Archive for the 'Signal Boost' Category

After Gadget has moved to SharonWachsler.com

Howdy.

If you subscribe to After Gadget by email you should already have had your subscription transferred to my new blog at SharonWachsler.com. If you follow this blog by other means (RSS, for example), I hope you’ll follow/subscribe at my new blog since I don’t plan to post new content here anymore.

So far there’s one new post up, and I anticipate getting a couple more posts up in the next few days for Blogging Against Disablism Day (BADD), the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival (the deadline has been extended! Rejoice!), and a possible book contract announcement!…

UPDATE: New posts are going up all the time at sharonwachsler.com. I don’t anticipate posting any new material here, although I will keep all After Gadget pages and posts up as archives. If you’d like to support my work, please spread the word about my new site! Thank you!

Update: Free Empathy Call, Online Chat & Webcam Chat Details – Oct. 1&2

This is an update to my previous post. If you want to read the details of my personal experience with the call last year, check it out.

A globe brightly covered with the colorful flags of all nations and people that look like paper dolls standing in a circle around the globe holding hands. The 12 people are each a different shade of the rainbow, from red to purple.

Global Connection

However, if you simply want to learn the nitty-gritty of how to attend the call or one of the online events for the United Nation’s International Day of Nonviolence in honor of Gandhi’s birthday, here it is:

In case this was clear before, this is a FREE call. Twenty-four hours of continuous empathy are available to give, receive, or witness. If you would enjoy making a small donation in appreciation of our organizing efforts, we will happily accept, but the point of the call is to make it available to everyone (as someone said to me recently) “as a love offering.” That’s what it is! Free love! It’s priceless. <wink, wink>

Every two hours a different facilitator, or team of facilitators, will be hosting — bringing their own perspectives and experiences to the call. Note: For technical reasons the 24-hour period has been broken up into six (6) four-hour “sessions,” but you can call in (or leave) any time during any “session.”

The call STARTS Monday, Oct. 1 at 6:00 PM EDT

and

ENDS Tuesday, Oct. 2 at 6:00 PM EDT.

(If you’re not in the Eastern US, you can find out when the calls are in YOUR time zone using this time zone converter. If you are more visually oriented, here’s a map of the world’s time zones.)

You do need to register in order to get a call-in number and PIN. Find all the details and register here.

Secondly, the online chat is set up! It will go from noon – 2:00 PM US Eastern Daylight Time (9AM – 11AM PDT or 16:00-18:00 GMT). Click here to enter the chat room. Have questions about the chat? Contact me.

Thirdly, someone else has also now scheduled a face-to-face empathy by webcam for October 2, from 1:00 AM to 3:00 AM US Eastern Time (October 1 from 10 PM – 12 AM US PDT or 05:00-07:00 GMT). To register for empathy by webcam, enter your name and email address at http://www.PANinA.org/Empathy.

If you know someone who doesn’t have web access who would like to register for the calls, please contact me and I’ll get in touch with them by phone.

P.S. It just so happens that Marlena, my wonderful teacher, will be offering a new series of her classes in October. “Healing Listening, Healing Talk” is the name of her classes in Nonviolent Communication for people with disabilities and chronic illness. If you’d like info about the classes, contact me, and I’ll email it to you.

Hope to “see” you on a call or chat room!

- Sharon and Barnum, SD/SDiT who is sooo eager to work because we have not been doing enough training for his taste!

P.S. Yes, I will return to dog blogging again after this!

Signal Boost: Growing Compassion

Howdy!

I’ve posted before about how I’m study NVC (Nonviolent Communication, also known as Compassionate Communication) and how important it’s been for me. I actually see a lot of similarities in philosophy between clicker training and NVC, and I keep intending to write some posts on that topic, but I haven’t managed it yet.

Anyway, I got very involved in helping the organizer of an upcoming NVC telesummit, and now I’m really hoping some of my friends, readers, and others will want to attend because it looks like it will be an awesome event and it’s really fun to be on the phone with friends or people I know from online. It’s very accessible, too, for anyone who can use the phone (more about this at the bottom in my postscript).

