Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lindsey House Needs YOU!

Yesterday, The Leslie Group/Mia Magazine (Jan, Juli, Lina and Lisa) met with Karen Streeter, the director of Transitional Living Centers of Oklahoma at their first facility, The Lindsey House, opened a little over a year ago. If you read the first post about Lindsey House, you can see that this concept gives homeless women a way to move forward, not just for a few weeks or months, but for a lifetime. The women are held accountable for obtaining a high school diploma (if they haven't), finding a job, learning to budget money, opening a savings account, and developing the skills that go along with making a good life for themselves and their children. We were immediately drawn to this concept because we believe in giving women the message that they are capable and strong, regardless of their own mistakes, bad decisions, or unfortunate circumstances that have caused them to be homeless.

We decided to put words into action, and so we have adopted an apartment unit at The Lindsey House. The unit only needs a fresh coat of paint in one room, so there are no major renovations that we have to do. Instead, we get the pleasure of decorating and supplying the family with sheets, towels, kitchen items, and all the stuff that goes along with maintaining a home (think ironing board, shower curtain, cleaning supplies, clock radio...the list goes on). We get the even bigger pleasure of welcoming the family to their new apartment with a few casseroles in the freezer, staples for the pantry, fresh flowers on move-in day! And we will begin a relationship with the family to encourage the woman as she seeks to put her life back together. We believe that every woman has a story. In fact, we believe every woman IS a story, and so we are excited to be a small part of a woman's story as she seeks to move forward and make a better life for herself.

But, we need YOUR help! We have a lot of items to collect and we would like for our readers to be a part of this adventure. Stay tuned to the blog, our Facebook page, and Twitter for ongoing stories about how you can join us as we partner with Lindsey House. If you aren't a blog follower, now is the time to follow! Join our Facebook page, and sign up to follow us on Twitter. We'll be chronicling some of our journey with Lindsey House in the magazine, but frequent updates, requests, and stories along the way will be here.

Check out the "before" photos above. YOU can be a part of making this apartment a beautiful home for a woman and her children. YOU can be a part of making her life better. Join us!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday Morning Writing Prompt, March 28

One of my projects this year (and every year for the past decade) is to get my old photos scanned and organized. In the midst of shuffling through photo boxes to collect all my official school photos, I began to see a pattern emerge. In my younger years, my hair had been "styled" by my mother. Keep in mind, this was the very early 1970s when many little girls were wearing either a) bouffant type hair like their mothers or b) straight across bangs with an upcurl bob (see photos above). My mother was quite proud of these hairstyles I'm certain. I was a bit of a tomboy, so I was mostly ambivalent about them. But now I have to admit, they were pretty bad.

As the years progressed, I made my own decisions about hair. I should say up front that these were not always good decisions and so I haven't posted any pictures of those. But I'd like to hear about YOUR hair. So, here is your writing prompt for today:

Remember your worst haircut, or worst hairdo trend that you followed (think feathered bangs). Describe it and write about the era of that particular hairstyle.

Send your writing to Happy Monday, and I hope you have a good hair day!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Morning Writing Prompt, March 21

I'm finally recovering from the nastiest bug I've had in years. Two weeks of it was enough to make me start feeling cranky and blue. I'm not good at sitting in the house - on the couch - for multiple days in a row, but my cabin-fever was compounded by a non-stop cough, get the idea. It got so bad I turned to advice from Mom: stop whining and start counting (blessings, that is). So I did. One by one, I counted and then I felt better. So simple, but I forget to do this way too often.

So here is your writing prompt:

List seven things you are grateful for, then spend 10 minutes each day writing about one.

