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Archive for January, 2011

I’m a member of a couple of networks – and I like the give and take, the discussions we have about what we do, how we started, why we are doing this.   I did get a project from one and a project from the other (that I had to give up, I don’t DO HTML!!) I’ve gone to classes, events, and kept hoping for more work/projects/clients… I’ve sent I don’t know HOW many resumes to jobs on Craigslist, but gave up on Elance and ODesk , I can’t compete with folks in Bangalore or Dubai who will do a job for $3 an hour!

Yesterday, a post came through on a network I was directed to by an acquaintance from another network (yeah, circles within circles..) and I sent my resume and cover email (wow, so different from when I first started, when the type of paper was crucial..) Within an hour, I had talked to the person on the phone, and as of last night, I’ve got a new client!! It’s marvelous!

I am going to start going to the very very early morning breakfast networking events at the local Chamber and the local Women’s Business Center- they better have good donuts, it’s at 7:30 in the morning!!!

The moral of the story is, my dear few faithful readers, that it DOES work.  It takes a while, and after you have handed out your 234th card to someone, sent out your 943rd resume into the black hole of the Net… It just might happen to you.  So network, network, NETWORK!!

If you are a milspouse, National Military Spouse Network is a great place to  go.  Information, helpful articles, and other milspouses looking to network with you.  Go to your local Chamber of Commerce website, or Women’s Business Center, or Small Business Admin website to find other networking opportunities.  This is where you’ll find other people who are, like me, trying to have a home based business, classes to help you figure out what you need, and you’ll never know if your next client is sitting in there too!  Our local Women’s Business Center offers ABC and 1,2,3 of opening a small business – REALLY useful info, including city, county, state and federal requirements for filing, how to set up your books, etc.

KESF

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A brief synopsis of the Blogger Roundtable call with Ms. Barbara Thompson, Director of the Office of Family Policy/Children and Youth.

Here’s a link to the audio file of the Roundtable

During a brief overview of the recent report Strengthening Our Military Families, Ms. Thompson discussed that many of these programs are already in place, and have been for the past year. As she said, this program is an integrated process – these programs are located in 16 different Federal Agencies, from the Dept. of Labor to the Dept. of Commerce; the Dept. of Education to Dept. of Interior. If you look at the actual report, all 16 Secretaries of the Departments have individually signed a pledge of support on behalf of the agency.

The question of where the money is coming from – according to Ms. Thompson it’s coming from each agency. This is no longer only a DoD bucket of money, these programs are either already in place, but will now include more military families; or will be funded by the agency in question. The agencies made the commitment to a program, and they provide their own funding or will include military families in the program.

There is a question about how military families will be able to find out what plans are available. The Chairman will be working with the White House, and they are trying to work out an integrated communications strategy, with (hopefully) a central website to make this a lot simpler. As Ms. Thompson said, she doesn’t want to make us go to each individual Department to see what is there, or what is being worked on! Strategic communication plan will be crucial and will be the work of the next few months. The Chairman will be getting updates and will make sure everyone stays informed, so we’ll need to keep checking his site!

I was happy to hear that the Blue Star Family Museum program, which coordinated with the National Endowment for the Arts, was singled out as a very successful program that took place last year and is happily going to continue this year.

Amongst the programs or initiatives discussed were a childcare pilot program in 13 states with HHS, Depts. of Ag and Education, to assist with licensing standards – especially for National Guard and Reserve programs. The Army Spouse Employment program is being opened to all military spouses, not just Army and the Dept. of Commerce and Small Business Administration are assisting with spouse employment initiatives. Homeland Security and others are working on licensing transferability, and user friendly information with Federal Agencies (those who committed to hiring milspouses); in the Dept. of Education, FAFSA application will be made easier for military families and the Interior Department is opening National parks to aid wounded warriors in recovery and working with conservation program hiring.

Overseas is a different matter – childcare changes are specific for US (licensing requirement) but employment corporations are overseas as well. The Interstate compact for transferability for military children’s education will help when families rotate back to the United States, with their children coming back into schools here.

One important point is that the Department of Health and Human Services and SAMSA partnering with programs for suicide prevention and increase psychiatric health resources.

This has been a wide-ranging initiative. Questions were asked how did you involve milfams and spouses. The White House brought in families for roundtables, various support and advocacy groups such as Blue Star Families, National Military Association amongst others were consulted, and needs were brought to the table when the First Lady and Dr. Biden were meeting with families. Other information and suggestions were the results of national leadership initiatives, listening sessions and meetings. Meetings with non profits, corporations, the private sector, as well as intense overview by those responsible in the departments and agencies, together with meetings, surveys, discussions and roundtables all went into this initiative and this report.

An important point that the President made – this has to be enduring, not just this administration, it needs to keep going. ALL of America needs to support the military families, not just one agency, one department.

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Knitting – a new addiction.

