WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY

A Slice of AnnyWorld:

It all started when Will decided to make his grand entrance exceedingly early–three months before his due date. 

Having not waited until he was fully ‘cooked,’ meant Will had to spend five months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). A harrowing experience for Will, but maybe even more so for his parents, Brittany and Scott. (Around 60% of parents whose babies have long NICU stays  are at risk for Post-Traumatic Stress.) Well-meaning caregivers focused on Will’s survival, but didn’t have time to educate his parents on what was happening, or how to handle a fragile preemie, so often Britt and Scott were left out of their son’s care altogether. 

As the months dragged on, Britt imagined a world where parents were an equal and active member of their baby’s health care team.  She and Scott shared her idea with docs, nurses, caseworkers, parents, everyone involved in the NICU process to see what they’d have to do to turn Britt’s dream into a reality.  What they discovered was that there was a name for what they wanted to bring into the NICU: Family Integrated Care. 

Turns out FICare had been around a while.  A pilot program at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto revealed a simple truth: babies/children not only survived more often, but thrived when health care became a family affair. To make Family Integrated Care a reality in her backyard, the Bay Area , she and Scott founded Will’s Way Foundation.

Right now Will’s Way devotes money and energy to supporting families with babies in the NICU. As Britt put it: “We try to give parents one moment to feel normal.”  Will’s Way accomplishes that by providing “milestone meals” to parents, such as when a baby reaches a goal weight, or gets off oxygen, dinner at a local restaurant to get them out of the hospital, and in one case, threw a wedding dinner for a couple who got married while their baby was still in the NICU.

The foundation also addresses basic needs of NICU parents, such as giving gas cards to lessen the expense of their commutes, grocery cards to help them feed their families, and support for the siblings of the sick babies.

And there’s more on the horizon such as using technology to teach parents what they need to know in order to actively care for their baby in the NICU and beyond.
Currently Will’s Way helps about 6 NICU families per week.

Will’s Way’s mission is to make FICare the norm in the NICU first, and then hopefully the paradigm for all hospital patients.

Want to change your world?  Britt’s advice is to “share your idea with others.  Allow your idea to change and become what it needs to be, then own it and continue to grow it.  There are a lot of ideas out there.  The key is to see it through.”

Using their imaginations and will, Britt and Scott are changing the NICU experience for the parents that have come after them.

“Imagine a world where….” finish the sentence and share your idea, and what you will, or are doing to make that word a reality with all of us on my FB page, or reply to this post.
#EmpowerGirlsOfAllAges

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: A diaper cake.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: A diaper cake.

Destination of the Fortnight: One of my favorite museums is in Will's backyard, The Exploratorium in San Francisco, CA

Destination of the Fortnight: One of my favorite museums is in Will’s backyard, The Exploratorium in San Francisco, CA

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Posted in Imagination, Inspired Creativity, Thinking Outside The Box, Uncategorized by with 1 comment.

Persistence Pays Off, Literally

A Slice of AnnyWorld:

The Key of Persistence

Did you know that if Stephanie Kwolek had listened to her colleagues, thousands of lives would be lost by now?

That’s because In 1964 her colleagues at DuPont considered the cloudy polymer solution she’d made a failure–telling her to throw it out because it wasn’t the clear solution they expected. But Stephanie refused.  “She explains, “I discovered over the years that I seemed to see things that other people did not see… if things don’t work out I don’t just throw them out, I struggle over them, to try and see if there’s something there.” She said she realized that the uniqueness of the liquid “might be useful,” so she spent “several days urging her colleagues to spin it and test its physical properties.”

Once they did test it, they discovered that her solution was five times stronger than steel by weight.

DuPont named the new material Kevlar.

Kevlar is used as a material in over 200 products, but perhaps what Stephanie was most proud of is it’s use in bulletproof vests.  “I don’t think there’s anything like saving someone’s life to bring you satisfaction and happiness.”

Innovation and creativity require persistence in the face of resistance.

As I struggle to finish the current draft of my middle grade fantasy novel, I’m going to think of Stephanie’s tenacity and push myself to carry on.

How has persistence paid off in your life?  Please share with me on my author page, or comment on this post.

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: A kevlar ski helmet.  (Looked for purple bulletproof vest, but alas there weren't any.)

Purple Passion of the Fortnight: A kevlar ski helmet. (Looked for purple bulletproof vest, but alas there weren’t any.)

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Destination of the Fortnight: Wilmington, Delaware, home of the Dupont Lab where Stephanie discovered Kelvar. (This is Stephanie in the 70’s with her invention.)

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One Giant Leap For Womankind

A Slice of AnnyWorld:

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My little face was glued to the TV screen during Armstrong’s moon walk.  I told my mother that we’d all be vacationing on the moon by the year 2000–I was sure of it!
Unfortunately due to money, we’re still not vacationing at the Sea of Tranquility Spa.  But thanks to Nancy Grace Roman, The Mother of Hubble, as in telescope, we can visit lands light years away from the moon on our computer screens.

(Orion Nebula as seen through Hubble)
Yes it was a woman, Nancy Roman (b.1925),  who convinced Congress et al that searching the heavens was worth the cost.

Dr. Roman obtained a a Ph.D in astronomy from the University of Chicago in 1949, a time when women were raised to get married, have babies, and leave the outside world, not to mention the galaxy,  to men.

