Archive for April, 2013

Operation Purple Heart: Win Opportunity Knocks…Will You Be There?

Rita ProfileWhen I first began working in center city, it was inevitable that I would encounter homeless people in the subways, laying on sidewalk steam grates, and other cement make-shift “residences” throughout the city. I never had a problem handing them what change I had in my pocket at the time as long as I could keep moving, shouting a quick “Thank you, you too” as I responded to their “God Bless You” or “Have a nice day”. It was important to keep moving. Time was of the Hands of Homeless Man with Change in Cupessence. I had places to go and people to see. It was also important, however, that in my hurry, I at least in some small way acknowledged that I saw the homeless person even if it was to say that I don’t have any change today knowing full well if I took a minute to scavenge  the bottom of my purse, I could easily be deemed mistaken.

My mind harkens back to something I once heard someone say which seemed to make a lot of sense and that I never forgot- one of the purest, most genuine, and authentic acts of giving is when you feel you don’t have it to give and you give it anyway. Think about it. Makes sense, right? Giving is a gift that when you give to others you gift yourself as well. Having fully genuinely bought into this mindset, I no longer exclaim that I don’t have any change when being asked for money by those who appear to be in need. It’s simply not true and I hope it never will be.

According to the World Giving Index, which is a study of world-wide charitable behavior, America was the 5th most charitable giving country in the world in 2011. Australia was the 1st followed by Iceland, Canada, New Zealand and then US. Not too shabby. This means that more than 50% of a nation’s population participated in 1 of 3 acts of giving in any given month including donating money, volunteering time, and helping a stranger.OPSvign5sweb

Many of you probably remember being a kid like it was yesterday, so it isn’t a leap to consider how it might feel to be a child of a military family. Like most things, it has its pros and cons. And it is unlike what the majority of Americans would perceive as ordinary day-to-day living.

Remember your first day of school or any event in your life when you were the only one who didn’t know anybody, surrounded by strangers, and in an unfamiliar environment? One doesn’t even have to reflect back to childhood to recall that feeling.     

The military child frequently has that experience and it doesn’t necessarily mean Littler Girl with Flagattending a new school here in the States. It could be a new school in another country. Saying goodbye to friends you may never see again and meeting kids who have yet to become friends is par for the course.

Remember taking your child to school for the first time and experiencing not only their separation anxiety but your own? Being fully present as your child managed to morph into the ole ball and chain around your ankle as you tried to make your way to the door despite the ankle weight causing you to drag your foot across the floor?

How about holidays like Thanksgiving when families come together or birthdays, graduations, proms, first dates, heartbreaks, doing whatever it takes – to celebrate… knowing that your dad or mom or sibling will not and cannot be there to share the occasion with you? At least not in person. Some of those occasions just happen to be once in a lifetime events. Military children endure that experience as part of the sacrifices they routinely make for US.

The National Military Family Association helps to raise awareness and funds that are designated for programs and support specifically for the military child – OUR unsung heroes. Currently, individual donations for Operation Purple Heart for the Month of the Military Child are considerably lagging behind last year’s support.Diverse Girls

So, you know where I’m going with this. Can you hear opportunity knocking? I can!  I know, oh no, here she goes! Bear with me. It’s my last blog post of the month. I want to be sure that you understand just how important you are to this mission. As a former military child, I’m asking you to please join me in supporting the children who honor our country and support us all as a way of life. Your support really is a Win-Win for everyone!

MC900431631[1]5 Minutes, $5 and PASS IT ON! That’s it. That’s all. Oh, and this…

Click on the Link –



To donate, click the link below.

NOTE:  Be sure to type “GrowGratitude” in the Comments section.

If you prefer to DONATE BY PHONE, please call  703-931-6632, ext. 325. Be sure to mention GrowGratitude” !  


See You Next Wednesday!Pink Heart    OXOXOXO


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How Jackie Robinson and the Movie, 42, Lays to Rest Rap’s Rationale for Using the “N” Word

I went to see the debut of the Jackie Robinson movie, “42”, and left feeling some kind of way. Rita ProfileSometimes I think I see a movie through a somewhat different lens. I’m not sure why that is – if it’s just my nature or possibly the result of being African-American. I’m guessing it’s a combination of the two. It is that combination, coupled with being from a generation not yet far enough removed from feeling popcorn and filminextricably linked to the collective historical suffering of a people that brings me to this post.

We all know the contemporary, controversial use of the “n” word, frequently touted by many rappers (and others). The fact that the use of such a word could be considered controversial intrigues me. The use of it by rappers, who happen to be predominantly African-American, perplexes me. I definitely am of the opinion that routine, pervasive use of the “n” word is by no means acceptable.