I learned to knit, as many of us do, when my grandmother decided I needed to learn something, or drive her completely mad during a vacation I was spending with her. I fumbled, I made knots, I dropped stitches… my fingers seemed to be tying themselves into tentacles of awkwardness. The yarn was a plastic feeling cotton blend in a dusty blue and I garter stitched a couple of monstrous pot holders, one for her and one for my mother. My mother still has them. They are ridiculously awful, purl stitches crop up in straggly rows of knit, and holding something hot with them – is guaranteed to raise blisters. And I never made another thing. Rebellion! In British boarding school, it was oldfashioned to knit, these were the sixties in England – only granny knitted! And a treasure trove of knowledge waited in the WI halls, the women and men who knew how to cable effortlessly, or could Fair Isle so rapidly and the Aran knitters made their sweaters for the tourists in the Scottish shops of the West End.

Crochet was faster, I told myself when I wanted to start doing something easier and faster with my hands than cross stitching. Afghan after afghan followed …until my family rebelled. Blankets for babies, hats and blankets for the Linus project, and scarves by the meter.

Many years later, an online friend began to proselytize about the joys of knitting, declaiming the glories of mohair yarn and the organic alpacas, the sensual feeling of the silk yarns in jewel colours. On a “girls weekend” a group of blog friends gathered at my apartment and while we sat and chatted, I started knitting. A very boring scarf, but the needles felt right – the stitches worked, my fingers didn’t feel like tangled spaghetti, I was sure of what I was doing. It’s become an obsession, between knitting troop hats for Operation Gratitude, baby clothes for my granddaughter’s baby doll, jackets for my granddaughter and now, the new fixation – socks! Books, yarn, needles, circulars, straight, toe up or cuff down patterns, row counters….it’s addictive. Going into a yarn store – oh, it’s almost as good as a candy counter. The heather shaded wools, the garnet and sapphires in silk, bright pinks and purples of eyelash yarn and searing reds and greens of the blends and selfstriping yarns – I could willingly spend hours in there, dreaming of what I could make.

It’s tactile, it’s useful, it’s complicated but orderly, it’s what I do during the long car rides, or waiting for my husband when I pick him up from work, on the Metro, or watching TV. The satisfaction of a completed project, learning how to do the heel or gusset of a sock or a complicated cable – wonderful. Now.. if I could just earn a living doing it, the dream would come true!

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I was talking to my husband about the Arizona tragedy, to get his perspective on it.  We don’t always see eye to eye on politics, and it’s helpful to get another person’s view of the same events.

The last ten years of deployments showed him multiple examples of the devolving of a country, first Yugoslavia, then Iraq. He made a comparison with Germany of the early 20th Century;  as he compared them, the country in question was at the pinnacle, getting along fairly well with each other, the different groups in the population are working together, then they begin to talk about other groups within the country as Less than themselves, denigrating, making the other group “Less than”. Then it’s easier to kill, easier to devolve into factions.

It starts with words, it starts with making the other person, the other group, to be Less than you.. then at the end it devolves into violence, then can even degenerate into the genocide of Rwanda, Bosnia, Kenya in the era of the MauMau, I can hear it now, “it can’t happen here” As my husband said   “Really?   Didn’t they say that in Yugoslavia?”

He talked about how he’s worried over the past 10 years, as he watched the political landscape degenerate into the hate, the viciousness, the egging on by the pundits and so-called leaders. By Both Sides. I asked him, how do you compare the Left and Right. The Right seems to talk in terms of targets, Second Amendment solutions, shooting “the only good liberal is a dead liberal”, blood watering the tree of liberty, some of the “shoot an M16” fundraisers and other violence. The Left denigrates the Right as stupid, knuckle dragging rednecks, but hasn’t been as known for violence. As my husband says, when you keep saying the “other” is less than you, it’s easy to make that connection, that it’s not wrong to injure or kill, that it’s not like killing a person, it’s less than that.

I can hear it now – the “oh come on, we didn’t TELL him to shoot Representative Giffords or anyone else”. the “he’s just a nut”, “he’s the only one responsible” . Put the first two together, a mentally unstable person and hateful speech – and what happened in Arizona isn’t as surprising as most of us think. We can’t imagine that dislike we feel for the other, for this politician or pundit, becoming physical. But then most of us aren’t going to reach for a gun or a bomb! (That he was able to get a gun, is another topic for another day) Those among us who don’t have that control, who are emotionally or mentally unstable, will reach for the violent “solution”.

We can’t stop feeling, we can’t stop feeling passionately about what matters to us. We can, we must be careful with our speech. We must stop the pundits and the politician from using terms that are violent, that make the other side Less than ourselves.

I’ll confess freely that I am known to call certain Radio Hosts various epithets, here at home, or amongst my friends. I’ll confess that I’ve been known to call some politicians a few choice words as well. I need to learn a new vocabulary…. We all do.

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