donations, and it COMPLETELY makes my day. Its just a little thing, true. But the truth is, you took the time to write it, and if you could see my grin, its bigger than this computer screen. So don't stop ~ I love it. Its all I need to show up and keep going... very simply, its really all I need.

90 LBS. THIS WEEK!!!!!!!!!

DFW (Dining for Women) is soon, just 5 days away (yeah, I'm counting), and I can't wait to talk about the amazingness that happens there.

Life is Good.

Life is So Good.

Even if you can't tie your shoes ~ ask your neighbor.

See you next Sunday!

xo Lisa

Friday, October 2, 2009

A new record ~ 60lbs!

Although it took us 5 days to get to the Food Bank this week (real estate is getting crazy!), I got to bring my "Fab 5" with me. My kids enjoyed weighing themselves on the food scale and even got me to step up there ~ and Howard laughed out loud when he saw it and said, "wow! I know your secret now - the number that women keep to themselves!" We let out a good laugh and my kids carried on with the game. My kids collective weight is 280 lbs. :)

And a special "thank you" goes to my fabulous, amazing, incredible husband who now calls One Can A Week "our" project! Jonathan, you are truly the BEST husband in the Universe! I love you with my whole soul... and then some.

See you Sunday!

Lisa (and Jonathan too!)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

56 lbs. ~ week 6!

I know that I am definitely on the right path in my career because I have chosen a road that allows me to talk ~ a lot. I am rarely at a loss for words, but sometimes it happens. I think sometimes people say things better than I can so I want to share other people's words for now.

Recently Peter Norback of One Can A Week, Miles Neighborhood invited me to join him at the Food Bank where the Mayor presented along with the Food Bank Manager and Richard Fimbres. You can see his article on the occasion here:

I also had the privledge of meeting Nina Tasoff, ward 6 Councilmember. She 'gets' the art of giving.

So that started my week, and this finished it:

It is an entry in the blog written by Marsha Wallace, the brainchild behind the INCREDIBLE organization: Dining for Women.

Just look at Dining for Women's Mission and Vision!

Our Mission
Dining for Women empowers women living in extreme poverty by funding programs fostering good health, education, and economic self-sufficiency and cultivates educational dinner circles inspiring individuals to make a difference through the power of collective giving.

Our Vision
Our vision is to create a new paradigm for giving - collective giving on a large scale - while maintaning the intimacy of small groups with a focus on education and involved giving. We envision small groups of women forming dinner chapters throughout the world combining their energies to improve the quality of life for women and children living in the developing world.

Ahhhh its so beautiful.

Life is So good.

I am so incredibly blessed.

See you Sunday!


p.s. I am passing out free tickets to the Greek Festival on my Sunday route (good for Sunday admission). Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

On Being Global Citizens...

Every once in a while we get to be a small part of something really BIG. This was my experience recently.
Let me start from the beginning. I started my One Can A Week route down Sierra Vista, nervously approaching each home, trying to get out in one sentence and breath of what it was I was doing, when I walked up to Dory's home. Dory is a really adorable, thin and bubbly woman who stands tall and confidently. I have to admit I was a little intimidated when she stoically said she didn't want to give me her email address ~ but that she would happily be involved. I was relieved.

Every week I do my rounds and only ask for one can. But understand that Catalina Vista is a neighborhood of really incredible people. Perhaps I got lucky, or perhaps I have a second sense about where to find 'the good ones', and I'd like to think the latter, but happenstance is what it is.

After a few weeks of 'showing up' (which I have learned is the biggest part of anything we do ~ more about that later), Dory left a bag of a few cans (she really hasn't been able to leave 'just one'), and there was a yellow post-it note with her email address and a bunch of questions. As I was reading the very beginning of it, she was exiting her house down the path toward me. We chatted for a few minutes, but I was trying to be aware of her space and what I failed to recognize was that she was 'letting me in'. When I got home, I researched what it was we were talking about ~ Dining For Women.

And I was Awestruck.

This is brilliance. I knew, in a heartbeat that Dory and I would be friends.

Dining For Women is an incredible organization that has the "Global Citizen" at heart. This, as a mother of Multi-Cultural children ~ I love. I do think that we live in an incredible country with amazing opportunities. Make no mistake about that. I do also believe that we are bigger than our geographical boundaries. And this I have seen firsthand.

As we watched the short video of women all the way around the other side of the globe, with their own unique struggles (ones quite frankly we cannot relate to at all ~ lack of water, lack of electricity, no cars, etc. etc.), I sense the thread. The invisible thread that connects us all ~ each unique woman, each unique individual. We are all there because we feel this...

We shared stories, feasted on fabulous dishes from Tibetan recipes, drank wine, chatted up each other about our lives and truly connected. All the while we were connecting to our sisters on a global level. It likely doesn't get much better than this from the comfort of our own homes ~ every age, every ethnicity, every cultural background and career.... brilliance.