For those who might want to participate in the calls — you do not have to know anything about NVC or have any experience with it. In fact, this is a great opportunity for people who haven’t studied NVC to learn from some of the most experienced and respected people in the field and get a large sampling of perspectives on a single topic: compassion.

BayNVC’s new telesummit is begining September 3rd. It’s called “Growing Compassion: Building on Interdependence.”

This month-long telesummit — available globally by telephone — will be led by 21 of the most exciting NVC trainers in the field. Each trainer will be sharing their wisdom of years of accumulated experience in compassionate communication and open-hearted connection.

Registration is open now. The Growing Compassion telesummit starts September 3. Not only will you be able to attend as many (or as few) calls as you want, but you will also receive recordings of all 20 calls! More information about this powerful and transformative event is below and here.

NEW BayNVC Telesummit – Registration Now Open!

Growing Compassion: Building on Interdependence

If you want to experience the spark of global community forged by shared learning and compassion, join us!

Program Highlights

  • Opening Call: Practices for Opening our Hearts. BayNVC founder Miki Kashtan will offer  tips based on her decades of study and work with thousands of people.
  • 9/11 “Enemy Image” Call: During conflict, we often lose connection with the other person and see them only as a villain. Lisa Montana shows how the Enemy Image Process offers a simple way to defuse this dynamic, get support, and open the door to solutions that meet everybody’s needs.
  • Zen Wisdom for Naturalizing your Practice: Are you interested in ways to actually practice NVC out in the world, with natural language? Coming from his perspective of Zen Buddhism, Jesse Wiens answers the question, “How can I get off the cushion and out into the world and make a difference?”
  • Calls offered in French, Spanish, and Hebrew – open to ALL. Marshall Rosenberg, author of Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, says about empathy, “It’s not the words!” Practice “wordless empathy” by experiencing the humanity of a person who speaks a different language than you do. Experience a heart-to-heart, personal connection which transcends words!

Dates and Times

All calls take place Monday through Friday, Noon to 1 PM Pacific Time (3 PM to 4 PM Eastern Time). Schedule of dates and trainers below. After registration, your call-in number, PIN, and further details about each call will be emailed to you!

Schedule: Presenters and Topics

Week 1 (September 3-7)

  • Monday: Miki Kashtan – Practices for Opening our hearts
  • Tuesday: Jesse Wiens – Out of the Workshop and into the World: Zen wisdom for “naturalizing” your NVC practice
  • Wednesday: Alan Seid – Supporting Compassionate Actions of Social Change Agents : Sharing tools, skills, and coaching for maximizing positive impact in our world.
  • Thursday: Meganwind Eoyang – Transforming Self Judgments
  • Friday: Catherine Cadden – Empathy First Responder

Week 2 (September 10-14)

  • Monday: Carol Chase – Compassion in the Face of Adversity
  • Tuesday: Lisa Montana – Enemy Image Process
  • Wednesday: Nancy Kahn – A Commitment to Self-Compassion in Our Social Justice Work Across Race, Class and Ethnicity Divides
  • Thursday: Arnina Kashtan – Falling in Love with My Judgments: Why I cherish judgments and how they teach me true compassion towards myself and others
  • Friday: Myra Walden (in Spanish) – Cariño a Mí Mismo: Calidez hacia Los Demás (Increasing Self-Love: Warmth towards Others)

Week 3 (September 17-21)

  • Monday: Mitsiko Miller (in French) – Communiquer de Coeur à Coeur avec Nos Enfants (Communicating Heart-to-Heart with Our Children)
  • Tuesday: Newt Bailey – The Compassion Switch: Finding and flipping on the compassion switch
  • Wednesday: Bob Wentworth – Finding Tenderness For What You Can’t Stand About Yourself
  • Thursday: Roxy Manning – Authentic Dialogues: Growing compassion across sociocultural differences
  • Friday: Aya Caspi (in Hebrew) – Meeting the challenge of opening our hearts to our loved ones (including self)

