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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Holy Spirit Power

Have you ever been in a room and felt the synergy and power of the Holy Spirit?  I can name different scenario's in my life where it has been palpable. Last night was one of those nights. As a Director of Volunteers and Catering Guru, I supervised event volunteers, chefs, and servers in our charming Kids Cafe'. We host a very special recognition night twice per year at Perspectives.

On this night, our ultimate goal is to recognize the women in our housing program. Fifty two women are literally saving their lives and the lives of their children. These hard working women are in recovery from addiction. Myself, the staff and the volunteers are all here to make them realize the pride we have in them for saving what is golden, Their family.


Buzzing in the background of our Kids Cafe' one could hear the smooth jazz playing over the colorful room. Candles were lit on each table neatly decorated with Healing Plaques. Behind the scenes you could observe the volunteer chefs, servers and staff working diligently to put out a fabulous Mediterranean Baked Chicken meal.
The theme for the night Comfort The Soul.  Food- Soul Food-
Menu: Mediterranean Baked Chicken, Cheesy Macaroni and Cheese, Buttery Corn Muffins, Mixed Vegetables, Chocolate Mousse Cake.

The night began with a poetry reading, a piece on strength, hard work and struggle that can be turned into gold. Following the poetry was an African American Speaker who had endured the same hell in the addiction realm, now sober twenty five years. A poignant speech on the climb back to mainstream society after the isolating life of addiction. Now a corporate, community motivational speaker with confidence that could fill the globe, one would never guess her life was unravelling just years before.

It is hard to describe the energy in the room as this person spoke. It felt as if the darkness and ugliness that was here in the room from past pain and struggle, melted. Spiritual warfare was  unveiled and witnessed  in this softly lit cafe. The light won out as it does when love over shadow's evil.

Something bigger than ourselves took place on this night. Women hardened by life's brutal past, cried, and told the group they were sorry. Women heard the poet, and let the poetry soak into their soul. They let the speakers words stick and cried to their core. Women afraid to show the world that this journey through addiction was scary, said it out loud and wept. Women that had good reason from their past to fear being touched, held each other.  Women held hands in a circle and vowed  that they would survive. These women all agreed they are lovable and worthy.

I am humbled.......

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Time To Speak

The prompt in my writing group called GBE2 is time. I could talk ad nausea about how time ticks on. I could also discuss at length about the fact that  time goes by so very very fast, especially the older one gets.  I am in a place where I just don't want to do that. I have lost too many people in my life lately so..... I will take this topic on a detour.

I will discuss the time and energy I have put into public speaking in my life. I adore public speaking. This is not the type of career one wakes up one day and says, " I want to be a speaker." For myself it kind of just fell into place, it just happened. I do believe though, that everything happens for a reason.

My first speaking engagement was speaking to my own peers. Wow, was I nervous. I spoke at Lord Fletcher's restaurant in one of the large special event rooms. I was the only senior in high school, nominated and selected to go on a weekend for Distributive Education seminars. I was a straight 'A' student in this class and well....... the rest was history. Once I returned from this trip, I was asked to speak to members of the 'Rotary club' and peers.  I was so anxious in fact, I couldn't eat the wonderful plate of food that lie before me. I actually ended up giving it to my teacher, Mr. Furlong (or Furl's as we use to call him). My father and twin sister came to watch me speak. They said I did pretty well. No one knew that my innards were, 'a shakin and a bakin'.

After college, I took a position as a Behavioral Counselor at a Nutri-System weight Loss Program. I facilitated groups for those on a weight loss journey. I taught many different topics on weight loss and helpful strategies. I enjoyed this position tremendously.  I learned a lot about myself, the reasons why I ate when I wasn't hungry and I met amazing people. Most of all, I liked being up in front of a group and teaching something that I thought was worthy.

Once I received my masters degree, I took a position at an agency called Perspectives. I was there for a couple of years working as a Group Coordinator, where I ran a variety of groups. I taught parenting skills to community participants and those that were court ordered.  It was at this agency that my boss handed down  her community speaking gigs, to me.  She was moving on to a mental health agency where she would be working as a social work therapist. I was honored that she had the faith and trust in me to put her reputation on the line. These are the speaking engagements I presently facilitate today. I have been speaking every few months, for many years now, to:  recovery centers, shelters, food shelves, corporations, colleges, churches, staff retreats, non- profits and more.