So for my Catalina Vista Neighbors:

Ophelia ~ I know you cannot read this as you are legally blind, however I am sending out big thoughts and prayers for your successful eye surgery!

And to all the rest of my Catalina Vista Neighbors ~ it doesn't happen without you. Each and every one of You. With just one can.

When you greet me with smiles and a "Hi Lisa!" ~ just so you know ~ it completely and utterly makes my day. That is My reward.

(Picture of my oldest daughter, Sequoia, my little Noah and tiny MeiLi)...

I am so blessed to be surrounded by so many incredible people...

66lbs. this week!

See you Next Sunday! (Remember I will be late!)

xo Lisa

Thursday, September 10, 2009

We are Growing!

Not only are our numbers growing, but we are growing as a Community ~ more involvement every week and its each one of you ~ with just one can. 56 lbs. this week! For a GRAND TOTAL of 146 lbs. to date!!!! So cool!

Recently at our staff meeting at work, I was awarded the "August All-Star" award (which comes complete with my very own parking spot!), and one of the reasons cited was because of the One Can a Week program. So I think this sign should read "All Star - Catalina Vista Neighbors!"

I can hardly contain my smiles when I walk up to a porch and there it sits - your generous food donations. Even when you forget, I really enjoy ringing the bell to say 'hi!'

Here's my two littlest helpers, my children Noah and MeiLi. Noah is a lot like me ~ he can't contain his silliness in the world. You see, a lot of things are funny, and he sees the humor in most. And Mizz MeiLi, with the capital in the MIDDLE of her name, is the smallest but not the youngest member of our brood, but certainly the Loudest. She hails from Hunan ~ and yes (if you are Chinese or have been to China you will laugh at this), she is SPICY! But her 'spicyness' serves her well. She will not be pushed around by anyone and she definitely has her own opinions. She also has no lack of self-esteem! Thank Goodness...
You see, MeiLi was left at birth on the steps of the orphanage where she would spend two years of her life. Her birthmother wanted to make sure that she would be found and taken care of. What her birthmom did not know ~ MeiLi is deaf.
Four years ago, she lay on the steps of the orphanage, and two years ago, she lay in my arms. When I picked her up, I was as terrified as she ~ although her terror was heard through screams (a complete shut down howling kind of scream like no other), and mine was in the pounding of my heart, terrified that this child didn't want me as her Mom. Little did I know, I was not in control of this ~ any of it. I was and am MeiLi's Mom since the beginning of Time.
When the orphanage staff handed me a soft little plastic bag, I put it away and figured it was a gift or perhaps a blanket of hers that I had sent previously in a package. But I was wrong.
We went back to our hotel room while MeiLi slept I took out the bag. It was the kind of bag with the plastic zipper that your children might have used to house their pencils. But inside it was something that sits in the fabric of my being.
When I opened it, I found a shirt with a character on it, some little pants (split pants - which are what Chinese babies use - they have a giant 'split' where they can go to the bathroom - no diapers), and a homemade hat. I traced the threads of that little hat, knowing that her Birthmother did the same as she made it. It was dark colors and she likely was hoping for a boy. I still cannot connect with the pain that she must have felt as she left her baby dressed in the little hat and clothes, wrapped in an adult sweater on the steps. She probably hid behind a bush and waited until MeiLi was found. And the emptiness. And the sacrifice.
Sacrifice. Wow...
I have a lump in my throat as I type this. I am certain I don't know what sacrifice is. And I still have that same throbbing, lump of a cry; a wail; an idontknowifitwouldstop kind of feeling that if I ever let it go ~ I might not be able to catch my breath.
So I send out into the Universe, to MeiLi's Birthmom ~ Thank You. Thank you, really. Thank you for sacrificing Yourself, for MeiLi. I wish you could see her laugh and hear her sleep. I hope for peace in your heart. MeiLi is bigger than Life itself, and she wants everyone to know it ~ including you. Thank you.
And Thank You to my wonderful neighbors who sacrifice the moments and groceries for a bigger cause. Life is so Precious. We only get one. Thank you.

See you next Sunday, you All-Stars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 31, 2009


I think it has taken me nearly all of my 38 years to figure out that my happiness is a direct result of what I put out into the Universe. Consequently, the more I help ~ the happier I am!
We had the privilege of meeting Alex, one of our neighbors in Catalina Vista who graciously gave a large donation of food to add to this weeks gathering. Alex's Birthday is this TUESDAY! So if you see him, wish him a happy one!

This is Alex with three of my children Noah, Amira and Sequoia. They were my helpers this past Sunday in 108 degree weather ~ whew! I treated them to Frosty's afterward.

Our weigh-in this week was 38 lbs., and I am happy to report that we have several new neighbors on board! Each one of you makes a HUGE difference!

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

~ Winston Churchill

See you next Sunday! :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

From 12 to 40 ~ in Just One Week!!!