Week 4 (September 24-28)

  • Monday: Kate Raffin – Flowers, Tears, and Lightbulbs: Balancing my yearning to grow with acceptance of who I am right now
  • Tuesday: Selene Aitken – Your Adult Children and You: The dance of connection
  • Wednesday: Mair Alight – Self-Empathy Core Competency- Practicing with  Wisdom Circles
  • Thursday: Roberta Wall – Growing Compassion at the Checkpoints between Israel and Palestine: Empowerment or Submission?
  • Friday: Inbal Kashtan & Kathy Simon – Truth and Dare: Nurturing authentic, courageous relationships.

Join Us in Co-Creating World Peace through Compassion


Cost:
This is a continuing effort to financially support BayNVC. Requested contribution: $60 (includes recordings of all calls). If you are living in the Global South or your financial circumstances preclude your participation, please email Mair Alight so that you can be included in this event.

- Sharon and Barnum, SD/SDiT

P.S. About various access issues:

I attended a much more intensive telesummit in July that was life-changing. I was so grateful I was able to attend 17 calls (!!) even though I was very sick. The trainers and most of the participants, too, were totally accepting and inclusive around my disability issues. For the previous teleconference when I was experiencing spasmodic dysphonia, sometimes I used TTY relay, sometimes speech-to-speech relay, and sometimes people understood me well enough without relay. I loved the diversity of the people and topics under a unifying theme. I felt accepted and my disabilities were treated as normal, overall. Some of my friends from my chronic illness/disability NVC classes attended, too. (Because it’s a teleconference, I think this event is not accessible to people who are D/deaf.)

If you have difficulty attending events or classes in the flesh, due to your disabilities, location, or schedule, doing them by phone can be great. Also, it’s just an hour a day, which I find much easier than something long (which tends to drain me). Plus, you can go to as many or as few as you’d like, and you can listen to whichever of them afterward as often as you like, whether you attend or not. Also, there’s usually a pretty good mix of listening and participating, though nobody is ever forced to do anything, and my experience is one of a great deal of acceptance of whatever you’re feeling or needing.

There is also a commitment to financial access. The requested contribution (this is a fundraiser for BayNVC — many trainers are donating their time) is $60, which is for 20 calls and the recordings of all the calls. That is a pretty amazing bargain — $3 per call, not including the recordings. HOWEVER, I know many people with disabilities are struggling to get by and simply do not have $60. So, if you’ve read the info above and are thinking, “This sounds really amazing. I so wish I could go, but I don’t have $60,” please email the organizer, Mair at Mair@baynvc.org and ask her if you could attend for a contribution that you CAN afford (from $1-$59 sliding scale). She really wants it to be inclusive (and so do I, of course).

Would you like to help me out in my efforts to increase peace in the world? If so, I’d greatly appreciate any of the following actions on your part:

  • Sharing this post with friends, family, colleagues, and others who might want to learn about, or deepen, an NVC practice or learn about growing compassion.
  • Sharing this post or this link via social networking, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc., and encouraging friends and followers to register.
  • Gifting the telesummit to someone you believe would enjoy and benefit from it. Whether you can attend or not, you can give the gift of NVC to friends, colleagues, or loved ones by registering them for this event!

Details about the Growing Compassion telesummit are on the BayNVC website. It start soon — September 3 — so your help in getting the word out now is greatly appreciated!

Public Comments to the National Council on Disability

I was asked by Mary Lamielle of the National Center for Environmental Health Strategies (NCEHS) to call in with testimony to the National Council on Disability (NCD) during their public comment period today, Thursday, July 26.

What is NCD?

NCD is a small, independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding policies, programs, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities. NCD is comprised of a team of fifteen Senate-confirmed Presidential appointees, an Executive Director appointed by the Chairman, and eleven, full-time professional staff.