I'm almost certain that will improve your week. I'm going to keep at it and take my mother's advice even though the cloud has lifted and I'm off the couch!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday Morning Writing Prompt, March 14

I loved last week's writing prompt and the responses we got. It made me think about what we remember from our childhood. Here's the prompt for this week:

What is the first memory you have of your grandmother, or the grandmother figure in your life? Write about that memory and be sure to include the name that you used for her.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sharing Stories is Good For Your Health

Several nights ago we had family members over for dinner and sat around the table for over an hour after the plates had been cleared. We weren't talking politics, giving each other advice, or complaining about other family members. We were doing nothing more than sharing stories. Some of the stories were memories of our small town growing up, some were stories about friends that had passed in and out of our lives. Some of the stories were about challenges we have overcome and lessons we have learned. When the evening was over, I felt cleansed and calm. This morning, when I ran across an article in The New York Times about storytelling, my evening with my family made sense. It seems that our bodies actually have a positive, physical reaction to the act of storytelling. In her article titled, "Patient Stories May Improve Health," Pauline Chen writes:

The Annals of Internal Medicine has published the results of a provocative new trial examining the effects of storytelling on patients with high blood pressure. And it appears that at least for one group of patients, listening to personal narratives helped control high blood pressure as effectively as the addition of more medications.

Monitoring the blood pressure of nearly 300 African-American patients who lived in urban areas and had known hypertension, the researchers at three-month intervals gave half the patients videos of similar patients telling stories about their own experiences. The rest of the patients received videos of more generic and impersonal health announcements on topics like dealing with stress. While all the patients who received the storytelling DVD had better blood pressure control on average, those who started out with uncontrolled hypertension were able to achieve and maintain a drop as significant as it had been for patients in previous trials testing drug regimens.

Later in the article, lead author of the study and researcher Dr. Thomas K. Houston says this: “Telling and listening to stories is the way we make sense of our lives. That natural tendency may have the potential to alter behavior and improve health.”

Every culture in history, including our own, has had a way to pass along stories, whether through writing, pictures, orality, or song. Apparently, it is vital to a culture - and to individuals - to tell our stories. And it is good for our health as well. Our magazine is one way to tell and listen. I've discovered the value of sitting around a table and sharing stories as well. Sometimes I wonder if this is a lost art. We rarely have time to sit around a table and eat together, much less spend time telling stories after the dinner is finished. If storytelling is good for our health, what ways are you incorporating it into your life? I'd be interested to hear your comments.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday Morning Writing Prompt, March 7

Welcome March!

Anyone out there do spring cleaning? Even if you don't you can participate in this writing prompt:

Write about cleaning out your memorabilia box in the attic. This is the box that holds all the things you would NEVER be able to part with. What is in the box and why have you kept the items?

Send your writing to me ( or post it here. We are looking for short pieces to include in Mia, and a compilation of writing prompts would be perfect.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Believe in Her

Juli and I visited Lindsey House yesterday for a "Lunch and Learn." This is an amazing place. The residents of this vintage 1920s apartment complex are women who have been rendered suddenly homeless because of crisis. They have children and nowhere to go. It's not a shelter, however. It's a Transitional Living Center, which is actually the name of the organization that gives these women the opportunity to pull themselves up with the help of community volunteers who believe in them. The women are carefully screened for substance abuse and interviewed to make as certain as possible that they are a fit for Lindsey House. The women must pay rent - a percentage of their income, have a high school diploma or be working on their GED, and generally prove that they have a desire to make life better for themselves and their children. Volunteer groups adopt units, furnish and stock them, and connect with the woman and her children who are living in that unit.

There are shelters that serve women (and men) who have substance abuse issues, are victims of domestic violence, or are chronically homeless. There is a great need for these types of shelters, but I was struck by the reality that many women need a place where they can prove themselves. On some level, don't we all? When a woman enters Lindsey House, there are high expectations for her success, but there is also plenty of help to get the women on their way to a better life. They are given budget and financial counseling and are accountable to other women for how they are spending, saving, and planning for the future. They are expected to take care of their apartment and be a member of the Lindsey House community. My guess is that there is a high success rate for these women after they have transitioned out of Lindsey House. When someone believes in us, most of us will rise to meet those expectations. I love this concept and am interested to follow the story of the Transitional Living Center model. If it works (and I have no doubt it does), then we'll see more TLC houses opening up around the Tulsa area, and hopefully around the state.

Check out their website here