The picture I've uploaded on this post, is me at Cargill Corporation, this winter.  They asked me to do a motivational speech to help pump up staff for a fund raiser. The money would go to help end homelessness.

Believe it or not, when I am out speaking, no matter how heavy or serious the topic, I am in my element. God gave me the gift of speaking and I've learned how to hone this skill through experience. I feel so blessed to share this gift because I see how it affects people. Speaking can educate, inspire and touch.

I have been speaking in public for almost thirty years now. Wow, no wonder it seems so natural to me at this point.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Jack Jablonski forgives


jabby13.com
A check during a high school hockey game leaves Jack paralyzed.  That is the news blaring all over the TV stations here in Minnesota, but also nationwide.  As a public speaker, I have the honor of recruiting volunteers from Benilde St. Margaret's catholic school. I was personally affected deeply when hearing about the sad news of the young high school student who was hurt permanently from the sport of hockey.

The outpouring of love and support from all over the country for Jack has been an inspiration. Jack forgave the young man that checked him during the hockey game that had him injured. He came to visit Jack in the hospital and felt relieved after doing so. He has struggled with the fact that Jack will never walk again. The Star and Tribune shared that it was not on purpose.  We can all learn from Jack about the power of forgiveness.

I am currently helping to fund raise for Jack and his family in hopes of  helping them pay for Jack's medical expenses.  All of you that are interested in donating to Jack's fund can do it on-line at the link I have added to the title of this blog.

I thank you in advance for helping his family in their time of need.  Please know that your prayers are needed at this time.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hungry like the wolf

Have you ever been so hungry, you could not stand the smell of food?  Today my son, sister and I went to eat out  at Five Guys Burgers and Fries. It is a burger joint that drips with tantalizing, taste. My son and I had a good belly laugh while standing at the front.  We waited at the counter impatiently watching them put burgers,fries and bags of food together. My son and I talked about the fact that it was pure torture. Salivating like dogs, we watched every move they made, praying that the next bag of burgers were ours, number 80.

We both mumbled in harmony saying "number eighty, number eighty............ Where is number 80"?

Time seemed to crawl at a snail pace. Every batch of fries we saw thrown into the bag, we prayed was ours for the eating. But NO..................... Time ticked by, And we waited..............And waited....

Until.... At last.......... Two bags were so beautifully mastered and created.  In slow motion it seemed......... They came toward us bags in hand...................Number 80.  Our hands reached toward the bags as our feet moved so fast, we could hardly stand.

Got it.............

We smelled........
We ate...........
We moaned..........

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Intimate Partner Violence

Today I was honored to speak to Social Work students at the University of Minnesota. The class I spoke to was called " Adult Intimate Partner Violence. That's a mouth full I know, but a cause unfortunately very close to my heart. Each and every semester I go out to colleges, Universities, Faith Based Organizations, Recovery Centers,Corporations, High Schools and more. I recruit volunteers, teach the cycle of violence, educate healthy ways to vent anger, present on the practice of violence and how to stop the cycle.

I feel blessed that the Lord gave me the gift of gab. I love to present in public, but there were years where my voice was silenced. Most people don't believe it when they meet me, but it is true. That is where my passion  and education cross. I know how every woman or man feels that has been in a violent relationship.

Violence in a relationship is not limited to physical violence. I think this is where many of us get stuck. More and more women or men come into therapy because they feel really yucky emotionally and they don't know how to name it. They feel paralyzed, confused, guilty and shameful. Once they learn violence is much broader and they talk about their own stories, they feel like they can start rebuilding their life and put the puzzle together. Violence is any act, word or behavior that inflicts emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual or physical pain. The fuel that keeps the cycle of violence going is Power and Control.