In its invitation for public comment, NCD noted:

NCD will accept statements on any topic but is particularly interested in discovering what the public believes should be included in NCD’s 2013 statutorily mandated Progress Report to the President and Congress. Individuals interested in submitting public comments may do so in-person or by phone and should provide their names, organizational affiliations, if any, and limit comments to three minutes. Individuals may also submit public comments in writing to PublicComment@ncd.gov using the subject “Public Comment.”

Mary had previously emailed me to ask me to sign on to the recommendations she was circulating in the disability and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) community for the NCD’s meeting. These recommendations, which I support, are as follows:

1. The NCD should play an active role in organizing and participating in an Interagency Committee on Chemical Sensitivities;
2. The NCD should examine the significant levels of harassment and discrimination experienced by those with chemical and electrical sensitivities in housing, employment, education, healthcare, medical services, and daily life;
3. The NCD should support federal research on chemical and electrical sensitivities;
4. The NCD should adopt the CDC Fragrance-Free Policy;
5. The NCD should adopt a fragrance-free and healthy, accessible meeting policy similar to that of the Access Board; the NCD should also adopt a policy to limit exposure to electrical devices and frequencies at NCD meetings; and
6. The NCD should support the addition of a Board member with expertise on chemical and electrical sensitivities.

Here is what I will be saying in my public comment by telephone later this afternoon:

My name is Sharon Wachsler. I have multiple disabilities, and I’ve found that not all my disabilities are treated equally even within the disability community. I’m generally able to use my service dog, my powerchair, and a sign language interpreter or the relay without any problems. But when it comes to my access needs stemming from multiple chemical sensitivity, there are always problems. Every year I had to fight my CIL to get a fragrance-free nurse for my annual PCA evaluation. There are no hospitals or doctor’s, speech-language pathologist’s, psychotherapist’s, or CIL offices accessible to me.

I have a close friend who is Deafblind and a lifelong wheelchair user. She has told me on many occasions that having MCS is the worst of her disabilities. She has given up trying to work with case managers, assistive tech providers, and other disability organizations because they do not listen or abide by her needs for products and services that won’t make her severely ill and cause her other disabilities to worsen.

When we had an ice storm in Massachusetts in December 2008, and I had no heat, power, water, or phone for a week, I couldn’t be evacuated; there were no MCS-accessible shelters. Two friends who have MCS were also stranded. One of them suffered hypothermia. The other ended up in the hospital which caused such damage to her health that she was in chronic respiratory arrest for two years afterwards.

Just last week a woman with MCS called me about trouble getting workplace accommodations. I referred her to the DOJ ADA hotline. She said she’d already called and been told, “That’s not an ADA issue. It’s a building maintenance issue.” How many other people with MCS have called the hotline and been told that their access needs aren’t real?

I have stories like this for every day of the year. It is for these reasons that I urge you to implement the six recommendations proposed by Mary Lamielle of the National Center for Environmental Health Strategies.

We are not separate from you. We are a part of the disability community. Our needs must be heard, respected, and accommodated.

If you would like to support the efforts of the MCS community to have our issues included by NCD, please email your comments to PublicComment@ncd.gov and put “Public Comment” in the subject line. Please also send a copy of your comments to marylamielle@ncehs.org. They’re accepting public comments by phone on Thursday and Friday, but if you can’t get your comment email sent by Friday, just send it when you’re able.

If you’re not sure what to say, you can talk about your experience with MCS or electrical sensitivity or that of friends, family members, colleagues — or me! No matter what you say — even if you say nothing else — you can copy in the six recommendations of NCEHS above and indicate your support of them.

Thank you very much for your support!

- Sharon, the muse of Gadget (who had chemical sensitivities), and Barnum SD/SDiT (and blessedly healthy so far)

Signal Boost: IAADP’s Assistance Dog Grief Pilot Program

I’ve posted previously about the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP), and I frequently encourage people involved with assistance dogs to join the organization. Why? It’s a unique organization in that it represents and supports all people with assistance dogs (ADs), regardless of the type (guide, hearing, service, or combo) or training (private-trained, program-trained, partner-trained, or a combination) of the AD. And, while most members live in the US, like its name says, it is an international organization.