My daughter’s generation seems to have acquired what I attribute to be most rappers’ perspective regarding the use of the “n” word in rap music, which happens to have a substantial influence on a significant number of youth of all races. On more than one occasion I’ve heard a rapper’s rationale for using the “n” word; a word so historically heinous, hateful, and harmful… and in many instances, targeted towards the rapper’s own race. Are you ready for it? Here it is:

Regular and routine use of the “n” word (in rap) takes the power out of the word.

Aha! I finally get it! Yes, I can see how that could be. When you take the power out of the word, it no longer has the negative historical connotations that once created its power, right? And when it no longer has the negative connotations that created its power in the first plaRap Starce, problem solved. Makes sense to me. Except for one thing…it’s not working.

Why is it not working? Because if it was, the power that the “n” word generates would dissipate, but it isn’t.  How do we know this? Because generally when a White person refers to or uses the “n” word in virtually any context involving African-Americans, uncomfortable tension, to put it mildly, ensues. It was not intended to be a word that the power is taken out of strictly for African-Americans who hear it, use it, or may be called it. Its intention, one would think, would include taking the power out of the word by those who historically wielded the word, parlaying its power and negative connotation in the first place.

So how did Jackie Robinson and the movie, “42” manage to lay to rest the controversy surrounding the use of the “n” word so frequently used in rap music?

Because, to borrow a quote from the movie: “God built Jackie to last”. Otherwise, how could Jackie have ever managed to survive what he had to endure to break the color barrier in baseball? Not only was Jackie Robinson a super human ball player, he was a super human being…complete with awe-inspiring talent, discipline, tolerance, integrity, unfathomable self-restraint, courage, emotion, and the guts NOT to fight back. And from what I gathered and cannot imagine is the guts it must have taken not to fight back, particularly under the circumstances and times that Jackie encountered. Not to play into society’s perceptions of African-Americans, and particularly males, as being angry and violent despite the fact that anger and violence was constantly spewed at him was critical to the success of the mission. The minute Jackie displayed any behavior that reinforced the ignorant and racist perceptions of him as an African-American, the “game” was over and we would not be where we are today.MM900295247

What makes “42” so powerful is the realistic and true portrayal of what our hero endured to get where he got, fueling our ability to not only dream to be, but to be who we dream. But the brilliance of the film is its ability to connect the viewer to Jackie in such a way that you can’t help but relate to him and feel for him as a great young man and a fellow human being with a hell of an unfair burden to bear. And he bears the burden beautifully.

Now here’s where I think the movie makes its mark with the younger generation; many of whom are seemingly becoming indifferent to the nature and magnitude of the sacrifices made throughout history. The movie, keeping within a 3 year time span of Jackie’s life, incorporates some of the significant events leading up to and including the inevitable breaking of the color barrier in baseball. Key to the impact of the movie is the fact that Jackie is and remains a very young man throughout the movie and the viewer comes to see him in such a relatable way on a human level that you can’t help but feel deeply for him and his circumstances.      Bat and Ball

The pressure of being in Jackie’s position is palpable. One doesn’t have to be African-American, male, or play baseball to not only feel Jackie’s pain but actually hurt for him. To be able to understand to some small degree what it feels like to be bullied, picked on, and degraded while trying to remain courageous in the face of it all. Most of us who are inclined to see the movie have lived long enough to have likely encountered such situations and we weren’t the first or only ones designated to catapult change. So we can relate, but we can not imagine. It is these events that allow us to garner just a glimpse of the depth of pain and suffering as well as the courage, conviction, and strength of character that necessitated the ushering in of the breaking of the color barrier and what that meant for the future of America, African-Americans, and baseball.

There is a scene in the movie when a little white boy playing ball is said to be observed rubbing dirt Bat Boyon his skin as he tells his friends that he wants to be like Jackie Robinson. If it didn’t already occur, it is then that you can’t help but recognize the reach of that most momentous historical event and the subsequent magnitude of the impact of the change that was destined to come. It isn’t just about being a great baseball player that the little boy is conveying. It’s about encapsulating and emulating the qualities and characteristics that made Jackie Robinson not only a great baseball player, but an American hero and more so, a great human being. It can be done without using the “n” word, in spite of the “n” word, and most definitely in light of the history of the use of the “n” word.

See You Next Wednesday!     Pink Heart         OXOXOXO

Please note that donations for Military Child Month are underway and your help is needed. Please consider giving $5 or any amount you can give to the National Military Family Association. The link directly to the association and the phone number if you prefer to call is below. Be sure to type GrowGratitude in the comments or mention it when calling. Thank you for your support!

703-931-6632, ext. 325

Also, feel free to check out the Military Child Month blog post. Let me know what you think!