She recalls a time in high school when she needed permission to take algebra instead of Latin.  Her guidance counselor, a woman, sneered at her and said: ‘What lady would take mathematics instead of Latin?’ That was the sort of reception that I got most of the way.”

Undeterred, she not only became an astronomer, but she became the first ever, read male or female, Chief of Astronomy in the Office of Space Science at NASA. In her role, she successfully managed numerous astronomy-based projects including the Hubble Space Telescope.

Dr. Roman didn’t just break the glass ceiling, she zoomed out  into galaxies far, far away. She credits her scientist father for answering her questions and never questioning why his little girl loved science, and her mother, who took her out at night and showed her the beauty of the stars.

In addition she says the secret to making it in a male-dominated field was her ability to “remain open to change and new opportunities.” 

Today, Dr. Roman, who retired from NASA in ’79, has a new passion, inspiring girls to set aside their inhibitions and reach for the stars, just as she did. “I like to tell students that the jobs I took after my Ph.D. were not in existence only a few years before. New opportunities can open up for you in this ever changing field.”

And I would add that whatever your trajectory, plotting your destination, but being open to HOW you get there is key!  (I’ve learned the hard way that tunnel vision usually yanks you off course.)
Describe the path you took to reach one of your stars/dreams.  Reply to this email or post it on Anny Writes

PURPLE PASSION OF THE FORTNIGHT: MAGELLANIC CLOUD

PURPLE PASSION OF THE FORTNIGHT: MAGELLANIC CLOUD

DESTINATION OF THE FORTNIGHT: HUBBLE CONTROL ROOM, GREENBELT, MD

DESTINATION OF THE FORTNIGHT: HUBBLE CONTROL ROOM, GREENBELT, MD

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How Objectivity Breeds Success

A Slice of AnnyWorld:

Apologies.

I’ve been so busy revisioning my novel that time slipped away from me this week.

As I sat down to dash this missive off so I wouldn’t miss my own deadline, I realized that the exercise that took me away from you is what I wanted to share with you in this letter.

I had the privilege of participating in an all-day workshop with the renowned literary agent, Donald Maass.  He suggested that in order to make our books page turners, we had to infuse every page with micro-tension. (Here’s a definition of micro-tension.)
Micro-tension’s sole object is to trigger an uncertainty of some kind in the reader so she’ll read on to relieve her own uneasiness.

This is easier written than done. :-), especially when most writers see tension in their stories  that isn’t there.

That’s because when we’re in the emotional flow of our our stories, it’s impossible to stand back and see what’s actually on the page.

Donald Maass knows this, so he built detachment into his exercise–objectively revise/revision what you’ve written by reading it out of order.  This forces you to ONLY see what’s on the page, nothing more. Use a random number generator, which you can find for free here, to put your pages into a random sequence.

Reading out of order doesn’t allow things like weak dialogue or lame word choices to hide in our blind spots.  Sometimes all a page needs is an added phrase, or a deletion of a detail to pull the reader/listener out of her seat and into your world.

Though this exercise was created for writers, its usefulness extends far beyond those of us who are writing a book or story, etc. Imagine a lawyer using this exercise to strengthen her closing argument, or an entrepreneur using it to craft an inspiring business plan that results in their idea being funded.  A parent can use it to convince their daughter to do something, or not to do something.

Being able to craft a powerful message can help you in whatever you do.
Try this exercise out, and let me know what happens!

Purple Passion of the Fortnight

Purple Passion of the Fortnight

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Destination of the Fortnight: New York City, home of The Donald Maass Literary Agency

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Practical Creativity: To-Do Lists Made Fantastic!

My buddy Bonnie seems to have more hours in her day than the rest of us!  She balances a full-time job with parenting her son Wally, being a wifey to Craig, ice skating and playing the flute in a band.  Just writing that sentence made me tired. 🙂

But she wasn’t always this productive. Like many of us, she uses a to-do list to get the most out of her days, and like many of us, her to-do list often became an albatross around her neck.  She’d stare at it and either get overwhelmed, or uninspired, by what she had to accomplish.  And so would her son Wally. (She has him make his own to-do list for every weekend.)

Then it struck her…fun, novel stuff should be as valued as chores, practicing piano or whatever. So she started adding items to her list like get a Starbucks coffee, or get a mani/pedi.  Wally’s list might include things like go to Dunkin’ Donuts, or play soccer for an hour mixed in with make your bed, and do your math.

To make their to-do lists even more exciting, Bonnie and Wally use different colors for certain items on their lists, and sometimes use pictures, such as a soccer ball to symbolize soccer practice, instead of words to remind them of what they’d like to accomplish.

Now they both look forward to checking off the items on their lists, and as a result, enjoy fun, balanced, productive days.

Bonnie whipped this list up on the spot.  Notice the coffee doodle by Starbucks stop.

Bonnie whipped this list up on the spot. Notice the coffee doodle by Starbucks item.

So the next time you make a to-do list, think of Bonnie and create a fantastically fun one.  Then send me a pic of it so I can post it!

Purple Passion of the Fortnight.  I'd love to drink tea or coffee out of this cup!

Purple Passion of the fortnight. I’d love to drink tea or coffee out of this cup!

Destination of the Fortnight: Big Island of Hawaii..I've been but Bonnie wants to go.  Maybe she can sunbathe with the chap in the photo!

Destination of the Fortnight: Big Island of Hawaii. Bonnie’s pick–she’s never been and is dying to go. Maybe she can sunbathe with the chap in the photo when she gets there!

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