IAADP provides benefits to partner members, including an information help line and discounts for certain supplies and veterinary products. It’s also a terrifically effective activist organization. And it has a great newsletter, Partner’s Forum, that is entertaining and very informative.

Anyone can join IAADP, although to be a partner member (to receive partner-member benefits and to vote in elections), you must be a disabled person partnered with an adult working service dog who meets certain criteria. However, trainers, puppy raisers, AD programs, and other interested parties can get a lot out of a friend membership or provider membership, as well as supporting an excellent cause.

I’ve been an IAADP member since I trained my first service dog in 1999. Toni Eames — one of the founders and long-time officer of the organization — used to be listed as the person to call for grief support. Sadly, three weeks before Gadget died, Toni’s husband, Ed Eames, the president of IAADP, died. Obviously I did not call her for grief support. I figured she had more than enough grief to deal with on her own. Ed’s loss was a loss to the entire assistance dog community, in fact.

However, in the years since then, Partner’s Forum has had some articles — and referred to pamphlets — about grief-related issues. I’m hoping they’ll eventually appear on the IAADP website. Meanwhile, in the April 2012 edition of the newsletter, the following information appeared:

Pilot Program for Grieving Partners

Are you grieving the loss or the impending retirement of your assistance dog? Would you like to participate in a monthly support group by phone with others in the same situation? A committee of the IAADP will start offering these phone calls in June, 2012. If interested, email ADLC[at]iaadp.org and one of the call facilitators will be in touch with you to see if the group is right for you. Since the committee has no idea how many assistance dog partners may be interested in this service, the first ones who contact ADLC[at]iaadp.org will be served first.

If you’ve been through the loss of an assistance dog and would like to  consider helping the committee, please also contact us at the above e-mail address or call 888-544-2237 and leave your name and phone number for a return call.

We want to be there for you in this time of transition.

So, if you’re interested in offering or receiving support on assistance dog loss, and you are not yet a member of IAADP, this is a good time to look into that. You can also find the announcement at the IAADP website’s Assistance Dog Loss Committee page.

- Sharon, remembering Jersey and Gadget, and currently partnered with Barnum, SD/SDiT

Prize Update! Call for Entries: 8th Assistance Dog Blog Carnival

Now there is a raffle, too! Anyone who submits a post to the Carnival will also be entered in a drawing for a $25 Amazon gift card! Read Brooke’s announcement here. Please spread the word about the ADBC!

* * *

Brooke at ruled by paws has swooped in to take on hosting the July Assistance Dog Blog Carnival. Thank you, Brooke! Check out her this thorough and enticing call for submissions that she just posted.

Assistance Dog Blog Carnival graphic. A square graphic, with a lavender background. A leggy purple dog of unidentifiable breed, with floppy ears and a curly tail, in silhouette, is in the center. Words are in dark blue, a font that looks like it's dancing a bit.

March to Your Own Drum!

Brooke has selected a really fun theme with a lot of possibilities for diverse topics: Marchin’ to Your Own Drum. You can find out all the details, including how to submit a post, the deadline for submissions, and topic ideas at her call for submissions.

Please spread the word to other bloggers you know and people with an interest in assistance dogs. I’m optimistic that this will be a great carnival. Not only do we have a great topic and a very able host, but I think we will probably have some new participants because of the “buzz” I’ve already seen on this topic on Twitter and because the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) just published an article on the carnival in their newsletter.

So, fellow partners, trainers, puppy raisers, friends, allies, and others, please talk up the ADBC on your social media or elsewhere. And for those who want to participate, please start thinking about what you want to write. If you are new to the carnival and want to see past issues or learn other details about how it works, please check out the carnival home page. If you have any further comments or questions, please comment below!

- Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum SD/SDiT

7th ADBC Up!

The latest edition of the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival is up at plays with puppies. It features two new bloggers (both partner-trainers) and some very emotional and honest posts.