Red Flags in Behavior
Possessive
Tells you what you can wear
Keeps you from family or friends
Isolates you
Verbally Barrages You
Hurts things you love - Pets, family, photographs, custody with children
Economic Abuse- Having all the power over the money
Mental abuse
Controlling
Limits your social life/work life
May make you quit your job
Tells you everything is your fault
Confuses you with words
Spiritual Abuse
Mind Games
Stalking Behavior


There are crisis centers in most cities. The world has much to offer women and men in these situations. We all have to be the bridge and build better communication and openness about the cycle of violence. Every two minutes a woman in the United States is killed.  In hard economic times such as we are in now, violence only escalates. We all have to work together to fight this horror. All systems have to do it united.

Just as these young students in the Social Work field are pining to learn more about the dynamics of violence and how we can make a difference, we should also take a step forward.  Please, just think about one way you could make a difference in reference to violence in our world.

I thank God each and every day, that my voice is no longer silenced. In fact, My once soft whisper, is now a LOUD ROAR.

Please click the link on my title and you will see a poem I wrote on my own violence that I survived.

Love Laura






Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Home-Ade Pizza- Well Mostly

OK. So I do use a pizza dough from the dairy section. Who's watching anyway? Seriously, as a single mother, this recipe has saved me so many times. My kids and I have been having fun with this since they were just five years old. It is so fun to have the kids be a part of the creation. I am a foodie and work at a human service that teaches youth to cook in our charming cafe. I know how important it is to get into the kitchen as a family and just have fun. I bought aprons at a craft store with design pens. Each child makes their own apron.

Ingredients


Make your own crust or buy one at the dairy section- Don't feel Guilty
Can Tomato Sauce
Italian Spice
Diced Tomato's (Optional) - Some kids love it and some just don't.
Lots of shredded Mozzarella Cheese mixed with cheddar
Pepperoni


I give each child a spatula
Each has a bowl with sauce, a bowl with cheese, and a bowl with pepperoni- Fairness is Key


Yesiree, they spread the sauce over the crust
They sprinkle the cheese
They add Pepperoni and any other fixing they love


Bake at 425 for 12 Minutes


Vwala, you have your self a great family/or friend connection project that is so much fun and tasty too.

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Got Punked By My Teenagers

Walk with me as I take you through my most interesting day. Ah, a day of rest for me from work because of the special holiday so named, Martin Luther King Day. My kids and I have as our goal, to run a variety of errands. Goal in mind and holiday gift cards in hand, we go store hopping.

First stop, Kohl's, where I (mother, mom, mum, child automaton, servant to all my children's needs....) need to exchange holiday coats that my kids hated. Yes, you heard me, hated!! We did have a good laugh in the store though. My son J said, "mom, next year I will give you a list like you asked me for. Most everything you bought me I didn't like." Still holding my ego intact I laugh, ha. My daughter E also says she must concur. Still feeling my confidence strong, I battle with the customer service representative who does not want me to take the in store card that I received from exchanging the coat for J and using it on the AppleBees gift cards that hang on their wall.  "I would like to speak to your manager. I think it is just ridiculous that I can't take this card  from Kohl's and use it on a gift card that you have right here in your store."  OK, so I didn't get the gift cards I wanted, so I, the bigger person walk away with dignity still mighty.

As I pull into the Target/Barnes and Noble parking lot, my kids both shriek. "Mom, why are we here, we don't want to be here?"  I let them know in no uncertain terms, that I want to be here and I am just as important as they are. In fact, I am here to spend money from my Barnes and Noble gift card that I received as a Christmas present. I shrug my shoulders and tell them to stay in toe.

My darling teens watched me as I roamed the store in hopes of finding some special treasure. I must admit I kept finding ways I could spend my gift card on them. "Oh No mom, we want you to spend the card on you. It is not often you buy for your self.  " Hmmmmmmm...... "There is something so wrong with this affirmation. But I must..... I must believe in them for they are my children that come from my loins."

