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Your Brain on Travel (Guest Post)

Hello World U.P. friends!

 

For those of you who may not know me my name is Ashley Grant (or as my blog followers know me Beloved Brainy Babe). I will be doing a social media take over for World U.P. this month focusing on how my first huge travel experience has changed me thus far!

 

Three months ago I hopped on a 16-hour flight and began my first adventure abroad. Prior to February 21st, I had never been anywhere outside of the US (except for two cruises which allowed me to spend a day at each of a few destinations in the Bahamas and Mexico). To me, the logical first step to change this was to move to Australia for the coming year…. By myself. While the idea of moving 10,000 miles away from home seemed a bit intimidating at first, it has been an incredible, growth-filled, life-changing experience already and I’m only about a fourth of the way through!Ashley 2The first major adjustment that I am still working to cope with has been the enormous time difference from where I call home. Minus a few hours during my morning (or at home’s night) or some very late nights for myself allowing me to speak with home quite early in their morning, the vast majority of my time is spent without my family, friends, and support system just a phone call away. I have always been the kind of girl to call my mom during every grocery shop in case I can’t find which aisle an item is in and she can easily tell me what to look for, or when I received a good grade on an assignment during my days at university I would immediately text my family to share the good news. Now I can send that text, but I won’t get a response until I’m already asleep for the day and that initial excitement has worn off.

 

At first, this made for some long, lonely days. I felt I had nobody to share my good news with or to help me feel better when something not so ideal would happen. But then there was this internal shift, this sense of self-acceptance. I began doing things for me. That might sound a bit expected as everybody does things for themselves, but I began fully embracing the feelings of excitement and disappointment as they would come in my day. When I got my first job abroad or  I missed the bus and had to wait 30 minutes until the next one came making me late for my first meeting of the day or when I confirmed an apartment that I would make my home for the coming months, I began learning to cope with these welcome (and maybe not so welcome) daily occurrences on my own. I would have a celebratory dance party in my room or practice some deep breathing to calm myself down or take myself to a nice lunch. After a while, I didn’t need the external support or reinforcement. I began fully being in the moment for myself, not to tell someone else about it.

 

My brain doesn’t look for someone else to tell me good job and make me feel reassured for my wins in life. It doesn’t need someone else to be its shoulder to cry on. This big, growing, emotion-filled, excited brain of mine has learned how to fully feel excited for itself and to soothe itself. What a wonderful change indeed.

 

I truly have become my own best friend in these three months.

ashley 3

Don’t get me wrong I have also met some incredible people and made heaps of friends (yes I’m also getting down with the Aussie lingo)! These new friends who have shown me that if I am my own silly self I will attract people towards me that are on that same fun mental wavelength. My social network has expanded in ways I could never have imagined. Prior to arriving in Australia, I had one friend who was a foreign exchange student in my high school that lived in Finland and two girls I had as pen pals in French class that lived in France. Otherwise, all of the human connections I had were housed within the great US of A. I now have friends in Germany, the UK, Italy, and all around Australia and, again, I’ve only been here three months! Image how much this social network will grow as this year progresses. This change has made me (and my now internationally connected brain) more engaging in new social settings for you’ll never know how great the person in front of you is at Starbucks unless you take the awkward leap and start a conversation with them.

 

For those of you who may not know, the ‘U.P.’ in World U.P. stands for understanding and peace. The final big change I have noticed through this experience thus far is that I feel I have a better understanding for those around me. Not only have I developed this desire to connect with all sorts of new humans, but I also have developed this better understanding of others. Traveling has made me realize that oftentimes people are not intending to be hurtful; rather the likely case is that the action that frustrated you may be the outcome of a cultural norm in their friend group, family structure, religion, etc. This newfound understanding has contributed to more peaceful interactions as I am no longer easily offended by others actions. The acceptance of others’ habits around me has also brought to light some of the oddities in myself that have remained my norm for so long due to my being surrounded by people with similar habits. Being in a new world so different from my own has made me see the good in others and learn to accept the things I don’t understand in them which has brought me a new inner peace as well.

 

Adventure is out there and you should find what that means for you! Every new adventure exposes your brain to something it may have never previously experienced. You don’t necessarily need to move to a new country to see changes in yourself. You could simply become a tourist in your own country or your own area. Put yourself out there, talk to those around you and see what changes you notice in your own brain!