Assistance Dog Blog Carnival graphic. A square graphic, with a lavender background. A leggy purple dog of unidentifiable breed, with floppy ears and a curly tail, in silhouette, is in the center. Words are in dark blue, a font that looks like it's dancing a bit.

Effects on others

Kudos and thanks to Patti B for making it happen, and thanks to the other bloggers who participated. Please check it out and leave some comment love for the participating bloggers!

The summer ADBC will be hosted by Torie at The Average Blog by an Average Blogger. To read more about the ADBC, including previous issues, upcoming editions, and whatever else you might want to know, visit the ADBC homepage.

- Sharon and Barnum, SD/SDiT

Assistance Dog Blog Carnival #7: Shorter, Clearer Call for Entries

Assistance Dog Blog Carnival graphic. A square graphic, with a lavender background. A leggy purple dog of unidentifiable breed, with floppy ears and a curly tail, in silhouette, is in the center. Words are in dark blue, a font that looks like it's dancing a bit.

Relationships with Others

Patti at plays with puppies has posted a very clear, accessible, updated call for posts for the upcoming Assistance Dog Blog Carnival. I hope you will submit something! It can be something new you’ve written especially for this issue, or it can be a previous post that fits the theme, which is

“How has a working dog in your life IMPACTED other people and/or the relationships in your life?”

To read further details, such as the deadline (about two weeks from now) and how to submit your entry, read the call for entries.

If you don’t have a blog of your own, or if you want to post something anonymously (this can be a touchy subject), Patti has kindly offered to allow people to post your piece on plays with puppies. Email Patti at pattibrehler[at]cavtel[dot]net.

Patti wants to be buried with posts! Please help her dream come true!

-Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum, SD/SDiT

Just Like Mall Wart, except…. [Updated]

Bumper sticker with dark blue letters on white background, type face the same as Wal-Mart's. Says Mall Wart, Your source for cheap plastic crap.

It's a good beginning.

My PCA used to have many excellent, snark-intensive bumper stickers on her truck. This was one of my favorites. However, I don’t think it’s entirely fair. It’s a little misleading.

It really should say, “Mall-Wart: Your source for cheap plastic crap, which also

  • Uses slave labor in other countries for outsourced goods
  • Violates the Clean Water Act in multiple US states and otherwise engages in practices egregiously harmful to the environment and dangerous to the consumer
  • Exploits its workers
  • Busts unions
  • Systematically and intentionally puts small businesses out of work
  • Participate in racist employment practices
  • Has been sued repeatedly for Americans with Disabilities Act violations, such as not allowing people with disabilities accompanied by assistance dogs into their stores
  • Is owned by people who each make over $18 billion annually, lobby conservative elected officials, but donate less than one percent of their income to charity.” (By comparison, Bill Gates donates over 50 percent of his income to charity.)

But that would make for a really, really long bumper sticker, don’tcha think?

Anyway, why, you may wonder, am I writing a totally random post about Wal-Mart? Well, partly it’s because it’s evil, and I like to raise awareness about the depth, breadth, and sprawl of their evilness. You’d be hard-pressed to find any form of despicable activity — human rights abuses, animal rights abuses, environmental destruction, trade practices bad for US interests, etc. — that they don’t participate in. Where am I getting these facts? From this extremely long list of facts and their sources about Wal-Mart’s illegal and unethical practices. (Except for the ADA and service dog stuff; I just know about that from my involvement with disability rights activism.)

You can learn all this and more, in entertaining, heart-breaking detail, by watching the documentary: Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price on a DVD that you rent or purchase, or for free online!

So, back to the reason I’m writing this now. The reason is that I have been promoting the auction that I have helped organize, Marlena’s Teaching Fund, and it’s down to its last 30 hours or so. We are having a big sale to try to get as much donated as possible when this comes down tomorrow at midnight.

Thus, I have slashed prices! I have encouraged people to spend! And bargain-hunt! And obtain!

