Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Out in the world

One of the things I'm doing to finance my ABM education is entering contests.

I never used to think of myself as "lucky". I entered the Publisher's Clearing House every time they sent an envelope [dating myself, much?] and won [ta-da!] a "specially minted Bicentennial medal" [only, what? 20,000 made]. I forget now if it was metal or plastic, but it was a lesson to me not to bother with contests.

Until, on my way home from an A's game one day, I took a mail-in survey form from a girl who was handing them out at the Coliseum BART station. My son really liked BART, I was feeling a bit sentimental, and I had nothing else to do on the ride home, so I took the form, filled it in on the ride, dropped it off in the mail on my walk home, and thought no more about it.

Until I got a phone call from the survey's sponsors, saying I'd won a 4-day, 3-night, all expenses paid trip to Cabo San Lucas. I couldn't make the first dates they had [nothing like full-time night-shift nursing to put a crimp in your ability to just pick up and leave] so they worked out a different hotel, different days.

Needless to say, it was wonderful.

And then, as you do, I forgot about it. Not the trip, but that I won it by the grace of seeing someone's smile and smiling back.

Life went on, as it does. I worked, moved, finished university, traveled. Caught up some back bills, made some gifts, saved a bit of money.

And found Anat Baniel's work.

At first I had no idea how I'd finance it. I still have wriggle room in my spending- I can cut back. I've got a little bookshop I run via Amazon; I can pick up a bit of freelance writing or spreadsheet work; I can recycle. But it's not enough.

Then I remembered Cabo San Lucas.

So I started looking for contests.

I began with the sweepstakes and contests section of About.com. I read everything there: how to enter, what to enter. Not to spend time entering contests for things I don't want, don't need. Then I found Twitter contests, and started looking around the world of contests.

Which is the long way round of saying: this is how I found Mommie Blogs.

There was nothing like this when my sons were little. I personally had good friends and an awesome mentor, but in general, there was no place to go if you weren't in church or had a large family who would help out.

I was thrilled to find A Sigh of Relief by Martin I. Green [first published in 1974]. I had two small sons and worked in toddler daycare. CPR was still new, it'd been years since I had First Aid at the Red Cross, and I worried about everything. Martin Green's book saved me from panicking.

Years later I found Trusting Ourselves by Karen Johnson, MD, which helped me sort out what was my innate character and what was situational and could be dealt with with therapy, time, and possibly medication. Again, a book saved me from panicking.

But now there is the internet. There are mommie [and daddie!] blogs. There are personal finance blogs. There are health information blogs, and book recommendation blogs. There are blogs for people who have premature children, who've lost children, whose children are grown, who want children. There are Twitter and Facebook and Orkut. It's amazing to me, the number of possible ways for people to connect.

It all comes down to being neighborly, doesn't it? Which is the point of this winding post. I never thought of myself as lucky. But through entering a some blog contests, I became aware of this rich world of women making community, and I count that as lucky a win as any I could ever have. I know now that no matter what comes, I'll find a way to finance my education, and bring something good into the world. I've been very fortunate to have good friends, and it makes me happy to see women writing, women talking about their lives, and women finding different ways to make community and help each other.

So it's not about the contests, really, though the wins I've had have certainly helped. It's about the connections out in the world. Hello, world. It's lovely to meet you.

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