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The Little Blog That Could…

Rita Profile

Remember the children’s book,The Little Engine That Could”? I don’t readily recall the specifics of the story, but it was generally about a small train engine with a long line of cars in tow that had to make it up and over a seemingly insurmountable mountain. None of the larger train engines would agree to try to pull the cargo. As the tiny train struggled to ascend the mountain, it began chanting the mantra, “I–think-I can, I–think-I can, I-think-I can”, which it successfully utilized to motivate, build momentum, and chug its way up the mountainside. No doubt it was an extremely difficult endeavor for the ambitious little engine. 

But from there, it was all downhill, so to speak.

blue train

The engine, knowing the worst was behind him, began chanting: “I-thought-I could, I-thought-I could, I-thought-I could” all the way down the other side of the mountain.

What was required for that little engine to manage to maneuver the mountain: a vision, motivation, ambition, courage, strength, perseverance, and optimism. Quite a combination of characteristics! Armed with these assets as its base, many endeavors would be more inclined to be successful.  Relatively reasonable, right?

green mountain

When I started blogging, I had a vision.  You’ve got to see it to be it!     

In other words, you have to be able to visualize or have a vision of what it is you are trying to accomplish or become. Without that vision, you’re unlikely to see your efforts come to fruition. Seeing is believing and believing is deeply rooted.

I was motivated and timing was key. I have a passion for writing and I knew I needed to resurrect that outlet that had previously served me well. I was exactly where I needed to be in order for the blog to come into being. But beyond that, I had a vision that my blog would be more than just my

telescope vision

voice, touting my perspective. My blog had to reflect who I am to some extent as well as what I think. The two are distinct. At the heart of who I am lies a pervasive deep desire to make a positive difference in the lives of others. And as you likely know, actions speak louder than words. So it has always been that my blog, GrowGratitude, would incorporate taking action and giving back. I just wasn’t sure how or when but I figured that the blog would take shape as it unfolded.

It takes a willingness to be vulnerable to share your thoughts and personal perspective with the “world”. Being vulnerable is not easy. It takes courage to open up and publicly reveal your personal experiences, perspectives, thoughts, flaws, failures, desires, and dreams. Have you ever had someone tell you that you were so brave to do whatever and that they could never see themselves doing that? Odds are they never will. If you can’t see it, you can’t be it. You have to have courage to let the inside out and the outside in.  I don’t like feeling vulnerable, but I do like being who I am. It’s about being my authentic self not some pre-conceived made up façade or false self personally tailored for presentation to the world. Showing you who I genuinely am, and being o.k.

female writer

with whatever that means for you is a gift I give myself. Interestingly, it gets easier as I get older. So, while the writing comes somewhat naturally, the willingness to be vulnerable is a process.

So I took to my laptop and began writing. I made a list of “topics” to blog about so that I would be ahead of the game. To date, I have yet to refer to that list as a source for blogging. I do know it will come in handy, though, at some point. Thus far, my weekly blog posts have pretty much been off the cuff and initiated by sporadic events or thoughts. That works for me as I tend to be a person who goes-with-the-flow. Although I must admit, going with the flow, due to its relative uncertainty, can have an anxiety-laden effect which kind of negates the whole go-with-the-flow mindset.

Once I press “Publish”, my personal thoughts are out there for the “world” to know. Not only are they out there, but I’m seeking your response or perspective in return.  It takes a certain amount of strength, perhaps of character, to open up to a world of virtual strangers with the hopes that what you have to share is of some value, has some meaning, or makes a difference in that moment or that day or their life. My hope is that you “like” the post and that you find it worthy of your time.

So where am I going with all of this? As you may know, April is Month of the Military Child and Childrens MonthGrowGratitude, the little blog that could, wants to help give back to our country’s little heroes who routinely make difficult sacrifices in order for our country’s grown-up heroes to protect and serve.

As a former military child, I know personally some of the sacrifices these children make. As a result, I will always have a special place in my heart for the children of our country’s great military.

“I-think-I can, I-think-I can, I-think-I can”. But I KNOW I can’t without your help.

Please help me make this happen!!

Support Military Kid

Take 5 minutes to give $5 and forward this post or the donation link above to as many people as you can and encourage them to do the same.

Let’s give back to the heroes behind our heroes. They deserve our support and I am grateful for your support! All proceeds go to the National Military Family Association.

Pink Heart

See you next Wednesday!           OXOXOXO 

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Hellooooo…Is Anybody Out There?

This morning I got on Facebook and found myself alone. How does that happen? Yes, it was rather Rita Profileearly on a Saturday morning, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 5:14a.m.ish (note to self: does that imply that you had nothing to do Friday night?) And it’s not like I have a lot of FB friends, relatively speaking. But it really did feel kind of eerie. Naturally, THAT got me wondering…what is the effect of being on FB as opposed to the effect that FB has in general, and are the two mutually exclusive?  I’m interested in the former as opposed to the latter. In other words, what actually happens to you while you’re on FB from a psychosocial perspective? Of course, this is coming from someone who clearly does not get on FB enough or perhaps I wouldn’t have posed the question (note to self: find out average amount of time FB folks log-on per day, per week…and am I among the average?!)  I have to wonder, who out there views FB in the way that I do?