I have been relentlessly posting on Facebook and Tweet-spamming, such that I think everyone will unfollow or unfriend or block me. And I’m talking about how many, many items and services are still available, and how “there’s something for everyone,” that I was thinking, “My God, I’ve turned into some sort of Mall-Wart-esque monster!” Aieee!

But then, I remembered, no.

For one thing, this little shindig is actually an offering of gifts by people who want to contribute to someone’s (or a group of someones’) well-being. And much of this stuff is stuff that people have but don’t want or need, so it’s being repurposed, recycled, not going into the landfill. And a lot of this stuff was handcrafted, by people who did it with love, not sweatshop labor.

Actually, I have learned a lot from this experience. I have gotten the opportunity to connect with and meet some really awesome people. I think it has served many useful purposes and contributed to meeting the needs of many people. So, overall, I’m very glad of my involvement.

I am not Mall-Wart. I am still me. And hopefully Betsy will help me create a spreadsheet so my head doesn’t explode when I try to match item donors, winner bidders, mailing addresses, donations made or to be expected, etc., when this all comes down tomorrow. (Or maybe I’ll just crawl into Barnum’s crate and put my head in my arms and rock myself and hope that people will telepathically figure out who to contact and what to mail, etc.)

Or maybe one of you reading this is good at spreadsheets and has some spare time in the next day or two? Heh heh heh heeeeeeeeeeeee. . . ?

So, I guess this is a request for help, which really was not my intention when I started this post, but there it is — life takes you in unexpected directions, and for me, these directions are often found while blogging. My requests:

1. If you have bid on the auction and won one or more items, starting Sunday night or Monday morning, please check your email (including spam folder) and/or your blog comments — or whatever you gave for your contact info — or contact me yourself, because I have already not heard from two people I’ve tried to contact where there were questions about their bidding, and I feel quite anxious about not being able to connect to everyone who bid.

2. If you know of anyone who has bid, please pass along the note above, in case you have more reachable contact info for them than I do.

3. If you haven’t bid on anything, go check it out. There really is some amazingly cool stuff there, and some unbelievable bargains. I really did go and mark everything down that had not yet been bid on.

4. If you bid on stuff, check to see if you were outbid. If you were, and you want whatever that stuff was, bid it up.

5. If you are in any way able to help me with the adding up of sums or creation of spreadsheets or email of people who donated items or made winning bids, please contact me! (If you know my phone number or email, use that. Otherwise you can use this private form.)

Finally, to paraphrase Trillian from that most remarkable book, The Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy, “[This blog] will be restoring normality as soon as we are sure what is normal anyway. Thank you.”

- Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and Barnum, SD/SDiT (We have some cool training stories to share; I just haven’t yet finished any of the blogs I’ve started recently.)

UPDATE: The kind and talented Kat of Join the Club! created a google docs form/database/embeddable thingy which we think I’ll be able to have winning bidders fill out with their contact info. This will make my job MUCH easier (if it works). So, some help has already been given, and I am very grateful!

Feeding Two (or Twenty?) Birds with One Hand

Some twenty years ago, my friend Linda introduced me to the expression, “Feeding two birds with one hand.” I really like this expression. Not only is it kinder than “killing two birds with one stone,” but it’s more evocative. I can actually picture holding my hand out, full of bird seed, and having two birds land on it, whereas not only do I have no desire to imagine killing two birds with a stone, I really don’t know how you’d go about it if you wanted to.

So today’s post is about what I’ve been doing when I’m not here posting, and how this is an opportunity to bring diverse aspects of my life together and feed multiple birds — after all, I have two hands, so I should be able to feed at least four birds!

Many of my faithful readers know that over the last three months I have been working on a fundraiser for my Nonviolent Communication (NVC) teacher, Marlena. Marlena’s Teaching Fund takes the form of an online auction, which starts right this very instant coffee!

Bird 1 – Connection & Contribution

What’s great about this auction? It gives me an opportunity to give back and contribute in a meaningful way to someone who has made a huge difference in my life.