My daughter decides she needs a fruit smoothie. "Oh, do you have money honey?"  "No mom, but I know you have your card and you can use it at the Star Bucks here. " Laughing, I go to the counter and purchase a hot mocha for myself and a fruit smoothie for her. We both start drinking our beverages and to my chagrin, I hear a loud ewwwww.  "What's wrong sweetie, what did you make that noise for?"  "Mom, this drink is terrible, it's so bad. I hate it."  Wow, this hate word is pretty popular today. I just do what mom's do. I go to the counter with her drink and let the young cashier know she does not like it. "Can you just switch it to a hot cocoa for her."  "Oh sure, no problem. It will be up in just a few moments."  I thank the young lad and glance at my daughter who is rolling her eyes at me. "Mom, I am so embarrassed. Why did you do that? Now he thinks I don't like it." As we walk out of the store I go through a check list. Hot mocha: Check,  Purse: Check, Gift card: Check, Self Confidence: Check, Still love my kids: Check.

Whew, we made it, now to their dad's place of work where we can ask for office products my kids need that we could not find at any of the several stores we frequented earlier. Oh, how organized my wee ones can be. Before we step foot into their father's place of work, my daughter screams, " Mom, did you see it?  Look at your cup."  "Did I see what my dear?" "Mom, there is a note on your Star Bucks Cup."  I think to myself, "So many drama's, so little time." "Sweet child, what is it your trying to tell me?"



Grabbing my hot mocha cup, I see it for myself. Plain as the large nose on my face, I see it. There on my cup reads: CALL ME. Then I see a heart or lips, not real sure which it was. Then, a cell phone number. My kids look at me for a reaction. I ask what is it? I don't get it? "Mom, you were just asked out on a Star Bucks Cup. A bewildered mom, yes, it took me waaaaay too long to understand what the kids were telling me. "Kids, that young male cashier was not much older than 20. " Mom, are you going to call him?" Now, finally understanding the crux of this matter, I say " Creepy, why would a young man that age put his number on my cup?  We are all laughing now. Laughing, snorting, reeling from this funny drama. I am so perplexed.  Such a proud moment for a single mother who just turned 49 just days ago. Yes, I can relish in the thought that my kids know I am still attractive to the other sex. Great fun way to bond with my kids. We don't often laugh this hard with each other. As a psychotherapist, I am thinking how connecting  this is, even if it is a silly scenario. See kids, mom is not dead. Mom is a real person. Men love me. Yes, men love me.

We pull into the driveway still laughing and going through each and every nuance of this scenario. My daughter runs in the door to share this funny trivia with my twin sister.  Guess What ................

I HAVE BEEN PUNKED.


Oh well, a girl can dream can't she?  Ugh............

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Love Knows No Bounds Poem

Life pages turn and turn swiftly by
Each day and moment seem shorter; they fly to the sky;

Pay close attention, hold them most dear;
All those you love, keep them quite near;

Life is all about love,connection and stages;
Be brutally honest in each moment; feel everything as you turn the pages;

Be there in the moment for those you love most;
Pray to God the father,son and the Holy Ghost;

Know our energy does not stop when we die;
We don't lay in our coffins and sit idly by;

Love knows no bounds, does not end when we do
It's not like were ghosts and haunt and say boo;

Love does live forever not end, that I know;
Those we love pass for now, but leave signs so.....

Be not afraid of those that leave this earthly plane
when you see them, hear them or feel them; Trust, your not insane

The spirit lives on, I have seen  in plain view;
Most make visits to heal and strengthen you

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ambition



Ambition. What drives our ambition? What does our culture teach men and women alike, about ambition? Some call it "blind ambition."  I think it wise for all of us to pay heed to this quote. Blind ambition? I think not. I think from a tender age, we are consciously,unconsciously geared toward a guiltless ambition in a harmful, negative way. The world is something to conquer. A perspective not kind to the heart, body, mind, or soul.

As a child into adulthood, my head spun from the endless imagery of success and it's definition. What I thought I wanted was to be successful, make money, own a great ride and so on. Why are we so purposeful about teaching our children to be the best at everything and that everything important is material?  It is OK if you don't agree with me. I know in my experience I learned more about how to be the best, the smartest, the prettiest, the wealthiest, in place of.........