Are there other people just like me who one day, wake up, log-on, only to find themselves “out there” on their own?

It’s the internet we’re talking about, the World-Wide Web for crying out loud! Has anyone other than me ever experienced this?

Thinking Man2

How can anyone be alone in the “world”?

So, I had to ask myself the difficult questions: Should I make more friends…or worse, should I have more friends? Do I need more friends? Is having more, merrier? I’ve got friends who have ten times as many friends as I have. Do they really know who their friends are? Does it matter? Do other people feel this way or have these thoughts?

MC910216363What is the perception of me on FB? Is there a perception of me on FB? Is my infrequency frowned upon? What if nobody “likes” me? Likes are powerful. When I see a whole bunch of “likes”, it gets my attention. I need to know what I’m missing out on. So I read what’s posted, and then I have to decide whether to”like” it or not. With the simple click of “like”, I have the potential power to contribute to your outcome and quite possibly, your mood. I like being “liked”.  When you “like” me, it makes me feel good. I feel as though I’ve made a meaningful contribution to the “world” in some small way. It conveys that what I’ve said is of value or appreciated on some level. Yeah,” likes” can be pretty powerful, especially in large numbers!

When you’re sitting staring at the screen or perhaps multi-tasking while interacting with a FB “friend”, what’s going through your mind? Does FB command your complete attention? The inquisitive part of me has Google written all over it. And even the word Google has me curious. Why? Because it does not come up as a misspelled or unrecognized word as I’m typing it.  But google with a lower case “g” comes up as an unrecognized word. Even the unrecognized word suggests that something is going on that I know I haven’t necessarily thought about or considered before this moment. At least not to this extent.

Is “google” a word that has just recently become part of the English language or did the word google exist before Google existed?  More research is clearly needed. Just give me a minute, I’ll be right back…

MM900236301 Ok, I’m back. Hey, where’d you go?! Just kidding. So, here’s what I discovered. I love playing detective! (No, that’s not what I discovered).  In any event, Google is a relatively new term that has become part of the English jargon. So, the word google with a lower case “g” evidently did not exist prior to the company (in case you didn’t already know that). According to, the origin of the word Google is from 1998 with the founding of a leading Internet branded search engine and originated from the mathematical term, “googol”.  The verb, “google”, means to search the internet for information or to use a search engine, such as Google, to search information.

Did I just digress or what?!

Ok, back to Facebook.

So, I wrote on my timeline- or was it my wall? I honestly don’t know. Anyway, I typed, “Hellooooo…Is anybody out there?” And I waited. And waited some more.  And I wondered how long I would wait. And then, YES! I found a “friend” or I should say a “friend” found me. And what better friend than family? And that’s when I heard the voice in my head (No, I don’t really hear voices) It was my deceased father’s voice (No, he didn’t speak to me from the grave). So, I guess to avoid any potential misunderstandings or thoughts of concern, I should say, I recalled hearing what my father used to say when I was growing up: “Always remember, when no one else is there, family will be”. You get the point – family’s got your back. And in this case (as is often the case), it proved true. My niece came through! What a relief. I really wasn’t alone. Next thing you know, my sister-in-law “awakened” and then another “friend” and another.  It was like “being there” as each friend woke up and greeted the world! In a surprisingly short period of time, I was 

MP900412062 (2) among a small community of online awakening inhabitants chattering away as the sun came up. It takes a village. Now the “world” was as it should be. I have to say, it was a pretty cool way to start my day!

Also, FYI, the average number of “friends” that the 1.2 billion Facebook users have is 120. Yay, I’m average! 🙂 

Thanks for taking time out to join me!

Please Don’t Forget – April is “Military Child Month” and GrowGratitude is raising funds for the National Military Family Association!

Support Military Kid

Please consider making a $5 donation (or any amount you would like to give). The process is fast and easy. Click on the link below to go directly to the National Military Family Association’s secure donation page.

Be sure to write “GrowGratitude” in the Comments section so that donations can be tracked for this important cause.

NOTE: If you prefer to donate by phone, please call Caroline Rasmus at 703-931-6632, ext. 325. Be sure to tell Ms. Rasmus that you are donating on behalf of ”GrowGratitude” so that your donation will be included in the effort to reach our goal!

The National Military Family Association has been the leading 501(c)3 charity helping military families of all ranks and Service branches. Their network of more than 1 million military family members is among the largest in the U.S.

If you haven’t had the chance to check out the blog post regarding our nation’s military children, click  here:

Pink Heart   As always, truly grateful for your support!          OXOXOXO

See you next Wednesday!                          

References/Resources: number of Facebook users as of 2010 average number of “friends”/Facebook user origin of word “google”

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