Words

As a writer, I constantly have words floating in my brain. Words pinging the inside of my head, looking for the right way to get out. Sometimes they are lost or come out in ways unexpected, good and bad. Other times they flow out in a beautiful fashion. Those are the best times. Every now and then I might regret words, but that doesn’t happen often. I’m pretty deliberate with my words, often thinking far too much about what they mean and going back to explain them if they are misunderstood.

10553356_10152531841913558_4920417115845206146_nI was at a loss for words at the Aya Summit last week. By the end of the day on Thursday, there were tears, heart palpitations, and feelings of shock, happiness and empowerment all rolled into one. The bloggers in the room looked at each other and could barely speak. How do you explain the experience of hearing the words that explained exactly how those more than 200 Nigerian girls were kidnapped from their school as told from a brave young woman who escaped within 24 hours of the abduction? How do you share the brilliant and poignant performances of a homeless woman and poet determined to be a role model for young girls and the Hollywood actress staying true to her roots and telling African women stories through her play.

Sometimes there are no words, though I will attempt to recap my experience at the summit soon.

I’ve become more mindful of words over the years. They have so much power. Words. They can hurt you or fill your heart with love. They can comfort, make you laugh or thrust you into action. And then, of course, there are the words we are too afraid to say. I feel bad for those words, stuck in someone’s mind just itching to come out. I’ve got some of those words, but I try not to let them stay in my head for too long.

The best part about being a writer is when you find out that your own words have touched someone else. Knowing our words have meaning keeps us going. And writing more words.

I’ve experienced so many words this year that have given me much to think about, to celebrate and be thankful for. Meaningful words with meaningful people in so many different ways. They set the scene for the storylines of our lives.

And I thank you for reading my words.

Philanthropy Friday: Giving Back at Firehouse Subs

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer.

Disclosure: My two boys and I received a free lunch from our local Firehouse Subs while we discussed the ways in which the company gives back. I had the Turkey Bacon Ranch sub, in case you were wondering, and it was really good. As per usual, all words and opinions expressed are my own. 

The counter at my local Firehouse Subs in Topsham, Maine.

The counter at my local Firehouse Subs in Topsham, Maine.

With more than 800 restaurants in 42 states and Puerto Rico, chances are you have heard of Firehouse Subs. They are the only sub shop around that steams their meats and cheeses, releasing a “rush of flavors” and serves them on a private recipe sub roll.

To be honest, I’m usually skeptical of chain restaurants, preferring to support a local eatery instead. However, I was recently invited to visit my local Firehouse Subs to learn more about what the company calls “the heart of their brand,” the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. After reading about recent donations to a local technical school and fire department, I was intrigued.

Chris and Robin Sorensen, the co-founders of Firehouse Subs, founded the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. To date, the Foundation has donated more than $11 million to 790 public safety organizations across the country. I’m told more than $25,700 has been donated in the state of Maine.

According to the website:

I had a wonderful lunch with Dave Tucci, the local area representative for Firehouse Subs, his lovely daughter and my two boys. Dave’s wife and her parents also showed up at one point, making for a nice family meal on a school holiday.

Dave told me about the foundation and the different ways customers of Firehouse Subs can contribute to it when they visit the restaurant. He also told me that a local representative of Firehouse Subs, like himself, always meets with the fire chief in the town in which a new restaurant is to be opened. The goal for the franchise is to partner with people who have both restaurant experience and an intimate knowledge of the local community. 

One of my favorite things about Firehouse Subs is that you will always be greeted by someone at the counter when you walk through the door, even when it gets busy. Dave says they want everyone to feel like they are at home when they visit the restaurant.

Pickle buckets at Firehouse Subs cost just $2 and the money goes to their public safety foundation.

Pickle buckets at Firehouse Subs cost just $2 and the money goes to their public safety foundation.

There are several easy ways to give back when you eat at Firehouse Subs. You can drop your spare change into an acrylic canister (as you see in the second photo in this post). You can “round up” your purchase to the nearest dollar when you complete your sale. You can also purchase a recycled 5-gallon pickle bucket for $2, with proceeds going directly to the public safety foundation.

During the month of October, also Public Safety Month, customers can purchase a $1 or $5 medallion to support the foundation. Medallions (seen on display behind the pickle buckets above) are on display for the entire month.

The foundation has most certainly made an impact in Maine and around the country. Dave told me a story of how two employees of Firehouse Subs were in a bad accident that required the use of jaws of life equipment donated by their employer. Luckily, the employees were OK in the end. While Firehouse Subs is newer in the state of Maine, donations have been made in the past through a grant process.

You can read more about the local impact the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has made on their website. Or visit their brand new interactive website that shows the lifecycle of a quarter when it is donated to the foundation.

How will you give back at Firehouse Subs?

The Mother of All Meltdowns is One (and $0.99 today)! #MOAM

The Mother of All Meltdowns is turning 1

It seems like just yesterday I was telling you about my very first book, The Mother of All MeltdownsAlong with 29 other amazing writers and moms, I shared my worst moment as a mother. The one where I cried, yelled and swore at my kids after a daycare pickup gone wrong.

Yeah. That one. I try not to think about it too much. (And, who am I kidding, I’ve had a few meltdowns since the book came out.)

Moms are human, though we’re often expected to be superhuman. We do our best. At the end of the day if our kids are happy, somewhat well-adjusted and know they are loved, we’ve done our job.

The most important thing to remember as a mother is you are not alone. We all have our crazy meltdown stories, whether we admit it or not.

MOAMquote

A lot has happened in a year. My kids are both in school, so they are no longer in daycare. Heck, I don’t even have the same name.

Reflecting back on my experience with this book, I think what I’ve most enjoyed about being involved with it is the community that it has created. We, as contributors, became great friends and supporters of each other in parenting, blogging and life.

Those that read our stories – whether they laughed, cried or cringed – could relate deeply with at least one of our tales. Hearing people tell me their own crazy daycare / meltdown stories erased any anxiety over sharing my bad mothering moment.

It’s the book that reveals the reality of mothering, the less than angelic side. If you haven’t read it already (what????), you can download it today (October 20) for just $0.99. Get it for all the mothers in your life. I promise she will relate. It’s the perfect gift for expecting moms. It may also serve as birth control for those women without children. (I’ve also been told that men enjoy it as well!)

I leave you with an author’s Q & A I did last November with Stephanie over at the When Crazy Meets Exhaustion blog.

Do you have a good meltdown story?

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