 

Keep dreaming World U.P. community,

Beloved Brainy Babe

 

Thank you to our 2017 Donors!

Hi Friends,

As many of you may have noticed, our Impact Report for 2017 was sent out to our e-mail list earlier this week. The fact that we even have “impacts” to report to everyone blows my mind! I won’t belabor our accomplishments from last year, because I’ve written about them over and over and the report will be available on our website (just as soon as I figure out how to do that). I am however going to call out a number of people here and now and thank them for their amazing support! Throughout 2017 the following amazing people and businesses provided their support and enabled us to give back to the Richmond community!

DONORS
Mandi Asbell
Nancy Blair
George Bourey
Kendra Butler
Jill Collins
Brookie Crawford
Linda Cummer
Joselito Diaz
Leigh Dillon
Eric Diton
Eli Drebin
Ellen Dukette
Jefferson Dukette
Kelly Flammia
Ashley Grant
Janice Hackett
Caasi Harris
Debbie and Jeff Hoch
Jessica Mawson
Lisa Newton
Audrey Peltz
Thomas Reichert
Christina Santini
Kayla Smith
Kevin Stacey II
Cody Symanietz
Sean Watson
Morgan Wright

DONATIONS OF GOODS
Kate Burns
Emily Dukette
Nikki Proffitt
Kourtney Smithson
Red Eye Cookie Company
Richmond SPCA
Carie Staley
Alexandra Vega

DONORS OF SERVICES & TIME
Kendra Butler, Community Building
Devon Charles, Website Development
Jamal Greene, Community Building
Mallory Premock, Summer Intern
Kourtney Smithson, Photography

Of course, last but not least, I really need to give a shout out to last year’s board who all donated money, goods, and time, but also moved us forward with their creative thought and action. Ashley, Alex, Nick, and Vic – thank you for believing in this mission, taking action, and questioning me. Without you, there would be no World U.P. and I would not have my sanity.

Peace, Love, & Understanding,

Liz

 

 

Spring into Health & Wellness

Happy Spring, Friends! I know, I know – the weather in Richmond isn’t what we think about when we conjure up images of April flowers, but I do see a high of 80ºF in our weekend forecast, so I have hope.

Spring has always been one of my favorite seasons. It’s the perfect transition season that ushers in the summer heat to replace the crispness of winter and mimics the vibrancy of fall leaves in pretty flower form. It’s a gentle reminder that even the coldest and darkest times are merely trials that give way to moments of lightness and rebirth. It’s a sign that winter hibernation is behind us and we need to start eating well. Additionally, it’s that time of year when everyone starts becoming pressed for time to get healthy and fit for summer fun in the sun.

So far my post may sound like prose, but if you’ve been following our social media pages this April (if you don’t, see the sidebar for links), then you know where this is heading. We have been using our Facebook and Instagram platforms to tell our followers a little more about our Health & Wellness Initiative, the 7 Dimensions of Health and Wellness, and what kind of wellness services we believe make up a culture of wellness and we plan to incorporate in our future community center in Richmond, VA. Now, you should know that there are many theories as to how many dimensions of wellness there are. For example, some schools of thought believe there are only 6, some believe there are 8 (they include financial wellness). World U.P. chose to adopt the school of thought that there are 7 because that’s what best fits our current mission and vision. Further, our breakdown and definitions were adapted from a variety of sources, but we relied heavily on the definitions provided by the University of California, Riverside Wellness Website. I highly recommend you check out this website for great life tips and provocative questions for personal reflection on your wellness.

With all that disclaimer complete, you’re probably asking “What are the 7 Dimensions of Wellness?” Great question – thanks for asking. Essentially, they are the seven parts of our life that need attention and care in order to make us wholly well persons.

SevenDimentionsofWellness

  • Social Wellness is the ability to relate to, connect to, and maintain positive relationships with other people in our world.
  • Emotional Wellness is the ability to understand ourselves, cope with the challenges life can bring, and being attentive to your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, whether positive or negative.
  • Spiritual Wellness is the ability to establish peace and harmony in our lives. It is a personal matter involving values and beliefs that provide a purpose in our lives.
  • Intellectual Wellness is the ability to open our minds to new ideas and experiences that can be applied to personal decisions, group interaction and community betterment.
  • Physical Wellness is the ability to maintain a healthy quality of life where we recognize and adopt healthy habits that allow us to get through our daily activities without undue fatigue or physical stress.
  • Environmental Wellness is the ability to recognize our own responsibility for the quality of the air, the water, and the land that surrounds us, including the ability to make a positive impact on the quality of our environment, be it our homes, our communities, or the world.
  • Occupational Wellness is the ability to get personal fulfillment from our jobs or our chosen career fields while still maintaining balance in our lives and allow us demonstrates our desire to contribute to society through our career choices.