How can I attain the goal of displaying and showing to the world the best human being I can be?  How can I learn to be honest, role model honesty? Care. Love. Critically think. Have my yes mean yes and my no mean no. How can I?  Who is there to teach me what it really means to smile at someone, look people in the eye, be upfront and honest. Love.  How do I learn what it means to give back to community, have a loving heart and "Do for others as I would have them do unto me?"

I thank my loving God that we have free will.  We can make wise choices instead of faltering in the muck. We can learn from one another. We can love, feel, heal and move mountains. I do not define success in life by materials or what the world has taught me. I do define success and ambition as using the gifts God has given me and using those gifts to better human kind. We can live our lives by taking the higher road even if it is difficult. Being open to a new  paradigm.

I used to pray that God would give me the "Big Corporate Employee Assistance Job" that we all yearned for in my mental health field. Life is funny. I worked at corporate and felt a deep lack of life,individuality, soul. Yet, we were to help others by way of mental health calls. What was called "helping" was not. "Be careful what you pray for, you just might get it."  I dreaded every moment of it. I could not breathe.

I turn forty nine years old tonight at midnight. I am blessed to turn forty nine with my identical twin sister. The  definition of ambition and success has drastically changed for me over time. I feel comforted that in this hour, this moment, I am proud of who I am. I am proud to be a mother. I am proud to live each day with the power of the holy spirit living in me. I am a success. Perhaps not in the worlds definition of success, but my power is in him. And. I am OK with that. In fact, I am filled to overflowing.

"Lift your being up to the highest plane and you shall live in abundant happiness."  Laura Rogers

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Twinner and I are 49 Years Old Friday-----

















Making Holiday Wishes Come True- My Dynamic Duo


Two women who get things done for the good of others are Val Carver and Jennifer Montillino.  This amazing power house duo lead the “Cargill Holiday Adopt -A –Family Gift Program” for Perspectives’ Supportive Housing residents.  This is the third annual gift program from Cargill employees! It is not an easy job coordinating gifts for 52 women and over 120 children during the holidays.  However, Val & Jennifer made it look so easy…all of our families were adopted by Thanksgiving.

They were able to secure a pod that was housed in Perspectives’ parking lot throughout the holiday season. What a sight to behold, watching Cargill employees dropping off gifts and Laura Rogers, Director of Volunteers at Perspectives’, effortlessly loading them into the pod.  Each year the process of gift coordination and gift delivery becomes easier.  Val & Jennifer’s passion, organizational skills and patience are greatly used and help to make this program sail.

Laura Rogers, who manages this partnership each year said, “Val and Jennifer,your hard work has put so much joy into the lives of our families living in our housing program. I have personally had clients here at Perspectives tell me that they could not believe the fantastic gifts they received over the holidays.  One client said, ““Laura, every gift I put on my wish-list was wrapped and given to my family and even ones I had not asked for.   We are so very grateful.””

Cargill employees were also touched by their experience and here is what some Cargill employees had to say after the gift program experience.

“This was a rewarding experience. I was humbled by the simple gifts requested by the family member that I adopted and more than happy to purchase the things.  I nearly cried when I read her list because so often the world is filled with elaborate “wants” and her wish list was quite simple. I welcome the opportunity to participate in the Adopt-a-Family again next year.”

“My group used the “Adopt-A-Family” program as an opportunity for a team building event.  In the face of growing economic concern and instability in the world around us, it was very grounding to be able to pull to together as a team and make the holidays a little better for some local families.   It reminded us of the spirit of holiday giving and the gift you get in return.”

“At a time when Cargill was faced with lots of changes related to the economy, we were able to support a fellow team in helping them fulfill their commitment to ‘Adopt a Family’ by providing them with money; based on us exceeding our fundraising goal/need. This was a testament to the Cargill family helping out one another in fulfilling our commitments.”

Val and Jennifer are a testament of how hope and love survive in the lives of at risk families. It is because of their strong passion and commitment that Perspectives’ families can say, “I had Christmas for my family.”

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” Cahill Gabran

Laura Rogers
Director of Volunteers
Perspectives, Inc.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sunrise On January 9, 2012