Every Sunday morning, I get up, work for a few hours and then head to Catalina Vista wondering what will be in store. This past Sunday I think you may have gotten a glimpse of me smiling ear to ear as I collected food donations and chatted up some neighbors. It renews my sense of community, belonging, cohesiveness in a neighborhood and all the while doing something good.

As the title says, we went from 12 lbs. the first week to 40 lbs this week! The weigh-in is an exciting part of the calculations too because its a measure. This week I snagged two of my kids from school and brought them to the Community Food Bank for the weigh-in. Its a bit different than weighing in at a 'weight loss' place. Here, we want to be big and fat in our numbers! :)
These are my two children from Ethiopia. I traveled over two years ago to pick them up in a place that will always be so dear to my heart. But the devastation there is beyond shocking. Its criminal. Someday I hope to take them back so they can see where they came from; what they survived.
A flash of a naked man, laying in the sidewalk still haunts me. He didn't have any clothes, and I didn't have any words. I wanted so badly to yell to the driver, "STOP! STOP NOW! WE MUST GIVE HIM FOOD AND CLOTHING!" But the words never came out. I opened my mouth and only a floodgate of tears came pouring out ~ in a country where it isn't culturally 'okay' to cry. I knew there was only one thing to do; hold my breath. I did, and I quietly stopped. But I knew that I would never be the same again. His image still continues to haunt me. I didn't do anything. I don't want to feel that again. I have to do SOMETHING.
I don't tell people about the man, mostly because I am ashamed. I missed the opportunity to do something. Maybe it was the way it was supposed to be, because I still carry the weight of him with me as a reminder to DO. I won't let the world pass me by. I'm a mover... and I know that only the unimaginable is impossible. If you can dream it, you can do it.
Let's do it together.
See you Next Sunday my awesome fabulous wonderful neighbors!!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Twelve Pounds...

I have seen firsthand the devastation of hunger. I have seen a mother of skin and bones struggling to feed her baby ~ of the likes I never could imagine. This was during my trip to Nepal as a young graduate student naive of the world. It shocked me into a reality too intense to absorb, yet I carry it with me every day - the image...

But nothing hits home like the trip to Ethiopia. I'll write more as I become brave. But its a spot within me so deep I can't type the words without sobbing.

Nonetheless, the project is underway and I feel energized and rejuvinated by the folks that have chosen to participate. Thank you. Really, thank you.

The first weigh-in was exciting ~ albeit 12 lbs., including my donation, marked the beginning. The start of anything is always the hardest but the smiling faces I have encountered thus far in Catalina Vista, make it easy to go on.

It really was a monumental moment of the start of the difference we will make ~ together.

It was also a really nice surprise to run into Peter Norback ~ the person behind the idea of One Can A Week. Peter is a good soul with an incredible vision and what's special about him is ~ he never gives up. He is making a difference in the world.

Each one of our donations every week make a difference in the world no matter how big or small.
They matter. YOU matter.
See you next Sunday!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Beginning...

I started my rounds today, visiting 16 homes. Several people weren't home (or didn't want to answer the door to a stranger standing outside ~ although I'd like to hope I am pretty non-threatening). I did get about 5 homes to participate for next Sunday ~ a good start.

On my way home, I phoned Peter (Miles neighborhood, one can a week) who completely understands every nuance of going door-to-door calling on people to do something good. It is definitely nerve wracking to walk up to a door trying to explain that I'm not selling anything and that I'm going to do all the work ~ they just need to want to participate for the betterment of our community.

I feel encouraged by some that invitingly asked me into their home while I explained the program, and gave big shouts of "so glad someone is doing something good!" when in fact, I am just the messenger. It is each neighbor, each individual with just one can.

Just one.

It makes a difference.

YOU make a difference!

See you next Sunday!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Our Day With Peter ~ One Can A Week

Peter Norback and One Can A Week

Spent Sunday with a very humble, happy chap named Peter Norback. I found him and his 'work' in the newspaper a week before and the story brought me to tears. I knew he was someone I had to meet ~ because I felt he was doing something I had to be doing too. You see, Peter is one of those people that doesn't have enough patience for sitting around on committees talking about things that need to be done. He just goes out and does it.

We made a small round, going up to each door collecting cans and leaving a thank you note in its place. Several neighbors saw us coming and met us at the door. And what's so great about Peter in today's busy world where everyone has a long list of to-do's, yet never seems to get it done is this: Peter has time.

He will take time to thank you, shake your hand, ask how your day is going and will stop to pet the neighbor's chunky little chihuahua. He's a humble man with a large vision ~ and he knows that only one can at a time, can it happen. He also knows what works - don't wait for people to come to you. Go to them.

So to date Peter has collected 4,411 lbs. of food and the number grows weekly. All of this is happening in Miles Neighborhood, and through his inspiration we will embark on our very own "One Can A Day 2" in the neighborhood of Catalina Vista. Thanks, Peter!