As a key initiative of the World UP’s mission, we recognize that Health and Wellness is a key component that not only makes up a culture, but that satisfaction of all the dimensions of wellness can allow people to peacefully embrace differences between cultures. Part of our Health and Wellness initiative includes a plan to provide free community access to various wellness resources at our (eventual) community cultural center.

To support social wellness tenants that (1) it is better to contribute to the common welfare of our community than to think only of ourselves and (2) it is better to live in harmony with others and our environment than to live in conflict with them, we want to host seminars to enhance our positive communication skills, have a staff social worker, and a engage mediator to help resolve difficult conflicts.

To support emotional wellness, we want to engage on-site therapists and counselors to help the community members process of feelings, thoughts, philosophies, and behavior; live and work independently while realizing the importance of seeking and appreciating the support and assistance of others; form interdependent relationships with others based upon a foundation of mutual commitment, trust, and respect; take on challenges, take risks, and recognize conflict as being potentially healthy; and manage their lives in personally rewarding ways.

We plan to provide resources that aid in everyone’s path to spiritual wellness through access to a yoga/meditation studio as well as space for those who want to engage in prayer, affirmations, or specific spiritual practices that support their connection to a higher power or belief system. At World UP, we understand and respect the different views of what defines spiritualism, and believe that it is better to ponder the meaning of life for ourselves and to be tolerant of the beliefs of others than to close our minds and become intolerant, and that it is better to live each day in a way that is consistent with our values and beliefs than to do otherwise and feel untrue to ourselves.

Intellectual wellness is a key component of peaceful diversity, as it allows people to be tolerant and curious about new ideas, communities, and the world around them. By creating access to creative and stimulating activities like travel and cultural education, we hope to provide experiences that expand knowledge, skills, a passion for exploration, problem-solving, and creativity.

Part of our initiative includes a plan to create access to education and volunteer opportunities that aid environmental wellness, through the creation of awareness of the earth’s natural resources and personal accountability to environmental needs.

At World UP, we believe that occupational wellness exists when you have a career that utilizes your unique gifts, skills and talents is both personally meaningful and rewarding and cultivates an attitude of tolerance and understanding within the community. We plan to provide access to vocational training and skill development to help community members find a meaning and purposeful profession and job satisfaction.

Finally, to support physical wellness, we plan to implement more programs like Food UP, which creates access to fresh produce and foods, and programs that incentivize exercise and group fitness. Some of our plans are to create a community garden, host cultural cooking exchanges, and provide space for sports activities.

Of course, we recognize that this dream is far from our current reality. However, we know that with some planning, hard work, and community support that a community center like this is entirely possible within Richmond. If you have any ideas or suggestions as to what we should incorporate into our plans for a community center, please comment or send me an email at liz.dukette@worldupfoundation.org.

Peace, Love, and Understanding,

Liz

 

 

 

 

The Value of Money

Dear Friends,

Lately, I’ve been pondering the value of money. We recognize that there are so many wonderful causes for people to donate to and only so many dollars in your bank account. As such, I wanted to share a few ways in which you can support ANY organization you are passionate about without spending a dime.

1. Share your story!

Stories communicate passion and purpose. Non-profits love to know why you love what they do. Better yet- they can use your story to influence others to get involved or generate donations.

2. Volunteer!

This may be the most obvious, but a lot of non-profits operate on a volunteer basis. Any amount of time you can donate is highly valued. Odds are most organizations are happy to work with you to find a way for you to utilize your skills. Are You social media-obsessed? Offer to help with posts. Are you a writer?  Help write a grant. From organizing to painting, there’s always a way to help.

