Making Strides

Life’s challenges can push some to despair and others to greatness.

I was recently inspired by the story of Barbara Brennan. The challenge of a son born with hydrocephalus pushed her to greatness. She began her company, Stride, Inc., as an avenue to employ people with developmental challenges.

One example of how Stride has made a difference is Victor. When he began working for Stride, he didn’t speak much, due to a communication disorder. He proved himself by succeeding at several different jobs and now manages their shipping and receiving department. Victor has been with Stride for thirty years!

Writing with a Schneider penMy connection with this amazing company came through enjoying the excellent products they distribute in the USA, Schneider pens. Kerry Bertam, Stride’s CEO, found my review of their Slider XB pens. He very kindly sent me several Schneider pens – and they all are beyond perfect. As I highlighted in the review, these are the smoothest ballpoint pens on the planet and yet amazingly produce no blobs of ink. Knowing that Schneider pens are distributed by such a great company makes writing with these pens even more pleasurable!

I’d urge you to try Schneider pens through Office Depot. If your local store doesn’t have any, you can go to Office Depot’s website to order them. (Many are available for in-store pickup through their site.)


What would you do with a million dollars?

a million dollars in nairobiWe had a million dollars. We lived in an alternate universe for five years, where we had a million dollars compared to some of our neighbors.

Nairobi, Kenya, is a huge city in East Africa. The distance between the rich and the poor is huge. As a result, crime is more common than in most parts of North America and Europe. There are more razor wire fences, alarm systems, security guards and carjackings.

I know it’s nice to focus on the positive aspects of other cultures, but that’s not my mission today. Instead, I want to tell you what it’s like to be rich.

Generally, it’s not fun. Simply eating at a restaurant caused a lot of guilt. We knew the price of one not-even-fancy meal could have fed a hungry family for days. Was the brief pleasure of eating out worth it? We thought so, as dining out was one of our ways to survive.

And we gave. We invested in people who were naturally part of our lives. We quickly learned that just giving money was not the answer.

Providing training allowed a young man to have a better-paying job that made a difference that lasted a lifetime. But it was a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make that path actually work, on his part and ours.

Paying for dental work for a lady we knew allowed her to eat with no pain, for years afterward.

So how do you deal with the guilt in your life? I would encourage you to not sit on it or suppress it. Do something.

Epilogue: We have been back in the land of Target and Prada for more than seven years. We are not directly involved in the lives of those we helped back then. And the guilt of having so much relative wealth decreases as time washes our memories away. But we’re still trying to make a difference in situations that are in front of us now. We fail a lot – and still eat at restaurants. But we are doing something.


Pride, literally, comes before a fall

That ultra-bright new tail light
That ultra-bright new tail light

I love riding my bike to work, even in the cold and dark of winter. Knowing that if I can’t be seen, I can be run over, I bought a taillight so bright that “it can cause seizures,” as a friend described it. That same friend went on to tell me of his ultra-bright headlight that allowed him to see potholes and road imperfections.

I pridefully said I was good with my little flashing headlight that allowed me to be seen – but not to see.

The very next evening after that conversation, I was riding home and ran head-over-heels into a corner curb. I had assumed that there was a wheelchair ramp on that corner. No.


Thankfully, I did not tumble into oncoming traffic or damage myself or my bike more than just a few scrapes and a destroyed innertube.

Lesson learned. I need to listen to advice, even when it’s not given as such. (My pride could have been the death of me.)


Where to give this Christmas

homeless signHomelessness is sometimes a result of mental illness. Often that is combined with substance abuse.

My friend and I encountered another friend we hadn’t seen in a year. Our not-seen friend is now homeless. No substance abuse is involved, but there are definitely some other powerful issues at play.

I’ll be talking with two friends who are experts at my church to find out some ways to help him. It’s complicated.

So this Christmastime, I think it’s a great idea to give to an organization in your area that helps the homeless. You’ll be assisting those who have reached bottom and maybe providing hope for the future.


Great thinking

double-sided-receiptSprouts, a health-oriented supermarket with stores near us, has a great idea… double-sided receipts! I’m not referring to the kind with advertising on the back. These have purchase information carried onto the formerly blank side.

This will effectively save about twice as much paper as regular receipts. Yes, there is an infrastructure cost – registers that can print tape on both sides are probably more expensive than those that print only on one side. But that cost will eventually be made up. Or not. Even if it costs more money in the long run, that’s a nice investment in the health of our planet.

If you want to find your nearest Sprouts, click here.