I’ve also gotten to “meet” a lot of wonderful people — friends of Marlena’s or friends of my NVC friends — who donated items to the auction. It feels good to be part of something where people are coming together in a spirit of generosity and love. Nothing to be sad about there!

Picture of a mourning dove on snowy, pebbly ground with lots of sunflower seed hulls around it.

It may be called a "mourning dove," but I was happy to get this picture of it looking at me.

Bird 2 – Increasing Access to Fragrance-Free & Nontoxic Products

Some of my most commented-upon posts here at After Gadget have been those in which I’ve discussed my MCS and/or how fragranced products affect me. Many of you, my beloved readers, have gone in search of nontoxic, fragrance-free products — for your own health, for the access and safety of those with chemical sensitivities around you, and in solidarity with me. This has been so surprising and touching for me!

I also know that many of you have limited budgets, maybe not much access to trying out different products, or live outside the US, which sometimes means different brands than I know about. I am pleased to announce that there are several small, family owned businesses (many of them owned and run by people with MCS) that make nontoxic, fragrance-free products who have donated products or gift certificates to Marlena’s auction! Some of them will ship outside the US! You can test out MCS-safer products while also helping out an MCSer! Check out these listings! (For those who want an inexpensive way to test out several fragrance-free products, I suggest the Magick Botanicals trial/travel kit.)

Hairy woodpecker pecking at suet in a suet feeder on  small tree.

Hunting and pecking for the safe products in the scented aisles of a store? That can get downright hairy!

Bird 3 – Simplifying & Digging Out

I have too much stuff. My house is full of stuff! Stuff collects dust and mold and dander, all of which I’m allergic to. It gets in the way and leaves less room to maneuver my chair. But some of this stuff is perfectly good stuff. Stuff I can’t use, but that someone else could enjoy — brand-new books I was given but can’t read because I can’t read print books. Snarky posters I got as freebies when the company I ordered from messed up my order. Unused nontoxic/natural lip balm with peppermint oil in it. Inkjet office supplies I bought, forgetting that I now have a laser printer. It will feel great if I can give this stuff a new home.

Male red-bellied woodpecker digs suet out of a feeder with his long open beak.

This red-bellied woodpecker is chipping away at the fat, digging out. Inspiring!

Bird 4 – Bird Feeder as Blog Fodder?

I’m never short on ideas for blogs. In fact, my “Posts” folder has almost as many drafts as published posts, and that doesn’t even include all the posts I have in my head that I want to write! Still, now that I’m doing something with a deadline (the auction is only up for ten days), something I’ve invested so much time and energy in, something that’s so important to me, it pushes me to crank out a post to share with the world.

This gives me opportunities, such as to use several of my recent winter bird photos without writing the perfect Birding Thursday post.

I can carry myself with pride . . .

Tote bag in black and yellow that says Pride in big yellow letters on a black background.

This snazzy tote bag is made from recycled bird seed bags!

in taking an old idea like a signal boost and creatively transforming it into something new and different.

Colorful tote bag made from bird seed bags, includes a bright red cardinal sitting on a branch, and a sunflower at the base of the bag.

This tote bag is also upcycled from bird seed bags.

To think outside the box as a blogger . . .

Top of treasure box has head and shoulders of a brown hawk with red wings. There are feathers on teh side of the box.

This is quite some outside of a box!

can give me several different perspectives on something, depending on how I look at it.

A fabric-covered box. The top shows a blue jay in a green leafy tree with a blue feather attached to it, and the side shows a gorgeous white ibis about to take off over stormy waters.

Or how it looks at me....

It’s true that the tone of this post has been tongue-in-cheek and my objective transparent. Nonetheless, I am still appreciative of the seed Linda planted all those years ago of this kinder, gentler way to speak and act, which is part of the work of NVC, for me.

Especially because Linda remains one of my nearest and dearest friends. She’s the one who told me about Marlena’s NVC classes. Taking them together has deepened and strengthened our friendship. Maybe one of you will get to meet her, too?

- Sharon, the muse of Gadget, and a bored and demanding Barnum, SD/SDiT/hindrance dog


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