3. Become a Community Partner!

A lot of organizations share the same goals or have similar missions. If you’re involved in an organization but support others, find a creative way to work together! Often times organizations have programmatic dreams but lack resources. Think creatively – share space, networks, supplies, or marketing channels! If you’re a business, offer up space in exchange for a marketing/social media push – and find yourself some new customers.

4. Fundraise!

Most non-profits are heavily reliant on the donations from friends, family, and strangers.  Fundraising is no longer stuck in the past of door to door knocking or collecting pledges. A lot of organizations have options where you can create a personal fundraising page (peer-to-peer) that attaches directly to their website or are set up to collect donations on Facebook. Create a special fundraiser for your birthday, your next marathon, or just because. Set-up usually takes less than 10 minutes, and you can collect donations in minutes with little work.

5. Pass on the word!

Word of mouth is stronger than money in a lot of cases. Tag them on your social media accounts. Like and share their pages. Tell your friends.

So those are my 5 “Free” ways to support an organization. If you have other ideas, please share in the comments below, or send me an email at liz.dukette@worldupfoundation.org. During March, we will be highlighting how you can use these ideas to support us, so be sure to follow us on Instagram (@world_up_) and like our page on Facebook (The World UP Foundation)! And of course, follow this blog to be notified of my musings on non-profit life.

Peace, Love, & Understanding

Liz

 

 

 

It’s almost here… #GivingTuesday

Good Evening, Friends!

I hope everyone had a joyous holiday weekend filled with love and laughter.

Tonight, at midnight, #GivingTuesday will begin! Tomorrow, millions of people will take a moment to give back to the world. Please join us  in celebrating this day of giving by supporting World U.P.’s mission to promote understanding and peace through the creation of cultural education experiences that are available to everyone and anyone.

One Gift can make a difference and impact the Richmond community and is one step closer to help us reach our goal! Donate on #GivingTuesday!

If you support our cause, but cannot give, please share our donation page and our social media accounts with friends and family!

Understanding & Peace,

Liz

5 Reasons To Remember World U.P. on #GivingTuesday

As we approach the beginning of the holiday season, I want to share our “Top 5” reasons to support the important work that the World U.P. Foundation is doing. We are thankful for the support we have received and look forward to the work yet still to be done.

On Tuesday November 28th we are participating in #GivingTuesday, which is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.

I wanted to share a little more about why you should remember World U.P. Foundation on #GivingTuesday.

While we encourage giving year round, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season and the end of our fundraising year. Having grown in popularity over the last 5 years, I recognize that you will have so many amazing charities to choose from when #GivingTuesday hits. Any donation given to an organization that makes a positive impact on understanding, peace, and diversity is a wonderful contribution! I’ve thought long and hard about what compelling arguments I can make to kindly request you keep the World U.P. Foundation in the forefront of your minds on November 28, 2017. So, here you go!

  1. World U.P. has a track record of successful community impact. We may be a young organization, but we are dedicated and capable. Within the last 6 months we have launched our two goal programs for this year, Gear U.P. and Food U.P. Through Gear U.P., and in only 3 weeks, we were able to provide 70 families who are served by the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority with back packs and school supplies to send their children to school with tools for educational success. Through Food U.P., we have been able to provide families in Highland Park access to fresh fruits and vegetables in connection with their local food pantry. We not only want to replicate these efforts in the new year, but want to expand these programs to have a larger impact.
  2. World U.P. is fervently dedicated to using responsible and ethical spending practices. This means that we don’t use money to fund lobbying responsibilities, fund personal endeavors, or to support any activities that do not create a benefit for the communities we are trying to support.
  3. World U.P. is completely volunteer based. Currently, no one in the organization is monetarily compensated by the organization. Everyone person on our team donates their time and services. Often times, the little things we need to operate (stamps, paper, etc.) are paid for and donated by our team members.
  4. Our World U.P. Board of Directors are our #1 supporters.  Our Board puts their money where their heart is. We don’t just believe in the mission, every Board member is so personally connected to our mission, that they have pledged personal yearly donations and fundraising pledges as well.
  5. World U.P. believes that our donors are our clients. Our philosophy is that people make personal donations, because of a personal connection to our mission.  It’s our responsibility to make sure that the people who believe in us and our mission can see the success their donation has created.

After a week busy with eating, visiting, and shopping…

Tuesday is dedicated to Giving.

We hope you will join us by making a gift to the World U.P. Foundation.

With Understanding & Peace,

Liz